Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Oh well!

November 9, 2015

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I am finding myself in this new phase of parenting. I truly believe that the core of ones parenting is in the formative years, and now at 12 & 14, I find myself not having to “parent” so much as guide and support. I believe my children’s person has been there since the day they were born, I also watch in awe at the person they now are.
As the parent of a high needs child, I look back at where we were, I see where we are today and I look forward with hope.
Parenting is chalk full of not knowing 100% what to do and how to do it.
All one can do is try. And I believe that oh wells are far better than what ifs!

Travelling the journey we have with dude, we’ve been faced with numerous hard decisions, when all we had to go on was crossed fingers. Yet we always dove in, if it couldn’t hurt, we’d do it.
Should we try this therapy? This medication? This test?
We have had a lot of oh wells.
But we’ve also had a lot of ah has!

Without taking those leaps, being willing try, we wouldn’t have our child here today.

I appreciate that diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming and scary.
Often our first defence is denial, because truly in our hearts we wish perfect lives for our children. I also appreciate that the sooner you can work through that denial and onto acceptance, the better off it is for your child.
Denying the illness, disorder, etc will not benefit your child.
I also completely understand disagreeing with professionals from time to time, I know I have.
I always like to remember what my sons doctor explained to us when he was very young, and pass it on to parents ; diagnosis of children is extremely complicated. It may be years before the final and most accurate is made. Children’s brains develop differently, they also change while doing so.
With that information it’s good to remember that diagnosis can change as the brain develops. That doesn’t mean that a previous diagnosis is incorrect, it means that at that time it was a fitting one.
For example my sons doctor will seldom  diagnosis certain mental illness before a certain age, bipolar is one in which he airs on the side of caution when diagnosing. The only reason my son was diagnosed at 12, is because we had worked closely with the same doctors and therapists for 6 years, and his symptoms had always been the same, but at that time they were very clear cut bipolar symptoms.
Some diagnosis are made young, as they should be (autism, aspergers, SPD, etc).  Those diagnosis are imperative to early intervention and treatment. We had a handful of those and more as well. But others you have to bide your time to get to.
Along the way you may have a diagnosis that fits the symptoms present at that time. Another example ; my sons initial diagnosis included adhd, which is now taken out as those symptoms have evolved and are encompassed in his current diagnoses.
It’s tricky and complicated, and at times damn confusing . And a lot of work!  The journey tries your patience, it drains you. But honestly, as difficult as it all is, accepting and trying all you can, is worth it. Your child is worth it.
I will always take the oh wells over the what ifs when it comes to trying to help my child grow to be successful in his journey.
If it doesn’t all work, oh well!

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The big bad conversation.

September 10, 2015

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Suicide prevention day.

To me, and many it’s not a day.
We don’t just talk about it for a day.
It’s life. It’s semi normal conversation, albeit a crappy conversation. But a real conversation that must be had.
It’s a conversation we find vital, and as important as any other. It’s a conversation that must be had.
It’s not just a conversation, it’s so much more. It’s a touch, a hug, a tear, appointments, meds, doctors, frustration, anger, heart break and unimaginable sadness, it’s support and love, smiles and laughter. All in the hopes of keeping suicide at bay. Or yes ultimately preventing it.

Yes it’s a difficult subject to talk about but one we must have. For so many reasons,and one that should be had by more people.
So many have been touched, but it’s still such a taboo topic, and those who haven’t been affected simply don’t, can’t understand. So the conversation is important. Don’t tell me it’s not. Suicide is a topic that in my opinion should be discussed, as much as diabetes and cancer. To take away the shame, the blame and the non accurate assumptions and the judgement, the all mighty judgement that goes along it.
So start talking. Today gives you the perfect opportunity.

Our reality, the hardest of all realities for us to understand or accept is: we don’t know. We don’t know how long our loved ones will be able to fight, battle, suffer and try before they can’t anymore.
All we can do is support, love and guide. All we can do is hope. Every single day we hope we can some how prevent the tragedy that so many, to many, suffer.
And to accept that we’ve done all we can, and will continue to do so and acknowledge and accept that sometimes we can’t prevent suicide.

But please remember those who die of suicide or are thinking of it, haven’t just had a bad day.
A day didn’t bring them to the last resort as a day won’t stop it.
Prevention is everyday, not simply a day in September where we band together. But if it can get the conversation started, and  resounding voices around the world, I am all for a prevention day.

http:// https://bestkids.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/lets-talk/

Getting real! Will I ever get to shut up?

