Archive for September, 2014

If I knew then, I’d do it all again.

September 27, 2014

image

A conversation with a friend the other day, got me reflecting. We were discussing termination of pregnancy if you knew you would be having a special or high needs child. This is not a post for or against. But I answered honestly and adamantly that yes if I knew then what I know now, I would still have had my son, gladly and happily!
You see my son has bipolar, etc. But bipolar, etc is not my son.
Bipolar is one of those illnesses that greatly affect his personality, so in a way it is him.
And that’s fine with me!
I am open and honest about ALL things dealing with a child with high needs and mental illness is.  But I’m equally as open and honest about the good points, not just the bad.
So yes I would do it all again because my son is my son, my son and illness has brought me here. In 13 years I have grown and learned, and yes it would be lovely to not have to learn many things I have, the things I’ve learned so soon are so incredibly important. Words can not explain what we go through, but yes I would do it all again because it’s brought us…

1. Strength.  I’d be lying if I said there weren’t horrible, awful, exhausting, frustrating, heart breaking moments. And lots of them.  So many fears and private tears.  But I’ve learned I have an inner strength I didn’t know possible. That truly a mother’s love is like no other and can give you super hero powers.

2. Don’t stress the small stuff.  I’m a stress ball.  And this has been a life long fight for me.  I stressed about everything! Now I shrug my shoulders and sigh. Alot.  I often look at what others are stressed about and remind myself, that’s big in their life,  at this moment.  Because you see so much seems trivial, when you’re in the throws of crisis almost weekly. I’m slowly, very slowly learning about the big picture. And instead of stressing over the little things, that in 5 years won’t matter, I’m learning to breathe and remember this moment won’t last but that, a moment.

3. Grace. I’ve been on this journey a while now, and I’ve learned to be graceful. Not everyone understands. I’ve learned to debate, advocate and explain with grace and facts. With that combination I’ve seen doors open, understanding and cooperation.

4. Humour. If I can’t laugh, I’m lost.  Mostly at myself.  I screw up,  I fall down, I’m often high strung, on guard and exhausted. And more often than not if I laugh at my mistakes I’m better off.  The list is long,  and I’ve had to apologize and forgive myself tons.  But my humour makes me accept I’m also human.  Plus laughing is sometimes all you can do.

5. Compassion. I have always (I like to think) had a big heart. But let me tell you having a child with illness opens your heart more than you thought possible.  Judging others is almost non existent (almost, because we’re human and no matter what at some point we judge).  That homeless guy that others mock, say is a waste? I wonder what has led him here, and what can I do to help? That kid screaming in the store, that others will tell their parents to take out, spank or tell to shut up? I will ask if everything is OK, can I help? And so on. I find myself judging those who judge now the most. If you’re not them, don’t think you know or know better.

6. Open eyes. So often we don’t have our eyes fully open to others and their struggles. So often we close our eyes to reality. Mine are open. All the time.  I’m enjoying the little successes that are actually huge. I’m watching the little moments that I used to take for granted. I’m watching the pain, the suffering , but also the courage and love. I am more aware of friendships and family.  I’ve learned you truly never know when those eyes will close forever, so open them while you can!

My son is my hero  he is all of the above and more. He is empathetic to a fault, caring, kind, smart, courteous and by far the best son I could have asked for.
And if you’re one of the lucky one’s you’ll get to see that twinkle in his eye.
And that twinkle says it all.

Watch your words.

September 20, 2014

image

Yes. Yes. Yes!

Having a child with a few of these has made me extremely conscious of using the terms in correctly.

It’s hurtful, ignorant and mis guided when used in such ways as the picture.
It adds to the stigma, it lessons the seriousness of the illness and so on.
Unfortunately these sayings have been around for years, I know I’ve used them.  And often they’re used in general conversation, not as a put down or to cause hurt, stereotypes, stigma or discrimination. People don’t use them as such on purpose, or at least not mostly.

In the last few years though since dude has been diagnosed and he’s become more aware he has been able to express just how simple, in passing statements can be hurtful to those suffering without even knowing.
For him it brings shame, it makes him question why it is considered such a horrible thing to have a legitimate mental illness.  Because we have taught our children it’s not a joke, and it most definitely is not something he can help or should be shameful of. 
To him bipolar, anxiety, ocd etc are a painful reality so why someone would generalize and minimize them is extremely frustrating and confusing.

Yes yes I know so many will read this and say “it’s a joke get over it”  or “stop overreacting”. 

Live it,  and then tell me that.

Would saying “ugh I feel like a cancer patient”  or “God I feel like I hot hit by ms”  acceptable or funny?
Hell no!

By tossing diseases, disorders of any kind around in passing is to minimize them. And that is NOT OK.

Because you had A bad day,  doesn’t mean you’re depressed.

Because you missed A meal doesn’t mean you’re suffering anorexia.

