Monday, November 30, 2015

What the Heck are the Terrible Threes?

"There's a word for this in psychology, said Dr. Alan E. Kazdin professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University. "Normal.""

He is referring to the behaviors of three year old children. Too bad I didn't read more of his research fifteen years ago. I could have used the help.

His research states that "parents go from lugging around a child that is largely free of will to parenting a 3-year-old that has preferences, tastes and a forming personality... The child grows and changes, but the parents' expectations stay the same." 

So... it's the parent's fault? I'll admit that I didn't have a clue as to what triggered Jordan's momentous, wall kicking tantrums again. I wondered if it was because she wasn't feeling well, or we coddled her when she was sick (how could you not?) and she expected it to continue, or she was just pissed at the world, which most undoubtedly included me.

Naively, I hoped since she had already gone full-throttle through the terrible twos, that we would ease through the threes. Not so much.  Everything became a battle. Getting dressed -she cried for two hours because she didn't want to put her socks on. Two hours. Over socks. Eating -she refused to take even one bite. I had to eat what my parents gave me, and she wouldn't even taste the food to see if she liked it. Cleaning up, turning off the T.V., going to bed, getting out of the tub... and you can imagine how potty training progressed. Or maybe you can't, because I had no idea, before my experience with Jordan. Let's just say that I now fully understand the term "anal retentive".

Although I am able to joke about this now, at the time there was nothing funny about it. I felt as if I was powerless to help her. She didn't know what she wanted or needed, or at least she wasn't able to communicate it to me, so I couldn't help her. I believed in my heart that this rage inside of her could not have been "normal". It was way too extreme, too painful and deep.  Kayla had thrown tantrums but in comparison, they were almost non existent. I actually developed a fear that Kayla's were less intense only because she was younger, and they might increase in time. As if all kids reacted with this level of anger and frustration.  In retrospect, this is ridiculous since I taught in daycare facilities and nursery schools for many years before having kids, and had seen my fair share of tantrums. Jordan's were pretty much off the charts.

It was very difficult for me to control my anger in response to her's. Instinctively, I guess I fight fire with fire, rise to the level of craziness. And she sure could push me to a level. Although future posts will not always portray me as the perfect parent, I'm going to continue to be truthful. I figure, we can't be the only family out there who has struggled, and been beside themselves at times. Hopefully sharing our experiences will help others feel more supported and better understood.

Thank you,

Us Too

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Little, But Oh So Huge, Milestones

I think it's amusing how parents find every little milestone in their children's lives to be so monumental. The first smile, word, step, sentence... When Jordan drew her first person, you would have thought that she won the Nobel Peace Prize. The first time she used the potty, I'm sure that I felt like throwing a party. A potty party. Like peeing in a toilet proved that she was some type of prodigy or something. 

But the funny thing is, when it's your child, the small things are amazingly huge. Before being born or adopted, our children represent endless wonder, hope, and a dream of everything possible. And then you have them, and the entire experience surpasses anything you could have ever imagined. 

That is why there is nothing better than watching your child succeed and find their comfortable place in the world. It is overwhelmingly, beautifully fulfilling for a parent to experience. That being said, the opposite...

Nope. I'm stopping here.

Because although Us Too deals with struggle and family issues, it is also my hope that it encompasses understanding, joy, and love.

When Jordan was two years and eight months old, and Kayla was thirteen months old, we found out that we were pregnant again. I believe that our reaction was something to the effect of: "Holy crap!" ~ but in a good way.

Thank you,

Us Too

Friday, November 20, 2015

Finding Answers

A couple of you have mentioned that when you tried to comment on Us Too, it didn't work. My tech guy (aka Adam) isn't sure why, but said if you post as anonymous, it allows you to comment.

I also wanted to mention that Adam has never gone to a therapist or taken medication for depression or anxiety, and he is doing fine. :)

There are so many different paths that can be taken. The tough part is finding the one that is right for you and your loved ones. I love this quote from Joan Baez: "As long as one keeps searching, the answers will come."

I sure hope so.
Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Life Has Come Full Circle. Already?

