Saturday, October 28, 2017

If I Knew Then What I Know Now...

Here’s the parental logic Adam and I were trying to implement. You tell me if you think it makes sense. Since it was taking Jordan over two hours to get ready for bed, and she wasn’t getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night, out of desperation we came up with a solution:  Maybe Jordan should give up a couple of the extra curricular activities that were taking up so much of her time.  Makes sense, right? Aside from her advanced classes in 7th grade, she was in Builder’s Club, intramural volleyball, and three choirs. That’s right, I said three. 

 By pulling back, one could assume there would be more time to get homework done, more down time to chill and regroup, and hence... she would get to bed earlier. Problem solved. Except she informed us that even if she had no homework, and didn’t stay after school, she would still get to bed late. Um, may I ask why? (Not sure if asked her this or not, but I assume at this point, she wouldn't have been able to verbalize an answer anyway. Just a hunch.)

Here’s what was written in my journal: "Why? On Purpose? OCD?? Why??" So yes, I was acknowledging that there was a problem, but I was also getting hyped. We knew she needed to do more than just study to have a well rounded life. We also realized we were suggesting she drop all the things she took pleasure in, but as I wrote "I get angry and resentful because she is slowly sucking the life out of me. The struggles keep coming back again and again. This is a pain (literally)."

Wait! This is it! I think this is why I'm sharing our story. 

I knew things weren't going well. I wrote about it, repeatedly. Jordan was miserable, I was slowly going down the emotional toilet, and Adam and I were frantically grasping to find solutions. We were doing our best, but we weren't succeeding. We weren't doing enough.

That being said, if you or your loved ones are struggling and feel like you're banging your heads up against a wall, please realize that you don't have to go through it alone. There's no shame in asking for help. Actually (in my humble opinion) the act of admitting and realizing you can't handle something on your own, is one of the bravest, most admirable traits a person can possess.  

Thank you.

Us Too

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Going Through the Motions

My journal entry on 3/16/2011 was succinct and completely summed up how I was feeling. It wasn't pretty:

“Not very happy lately. Still running around 4 times a week,
but only out of necessity, not enjoyment.
I never want to do anything, and I do things only out of
necessity. I'm having trouble concentrating at school, remembering
the kid’s names and the lessons for first graders. Dawned on me
while running that I think I might need anti depressants. I may
talk to Adam about this soon if I keep feeling this way.”

So...yeah. Obviously, I was a mess. The funny thing was, I knew it. I wrote in my journal as if someone would pick it up and read it, feel sorry for me, and guide me in the right direction. Of course that didn't happen because the only person who could do that... was me.

I have always kept a journal to help process my thoughts and work through the crap. I would quickly spew the emotions (good or bad) onto the pages, with the hopes that the words would serve as an outlet, and if necessary, push me towards a positive solution. This had been effective for years.

The problem was, my two fool-proof coping mechanisms; running and journaling, were no longer helping. They weren't enough. And that could only mean trouble. Especially if your seventh grader, who was already struggling with the ability to budget her time and carry through with basic life skills, was instantly shut out by one of her best friends.

Oh, the good times they were a-coming...

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, October 16, 2017

To Face or Not to Face Your Demons

I’ve never been one to remember small details, so I didn’t recall the content in the next section of my journal. Yesterday I asked Jordan if she remembered it. (She was home for the weekend :) because she was having a hard time coping with… well, with life :(. It happens sometimes, and I love that we can still be there to support and help her regroup, refocus, and get back on track. It's one of the many benefits of having your child go to a college close to home.)

I inquired: “Do you remember when you had a chart in your room to help keep track of how long it took to get into the shower and put your clothes away?”  She said she did remember, and she "hated it".  Well okay then.  

I, on the other hand, did not hate it, and I'll tell you why... I was quite pleased with this chart for one reason, and one reason only; we were witnessing positive results. She was in bed before 10:00 for an entire week! More sleep can never be a bad thing.

Obviously, filling out this chart was rough for Jordan. It was work. It held her accountable for her behaviors, behaviors she was being told, by her parents, needed to be changed. How many thirteen year old girls do you know, who would enjoy doing a task like this?

It was almost as if we were putting her through a simple form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). One definition of CBT is:
  • a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression.  
Jordan hated CBT then, and still refuses to try it today.  She's aware that the research claims it's "one of the most effective treatments for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem. It is as effective as antidepressants for many types of depression."

