Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Is Anyone's Holiday Really Perfect?

I know I told Jordan this blog wouldn't be a recent account of our lives, but I am still going to give a short synopsis of our Christmas Eve. I think that it will help people better understand the difficulties of living with intense anxiety. Medication does help. It has allowed Jordan to live, function and thrive, with a sense of calmness and confidence, that at one time seemed unattainable. But medication is not a foolproof "cure". It can't change a person's innate personality. I'm not sure if the word "personality" is the correct term to use, but people 'are who they are', you know?

So we were all getting ready for church. I should have known when I stepped over Jordan laying on her floor, that things weren't going well. But I was trying to make myself look presentable and festive. When it was almost time to leave, I realized that I hadn't seen Jordan in a while. Crap. After looking in the well known places, anywhere dark, her closet, corners of rooms... I pushed on the bathroom door and felt her leaning against it. In the dark. Covering her head.

I am proud to say that I don't get angry any more. I don't take it personally, and I don't feel as if it is a reflection of me. I am resigned to the fact that there are times when I can't control life, especially someone else's, and I can't always make things better. Not fun, especially as a parent.

Jordan mumbled to me that she "just ruined another Christmas".

So what happened? She was having trouble figuring out what to wear, but this wasn't the main cause of her panic attack.

The holidays are intense. They take you out of your routine. They are emotional, and they push some people to their limits. There is this perfect image of what Christmas, or any holiday, is supposed to look like. But we are all graced with the wisdom to know that life is not perfect. Right?

That is what happened to Jordan.

She did get over her feelings of guilt. Kayla got over her disappointment of not going to church because she felt she looked "cute as shit". (Which she did, down to the sprig of holly in her braided hair.) And I'm happy to say that the Beck family had a very nice (but certainly not perfect) Christmas this year.

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Being a Kid

Eighteen years ago, if I had read this quote, I would have had a much different reaction to it than I do today. I enjoyed my childhood, and I still often miss the many innocent freedoms that I had. During the summers, the neighborhood kids and I would put on musicals and plays, write our own stories, climb trees, and play every sport imaginable, until we heard our parents call us in for dinner. We spent year after year developing "Rockville" in a nearby yard. Rockville was an imaginary town set back in the woods. It had houses, stores and roads, all defined with rocks (hence the clever name). Everything was made from items in nature: the furniture, the "food", the brooms and dishes... When I first read the children's book Roxaboxen, I was so excited to see a book that seemed to emulate such an important part of my childhood.

And then I had Jordan. Jordan tended to have stress, worries, and cares in her world. I figured since we are right smack in the middle of the holiday season, that I would share this little anecdote:

When Jordan was a month shy of turning three, she worried that Santa would eat too many cookies on Christmas Eve, and get a stomach ache. Now, this wasn't a ploy used so she would get to eat the cookies herself. She was truly worried about Santa's health. After all, almost everyone leaves cookies out for Santa. It would be too much. We tried to reassure her that he would limit his cookie intake, and maybe bring some back for the elves. We also made sure that we only ate one cookie off of our plate that night.

She also asked over and over again "Is tonight Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas? Is tomorrow Christmas? Not now..." (meaning not yet). It was as if she couldn't believe it was finally here. When I say that she said it over and over again, I mean she said it exactly the same way, over thirty times in two hours. She was like a broken record, her mind kind of getting 'stuck' on the same loop of excitement and worry. Unfortunately throughout the years, her mind still seemed to get stuck in similar loops, most of them having the tendency of being somewhat negative and debilitating. Thankfully this happens less often as she grows and as that frontal lobe continues to mature. Come on frontal lobe-  I'm routing for you!

With all of this going on in her young mind, you would think that she would cry before going to sleep on the night that Santa arrived, like she did so many other nights. But did she? No. Not a peep. I wished that it could have been Christmas Eve every night. Maybe Santa knew something that we didn't.

So as you can imagine, my perception regarding this quote has changed a bit. Although I do think (and hope) that Jordan is able to look back fondly on her childhood............

I just asked her if she does look back fondly, while she is totally stressed out and working on senior papers and projects due before the break, and she said "yeah". I'll take it. :)

Thank you,

Us Too

I love the lyrics to this song. It's called Stressed Out, by Twenty One Pilots.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Parenting Makes Me Feel...

Quick. If you're a parent, what's the first word that comes to mind if someone were to ask you the emotion that surprised you the most, since becoming a parent? 
Love, protective, amazed, vulnerable, responsible?

Now think a bit longer. 
Does anyone else come up with words like overwhelmed, naive, confused, and clueless?

Call me crazy, but my visions of parenting included my children, oh I don't know... doing what we told them to do. They wouldn't just taste what was on their plates, they would eat it. The whole meal. It didn't take a genius to figure out that this was not going to happen with Jordan. Becauseunbeknownst to me, you can't make a three year old eat.

So we (the parents) compromised by telling Jordan that she only needed to try one bite of the vegetable. We compromised, and she still blatantly refused night after night. She would sit at the dinner table, sometimes for well over an hour, and not take one bite. Until she did. She always did (phew), but never without a fight. 

Talk about frustrating. We were trying our best to be consistent, because research  very clearly stated the benefits of consistency:

  • Children who have consistent rules with predictable consequences are less likely to “push the limits” and constantly test their parents by misbehaving. They learn quickly that “no” means “no”.
  • Children with consistent parents experience less anxiety.
  • Investing early in consistent parenting pays off huge dividends later. There will be considerably less temper tantrums, arguing and bargaining as the children grow.

So much for research.

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Just a Quick Thought About the Recent Tragedies

I mentioned in an earlier post that I believe there are different types or levels of depression and anxiety. I have been reminded of this by watching Jordan try to deal with, and process, the many violent tragedies that have been occurring.  She has the desire to make a difference, but stated that she "would have no idea where to start."

When I was young I remember practicing the "bomb" drills in school. We heard something about the Russians and went into the hallways and covered our heads with our arms. Was I frightened? Not very. After that drill, we would talk about it for a short time and get on with our day. No one was bombarded with news, hype and media on a nonstop basis.

I asked Jordan if she might think about turning off some of the news feeds that she gets on her phone. I have learned throughout the years not to tell her what to do. That tends to fall on deaf ears.  I'm not suggesting that she ignore the world, but just take a break from it once in a while. Her reply: "I don't know." It's better than a no.

So, please think of those people who are extremely sensitive, react intensely to small triggers (or in our current world, big ones), have trouble self soothing, and are emotionally volatile. They may require a little more patience and understanding than usual.

Thank you,

Us Too