The next part of my journal discussed how perplexed I was about the way Jordan, as a toddler, appeared to wake up crabby and disagreeable most mornings. I just wasn't that type of person, so it was hard for me to understand. She didn't want to do anything, and complained about every suggestion that I made. I wondered why someone would be unhappy before their day even began, especially someone so young.
Adam tried to explain to me that this happened to him sometimes. He would wake up feeling anxious and stressed. It was a fear that he couldn't, or wouldn't, get anything done anyway, so why get out of bed? I told Adam that life shouldn't be such a struggle. It made me sad, and I wished that I could fix it for both Adam and Jordan.

Even back in the year 2000, my initial reaction was to suggest to Adam that he get professional help. If life is that difficult, why wouldn't you want to talk to someone, and perhaps take medication? In my mind, that was what psychiatrists and therapists were for.

I'm not sure why I always believed in the benefits of therapy and getting psychiatric help. Maybe it was because I got my Bachelor's degree in Psychology, or because I had a close friend and grandmother who openly struggled, and sought out help. I did know that I hated seeing my husband, the man who I adored, wrestle with motivation and accomplishing everyday tasks. It also upset me to see Jordan agitated and discontented. I believed that it didn't have to be that way, for both adults and children.

I realized back then, how fortunate I was that I didn't have to battle with these types of issues. I actually wrote this in my journal, how lucky I was.

How's that for irony?

For some reason, even though I wasn't faced with these problems back then, I understood that no one was guaranteed immunity, not even me. I wrote this fifteen years ago: "I still believe that one day when our kids are on their own and our parents begin to ail, that I may need to seek out professional help for myself. I will certainly have an open mind about it."

Is anyone beginning to see the full circle thing?

I now understand that "oh crap" feeling while laying in bed in the morning. When your brain gets stuck or overwhelmed with negative thought patterns, and all you can do is pull the covers up a little higher. But the longer you stay in bed, the more the inner voices of guilt, self doubt and worry rush around in your mind. As an adult this could show up as lack of motivation or depression. As a child it may come across as crabbiness or defiance. Either way it requires patience and understanding from those close to the person suffering. Patience was (and is) not really my forte. Having a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of mental illness, chemical imbalances, or even personality traits, can help to make difficult situations easier to handle, and ultimately, easier to accept. 

It is my hope that Us Too helps to do just that.

Thank you,

Us Too

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Exactly is a Blog?

I just looked on Wikipedia to see what a blog is. You would think I would know this little tidbit of information, since I'm writing one. But I'm not 100% sure that I do. Without Adam's help, I would honestly have no clue how to do this. Here's a small part of what I found out about a blog:

A majority (of blogs) are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via GUI widgets on the blogs, and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites. In that sense, blogging can be seen as a form of social networking service.

Although I have no idea what a GUI widget is, I do understand the main point of this explanation. Blogs can be interactive.

Many of you have privately shared with me your struggles, opinions, experiences, and fears. I truly appreciate this, and I know that it isn't easy. Truth be told, this type of feedback has helped me to feel validated and more understood, while dealing with our family issues. It is also good to know that when I share, it has the potential to help others who may be struggling. That Us Too realization can be very powerful and purposeful.

So I guess my point is, if you are comfortable, please feel free to comment, share, and add to Us Too. Have you ever heard the saying: A problem shared is a problem halved?  Yeah, me neither, but there does seem to be a lot of sense to it.

Who knows, maybe your unique story, a choice or a decision that you made, or your positive words can make all the difference in someone else's life.

Thank you.

Us Too

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Right Side Brain

We eventually recovered from the trauma of taking the pacifiers away. (Bye-Bye Binkey). It was a beautiful thing. But being the mean mommy that I was, I had the audacity to make Jordan come inside, after playing outside. And I did this more than one time. She was not happy with this turn of events. Again, she threw fits whenever we came in. And I mean every time. A full blown, tears flowing, kicking my legs, screaming, anger filled, tantrum.

I would always give the countdown, so in theory she shouldn't have been surprised or shocked about the need to come back inside. "We're going to leave in ten minutes. Only five minutes left until we leave. Three minutes. Two minutes. We're going home in one minute. Okay, it's time to go".  And... BOOM! Even if she didn't understand how long a minute lasted, she still heard the words "leave and home" more times than I had wished to mutter them. She reacted like this so often that I stopped getting angry. After a while it almost appeared to be a routine or a habit. Why do I think this? Because one time she actually said “Me will cry when it's no more minutes.” Really? So you know that you're going to cry when I say it's time to leave? But... why?