May 4, 2015

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Here where I live it’s Mental health week. I don’t know if it’s the same where you are. But I don’t care when the week is where.
Every minute of every day in my house is mental health “week .
It’s not a day or a week or a month for those who have it.
But it gives us a good opportunity to maybe get a few more people’s attention, maybe chip away a bit more of that stigma.

Because I’m telling you now, that the biggest problem with mental illness isn’t those suffering, it’s the stigma and stereotypes surrounding it.

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Truth is, those with anxiety, depression, bipolar and the gambit of others are no less. Yet to often they’re made out to be!
The stigma surrounding mental illness has had its time, now it’s time for it to be stomped out like so many other stigmas that have been minimized by people actually standing up and saying enough.
It’s time to break down the walls.
Those who are in the trenches of illness aren’t the ones who should have to make this change, at least they shouldn’t have to do it alone.
They are pretty unlikely to be open, because society has them feeling ashamed and scared of being looked at as less. So that leaves it up to us, the general population to make reality known, to lead the change, to speak up until people are sick of our voices, so much so they may have a new understanding or appreciation, or at the very least they think before they speak.

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If you are still using the ‘r’  word, chucking out bipolar and mental hospitals as a joke, here’s a kick of reality for you. You’re not funny, you are flaming the fires of mental health stigma. Mental health isn’t a joke. It is as serious as any other chronic disease. It is difficult, frustrating, all consuming and life threatening without treatment. And like any disease treatment is necessary, and sometimes even with all treatment possible the outcome is death. But like no other disease stigma plays a huge barrier in patients getting treatment needed. Often feeling judged, shameful, isolated and unsupported.

And I promise you that the mother’s who have buried their children would ask you to consider how you would feel burying your child, because treatment wasn’t sought because of the ignorant stigmas surrounding their child’s illness.
Or how you would feel after all treatment was taken, still loosing the battle, burying your child (because that’s reality for many) and the next day hearing the “think positive”, ” their fault “, ” you didn’t do enough “, and
” your in a mental hospital ” bull. Yes because that’s what every mother facing illness, and potential death of a child wants to hear.

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So until
*one by one people shut up long enough to think about their comments and jokes. Even  if you think it’s funny, keep it to yourself, it’s not and you’re not helping the problem.
*One by one people actually think of those who are in the “jokes”. 
Really think about the battle they face. Think about how you would like to have yourself or your child, or an illness you face, to no fault of yours, mocked, laughed at, blamed, ridiculed, criticized, and judged by the masses.
* One by one we realize we don’t laugh at, make jokes or judge physical illness, so why in the hell is it OK to with mental illness?
* One by one people understand the majority of people with mental illness are solely a threat to themselves not others.
*One by one, people keep their judgements of treatment to themselves. * One by one we start supporting those who live with mental illness and their families, building them up instead of tearing them down and making them feel less.

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Until those things happen and make a difference, I won’t shut up. And I truly hope one day I can just shut up!

Easy way out, hard way in.

April 26, 2015

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In full need of disclosure, I must say that I am in no way a professional, nor do I promote or condone medication for everything. As I often say each case is unique, and not all disorders etc require or should be treated by medication. I am simply sharing from personal experience with a child.

I have written on the taboo subject of meds before. It is taboo and it is touchy and very personal and individual to each situation. I am not going to tell you that you or your child needs meds, I’m simply asking that people stop with the “I refuse to give my kid meds”  and “meds are horrible” statements. Just stop being so closed minded and judgemental in regards to medications.

And here’s why.

As a parent making the decision to put your child on medication for anything non physical is an excruciating decision. Mostly because we know that we will hear so much from other parents about how bad a choice it is. How you would never do that. Good for you, I hope you’re never faced with the reality some of us are.
By saying over and over you refuse to medicate a child (I am talking after ample assessment, needs, therapy and by the appropriate doctors here, not just because a teacher says your child’s hyper, or a gp sees a glimmer of a sign) you are implying directly or indirectly that I am not doing right by my child.

That I am taking the easy way out.
I assure you that I’m not taking the easy way out. I assure you there’s not a damn thing easy about having a child battling mental illness. And I assure you without our treatment plan, my son would be dead. There I said it. Yes D.E.A.D. my 13 year old, kind, sweet, compassionate boy would cease to exist. So no I am not taking the easy way out. Stop making me feel that I am!

