Archive for April, 2014

Dear Mom

April 26, 2014

Dear Struggling  Mom,
I see you struggling, I hear your tears,I feel your frustration.
I’m here to tell you, you are not alone.
There are times in life when our hugs aren’t enough. When are word’s simply won’t fix things.
There are times you’ll feel judged, gossiped about, and all alone.
There are times you know at your core things are to big, but I know your fear.
I know how painful it is. I know how scary it is to ask for help.
But you are a mother, and you will do all you can to protect and help your child.
There’s no shame.
There’s no need for others to judge, and if they do, you truly don’t need them.
After 12 years of being a mother to a unique child with a gambit of his own disorders, I’ve learned a few things. And some of the lessons have been harder than anything I’ve faced. Here’s a few things I’ve learned:
1. It’s not about me. Is it hard?  It’s harder than anything, but don’t worry about what others will say about you or your parenting.  There’s days my heart breaks for my son, but honestly I have yet to feel bad for myself.  He is my child, and it’s him I hurt for.
2. Get help if you need it.  There is absolutely no shame in therapy,  talking to friends and family and getting support! Not only for your child but for yourself!
3. Patience.  God knows you’ll need it. When we as mother’s can’t fix something we want to know answer’s and reasons right now! It’s taken six years for my son’s final (and biggest ) puzzle piece to come to light. The first thing’s, second thing’s, he’ll the tenth things tried don’t always work. And it sucks not knowing the whys, but there’s a good chance you never will. Have patience with the system, your child and yourself!
You are stronger than you think.
You are braver than anyone knows.
You are wiser  than you feel.
You are more exhausted than you let on.
You are incredible.
You are beautiful.
You are mom!

With all the love and support,
A bipolar, SPD, GAD, OCD, DCD
Mother.

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Love/hate holidays

April 20, 2014

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Holidays scare me.
I love them too but Oh the stress they add.
I love the time spent with family, I love the joy in the kids faces.
But there’s a nagging fear.
As any parent can attest they’re fun,exhausting and yes there’s typically a bit of melt down from the kids at some point.  We all know it,we all dread it.
The thing is we want our kids to be well behaved and well mannered. Nothing wrong with that,but here’s this mom’s truth.
In the bipolar world holidays can be beyond overwhelming!
Dude goes so hypo manic with the excitement in the morning, I fear the neighborhood will be woken at 430 am. Typically with his manic excitement we throw in some anger, together these are hard to manage.
Once the first stage of the day is finished, we have the let down, add a bit more mania, and a dash of anger.
This is just our morning with the four of us, I don’t worry so much.
It’s when we join as a family I start to panic a bit.
He cycles rapidly during exciting days, he love’s the fun it brings, he loves time with cousins.
But that excitement makes the cycles hard to manage.
That’s where we as parents stress.  We almost try to over compensate his moods, which Yup make them worse.
In talking with a friend who to has bipolar I got some good insight of how the day is for my son.
The noise, the people, the keeping it together is extremely hard. So when Dude takes his time alone I know why. Sometimes he’ll eat with us, others not.  Whatever works to make the day smooth!
We always leave early,  not because I don’t want to visit and enjoy the time with loved ones. 
But because Dude is still on his routine, because he needs time to come down off the high, and because we have to deal with the next day.
And if I’m totally honest I am so tired by the time it’s done, from the extremely early morning, to the keeping tabs,helping  him stay  in a good state, on guard waiting for anger or rage,ready to diffuse it if it arises  and most of all because I’ve been quietly stressing all day.
Funny thing is everyone at the function gets it, is patient, is kind.
So why do I still stress about it?
I wish I knew!
I think it’s a bit of just wanting a smooth all around good day (I hate any kind of confrontation, or I’ll ease ) a bit of wanting things to go just right, and more of just wanting my child to enjoy the day without a battle inside!
Today I’m gonna take it as it comes.

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Random thoughts and invisible illnesses.

