Friday, March 15, 2019

Out of the Mouth's of Superheroes

"I'm just tired. Tired of having to tell myself every morning that I can do this and everything will be okay."

"It's exhausting always being a work in progress. A lot of energy is spent just dealing with myself."

Two different people who are very dear to my heart spoke these words to me within days of each other.  This is so meaningful and real.

Superheroes can be anyone, anywhere, and many are undercover.  Please be patient and kind to everyone. 

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Blow to My Ego and Confidence

What follows will be a rant, a stream of consciousness, because this blog is about mental illness, and I figured what the hell. Maybe it will help me to get past this... I'm not sure but I think I may struggle more than I used to. Age, my experiences, the world?? Who knows why.

I took a huge leap and last minute decided to take the training to become an instructor for the Youth Mental Health First Aid class, because a spot had become available. It's a perfect fit for an advocate like me, right?  I tried doing this years ago, but had to back out a few days before: it fell during one of the times when Jordan, Kayla and I were all going down the emotional toilets.  There was no way I could have been in class for a full week.

Fast forward to this week. Our family is doing much better, so why not take the class now?  I spent the past two full days of the training surrounded by women most who have done 200 other power point presentations in their current jobs.  I have done 0.  They were all so accomplished with their titles, traveling to get there...  I drove ten minutes and was still stressed.  Just sitting in the class and worrying about participating (which I did do, a bit) was hard enough for me.  I took a take home test for over two hours, which was not fun, but I did well, and then I was expected to do a 30 minute presentation on the third and last day, covering a section of the content.  Easy, right?

Not when by the end of the second day I was having trouble understanding anything I was reading while trying to prepare for my presentation.  I was a mess and right then and there I knew there was no way I could give the presentation.  Some of my section was material that technically I should have been comfortable with:  Encourage Appropriate Professional Help.  Um, hello??  We lived through it. But the power point slides, the activities, the "stick to the notes", the possible questions, the memorization of the facts and statistics, ... there was no way I could prepare for all of it in one night.  No way.  And if I couldn't handle one half hour section, what the heck would make me think I could (or would want to) teach the entire 8 hour course?  No freakin way.

So I cried when I got home, didn't know what else to do, so I ran for a short time and then cried again.  I cried to Adam and of course he said all the right things, and then I emailed the woman who invited me to the training, and backed out. (Again).  I was as honest and as respectful as I could have been, because it really is a great class. Adam said my letter was sweet.


So today (since I had already taken the day off) I stayed home with our puppies to regroup and pick up the pieces of my ego and my lost identity. I pictured everyone wondering where I was, pictured them giving their presentations, wondered what they were saying about me, and I'm still hoping for an empathetic email back.  Not one of my best days.   And I volunteered for this.

People from my past, was I always like this?  Because I don't think I was. I'm not even all that comfortable going out to eat with other couples. I think I used to enjoy things like this, but maybe I always felt uncomfortable? Did all that we went though (this entire blog) traumatize me, change me? Because after hearing some of the stories from others in the class, our family had a walk through the tulips. Maybe I know too much, I'm too educated now.  Sitting through a class talking about panic attacks didn't seem to help with my anxiety.  I wonder if the younger me would have powered through.  I used to be pretty tough. When mental health issues run in your family, it's hard not to project.

I told Adam that the two things I am most proud of are our kids and our marriage.  I guess that's something.

So that's it.  My rant is over.  Selfishly, writing this was cathartic and sharing what I had written yesterday in my journal, could quite possibly have gotten me committed.  ;)

And the journey continues...

Thank you,

Lisa  from Us Too

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Break For Us Too

Image result for try something different quotes

I haven't posted in a while because I've had something on my mind, and it involves quite possibly one of my most favorite things in the world... a change.  (That was sarcasm.)

I think I'm going to take a break from writing Us Too so I can attempt to continue working on a possible book.  This idea has been sitting in the back of my mind since I read the amazing book:  Beautiful Boy -A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction.  

I have no idea what this will entail, how long it will take, if it will happen, or if I have what it takes, but I'm going to give it a try.  I figure, why not?  The possible title is:  A Beautiful Girl's Beautiful Mind- A Mother's Journey through Her Daughter's Mental Illness.

Thank you so much for reading Us Too and following our journey. I have truly appreciated every "like" and comment, and I hope our story has helped others better understand, and have more empathy for, those who struggle with mental illness.