I’ve had recent conversations with parents who are sitting across from me, asking advice, because their children are lost , suicidal, self medicating and on a path that has no positive outcomes. Yet when I ask if they’re seeing a psychiatrist, or the possibility that medication may help, I’m quickly answered with “no no I refuse to give my kid meds, and that’s all those people and places do!” .

There are times when I get extremely frustrated when a child’s well being is at risk, at how ignorant people can be. Your to tell me that smoking dope, drinking, risky behaviour and so on is better than therapy and medication?

To each their own, if you are actively finding other means of healthy treatment that are successful for yourself or child, good on ya. If it’s successful and getting positive results, please continue.
Unfortunately for many there’s no easy fix, or simple one for chronic mental illness. There’s also the little things called chemicals in the brain, in which if unbalanced only chemicals can somewhat balance them. Maybe your teen says the meds make them feel weird. Maybe they’re not the correct medication or dose, or maybe they do. Of course it’s important to remember with those little chemicals, their brain chemistry has been unbalanced, and quite possibly they feel weird because they’re balanced. Maybe for the first time in years. Their “normal”  may not necessarily mean balanced and well.

We chose to be proactive with our particular situation,and to work with, not against, a slough of professionals.
Our son has been through physio, OT, test upon tests. Ongoing therapy and physciatrists appointments, hospital stays and hours upon hours of coping.

I do get frustrated when parents choose to bury their heads, I do get angry when they ignore blatantly that their children need help.
Our son is now a young teenager, and though the opposite extreme of the classic bipolar extremes, he knows right from wrong. He’s kind and giving. Smart and funny. He’s a risk to no one but himself. We could easily be on a different path had we “refused to give him meds” or get him help. Our journey would be a drastically different one. And I like to think we’ve done something right by being proactive.

So no we didn’t take the easy way out.
Taking the easy way out would have been denying (trust me we tried), ignoring, blaming, and making excuses. No we choose the hard, long, stressful way. We chose to work damn hard every minute of every day to save our child. To give him a fighting chance. To keep him with us, no matter how hard the work is(yes folks it is damn hard) with us for as long as possible.

No we chose to dive in. We chose to take the hard way in.

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Bipolar awareness, love from a mother.

March 30, 2015

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This will be short. Because for those suffering today is just another day of battle and unknowns.
This illness is not one prone to going away, there is no cure.
My favourite quote regarding this is

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I know that I don’t live with bipolar, but having a young son who fights every single day, it has taught me more than I thought possible.

I urge you to read previous posts on this blog, I urge you to open your mind and heart, and simply understand this illness is not one of ease, that these individuals suffering are not less than us, they are not ill for your humour.

I ask that you simply, and quite easily break down the stigma and stereotypes that so many seem to accept and tolerate in regards to bipolar.
You must understand bipolar is like a snowflake, each one is different, which makes treatment that much more difficult.
I ask that you refuse to tolerate jokes, jabs and cartoons at bipolars expense.
I ask that you think long and hard about how you would feel if you, your child, your spouse or parent fought hard every day to stay here with you, and that yes sadly sometimes they succumb to the illness but until you walk the road don’t you dare say that they’ve chosen it.

I ask that as you wouldn’t scoff at treatment of cancer or heart disease you don’t scoff at that of bipolar.
I ask that you open your eyes and accept and understand this is a real, life or death, chronic illness.
I ask that even if you don’t understand it, you don’t judge it.

And if you are suffering, I ask that you trust that you are loved, valued and appreciated. You may have bipolar but bipolar isn’t who you are!
You are so so much more! You are talented, and kind.
You are stronger than most, and courageous beyond measure.
You are you. And that is enough!
Don’t let close mindedness and ignorance determine who you are.
You are as good as anyone else walking, and better than some,but definitely not less because of your illness.
Be proud, and be strong. Be yourself and hold your head high.
You are loved, and those who don’t get it don’t matter.

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My son, my puzzle.

March 23, 2015

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During this transition I’ve realized a few things. And remembered a few more.  

When dealing with more than one (chronic) illness or disorder we pick the biggest /worst /most impacting one of the moment, and tend to let the others slide a bit, forgetting that all are a piece of the puzzle.
Dude doesn’t just have a rapid cycling bipolar diagnosis, but has developmental coordination disorder – mild brain damage,  sensory processing disorder, OCD, severe anxiety and panic disorders.
For years we shuttled him twice weekly to physio, OT, doctors and therapists.

