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.

Shit.

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


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Nothing Lasts Forever


This title may be a bit dramatic, but one month after our good times were rolling along the crap started hitting the fan again.  Jordan's 9th grade work load was crazy busy. Between the AP class and no scheduled study halls, she had absolutely no down time. Her counselor suggested she add choir to her schedule, but in order to do this she would have had to skip one French class a week.   Um... No.

Sure. Ask a 9th grader who struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to skip a class that she'll still be responsible for, while she's taking a college level class. Yeah, that sounds fair.  Needless to say, we arranged a meeting with her counselor.

The stress began to take its toll on Jordan.  She felt "stupid" because she received help, and apparently it wasn't "enough".  She told me she started picking at her scalp again, which had the propensity to lead to less study time, later bed times, and ultimately, sleep deprivation.  Crap.  If this wasn't upsetting enough, she said she didn't want to tell Adam and me for fear that we would be angry and disappointed. 😟 (I was disappointed because her transition to meds had been such a positive one, and I had so much hope, but I certainly didn't share this with her.)

Let this be a friendly reminder for those who may be going through similar situations; Taking medication is only one piece of the puzzle.  It's not a miracle cure and it may not always be effective. But please don't lose hope. There are many different therapists, doctors, and medications to chose from, so hang in there and keep plugging along until you find what works for your beautiful super hero.

Thank you.

Us Too




Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Good Times Kept Rolling


Here are some more positive, beautiful things Jordan said to me after taking Lexapro for a month.

Yay!

  • "Even how I walk down the hallway is different.  I used to be so tense and not look at anyone."
  • "I probably didn't get an A on my Human Geography test, but that's okay."
  • "I just yelled out "room 82" when I couldn't find a classroom and someone pointed to the room. I got to class late but it was okay."  --Holy crap!!
  • "I forgot my homework on the first day of school and thought about how I would apologize to the teacher, but it got collected the next day anyway."
  • "I didn't realize how I used to be and how my thinking spiraled, before taking Lexapro."
  • "I don't care if people know that I'm medicated."
  • And she said this to her friends:  "I'm so much happier this year.  Maybe it's the anti anxiety medication that I'm taking."  πŸ˜Š


All of these statements were huge coming from her.  It was like listening to another child. She was still our amazing Jordan... but better!!  (I didn't know this was even possible 😏) 

With all these positive effects, she was still a bit leery.  I think this was a good thing; it showed she wasn't naive or easily fooled. Here's what caused her to worry:  Someone very close to her who also took medication for anxiety, began experiencing sever negative thought patterns again, and this really freaked him out. She wanted to know if that could also happen to her.  😟

Here's the thing, I didn't really know.  

I knew Lexapro wasn't a miracle pill, so I told her what I had presumed to be true: If she did begin to spiral downward, it will most likely (and hopefully) be less intense. Plus, she had learned in therapy the skills and thought patterns necessary to help herself through the rough times.  And she always  had us.  

Sometimes hope has to be enough. 

Thank you.

Us Too




Monday, August 20, 2018

Life Was Good


Here's Why:

  • Jordan told me she realized that she needed to chill out for a shorter amount of time after school because she was still having trouble getting her homework done in a timely manner, and she wanted to get to bed earlier. 

 Holy crap!

  • She also told me that since she didn't know what to expect in her AP Human Geography class, that she was going to give it her all so she "can get better at it".  
Wow!
  • Even more remarkable, Jordan told me that she would be okay with B's in high school. (Not happy about, but okay with it.)
Double wow!!
  • And last but not least... Jordan got a t-shirt that said "Perfectly Imperfect" and she wore it to high school. 
That's why life was good.  :)

Thank you.

Us Too






Thursday, August 16, 2018

For What it's Worth...



  • For what it's worth, the love of our beloved fur-babies is always worth it. Always.
  • For what it's worth, once you've hit rock bottom, the fear that it will happen again never goes away. I didn't always understand this.
  • For what it's worth, apparently I never actually hit rock bottom because I told my therapist "I'm doing all of this because I have to." 
  • For what it's worth, there are people who aren't able to verbalize, or do this, and my heart goes out to them.
  • For what it's worth, sometimes it surprises me that being appreciative and thankful for what you have, can feel like work. What the hell is that about?
  • For what it's worth, I watched the movie Sorry To Bother You and although it was very well done, it's portrayal of reality was much too close for comfort. I felt sick and cried afterwards.
  • For what it's worth, after Jordan saw my reaction to the movie she said "Welcome to my mind every minute of every day." Really??  Shit.
  • For what it's worth, our kids are supposed to move on and start lives of their own. It's meant to be and it's a good thing.
  • For what it's worth, parents are also supposed to move on and restart their own lives. Yikes. 
  • For what it's worth, regardless of the shit-show going on in Washington, there is a lot of good going on in the world.
  • For what it's worth, questioning and reflecting (and blogging? 😏) is not always a bad thing. 
That's all I've got.

Thank you for following along in our journey. For whatever reason, I have always had the need to write down my thoughts and emotions during those times when my mind got lost within itself. It's nice to know that at least now there are other human beings actually reading them. 