Thank you and until next time...

Us Too

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I'm Sorry, She's What??

We finally met with Jordan's high school counselor and he gave us information about a 504 plan which I learned is:

"a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment."

He told us it would "help to even out the playing field for Jordan."  I feel very fortunate that he chose to phrase it this way. It helped to ease the blow of hearing the word "disability", which  really hit me hard. What do you mean Jordan is disabled? But then I reminded myself of Jordan's past struggles, and that a chemical imbalance is, in actuality, physical. It's like being blind or needing a wheelchair.  (Is it really?)

I was thankful and relieved that Jordan would begin getting any accommodations necessary and that we had full support from the high school.  This was a big deal.

Hope was on the horizon!

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Finding Humor

A short conversation I had with Jordan in October of 2012:

Me:    "This has been a week from hell. Our van broke, our printer broke, Kevin broke, your Pap broke, and then you broke." 
Jordan:   "I've always been broken."  (She said while laughing.)
Me:  "Don't worry, you've been fixed a few times too."  😍

Here's the short, much needed explanation:

The transmission went in our van, the printer died, Kevin got a concussion at football practice, Adam's dad went in for heart surgery, and Jordan lost it because she was afraid she would fail honors Biology. 

I guess on this day, we won. 

Thank you.

Us Too

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dermatillomania, The Struggle is Real

It's interesting thinking back to when Jordan began struggling with her Dermatillomania.  I had no idea what was going on. She complained that her head was itchy so I bought dandruff shampoo. It didn't help with the "flakes" so I got the more intense shampoo; the thick blackish colored one that smells like nasty medicine. It didn't work either.  Her pediatrician didn't see any symptoms or dryness. so we went to a dermatologist. She also found nothing. We weren't finding any concrete answers.

It's odd, concerning, and a bit surreal when you begin to realize there's a possibility your child may be the cause of her own pain and suffering.

I began wondering if her head was ever itchy.  Was she imagining or creating the few flakes by picking at her scalp? She told me (because her therapist told her) that she realized the picking was a mechanism used to help her cope with stress, but she couldn't stop doing it. It's no wonder since it has been found that "the behavior functions as something that is both arousing as well as calming."   It was a compulsion and it eventually spread to her chest, back, and face. The article:  Dermatillomania: When Self-Harm Becomes a Compulsion  describes Jordan's behaviors so well.  Especially this section:
In the end, this disorder is very debilitating in a social sense. In its initial stages, a person can hide their self-inflicted wounds with makeup, but as time passes, if it isn’t treated, the marks get worse and more difficult to hide, leading a person to avoid social contact in order to avoid drawing attention to their disfigured skin.
Ouch.  In more ways than one...

Jordan still struggles with this, although she has it much more under control. At this point in her life it rarely disrupts her ability to get to classes and social functions, although I'm not sure about her ability to shower and get sleep at a "healthy" hour. I tend not to ask very often.

She's almost 21, and it's her life. (This may sound harsh, but I certainly don't mean it that way.)  I have faith that if she is struggling, she will call me no matter what time of night (as she has done before) and ask me to help her get through it.

Which I will always be happy to do.

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Proud Mama

"I just want to be normal and I don't want to have to get special treatment in school."  
"I feel badly that I put you and dad through all this. Kayla and Kevin don't."

How does a mother respond to these profoundly valid concerns?  I'm not sure, but here's what I came up with:

"This is our job and it's what we're supposed to do as parents. (I'll give this a C+) We'll figure it out and get you the help you need so everything will work out (This earns a B?). I know that life seems hard for you sometimes, but you have so many gifts that make your life much easier too."  (Maybe this gets an A-)

This averages out to a B. Not too shabby considering the entire situation made me sad.  She did struggle.  More than I ever had, and more than I realized was possible. I had no idea how hard life could be for the superheroes of the world. I wasn't even aware that they existed.

I believed what I told her.  I knew our first responsibility was to help minimize her school work-load. If that didn't help, I figured we could ask about increasing her Lexapro (which is something I never thought we would need to do).   I guess initially I may have viewed medication as a possible miracle cure.  (BTW, it's not...)
This entry ended with one thought/concern/worry/fear:
I wonder if she will ever be able to live on her own, away from home and away from us.  I sure hope so.

Jordan is currently a junior in college and living off campus. It might not always be easy for her, but she is doing it 😊and I couldn't be more proud of her.

Thank you.

Us Too