WSV’s Charles Thomas writes, “Denial is considered an unhealthy defense mechanism while suppression is considered healthy. Sure, you could sit around all day and ponder the inevitability of death, but thanks to suppression, most of us are able to put that nasty little detail out of our minds and do the dishes, mow the lawn or write the column. But the denial of death, on the other hand, can lead to people making risky decisions or living what Plato called ‘an unexamined life.’ When it comes to defense mechanisms, it’s important to make the healthy choice.”

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “I know that this too shall pass and all will be well in my world pretty soon, but always in the back of my mind I am wondering when will the depression come back? Will I wake up tomorrow and not be able to get out of bed? Will I go days without showering again? Will I live in my quiet bubble and shut people and activities out again? Sadly, the answer is yes. Even with medication depression is still there.”

Doug & Alek are joined by Watershed Voice Columnist and Office Manager Steph Hightree to discuss parenting during a pandemic, how paramount in-school counseling has been for her daughter Cadence, the trials and triumphs of her son Nathan, the joys of camping and her dogged pursuit of a Playstation 5 for her husband in the first of two back-to-back episodes with Ms. #MomLife herself.

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “I think it is only natural we all wish for that small break where we can just be ourselves and not be mom for a minute. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as taking a whole vacation, it can just be hiding in the bathroom for 15 minutes to take a second to breathe, running to the store alone, going on a weekend trip, or in my case, driving eight hours away to a cabin in the woods to hopefully unwind and unplug.”

Watershed Voice set out to find how this pandemic is affecting young people in southwest Michigan, speaking to local mental health experts and teens alike. Throughout the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered lives across the world; people have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, and had to put their lives on hold. That feeling of going on pause has especially affected young people, who feel removed from some of the most formative years of their lives. It’s no wonder these feelings of isolation and helplessness have taken a toll on child and adolescent mental health.

The U.S. had a mental health professional shortage before the pandemic, and Southwest Michigan was no exception. Every county in Southwest Michigan had been designated as a mental health professionals shortage area by the Healthcare Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “I am a big supporter of taking medication to help with one’s mental health and other health related issues. I wouldn’t be able to function without mine. But my daughter is feeling some shame with hers. She feels like something is wrong with her because she has to take medicine. So how do we end this stigma? Unfortunately society has not helped with this. Mental health is still not considered a health problem even though it has the word health right in its name. It is considered taboo to be depressed. People don’t like discussing or dealing with it. I’d like to end that now.”

“Why do we resort to ignoring every fiber of our being to appease others? Everywhere I look, I see people who are crippled by the fear of what might happen if they were to veer from tradition, or religious indoctrination. Placing the opinions of others above their own authenticity. Forcing themselves towards “achievement” as approved by society. We are prone to do this, although it is a well-known fact that you can’t please everyone.
When you are making decisions for the heart, and in line with your purpose you cannot even rely on a majority vote.”

Around the world there was little time to brace for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has rocked so much to the core, including me. As a daughter, friend, wife, mother… human, I am concerned about not only those that I love, but also those that I don’t know all over the world.

In the midst of planning, cleaning and assisting, one unexpected emotion that kept circling back was grief. It took me by surprise, but its presence was undeniable. Grief.