Thank you.

Us Too

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Positives and Negatives



"Right now the positives SO outweigh the negatives."  I wrote this two weeks after Jordan began taking Lexapro, and it summed up how I was processing the fact that she was taking it. Adam and I were both concerned about possible long term side effects, but overall Jordan's quality of life appeared to be much more "fair". Everything she had previously been experiencing and feeling, the way she was attempting to cope with life, none of that was okay.  I have no doubt it would have been irresponsible and cruel to have done nothing to help her, but that didn't make the decision to medicate any easier.

Jordan told me her jaw and hands sometimes trembled, even when she wasn't nervous or anxious. What the heck was that? I find it strange that I was able to overlook this small, although somewhat concerning (since Lexapro alters the brain) side effect, if that's what it was.  Reading the list of possible side effects for any medication can be daunting. Reading the list for an SSRI, which is defined in Merrian Webster's dictionary as:

any of a class of antidepressants (as fluoxetine or sertraline) that inhibit the inactivation of serotonin by blocking its reuptake by presynaptic nerve cell endings  called also selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

can be more than daunting. It can be downright frightening. Here are the possible side effects listed for Lexapro:


Common side effects include:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in sex drive or function
  • Drowsiness
  • Unusual sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry mouth
  • Greater appetite
  • Flu-like symptoms, including sneezing and runny nose
Serious side effects can also occur. If you have any of these side effects, call your doctor immediately:
  • Unusual excitement
  • Hallucinations, which means seeing things or hearing       voices that do not exist
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Severe muscle stiffness
  • Thoughts about suicide or dying
  • New or worse depression or anxiety
  • Extreme agitation or restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unusual irritability
  • Anger or aggressive behavior
  • Impulsiveness
  • Mania, or an extreme increase in activity and talking
  • Other unusual changes in behavior or mood
What the hell?  The common side effects aren't too bad, although who wants to walk around feeling like they have the flu all the time? At least we didn't have to worry about her sex drive yet. Ugh. But the serious side effects?  So, basically the medicine you're prescribing to help my daughter feel less anxious and depressed, can cause new or worse symptoms of anxiety and depression, panic attacks, and possible thoughts of suicide or dying.  Lovely.  Oh, and does trembling hands and jaw fit into the category of severe muscle stiffness or restlessness? Crap, I sure hoped not.

Nothing about any of this was easy. No parent would chose to medicate their child if they didn't think (and hope) that the positives could possibly outweigh the negatives. The decision may suck, but it's a parent's responsibility to do whatever it takes to help their child become a happy, healthy member of society.  Right?

And sometimes this may include giving your child a small white pill.

Thank you.

Us Too







Tuesday, July 31, 2018

I'm A Believer


The summer before Jordan's freshman year was coming to and end and it may have been the first time ever, that I was the most anxious person in the family. Kevin was going into middle school, Kayla into 8th, Jordan into high school, Adam was starting his new job, and I was going back to work. All of this was going to happen on the same day.  After four more days of freedom, the Beck's were going to be busy!

I wasn't so naive as to think Jordan would remain calm and "even" throughout her entire freshman year, but I was hopeful.  With less than a week of summer remaining, there were still no signs of Jordan shutting down, lashing out at us, or freaking out. This was a big deal.

It was difficult for her to say goodbye to the younger boys in her choir, but if I've learned nothing else throughout my lifetime, it's that change hurts, and basically it tends to suck.  Her reactions and emotions were "normal" for lack of a better word, and I was relieved she was coping so well. She had been happy, upbeat, pleasant, and plowed through her Human Geography paper in one day, without worrying. Without worrying! 

Um... who was this child, and what have you done with our Jordan?

She appeared not only to tolerate the Lexapro, but also benefited from taking it. It became crystal clear to me that chemical imbalances are very real, and they should (and more importantly can) be treated medically.

At this moment I guess I became a believer.

Thank you.

Us Too

Friday, July 20, 2018

Positive Notes


After Jordan took half a Lexapro for three nights, she told me she had two bad dreams. And what conclusion do you think my brain immediately latched on to?  It's because of the Lexapro, aka the brain medicine, I know it.  In one of the dreams a man was staring into her window.  Lovely.  In the other, our dog Ladybug died, and Jordan remembers crying.  Wonderful.

On a positive note-- Jordan said she was feeling more energetic, she liked it, and she was excited. Yay!  Although is this even possible after taking Lexapro for only three days, or was it a placebo effect? I had no idea, but I was glad she was positive and receptive to the idea of taking medication. I looked up how long it takes to feel the effects of Lexapro on the National Alliance on Mental Illness site (NAMI) and it said:

"Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working."  

Notice it doesn't say 1-3 days.  Regardless, I was thankful things appeared to be moving in the right direction. 

On a more positive note-- Adam got a contracting job. I can't tell you how relieved we were, and how proud I was of him.  Like super relieved and super proud.

On an even more kick-ass positive note-- We went to freshman orientation and Jordan, our Jordan, didn't get nervous or overwhelmed.  What-what?  She was looking forward to high school. I don't think Jordan ever looked forward to anything before it happened, especially if it was an unknown. 