She tried it once years ago, and was convinced that it made her life more difficult. Well sure it did. That's basically the point; to push through and get past the crap, until you realize it's possible to live life without these negative patterns. It's no wonder this type of therapy is such a hard sell, especially for those who battle with anxiety on a day to day basis. They're told; "You may get better, but only if you push yourself to the breaking point, by facing your demons. Oh yeah, and you need to do this totally independently. Good luck  We'll check back in at our next session."  

Ugh, right? It's a good thing many of those who struggle are "superheroes", because it sounds like a prerequisite for this type of request would be to have some kind of secret superpower at your disposal.

Thank you.
Us Too

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Unseen Signs

with lots of trial and error.

Let the fun begin.  As I slowly advance through my journal I’m beginning to notice a few common themes. Let’s see if you come up with some of the same conclusions that I have, after I share some quotes from my next few pages:

  • “Jordan is getting a bit out of control with her bedtime and morning routine.” 
  • “Not acceptable!”
  • “By Friday she is evil.” 
  • “Her weekends are miserable, she’s moody all day.”
  • “She only had two assignments for homework, but missed a party and a basketball game because she didn’t get them done.”
  • “She doesn’t have to be perfect!”
  • “We may need to get her help with this or she’s going to burn out before high school.”
  • “I may try a chart so she can keep track of how long it takes to wash her face and pick out clothes, so maybe she'll see a pattern or something.”
  • “Sleep and food are most important!”  That was Adam's thing, and still is. ;) 
  • “At 13 you should really be able to feed yourself so you don’t become evil!”  Cringe, because apparently this was said to her.
  • "We want to help her but she's so stubborn and refuses to help herself."
  • "She makes things worse and it's so hard to want to help someone who does that over and over again."
Do you notice any patterns? Does anything come screaming out at you, like it does to me? Because now that I have lived through it, it all seems so very clear; Jordan was slowly cascading into a world of crisis.  And my reactions were judgmental and emotion-filled. Hence the number of exclamation points and descriptive words (aka name calling?).  Cringe.  Although, at least I was trying to come up with some possible solutions..

I see things clearly now, but when I was living through it, all I could see was fear and anger. I think we as parents are always looking for a reason why. Why is she struggling so much? Why is life so difficult for her? 

Unfortunately, I think the typical parental answer to that question, at least when the struggle is so new and so raw (not sure I have the right to say this) is to "blame" the child. "If only my child would do the homework, accept the help, eat more food, eat less food, be less aggressive, be more aggressive, go to bed, hang out with friends, text me more, be more responsible, study more, try harder, stop being rude, listen to me, do the chores, not be so sensitive, so talkative, so mouthy, so angry, so unhappy, so...  See what I mean? 

It's a hard habit to break, stopping the judgmental finger pointing, but I'm proof that even if it takes a very long time, it can be done. That being said, you may want to brace yourself because it took me years to figure it out. And years fill up a lot of emotion-filled pages, in a lot of journals. 

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Rough Couple of Weeks

I think it's fair to say that the past few weeks have been rough. Oh, who am I kidding? They’ve completely sucked. Between the unprecedented natural disasters, the anger and divisiveness, and this recent unimaginable act of violence, it’s amazing we’re able to function on a day to day basis.

Think about that statement and let it sink in for a minute. Are we able, and better yet, should we, continue functioning on a daily basis with all of this crap going on? With all the suffering? I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones. Not only was I personally unaffected by the chaos, but I continue to function. Sure, I get scared, sad, confused, and pissed, but the underlying voice in my head keeps tellimg me that everything will be okay. Naive? Maybe. Zoloft induced? Perhaps, but at least I’m still able to function.

Here’s the thing. I believe those out there who have been graced with the “super powers” as I touched upon in the entry: Intrusive Thoughts and Superheroes, are going through so much more than those of us not given this "gift". I have been told by a very special superhero that "The bad is very overwhelming, and it's hard to emotionally distance myself from it."

So please be patient, expect to encounter some bumps along the way, and continue to be there for your loved ones. Today I heard the best advice ever from a very special fourth grader who in extenuating circumstances, was trying to calm her friends. She quoted Martin Luther King Jr. by saying, "Don't focus on the darkness, but go to the light. Only light stops the dark."

A fourth grader! And that, my Us Too friends, is one heck of a bright light. 😎

Thank you.

Us Too