Mental Health Day


August and September are two very stressful months for me. Much of this stress is created by the finish line sprint to ABCNJ’s Annual Session, but this is compounded by every organization on the planet which suddenly says, “Oh, hey. It’s September, let’s have a meeting.”

By the time Annual Session is over I’m typically so mentally and socially spent it takes me a week or two to regain my equilibrium and re-find my rhythm. By the time October rolls around I’m pretty much chugging away and looking forward to the months ahead.

And then there was this year.

For reasons beyond my imagination, the end of September and the beginning of October conspired against me. I did not have one day, one single day, in which I was able to sit and regain some sort of rhythm. I had a seemingly endless litany of pastoral emergencies, problems with our car, ongoing issues with our wifi connection, and glitches with ABCNJ’s systems. It seemed as though I was surrounded and barraged into submission with cries of “Dad/Wes/Help/The Internet is burning.” By the time the first week of October rolled around my wife spotted how frazzled I was becoming and began telling our children, “If you don’t leave your father alone he’s going to have a nervous breakdown!”

By the time Tuesday afternoon rolled around, I’d had it. So I decided to declare a mental health day and spend it alone. This wasn’t a day off for doing chores, or catching up on my writing, or watching a Netflix show. It was day of retreat. I turned off my slack notifications, grabbed my camera, and headed out to Washington’s Crossing to take some pictures.

It was glorious. For six whole hours I was on my own. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule, or give them a ride, or fix their problems. I simply had to be. I took the on-site tour, then crossed the narrow bridge across the Delaware using the walking lane. I’ve been to the park at Washington’s Crossing several times, but had never before taken that particular trip 1. Then I hopped back in my car and headed to Bowman’s tower to grab some photos of the Delaware Valley from atop it’s lofty peak. Unfortunately there were bit too many clouds for my liking, and the trees in the Valley have yet to turn to fall colors. I was still pleased with the photos, the best of which is displayed below.

After descending the tower I stopped at Bowman’s Tavern for a nice lunch. I’ve never eaten at a sit down restaurant by myself before, so I worried it might be a bit weird. It wasn’t. In fact, I was able to start reading a novel as I waited for my excellent burger to arrive. I ate in silence and enjoyed being alone with my thoughts.

I’ll probably require another one of these retreat days soon, as I’m still reacting to minor stresses with exaggerated frustration, but for the first time in weeks I feel as though my feet are back under me.

  1. I think it’s funny to say I’ve walked to New Jersey and back from Pennsylvania.