I must have had hope that our tides were finally turning, because I wrote:  I will be so happy if this helps her to lead a normal life-- like beyond-words happy! 

Thank you.

Us Too


Monday, July 16, 2018

Meds For the Brain


It was mid August and I wrote that Jordan had been "even and good". She began seeing her psychiatrist's physician's assistant (PA) who seemed concerned and sweet.

As you can imagine getting Jordan on medication was not an easy step to take, especially since Jordan was having a decent summer.  My mind instantly went into question mode:

  • What if her anxiety was situational and school was the cause?
  • Does she really need to be medicated?
  • What if she experiences some of the possible side effects? (Which I advise not to read because, damn... Some of them sound worse than her original symptoms.)
  • Will she become addicted and need to take these forever?
  • Is it safe and what are the long term side effects? 
  • And last but not least: What if after all this, they don't help her??

For better or for worse, I have always tasted/tried any medication I gave to the kids before they took it. I was curious/worried/overly involved/a bit crazy ;).  But I certainly wasn't going to try her Lexapro.  How's that for a dose of reality? I was afraid to take a medication I was giving to my child. Because Lexapro is different.  It's a medicine for the brain.  Jordan's brain.  To this day it still kind of freaks me out.

I mentioned to the PA that I felt it would be mean if we didn't try medication. She told me something that has stuck with me all these years.  She said. "The best predictors of behaviors are found by looking at past behaviors." Basically, don't let one somewhat-mellow summer negate all your concerns and all Jordan's cries for help. 

It was now time to wait, ask Jordan questions, watch her like a hawk, and hope for the best.

Thank you.

Us Too





Monday, July 9, 2018

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!



On August 12, 2012 Jordan was prescribed Lexapro!!

It took over 13 years, but we finally did it.  
Woot woot! πŸ™‹

Thank you.

Us Too

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Puppy Love


"I'm awkward and uncomfortable socially."  Jordan said to me in the summer before ninth grade. She liked a boy and the boy liked her back. :)  We talked about this for a while because she was very uncomfortable with the whole situation. She wasn't sure what made her more nervous, the possibility of rejection or that he may want to hang out.

So what's the big deal?  She was thirteen, which can possibly go down as the most awkward 365 days in any person's life.   

But I think there's a difference between an awkwardly-average kid, and one who may have deeper issues going on.  A child like Jordan worried about being uncomfortable and awkward.  I'm no expert, but I'm fairly certain this could only make matters worse. I may have been ridiculously dorky at this age, but I sure in heck didn't worry about being that way.  I guess I was blissfully clueless.

Could this be what separates "average" people from those who have more serious anxiety?  If you're worried about the level of your uncomfortable-ness, that kind of separates you from the other goofy kids. You're worried about being worried, which ultimately leads to more worry.  This can't be good.

Today I have a much better understanding of how this cycle feels.  As I have written before, life has a way of changing people. πŸ’©

All I knew was I didn't want her anxiety to stop her from participating, and having a "normal" teenage life. 

Thank you.

Us Too




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Single Parenting- A Journey for the Strong


After writing my last post I began thinking about those single parents out there.

First of all, in my mind you are the real life heroes.  Parenting is the most difficult job in the world when there are two people juggling the responsibilities.  I imagine that at times, with one parent, it would feel nearly impossible.  Then throw into the mix a child who may be struggling with mental illnesses.  Damn!  Again, you are my heroes.

That being said, this only helps to drive home the importance of reaching out to friends, loved ones and professionals for help.  Not only might you find coping strategies, gain perspective, feel less lonely, and build stronger relationships, but according to Laura Greenstein who wrote a post in NAMI, you may also be helping to stop the mental illness stigma.

Go You!

Thank you.

Us Too




Sunday, July 1, 2018

Chipped Away


I think I've made it abundantly clear that Adam being out of work and us paying for health insurance out-of-pocket was a huge stressor.  Add into the mix watching your precious thirteen year old struggle with daily tasks such as eating, showering and getting out of bed, and damn... 

It's interesting how when life slowly chips away at you, a person can begin to change.  Here's what I mean: I'm not a risk taker.  At all.  I actually find taking risks to be reckless and irresponsible.  So for me to have written:

"So, is the world pushing Adam and I towards starting up a brewery?"  I must have been feeling totally out of control; like we were running out of any and all other options.

Here's the brief background on this whole brewery idea:  Adam had been brewing beer on and off for around 15 years, and people seemed to enjoy his product.  He had the desire/dream to one day open up a brewery.  In my brain nothing could have sounded more scary/risky/ridiculous, but during this stressful time I wrote:

"Do we have what it takes to do this? Apparently we really need to focus on our strengths without getting angry and putting each other down. I think I'm very close to being able to do this, which is not easy for me Adam can research and brew- be the creative one. It makes him happy to create. I could be the organizer- the doer and the motivator."

What's the point to this somewhat off-topic post?  I guess it's that no matter how difficult it can be to help heal your struggling child, and how close you are to totally losing your shit, if you're fortunate enough to be sharing your life with someone, you have no choice but to rely upon and support each other. 

