Mind your Matters – Mental Health Companion

Most years, we’ll have spring for a few days; the trees at the Alamosa Senior Center will be covered with white blossoms, the bushes beginning to show growth of green leaves. Then, in the middle of May, there’ll be snow on the not-quite-yet lawn in the parks and icicles hanging from branches again. It’s the kind of weather we expect for this time of year in Southern Colorado. Some of us have learned it’s not a great idea to start gardens until after Mothers’ Day while others hold higher hopes and sometimes succeed, sometimes re-plant.

Life, in general, is a lot like the weather around here and something like trying to grow tomatoes. For that matter, I think we should have a “Farmers’ Almanac” or “Prairie Home Companion” to provide helpful tips telling us how we should be getting along and what things we might expect as the seasons pass. With a minimum of practical advice, most of us waffle through the days, months and years; achieving success in our own ways though sometimes “getting there” might require “re-planting.”

Advertising in all media is rife with promises of “new and improved” everything. You’ll be happier if you drive a new car, if you’re thinner, if you have fewer wrinkles and if you have no weeds in your lawn. There aren’t too many people out there telling you you’re just fine just the way you are. And maybe you aren’t, but chances are pretty good that you are or could be with just a little Miracle Grow (encouragement) and a sturdy trellis to climb (direction).

Reading self-improvement books may resolve some feelings of discontent but there’s not much feedback. Dr. Phil’s solutions are not going to work for you any more than drinking a cup of Starbucks will make you a first-rate barista. A really good friend will love you “warts and all” but may be disinclined to mention that you’ve become illogically cranky and argumentative. A parent, spouse or child is more likely to be openly concerned with mood swings or increased forgetfulness. You may be the only one who knows you are not sleeping very well lately, or are worrying more than usual. These may be early signs that you could benefit from talking to a mental health professional. Like your garden, it’s better (and a lot easier) to get rid of the weeds sooner than later.

While mental health can deteriorate in response to a stroke, disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes or as complication to some medications, most problems are not an indication that things are “not as they should be.” If you have too many problems or any problem that’s become a roadblock in your life, it’d be a good idea to get a friendly second opinion from a professional at the SLV Behavioral Health Group.  Helping “every day people” solve “every day problems” is what they do very well. And some of them can even give you suggestions about your garden. The Center phone number is 719-589-5671 and website is slvbhg.org and there’s always a friendly voice waiting to help.

Patt Morgan Lloyd is the Director of (RSVP) Retired Seniors Volunteer Program

San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group