Because you cleaned like a mad woman doesn’t mean you are suffering with ocd.

Because you forgot A meeting doesn’t mean you have adhd.

Because you GOT angry doesn’t mean you are living with bipolar.

And FYI none of these things make you psycho!

So I am not sorry for saying enough.
End rant.

Grandma, you taught me…

September 15, 2014

image

What I wouldn’t give for a little longer.
September seems to still suck after five long years.
I can’t believe it’s been that long.
Some days I smile just by simply thinking of how you’d react to something. How you are chuckling at you’re girl. How you’re wrapping your boy in hugs. How much you would love this,  hate that.

Grandma you taught me…
To say what I mean, and mean what I say.
To hug tight and cry hard.
To be my child’s biggest protection. To be their soft place.
To be open. 
To enjoy the sunshine. And naps!
To be graceful and grateful.
To listen carefully, and enjoy the stories.
To be who I am. And if they don’t like it, someone loves me anyway.
To be proud.
To savor good coffee, and dump the crappy stuff down the drain!
To respect, but not to be trampled on.
To embrace change and differences, even if we don’t like it.
To laugh at myself.
To enjoy a good TV show.
That eating cheesecake for breakfast is perfectly acceptable.
That Kahlua in your coffee when you’re struggling is just fine!
That butter is really good for you, so is candy and bread is a main food group!
That life is to short to hold a grudge.
To shop local as much as you can. But to have fun when taking a road trip. And yes giving the finger to asshole driver’s is again acceptable.
That shit happens, and then you carry on.
That being kind is always worth it.
That I married someone pretty awesome, and to cherish him.
You taught me to love life.
Taught me to take the bad and make it good.
Taught me I am somebody and I’m good enough.
Your words and your hugs are missed.  Your heart and your humour remain my best memories.
Today I’ll have an amaretto coffee and continue to remember my very best friend.

Let’s talk.

September 10, 2014

image

Let’s talk.
About the elephant in the room.
This picture is a staggering stat, yet one often not spoken of.
Many times it makes no sense.
Other times, we understand.

But it is never easy.

The word suicide is one that comes with such a mixture of emotions, feelings, questions and stigma.
One we struggle to use.

I read a blog recently that resonated with me.  It spoke of deaths due to heart attack instead of coronary embolism, due to cancer instead of the technical terms of the actual end cause.
And death due to depression instead of suicide.

You see suicide is the end result often of a lengthy illness, not the cause of death.
Because many suffer in silence, we often aren’t privy to the battle they’ve fought for so long.
And even if we are,  we are still left wondering how they could do this to us!

But it’s not about us.

As a cancer patient takes their last breath, our hearts break, but we acknowledge that they are finally at peace, without pain.
It’s simply no different for mental illness. They’ve suffered pain, we don’t understand.  And because it’s not as visible we’re less apt to notice the pain or offer help.

You see in our house every day is a painful battle, everyday we watch our child battle like the bravest. And everyday we do our damdest to prevent a suicide.

Our son is now 13, we’ve been preventing since he was 9. That’s four years of appointments, hospitals, tests and pain. And four years before an active attempt. 
So you see that’s almost ten years of illness and suffering.
Not a day, not a second. Years.
Years without remission. Though there are plenty of good days,  this illness will never be cured, there will always be a battle.

And we can only hope that the illness doesn’t result in a life lost.

*though my son suffers a chronic illness, not all do. Some are a day or a minute. Be aware and be present, and most of all be kind *

Do I really got this?

September 8, 2014

image

I can handle a fair amount.
I’ve learned fairly quickly how to live side by side with my bipolar child.
I can handle the hyper cycle,  usually I take the anger with a grain of salt.
I’m used to the irritable boy who shows up. 
One thing I just can’t handle is when the utter despair hits.
And not because it tries my patience, but because it breaks my heart.
Typically when the day starts with a stomach ache,  I know what’s coming.
But I don’t care how many times you’ve held them as they crash, you can never be prepared or used to it.
I know when tears spill from his eyes,  it’s real. Not a typical rapid cycle, but a depression so great he’s paralysed by it,  and the irrational fears it brings.

The constant rocking, a reminder of the anxiety built up.

And no I can’t handle it.  I suck at handling it.

When he wants to be left alone to work through it,  to grasp whatever composure he can,  to save himself the shame as he says,  I can’t.

I talk, I soothe,  I hold.

But no I don’t leave him alone. Not because I have to some how get him to school, but for fear.
The hardest days are days I have to trust in other’s to protect him. The days (the fifth day of school being one)  I can’t give him the “mental health” day, I so desperately want to.
Because you see,  I want him to learn it will pass  it will be OK.
There are times he stays, because he just simply cannot compose and push through.  Those are the days I hold him a little bit tighter.

As I sit on pins and needles all day, hoping he fairs OK,  I wonder,
Do I really got this?