Adam and I were at least attempting to get ourselves onto the same page, even if this was difficult. I wasn't sure we had any other choice.

Thank you.

Us Too


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Two More Thoughts


I would like to add two more attributes to the list of desired traits necessary, to find a reliable therapist:
  1. The price had to be right (good luck with that) since I was interviewing for a full time position unsuccessfully. and Adam was still collecting unemployment (Please don't knock this social-safely-net, because when you are uncontrollably forced to depend on it, it's somewhat of a life saver, and it's a dose of reality in the truest sense of the word). 
  2. Jordan had to feel comfortable and actually like and respect the person (which I'm not sure has happened to this day.) 
That is all.  πŸ‘πŸ˜

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, June 25, 2018

Please, Not Again



At this point it was obvious we needed to do something.  Here's what I wrote:

I emailed Jordan's therapist because damn we need help. We're thinking maybe someone else would be better, but the thought of starting all over again... Ugh.  I don't know how or where to start, and I don't want to do this again.  It's crap. 

Do you know how impossibly hard it is to try to find someone good enough, fair enough, smart enough, sensitive enough, caring enough, experienced enough, level-headed enough, and honest enough, so that a mom feels comfortable entrusting her child's entire being to their care?

Oh, it's frickin hard.

Thank you.

Us Too

Friday, June 22, 2018

Control


The next night things calmed down and went back to "normal" (believe it or not, that's how we rolled; no grudges, no holding onto the anger for very long) Jordan asked if she could practice for play tryouts.  My response was "Only if you are totally ready for bed before you start." Then I said the line I never thought I would utter to one of my children. "If you don't like it, there's the door, and good luck."

She decided to stay.

Here's a thought. Was she compliant because she witnessed Mom's "crazy" the night before? Did it make an impression?  Perhaps a better question would be, "Was the impression a positive one or a negative one?   Maybe it doesn't really matter.

Just two days after our night-from-hell, I wrote:  I know that all of this-- her whole life, has been somewhat "textbook".  I could have predicted a night like this from very early on.  I also wrote:  If we don't get her the help she needs, I wouldn't be surprised if one day she threatens to take her own life.  I thought this back in 2012.  Damn.

What would push a mother to assume that her first born child would continue struggling to the point where life would eventually push her towards the depths of despair?  Well, remember the time during summer camp when she refused to drink anything so she wouldn't have to use the bathroom with the bugs in it?   This would.

So many of the mental illnesses; Anorexia/Bulimia, Anxiety, Perfectionism, OCD, Addiction, Depression...they all have one common root:  A desire for control.

Yep. Her Too

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, June 18, 2018

Black and Purple


There have only been a couple of times when I lost it. I mean yelled, screamed, had an outer body experience and was "watching" myself from above, almost like it wasn't actually me. It's horrible,  upsetting, and beyond scary. This was one of those times.

I hated that it happened.  I punched her door (her very hard door) a few times and wound up walking around with a black and purple hand for over a week. Try explaining that to someone at work. I screamed at her about how good she has it--how I was there for her when she had no friends, showed her how to use freakin tampons, hung with her when she volunteered for Girls On The Run when I co-coached. I was SO angry!

I was more hurt.  Up until this point we had been close and talked about everything: friends, boys, family, sex, being gay, being straight, drugs, religion, life, love.  And now it felt like she hated me.

I screamed "This is where you get your anger from. So what am I supposed to do now, CUT??"  This is when she began to cry.

CRINGE for the entire situation.

Do I have regrets?  Maybe some.  Kayla and Kevin were both home and hiding out in their rooms. I can only imagine what they were thinking.  But I'm not sure what I was supposed to do. What would have been more appropriate?  It's always been my innate reaction to meet somebody's emotional/psychological state at their level.  It's instinctual. Maybe it's a self protection mechanism, but I'm not sure. Should I have been calm and supportive?  Sad and devastated?   Some people may have reacted that way, but for better or for worse, I did not.

It was what it was, I guess.

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Worst Night Ever


I will never forget this night.  It qualifies as one of the worst of my life. (and Jordan's too 😒) It happened a little over a month after the run-because-of-arm-flab sighting.

Here's how it all went down, word for word. (I'll warn you, be ready for some harsh, cringe-worthy language. This is uncomfortable for me to share, but mental health and family issues are uncomfortable and hard and messy. If I thought we were the only family who dealt with this type of stuff, I wouldn't be sharing. The thing is, I've heard and seen enough to know that by no means are we the only family affected by mental health issues.  Yep.  Us Too.

What the fuck!!!  So now Jordan is cutting!? And she has the nerve to come down and point at her arm yelling, "If things don't get better, this is only going to get worse!"  Fuck her.  I don't deserve this shit. I tried to be all patient with her- Blah Blah Blah.  Well fuck it. She is going back to her therapist. This is crap and I'm sick of it.
I quote, "Dad, if I don't get my phone and Tumbler back, this is only going to get worse."  And she points to her arm where she scratched/cut.  Are you kidding me??? If that's not manipulation, I don't know what is.  I have no idea how we got a kid like her.  We weren't perfect by any means, but we tried to be pretty consistent. And why was she so angry that she had to cut? Because she was talking on her phone to her best friend and her cousin, while on Tumbler, while also doing her math homework.  All at the same time. Grrr.  At this time Kayla asked Jordan if she could use the computer and she rudely replied, "No, I'm doing my homework!"  
So Adam told Jordan to give him her phone, and when she didn't, he tried to take it.  She then screamed into the phone how her parents hated her and told Adam to shut up! What the hell? Who the hell does she think she is?

