Courtney Vallejo discusses the importance of practicing preventive maintenance for our mental health.
Do you change your oil? Often when I take my car in for an oil change the odometer says the oil reserve is at 20 to 30%, meaning I haven’t run out of oil yet. I don’t wait till it gets to 0% because I know if I run out of oil, I will burn my engine up. Replacing an engine can cost hundreds of dollars in repair bills, so I avoid that being vigilant on my car maintenance. We call it preventive maintenance.
We know that if we take care of our cars and maintain them, with preventive maintenance, that we avoid seriously damaging our cars. Why don’t we practice preventive maintenance for ourselves? Why do we wait until the last minute to fix things?
Why do we wait until we are desperate to ask for help?
A friend of mine reached out recently because she was noticing that worrying thoughts were plaguing her mind, more than usual. Everyone has them, and they come and go, but she was noticing that hers weren’t necessarily going but lingering for longer than usual -- and they becoming more vivid. Rational cannot always talk us off the ledge. I know the chances are low, of something awful happening to me, like the poor woman from "Glee" who drowned over the summer and left her child on the boat. I know that won’t happen because I don’t have boat access and I wouldn’t go out alone on the water with one child, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t trigger my mind to think of all the awful things that could happen to me and my children.
I can’t always talk myself off the ledge. I know the likelihood of me being kidnapped while walking my dog alone, in the morning, is nearly zero because I live in a safe neighborhood, but the thought still crosses my mind every day and makes me grab my cell phone and make sure it’s at least light outside. Those are simple maintenance steps for safety.
Our emotional state, just like our cars, has to be maintained. I told my friend that I was so thankful she had shared her recent struggles with me. No, I’m not worried she’s going to do something awful, but that’s because she’s being preventive regarding the situation. She’s addressing it while it’s at a 3 instead of at an 8. It’s a lot easier to work on ourselves while were not in total panic or survival mode. If it’s hot outside, I’m going to jump in the pool to cool off; I’m not going to wait until I have heat stroke to jump in.
My analogies are in no way meant to be compared to the severity of anxiety, panic disorders, or regular worry. My goal today is for just one person to have the courage to reach out to a friend for help. It’s a reminder that if you’re telling yourself “Well, it’s not that bad, I really just need to get over it,” but that isn’t working, that you realize now is the best time to ask for help.
The times we’re living in are unlike any stress many of us have ever witnessed and yes, it might just be the magnitude of the world that is adding to your stress level, and that’s OK too. Just please, don’t ignore yourself! Consider it routine maintenance like your oil change, and reach out to someone today. Maybe you just need to say it out loud or maybe you need more. Those answers will come, but they can’t come if you don’t start talking.
We are blessed with a Church that supports us. We have clergy and religious we can reach out to. We have the saints who have struggled through this before and are there as a resource for answers and prayers.
Check out this saint! St. Dymphna, is the patron saint of those suffering with nervous and mental afflictions. Her feast day is May 15.
Prayer in honor of St. Dymphna
Lord Jesus Christ, You have willed that St. Dymphna should be invoked by thousands of clients as the patroness of nervous and mental disease and have brought it about that her interest in these patients should be an inspiration to and an ideal of charity throughout the world. Grant that, through the prayers of this youthful martyr of purity, those who suffer from nervous and mental illness everywhere on earth may be helped and consoled. I recommend to You in particular, (name). Be pleased to hear the prayer of St. Dymphna and of your Blessed Mother. Give those whom I recommend the patience to bear their affliction and resignation to do Your divine will. Give them the consolation they need and especially the cure they so much desire, if it be Your will. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
You are not alone! God is with us! Reach out today!
Copyright 2020 Courtney Vallejo
Image copyright 2020 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Courtney Vallejo is a convert to the Catholic faith, who lives in California. She and her husband homeschool their three adopted children. She is the cofounder of AMomRevolution.com, whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and reclaim joy in motherhood. She also writes for her own blog, CourtneyVallejo.com. Courtney holds a Master's degree in Film Production and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Follow her Gluten Free/Dairy Free adventures on Instagram: @aglutenfreerevolution.