#NewsJunkie

I love the news. I’ve been reading and watching it since I could remember. Every weekday, right at 5pm, my parents would turn on ABC World News Tonight. Peter Jennings, one of my journalism heroes, reported on the triumphs and tragdies of the world. When I was in high school and later in college, I dreamed about being a war reporter on the front lines of Syria or Afghanistan, telling human stories about terrible wars, death and destruction. I’ve always had a deep respect and appreciation for hard-hitting journalism. But lately, I’ve been sick of the news.

There is too much going on in the world right now and although I am grateful for the constant access I get to current events, I’m starting to get drained with all the coverage. I decided that it was time to take a break. While you may feel that tuning in to the latest headlines keeps you informed, in reality, doing so causes information overload. There’s even a term for it– headline stress disorder.

According to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey, close to 7 in ten Americans said they felt “worn out by the amount of news” available. That means social media, too. As much as I try to keep up with friends and their adventures on social media, seeing others post about current events like the Roe v. Wade drama can be draining. Yes, we must be informed. We must also tend to our own physical and mental health, both of which are impacted by the sensational way in which history is playing out. So, what steps can you take to help with the mental anguish of today’s ever-changing media landscape and the information overload?

Take a digital sabbatical for a couple hours, a day, a week, whatever is best for you. Deleting news and social media apps from our phones and committing to only using them on a desktop can help limit unconscious news checking and doom scrolling. Also, turn off your notifications. Set yourself up for success by telling someone what you are doing and who will keep you accountable. Fuck, turn off your computer, put down your phone or disconnect the Wifi (I’ve done this and escaped into a good book from the library or a long bike ride). If you need a fix, only read news from trusted sources. There is a lot of misinformation out there online.  

When do you know to take a news breaks, dear reader, especially when you’re a self-proclaimed news junkie like me?

4/100 (421 words)

#NaomiJudd

One of the things that I do to pass the time almost every day is ponder all of the creative ways I can commit suicide. I’d cut my wrists until I bleed to death. Lay in the middle of busy traffic. Strangle myself with a belt and hang in my closet. Swallow rat position. I’d somehow manage to get a hold of a gun and shoot myself in the head. Purposely fall down the stairs and hope to break my neck. Hell, I’d throw something electrical in the bath.

The subject matter of this post was triggered by the apparent suicide of country singer Naomi Judd. I’ve never listened to her music but I know that she was a legend in her own right- she took her life April 30, the day before she was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I do want to note that I don’t have a formal plan for killing myself. I would never do that. But I won’t lie- my depression is real. The things I think about are real. On good days, these thoughts lightly buzz around my brain as if they were flies. I do a good job of batting them away. They are only thoughts, after all. But during depressive periods, like the one I’m in now, these thoughts consume me.

Much like the topic of abortion, mental health isn’t talked about enough. That conversation is becoming more mainstream, though. I feel like since the middle of the Covid pandemic, people have become more comfortable with addressing their mental health needs by going to therapy, quitting jobs and leaving relationships that no longer suit them and talking about their own experiences. But more can be done, especially on the micro-level.

I’m incredibly transparent about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I often share my story with others- I believe that hearing that another person is going through the same thing you are can be a relief. I try to encourage kind language and educate myself and others as much as possible about mental illness. Over the last couple of years, I have really relied on ‘check-ins’ with my closest friends. We get incredibly frank about our issues and lean on each other for support.

On the macro-level, policy change is an impactful way you can make a difference in the lives of those struggling. Vote for candidates who highlight improving mental health in their platforms. In the workplace, a more open culture about mental health is also important (especially as quality mental healthcare is often linked through the insurance of your employer- that’s a stupid concept that boils my blood). Throughout my many job interviews over the years, one of the things that I looked for in a company was if the organization promoted well-being as part of their company culture. Companies need to provide mental health resources like employee assistance programs (I rather have EPAs than snacks or the dreaded company retreat).

May is Mental Health Month. Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with mental illness. Dealing with it sucks, believe you me, but we need to face it and start moving in the direction where it’s no longer shameful to talk about. Mental health should not be a stigma anymore and I know that I am doing the work to raise awareness. Are you, dear reader?

3/100 (565 words)

#MySpecialDay

On May 9, 1988, I was adopted by my parents, Patricia and Dave Tyrell. I get the same text from my mom every year; telling me that the decision to adopt me was the best decision she ever made. We call today “my special day.”

Last week, Politico published a leaked report that stated the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Like many other Americans, I was livid and protested in the streets. I’m still furious seven days later as I read various Tweets, blogs and Reddit posts about the news. I have become especially frustrated with those pro-lifers who insist that women give birth to children they cannot and do not want to care for. These children can be put up for adoption, they say. As if adoption was an easy process.

I’m lucky, all things considered- my adoption was in-family and was relatively inexpensive (my mom said that she and my dad only had to dish out a few hundred dollars in legal fees). As I think about my future as a mother, I would like to adopt one day and have spent the last year or so researching foster care and how to adopt in the state of Texas. In my research, I’ve found some terrifying statistics.

White, able-bodied babies under the age of three are widely preferred by families looking to adopt. Children of color (Black, Hispanic, Asian) make up the vast majority of those in foster care, with little boys of color waiting the longest to be adopted. According to the US Commission on Civil Rights, 2004 data shows that children with lighter skin were adopted more quickly out of foster care. While white children waited 23.5 months on average, Black children waited 39.4. White parents make up the majority of adoptive parents. These parents choose to adopt their own race, tending to choose non-Black girls and favoring babies who are close to being born as opposed to those who have already been born or who are early in gestation. It is said that the older a Black child gets, the less they are more adoptable. That stat only increases in harshness when the Black child is mentally or physically disabled.

I’m not surprised to hear how race and ability play throughout the adoption process. When pro-lifers express the option of adoption, I want to ask them if they ever adopted. Would they even consider adopting a teenager of another race in desperate need of a loving home? Do they know of the long, tedious process of adoption?

Adoption is not a ‘simple’ solution to abortion. As much as I love children, I know that giving women the right to choose will help alleviate a foster care system that receives minimal funding (not to mention the various tolls pregnancy and the adoption process has on the biological family and the child itself). It’s time we opened our eyes to this fucked up system of abortion verses adoption and stop suggesting it as a bandaid for much larger systemic issues in our country.

2/100 (516 words)