Phew.

I'm going to stop here, before getting into my reaction.  As you can probably imagine, it wasn't pretty.  I was beyond pissed, scared, shocked and confused.

***Please don't forger that things are SO MUCH better now.  Jordan is a loving, wonderful, sensitive, intelligent, funny, and focused young woman, one who is willing to fight for the underdog and provide a voice for the voiceless. 😊***

Thank you.

Us Too


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Thoughts About Fed Up


Some thoughts about the last post:

First of all, I now know why Jordan didn't want to take a shower.  This is when she struggled with dermatillomania, and she still does. Today she asks me for help, and I do (more details about this to come later).  Back then she did not ask for help, and I had no idea.

Second of all, I was super stressed about traveling, so I can only imagine how she felt. It's difficult to be in someone else's home. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Thirdly, she was given a time restraint. It may have been four hours, but that didn't matter.  It was pressure, and any amount of pressure freaked her out. 

What else? 

Oh yeah.  I'm 100% positive that her behaviors were not being done for our benefit. Make that 1,000,000% positive. Although she has learned and grown and thrived, while living away at school for the past two years (I think more than any of us ever thought possible) it hasn't always been easy.  And here's why I believe this is true: 

A person who is born a Superhero will always be a Superhero. 

But no worries, because we can't forget about the trusty sidekicks.  Batman has Robin, Shrek has Donkey, SpongeBob has Patrick, and Jordan will always have Us. 😍

Thank you.

Us Too



Fed Up AF


I'm just going to take this straight from my journal because I couldn't make it any more real than it actually was:

It's not worth it to travel anymore. The fit thrown by Jordan before we left- instead of leaving at 2:30, we left at 5:00!! All because she didn't want to take a shower. She got up at 10:30.  So four hours isn't enough time to pack and get ready for a weekend trip? Really?
Sometimes I wonder if she would (or will) make it on her own. Maybe all this crap is for our benefit and she'll do fine on her own.  I hope so because right now she basically seems incapable of feeding herself and sleeping enough to function. We may need to implement the 504 plan next year. The high school teachers might not be as understanding and accommodating as the middle school teachers were, with regards to limiting her homework.  She still gets all A's anyway, so why would they say no?
It's sad to say, but sometimes I'm actually looking forward to her moving out. Fourteen years of this crap and it's getting old. Whether mental illness or stubborn attitude, it still sucks!
And to top it all off- I just saw arm flab in my sleeveless running shirt.  I'm going to run now.  Shit. 

And also cringe. 

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Love of a Wife and a Mother


Adam said there was no point in questioning and worrying about the past because it was wasted energy. He's so smart. :)  I agreed, but I couldn't always help it.  I felt (and still feel) very fortunate that he and I had been through enough together, that I knew I could count on him for support.  Here's what I wrote about our relationship and where I 'was' emotionally, back in March of 2012:

Adam and I are closer than ever now, after all these years.  In the beginning I was the stronger one, stable, secure, the teacher. Now it's changed.  Now he has to support me more often.  Life didn't used to scare me.  Now it does.  I think I was naive back then- just happy and naive. Now reality has set in and it scares me.  College, retirement, friendships... all a source of anxiety for me. Not all the time, but sometimes. My naive attitude that everything will "work out" is basically gone. I still hope that it will, but I'm not sure. 

So yeah, more good times.  Not. 

I never meant for this blog to be about me, but I'm finding that it can't always be avoided.  For starters, occasionally it's taken word for word from my old journals.  Not to mention that the intensity and connection between a mother and her child is like nothing else in the world.  So if Us Too is about Jordan, than I guess it has to be about Me Too.  😊

Thank you.

Us Too































Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Random Tidbits



This is a short one, because basically I couldn't figure out what else to do.

One night we turned off Jordan's light and took her lap top away. As you can probably imagine, it wasn't one of our most enjoyable evenings. The next morning she came downstairs and ate a tiny bowl of cereal- no milk, no cheese, and no fruit. (I was a bit anal about their breakfasts.) But boy did her hair and dress look perfect. So her priorities were based on her looks, and not on her health.  I wasn't happy.  And it didn't help that some kids told her how pretty she looked that day.  Jordan was thrilled.  Me?  Not so much.

I finally decided to reach out to her 8th grade teachers, briefly explaining our difficult homework situation, and her math teacher got back to me. Jordan was to do a half hour of math homework a night, and not one minute more.  Beautiful!  See?  Reaching out and asking for help is a good idea.

Jordan began doing her homework in the kitchen with a timer. Happy days!

Thank you.