April 18, 2014

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I don’t think I’ll ever stop explaining.  On one hand it pisses me off that illnesses even have to be explained to make it so those with invisible illnesses don’t get weird looks, rude comments and judgement. The other side is if I talk and explain maybe someone, somewhere will listen and think before they give that look, or.judge something they don’t understand.
I’ll be honest, I explain dude’s illness so people realize (hopefully ) that it’s not my parenting, because yup I feel judged when certain behaviour arises. I need to let that go. But as a parent none of us want to feel like others question us.
There’s reasons  special needs parents parent different from the norm. Because yes there’s special needs!  I believe we all parent each of our children, typical or not, different because they are all their own person.
But I’ve felt judged, frowned upon from everything from not letting him cry it out at bed time, not forcing foods, to not being hard enough on him.
Here’s what I know now. Many typical parenting tactics amplify his anxiety and bipolar.
His behavior is a direct result of his state at the time.
OK not always, he’s 12 with a bit of attitude, but I’m talking in general, and yes before someone thinks it, we do discipline those behaviors, no he doesn’t get to do whatever get wants. 
The more dude learns about his disease, the more he is becoming confident in realizing though he may have bipolar, bipolar is not who he is. 
It’s been very cool hearing him ask questions to figure out if certain things are bipolar related or something else.
It’s pretty incredible to see the relief he now has, knowing why he is the way he is. I never thought of it before, but how frustrating to not understand why you feel the way you do. The rages are much less, I think in part because he has the knowledge, in part he’s getting the tools to get through.
This is not a disorder for the faint of heart, it is not pretty, or easy or fun. And that’s just for the parents, I can’t imagine how it is for him!
But the kid amazes me.
With his new knowledge he’s talking more about how he’s feeling, and life in general. 
One thing that breaks my heart and makes me see red is that there are people who will say he chooses this. Are you kidding me?! What children sits down as a toddler (because that’s when it all started ) and says “hey wouldn’t it be fun to have special needs, you know and not get it,feel crazy, maybe try to kill myself,  oh and even better if people make fun of me, and treat me like crap. I don’t wanna be like the other , nah laughing, smiling? That’s not for me! ” yes I’m sure he loves it. I know some people would say it meaning he’s not wanting to get out of a state.  It’s not a light switch people. It takes a lot of work to get through those cycles, and it’s far from easy or fun!
I’m sure anyone with an invisible illness would love a quick, easy fix. They would love all the claims floating around to be true. If any thing they would love to not suffer, and constantly explain themselves (or loved ones).
Truth is my child has more strength and determination than most of us. Truth is the people with these illnesses would love for it to be as simple as seeing the positive, mind over matter, etc.
Reality is it’s not.
Reality is not everyone will get it, some won’t even try.
But there are plenty that will.
Plenty of kind hearted, caring people that will care enough to even if they don’t understand, will be there. Who will stand up. Who will listen. Who will walk the.path with you.  Who will do whatever they can to make it easier for you. Who care enough to listen, check in and love you unconditionally. 
Those are the ones that matter.

Good week /bad week, just a week!

April 12, 2014

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It seems to me we often get caught up in the “big ” stuff.  The bills, the grades,the winning, the fancy stuff.
One big thing having a bipolar child has taught me, is to celebrate even the littlest of things.
Our days are full of exhausting cycles, we tend to not stay in one often, so we sometimes forget the big, small moments of success.
But I am remembering now!
With brighter skies,leveled meds,some changes at school Dude has had an unbelievably successful week! School every day,in all classes, stable moods,humor even.
These days are huge as anyone in the trenches can attest to.
I am fully aware that I need time embrace and celebrate this when it happens, because God knows it’s sure to change!
This week has sent this mama for a loop though! As I tend to live on adrenaline, and had myself a crash this week.
I was exhausted, and I mean fall on my face tired, I felt like crap, and out of no where my anxiety was sky high! I struggle with a bit of anxiety, but this was ridiculous, and scary.  Silver lining, I know now just how Dude feels, how he does it every day, I’m in Awe of his strength . Running a business, being a Mom and wife, not so fun when your crashing.  Needless to say off I went to the doc. As I’m sure my hubby wanted to send me away. Here’s what she said…
For months I’ve been wrapped up in Dude, my adrenaline has been on over drive. She compared it to caring for a cancer patient and once their well or pass the care giver crashes.  The adrenaline settles,the body sighs, and you have time to think about yourself.
I was pretty sure I knew this, but sometimes you need that reassuring.
I was a little pissed off, because as Dude was soaring and I was crashing.  I was mad at myself for not basking in the glory per say.
With great friends and family I’ve come out the other side if my crash,and I’ve learned sometimes us parents need to give ourselves a break!
We need to slow ourselves down, and remember the little things are the things that get us to the big things.