I didn't understand what the heck was going on. If you know that you're going to react in such an intense manner, before you actually do, then couldn't it be assumed that you would have the ability to control the behavior?  Maybe just a little bit, maybe one time?

It's funny how now that I understand the issues that Jordan faced and still faces, that this doesn't seem as illogical to me anymore. I realize (unfortunately after years of hurt and anger) that she actually couldn't control the emotions. They just overwhelmed and took over her entire being like a tidal wave.

It was as if the logical side of her brain (the left side) was aware of what was coming. It was prepared, and even helped her to verbalize the situation. It knew what the expected behavior was. After all, she was a rule follower. But then there was the emotional, right side. Logical or not, right or wrong, harmful or hurtful, this side and its emotions almost always got the upper hand, for whatever reason.

I realize after all of these years, that she couldn't help it. It still hurt, but I now understand. As she got older, she couldn't help things like refusing to pose for important family pictures. She couldn't help skipping family graduation parties, Or sitting in the van while missing her cousin's baseball games. Or laying on her floor on Mother's Day, refusing to go out for ice cream, or crashing hard after the holidays or her birthday, which kind of undid all of the happy feelings. All of this was out of her control.

How do I know?

Because she most definitely would rather have been a part of the fun. She did not want to frustrate or make her loved ones sad and angry. None of this made her feel good. Eventually, when the sweet, calm Jordan came back to us, she always felt guilty and was very apologetic. It was tough to watch her go through this so often.

Her anxiety got the best of her. In all of these situations, and countless others, she froze and couldn't move forward. Not wouldn't, but couldn't. She was the epitome of a people-pleaser, who because of her own genetic make-up, was not being permitted to please the people who meant the most to her. In my mind, that's a pretty crappy battle to be a part of.

But on a more positive note, she is doing SO much better today, as an almost eighteen year old. I believe that all of her intensity, emotion, and determination will continue to guide her towards a life full of success, well being, and happiness.

Thank you,


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Feeling So Crappy

Here are some cons that I experienced through my depression and anxiety:

I realize that I may not have been very open minded and accepting of people who appeared to be living "outside of the box" before having Jordan, and going through all of this.

I need to take a prescription medication, and I don't know for how long, or if forever. A man-made medication is helping me to function. This is a first for me, and it sucks. It's even worse that my teen age daughters are also taking them.

I now have a better understanding of how Jordan felt all of those years. :(

My relationship with the girls was rough for a while, especially with Jordan.

There was so much that I didn't understand about the girls, for too long.

I realize that there will inevitably be times when I need to completely rely on Adam. This kind of scares the crap out of me. When you find yourself using your spouse's soap in the hopes that the aroma will somehow help you get through your day, you are definitely reliant upon another person.

I now know that when things get bad, they can get really bad.

Now for the pros:

I am much more accepting of people who appear to be living "outside of the box". Everyone has their reasons.

If need be, there are man-made medications out there that can help people persevere, and get through these rough times. So far, all three of us have been lucky enough to have found meds that work.

I now have a better understanding of how Jordan felt all of those years, and still sometimes does today.  I no longer get angry.

My relationship with the girls has gotten stronger since all of this mess began. I think that we enjoy each other's company more than we used to.

I have learned so much from the girls because of our experiences.

I have no doubt that Adam will be there for me, no matter what I am going through, or what state I am in.

I now know that things can get better. :)


Of course everyone's experiences are different. It took Jordan three therapists and four medication changes before she found what is currently working for her.

It is my belief (so take it for what it's worth) that there are different types, or levels, of depression and anxiety. It seems that if it stems from stressful situations in your life, it is more "treatable", for lack of a better word. Kayla and I seem to fit into this category.

Then there are people who appear to have it so much worse. They are extremely sensitive, react intensely to small triggers, are unable to self-soothe, and are emotionally volatile. Unfortunately, Jordan appears to share many of these traits. Crap.

No, life isn't meant to be easy. But it also isn't meant to suck. As long as we are all willing to try our best, to avoid it from sucking, I think that we (Too) can be okay.

Thank you,

Us Too