Us Too

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Not Ready



It's becoming more and more apparent to me that the instructions Adam and I were given by Jordan's therapist:  Turn her lights off each night at 10:00 and walk away, whether she was ready for bed or not, was probably the worst advice ever.  At this point we've been living with her for 13 years, and I can't name one time when we played hard-ball, that there was a positive outcome.  Even when she was a toddler she slammed her head into her crib bars, when we attempted to follow the ever so popular self soothing techniques.

There was no way in hell Jordan would have realized her predicament/weaknesses because we decided to leave her alone in a dark room.  I can just imagine her thought process: (feel free to read the next two sentences with all the sarcasm you can muster)   Hmm... Mom and dad turned off my lights, so that must mean it's time for bed. I guess I'll do just that, because they always know what's best for me.        Not in a million years.

I understand the theory behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

  • "a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of behavior and thoughts about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression."

Jordan would certainly be challenged, and she did want to alter the unwanted behaviors that were prohibiting her from getting into bed (straightening up her room, picking at her skin, doing homework, choosing clothes for the next day...) but there was one problem.  She was not yet a willing participant. She wasn't ready to face these issues head on, because she understood that doing so would cause her great discomfort and pain. I've heard the saying, "Sometimes you have to work through the pain to get to the happiness.", but let's be honest,  what 13 year old would be able and willing to do that?

Not ours, that's for sure.

Thank you.

Us Too


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Being Someone Else


Watching Jordan act and sing in her first musical was emotional and overwhelming. It was almost surreal. Her facial expressions made her look like a different person. She was glowing and animated and appeared to be comfortable. It was rare to see her this way, so it was good, yet confusing.

Was this our Jordan, or was she in character and acting?  I wasn't sure. I do know that the time period before the show was usually stressful and chaotic. I was making sure she shoved enough food into her mouth so she wouldn't pass out, while she was obsessing about homework, costumes and stage makeup.

And after the show, she crashed instantly. The school lobby was filled with excited middle school kids and their families, all exchanging flowers and hugs.  But when I looked into Jordan's eyes, I could see that she was done.  When friends and family approached Jordan to congratulate her, she was about to lose it. She would muster up a smile, but I could see it was definitely time to go home. When we got home we would usually eat our celebratory cake or cookies with my parents, while Jordan voluntarily stayed in her room, alone.

I hate to stereotype, but many of the kids involved in shows and musicals are, to put it mildly, emotional (aka "drama") so I guess Jordan fit right in. :)

Thank you.

Us Too






Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tough Love is Just That



After the journal entry based on the post:  The Gone Me,  I didn't write for almost a full two months.  Those must've been a hell of a couple of months.

When I finally did write, it was about when I took a mental-health day off from work. (I'm not sure if I had mentioned this before, but I was working part time at our local elementary school, as a reading aide. I wasn't utilizing my degrees or certifications, but at least I was teaching again.)  Adam still didn't have a job, so we talked a lot that day. We spoke about how he was a dreamer through and through, and I... definitely was not.  Although this conversation could have been dreadfully uncomfortable, it wasn't, probably because Jordan was beginning to enjoy her life again.

She was involved in the 8th grade musical, and she was loving it.  Yay!  It's really not surprising that she enjoyed the rehearsals and shows, because everything that happens in a musical is on cue. There are never any surprises. The ultimate goal is perfection. This was pure heaven for a kid like Jordan. Plus, these kids loved to sing.  I love how a sense of belonging can make a world of difference in someone's life.

Like I previously posted, things can (and do) get better.  They may not be great, but better is something, isn't it?  Adam still didn't have a job, I was beginning to feel "stuck" in my career path, and 5th-grader Kevin was driving us nuts with his argumentative attitude. But because Jordan wasn't suffering and struggling as much, I was so much better able to cope.

I wrote back in August of 2015, in the post: Love and Awe... that when Jordan had a scratch on her face, I had expected to see it on my own face. I guess that should've been a clue that my future would eventually be thoroughly intertwined within Jordan's.

It's taken me over 20 years to painstakingly figure something out:  this type of codependent relationship wasn't productive or healthy for either one of us.

Thank you.

Us Too




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Caring, Present and Kind


"How many of you out there are having trouble coping with life's simple day to day tasks?  Are any of you feeling overwhelmed, defeated, depressed?  If so, let's talk..."

We don't often hear questions like this asked. And I don't know many people who nonchalantly bring up these types of emotions during a friendly conversation.  It's no wonder so many people go undiagnosed, and wind up suffering alone.

Is this because of stubbornness? Acceptance? Pride? Fear?  Yes, yes, yes, and probably, yes. Should close friends or relatives feel badly because they were unaware?  Absolutely not.  I had a few caring (and present and kind) friends, after reading Us Too, tell me they wished they had known, and had done something to help me through the tough times. I am so very fortunate, but remember it was me, who didn't open up to them. For whatever reason, I kept it in. On purpose.  I think many people do this. 

I'm not sure it's even a conscious decision. It's not as if one morning you wake up and think: Oh shit. I know I've been feeling crappy lately, but today is different. Yep. today I should reach out to my loved ones.  It's more like:  Oh shit, I can't do any of this today. But again, I'm going to get out of bed and go through the motions, because I have no choice.  This really doesn't qualify as a good conversation starter. 