Positive, patient and Persistent!

April 7, 2014

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I came across this picture this morning, and it sums up what I’ve been working on,and learning about when it comes to my son.

1. Positive:  now I’ve read all of the blogs,posts, etc circulating about giving your child to much praise, how revolving around your child is wrong, how it will create false ego, entitlement etc. And though generally I don’t disagree with any of what I’ve read,I’m guessing the poster’s child is not bipolar. Just an assumption. Maybe one I shouldnt make, but I doubt I am the only parent whose children are the center of our world. That doesn’t mean that myself and my relationship with my husband come second, for me my life does revolve around our family. I’m quite happy in that role.  Now one thing I’ve learned from his professionals is that my kiddo needs positive feed back, praise every 5 min. Now Dude also has an extremely high academic iq, but a very low functioning iq,  so I’m not sure which of his disorders thrives on positive and praise. But does it matter?  Nope. Fact is I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel better emotionally when they receive positive feed back or praise. Sometimes we wait for some huge moment to give it. Through Dude I’ve learned to acknowledge and praise even the little things. And though I don’t think it’s realistic to praise someone for making it to work. I have noticed a big change when it is given for making it to school without world war 3! I truly believe people in general will be more productive and happy in their roles when given some sort of positive every day. I know my spirits lift when someone loves their flowers or I’m told I’m doing a good job.
Try it, as the old saying goes “you get more bees with honey, than vinegar “.  It’s important to celebrate even little things,don’t wait for huge moments, for they may never come.
2. Patience:  This is a biggie for me!  And one I’ve just sort of done without noticing how. I’m not a super patient person.  I want things now.I hate surprises.  I hate waiting for anything!  But for some reason I’ve turned into a fairly patient parent.  Even more so since dude’s diagnosis, and learning what I have. Mainly, there’s nothing I can say or do to change it. Nor can he. With the final puzzle piece placed, and knowing why he acts the way he does has raised my patience level ten  fold. I think knowing that getting frustrated, angry,upset isn’t going to make it stop has brought me to a place of acceptance. I look back and see when my patience was the lowest was when other people were expecting something or present, and I was embarrassed of his behaviors because I had no clue why. It was also at it’s lowest when I couldn’t help explain things to him.
With patience, comes peace. And some days I have none of either, but most I have both.
3. Persistent:  well this one I’ve never struggled with. Persistent or stubborn, call it what you will. But I’m both.  And this out if the 3 is the one we’re so desperately trying to teach Dude!  I’ve never backed down from much,especially when it involves helping and protecting my children.  Never have I wanted to stop working towards getting my son as healthy as possible. 
It is extremely hard for a bipolar kiddo to be persistent through the bad. They hit a point regularly of wanting the pain and confusion to just stop. It is excruciating to help them through this sort of state. It’s heart breaking when they ask how they can live like this. It’s pain like nothing I know. It’s constant reassuring, it’s constant conversation.  Persistence is so hard for them to grasp when they are struggling so hard. But that’s where my persistence comes into play. I’m to stubborn to let him give up. I’m persistant in calming him, in explaining it will be OK.
I am most Persistent in reminding him, this to shall pass.
My hope is it sinks in, and he continues to preserver!
3 simple things that can change so much!