I feel like I lost my theme somewhere... Basically, until a person is ready to let you in, they may be difficult to reach or help. I think the best thing you can do, is continue being present and being kind. πŸ™‚

Thank you.

Us Too







Thursday, May 10, 2018

Types of Depression



I've been thinking...

People get depressed for a number of reasons. Many times it has to do with outside influences; the crap that tends to throw people under the life-bus. These may include death, job loss, abuse, illness of self or a loved one (which obviously includes mental illness), loss of friendship or love, drugs or alcohol use... the list can go on and on. And the list sucks.

Sometimes, and this is only my opinion, it has nothing to do with outside factors.  The Superheroes among us struggle because of their chemical makeup, their wiring. What we (and more importantly, what they) need to remember is: this is only a very tiny part of what makes them who they are. It's one single characteristic out of a million wonderful, unique traits that need to be celebrated and cultivated by those around them.

Because even superheroes need help sometimes.  :) 


A little food for thought:
What if the person who is
suffering doesn't want 
anyone to know? 

Thank you,

Us Too


Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Gone Me


This was taken straight from my journal. I would like to mention (mostly for my parents sake ♡) that although it may be difficult to read, it's important to remember that every family goes through rough times.  It's just that I decided to keep a log of ours, and then share our story on Us Too:

Shit. I have no patience, no enthusiasm. I don't care if the house is messy
(most times). Adam still doesn't have a job. I hate our lives so much right 
now and find no pleasure in anything. I am thankful that at least I'm managing
to run a little bit. 

I think I may need some medication. All I think about is the possibility of us 
running out of money and losing the house. I've applied for a few full time
positions (assistant director at a day care and a preschool teacher, but no 
elementary teaching positions.) Crap.  I haven't heard anything back 
yet. I hate our lives and I feel like we're failing our kids. I want a break!!!

I hate my clothes but I'm not going to buy anything new until Adam finds
a job, or I get a job with more hours.  I've stopped reaching out to friends 
because basically, I don't like people or hanging out anymore.  It's not fun.  

Life sucks!!


And that my friends, is what depression sounds like. It's not pretty, it's not easy, and it's plagued with  uncomfortable bouts of anger and sadness.  The thing is, when you're depressed you don't control your thoughts. Your thoughts begin to control you.

At this time I didn't reach out for help.  I was so involved and overwhelmed with trying to help Jordan, that I had no time or energy left to take care of myself.  She was my first priority because she was my child, and she was hurting. I would have done anything to help her find happiness again.

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, April 30, 2018

So No One Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way

It's probably somewhat obvious that our lives were getting more and more complicated. Everyone knows that life can become difficult at times, but until it actually happens to you, there's no way of knowing how (or if) you'll be able to cope.

We were faced with situations which made it abundantly clear that human beings have absolutely no control over anything. I don't know about you, but to me, there's nothing more frightening. Adam was still looking for a job after being laid off (talk about having the financial security blanket ripped out from under you), we had to put our beloved pug dog down after 16 years of the best, most unconditional love possible, Kevin began having involuntary facial tics, and Adam and I were butting heads about him always being the "bad guy" parent.  We were a mess.

Who remembers the opening theme song from the timeless TV show, Friends?
🎜 So no one told me life was gonna be this way... but I'll be there for you. 𝅒𝅘𝅥𝅮 .

Things start to get real when you're arguing with the person who has always been 'there for you'.  Meanwhile, Jordan was continuing her pattern of working on homework from 1:00 to 10:45 pm.  Were we "playing hard ball" by checking up on her and turning off her lights at 10:00?  No we were not.  In my mind, we were failing her.

I'll stop here for now, although the follow-up will include harsh, angry, depressed and hopeless thoughts and words. Yippee.

FYI----Before all of this real-life-stuff began to bombard us, I was a positive, happy, hopeful, animated, goofy chick. But no worries. Today I am back to being all of these things and more.

****An important reminder:  Life can get better. It may take hard work and outside support, but it really can get better.****




Thank you.                                             

Us Too


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Diary of a Pissed off Mom



When all four of your beloved peeps piss you off, you know things are beginning to fall apart. None of this was good, because when a mom is upset, everyone is upset. Am I right?  Please keep in mind that we were all feeling the stress and coping the best we knew how.  Also, please remember when I write the word "cringe" it means I am not always proud of my past thoughts and behaviors, but my reactions are a big part of our story.  This blog is about sharing honestly (even if I don't always come out looking like the Mom-of-the-Year) with the hopes that it might help other families going through similar experiences. And remember, we got through it. :)

Here are some excerpts from my 2011 journal:

Adam:  All of a sudden he decided he didn't like Jordan's therapist or her psychiatrist. He thought we should "play hardball" with Jordan by turning her light off at 10:00 every night, no matter what. That sounded like loads of fun.  So... have we come to the new conclusion that she's been doing all of this on purpose, she's been in total control this whole time, and the anxiety and OCD are nonexistent?  Grrrr!!

Jordan (age 13 in 2 months):  She mouthed off to Adam and told him to shut up.  Oh I don't think so! I never thought I would ever think this of one of my children, but I had written: She really can act like a total bitch.

Cringe.  (Giant)

Kayla (age 11):  Adam picked her up 10 minutes late from basketball practice and she also decided to mouth off to him. She too, told him to shut up.  What the hell was happening?!  She's lucky she even had a ride and that we allowed her to play.

Kevin:  Yes, even 9 year old Kevin managed to piss me off.  I let him watch an hour of TV because he said he was ready for bed. Then at 9:05 he told me he still needed to wash his face. So were you really ready for bed?  I don't think you were.

The end of the world?  Of course not.  But life seemed to be spiraling, and our kids' behaviors were getting away from us. And I hated it.

Thank you.

Us Too



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When I Was Your Age



"I'm sad."

"Why?"

"Because everything sucks."

So simple, but also so poignant.  Is it more difficult to be a teen or young adult today, than it was when I was younger? I used to roll my eyes when my kids said they had/have it so much worse than I did. I don't do that any more. Of course there were always kids who struggled, families who had problems, the threat of an impending war, difficult school work, too much homework, drugs and alcohol, broken hearts, bullies, racism, sexism, plain old meanness... 

I don't think any of this has changed. What has changed, is that we are bombarded with ALL of this crap, ALL the time.  And a lot of it does SUCK.

Think about what we can see on a day to day basis. It's beyond overwhelming for adults, so imagine how it's affecting our children. I don't think we have a clue.

I don't have any answers. I tried to take Jordan's phone away when she was a young teen. She informed me that because she was already isolating herself socially, that I would be taking away her only link to her friends, and the outside world. I would be making her life more lonely and sad than it already was.

I couldn't do it.

So what now? Is there a way to slow down the world, or at least your little corner of it?  I have no idea. If anyone does, please feel free to share or comment. 😏

Thank you.

Us Too


Sunday, April 15, 2018

If I Only Knew Why




Two days after the non-existent picture fiasco (which apparently I was still not quite over) Jordan stayed in bed from around 2:00 to 7:30. She then ate dinner by herself. Needless to say, the majority of the day was undeniably uncomfortable. My brain was brimming with feelings of both sadness and anger, mostly because I had no idea how to deal with her. (For those of you who are lucky enough to  not have a true picture of the inner workings of my brain, I tended to get angry when I felt out of control. And, no, this is not the most productive reaction out there.)

Thankfully that night she went skating with friends.  I was thrilled she was getting out of the house, being social, and being a kid.

So again I asked myself:  Was the reason behind yet another awful day because of  OCD, OCPD, anxiety, depression, (this was becoming quite the list) or was it plain old stubbornness/her desire for control?  If this was all based on her attempt at obtaining a position of control, I would have been majorly pissed. She was only thirteen, and no thirteen-year-old should have total control over a household.

If it was because of one (or all) the aforementioned mental illnesses, then (this part is taken straight from my journal):

All of this is 100% debilitating. No one should have to struggle so much and so often. It's not fair and it's not right. The question is: Are we doing enough to help her? Each time stuff like this happens, and it's happening more and more often, my answer is  No. No we are not.

Is it me, or am I beginning to sound like a broken record?  πŸ˜’

Thank you.

Us Too





Friday, April 13, 2018

A Mixed Bag




All three of us went into Jordan's next therapy session and I left with my emotions all over the place. It's strange how a complete stranger's opinion can have an affect on a person. If someone were to ask the Before-Mom-Me, "Would you have taken child rearing advice from someone who didn't know your daughter?", my answer would have been a definite "No." But here I was holding on to each and every spoken word with hopeful anticipation.

And these words had an impact on me.  More than an impact. I would have paid anything, rearranged any schedule, and dropped all other responsibilities, if each session was going to be like this one. Those meaningful words were:
  • "Jordan is a great kid."
  • "I can't wait to see Jordan when she is 21, because she is going to do amazing things." --Hold onto this thought because Jordan is currently 20, and I'm still writing the crap out of my journal. :)
  • "Everything in life is filled with both positives and negatives."
  • "You both are doing all the right things." --Phew.
Um. If it's okay with you, could Jordan continue coming... forever. Actually, if you have any open slots available, could you maybe fit me in too?  I could use all the positivity I could get these days.

Not surprisingly, because, well, the subject of this blog is life, there were a few statements that weren't quite as confidence-building:
  • "Some kids are born 'prickly' ".  --You can say that again.
  • "Jordan most likely has OCPD, but this can't be diagnosed until she is 18 years old."   --Well that seems a bit ridiculous.  Does she have it, or does she not have it?  
All these diagnoses and rules. Apparently, you have to be 18 to have a personality disorder. So between the ages of 12 and 17, what are you, an angst filled teenager who is capable of slowly sucking the life from those around them?   (Cringe)

So we continued taking life day by day, meltdown by meltdown, therapy session by therapy session; all with the hope that our beautiful daughter get as close to self-acceptance, self fulfillment, and contentment as possible.

Thank you.

Us Too