Why I share…

April 5, 2014

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m an open book. I’m also a giver,and a helper.
I’m sure there’s those who think I share to much about our journey. And those who may not truly know me,and think I share for some sort of sympathy. But I have said before too, this isn’t about me, I have never felt bad for myself for having a child with mental health issues. I share simply enough because I care.
It’s hard to find support, even support groups for parents with children battling mental illness.
Because of that my only goals in sharing our journey is to be the support for others, and to show those suffering. Dude included. That there’s no shame, and there are those of us who want others to know their not alone.
I respect and appreciate that not everyone is as open to sharing as I am. I understand that we all deal with our journey in our own way.
I love that I can be the person people think of when they are struggling through the trenches with themselves or their children.
I love that I can be that support, give some insight and advice when asked. I love that I can go through my library and pass on resources and information. Even if it’s as simple as listening, we all need that!

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I often suggest a therapist , because I’m not.
But I am a mom who has been traveling this road for 7 years, and when my son was been young.

Life experience. That’s what I have.

I am always touched and honored when someone comes to me. And it would probably shock a lot if people if they knew how many did. Sometimes we need others, because sometimes it’s bigger than our mommy hugs.
I share to in hopes of breaking down the lovely stigmas and stereotypes. Because my children have to live in a world full of them, if I can educate one person, and rid those on one person, I’m happy!
Without talking, those stigmas won’t change. Ignoring doesn’t make things go away,  in fact acknowledging and working together can bring relief, and break down those stigmas and stereotypes.
I know one day Dude may ask I don’t share, and I will respect his wish.
But I try very hard to teach my kids to be comfortable with themselves, all of them. I try hard to teach Dude that though he has this disease it doesn’t define him. To teach him it’s OK that people know, so they can understand him.
We’re still working on the shame and guilt. But I hope I’m teaching him there is no need. This disease is not something he chooses,nor is it something he can control on his own. And I hope to help my fellow parents understand this about themselves as well.  Because we as parents carry a lot of guilt, a lot of shame, and a lot of expectations that we can “fix” .
Once I let all three of those go (for the most part) I felt a lot lighter, and a lot more.in the present moment for Dude.
There is no “fix” in our situation, and as a parent that’s the toughest pill to swallow. You just want to.make it all better.  Take the pain away. Have a typical, happy child, one that you don’t get “looks” about when they’re struggling.
Sometimes you can’t make it better, and sometimes you need someone whose experienced something similar, to listen and be that support, but are to scared to reach out for fear of judgement.
Sometimes life just sucks,no  doubt about it.
But I promise you, your not alone.

Forgiven!

April 2, 2014

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Been doing some soul searching. And have realized my soul is good.
One of the things I carried, and beat myself up over for quite some time is parenting. Especially Dude.
I have never voiced this to anyone other than my husband, because I felt an incredible shame.
No I did not abuse my children.  But words hurt. Telling a child to get over it, pushing to hard, stop crying, what is wrong with you? Just stop, you can control this just try harder. Ya those things just don’t in our situation! I know this now, but man could I kick myself!

Before learning what I’ve learned there were so many days I would tear up because my frustration got the best of me. Trust me it still will sometimes, but with new knowledge comes an amazing shift. 
How I parented “pre diagnosis ” was very typical. I loved my children whole hearted, I disciplined using traditional methods: time outs, charts, rewards, taking things away, yelling, lectures and so on. Nothing out of the norm, nothing horrible, and my children were/are well taken care of. I know in my mind I was doing OK.
But my heart was hurting because those traditional methods are so not how I need to parent my bipolar child.  And so hard on Dude. In fact a lot of how I dealt with situations is completely ass backwards of how I do now.

I’ve shifted my thinking, knowledge of the reasons for behaviors has brought me to a place of relief and calm. I know there’s no quick answer to ease the cycles and states. But I do know now I won’t stop trying to figure out what works and doesn’t.
I do know now that Yes I’m gonna mess up, and read a situation wrong (who doesn’t?! ), but I know now that when I do that, I’ll take that lesson and move forward in knowing I handled it the best way I thought at that moment.
I’m working very hard on not off the cuff reacting,  instead taking a breath, making a rapid assessment, and make a plan (Yes all in seconds, 50 times a day), so when it’s so frequent, it’s obvious I’m gonna screw up. I’m human!
I’ve forgiven myself.
For I truly do the best I can, with what I have.