But as with almost all chronic illness there comes a point where you hit the maintenance part. Where they’ve taught you and helped all they can and so you just figure it out and live with it. And when you live it every day it just becomes, until you don’t really think about it until crisis or flare up or new information arises.
Some of those puzzle pieces get lost, but the main ones remain because they are the biggest pieces of the puzzle, in our case bipolar was and is the biggest piece of the puzzle, but the other pieces complete the picture.

Forever we’ve known that Dude becomes exhausted both mentally and physically quicker and more severe than his peers.
We tried shortening his days and weeks as the school year went on and it was becoming harder and harder for him to get there and triggers were making life literally a hell for him.
See he starts school off fantastic, by December it’s a struggle, but by February it’s damn near impossible to get him out the door without rapid cycles and debilitating panic attacks.
No amount of shorter days or weeks were helping. Nothing he tried to cope was easing the overwhelming fears.
DCD amplifies his exhaustion and frustration, and SPD makes it incredibly hard to handle the noises, lights and people. School is tough for any teenager, it’s down right painful for him.
By mid year his mind and body are so fatigued that the thought of leaving the house alone is exhausting.

So now we are here working with the school to shorten his year. And we realize that it’s not only the biggest puzzle piece, but the whole puzzle that make up the reasons for school being such an incredible stressor, no matter how excellent the school, for him.

In having made this transition, it’s brought me back to the little pieces and how they all fit together in my child’s brain, how they all play a role and how we need to adjust at any given moment depending on which pieces are showing or missing or are mixed up .

As a parent when your child is ill, you search long and hard to find those missing puzzle pieces. You move heaven and earth to fit them all together! And there’s nothing like the relief of finally having them all in place.  There’s also nothing more frustrating than knowing even with all the pieces, there’s no cure,for any of them.

Those puzzle pieces sometimes confuse me, frustrate me, hurt and leave me lost. Sometimes we choose the wrong piece and have to spend hours upon hours trying to find the right spot. Or we have a spot the piece just won’t fit. And we just keep trying!

Because when the puzzle is complete and sitting perfectly just as it should before a piece of the puzzle jumps off the table again, right then the puzzle is beautiful!

Nothing funny about it.

March 11, 2015

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There’s one thing I’ve never, nor will ever understand. And that’s finding humour in others pain, illnesses or struggles.
Our world is so full of humour, if you choose to see it.  Laugh at things circumstances, hell even yourself.
But don’t laugh at others, or stereotypes of others.
I will not carry others ignorance, stigmas and judgements. I refuse to allow them to drain me of the fight I fight. But it still angers, hurts and frustrates me.
I will always advocate for the underdog, especially the underdog that is mental illness.
I will continue to chip away the little pieces of the stigma I can, in hopes one day my child will not be laughed at because of the stereotypes surrounding his illness. So many that are so inaccurate it’s ridiculous.

Yesterday I found myself flicking onto social media, and my feed was full of the “you’re in a mental hospital”  joke.
You know the one that tags your friends, ones running naked, ones licking windows, ones rocking in a corner, ones in a straight jacket and so on.
I am not sure my blood pressure has spiked that high in quite some time.

Are you kidding? And don’t for a second say I’m over reacting, I bit my tongue, but I’m allowed to share just how inappropriate things like this are, and why. And so I will.
I am a mother, a mother to a child who has indeed been hospitalized.

First of all.
Would it be appropriate to share a similar “joke” about a cancer ward? A cardiology ward? A palliative ward?
No.  Every single person I know would say that is not appropriate. Being on one of those wards isn’t funny.
And they’d be right. It’s not.
We don’t make jokes and fill up the Internet with jokes of iv bags, hospitals and chemo.
So why, why do we think it’s appropriate to do so for mental illness? Especially using derogatory, out of date stereotypes?
So we can make light of people who actually need these facilities, to save their lives? So they are made to feel inferior, and less than you because they have an illness? That’s exactly how you’re making their feel.

People with mental illness are not a joke. They are not suffering for your pleasure.

Second. Go visit a psychiatric hospital. Do it. If you think it’s funny or this is what you see there.  Heck take your child, try leaving them there without you for a period of time, and try to laugh about it. Hilarious right? Ya that’s what I thought.
Go. I beg you. 
First you will find its not a place like the 50s movies portray. Second you’ll notice, yes there may be some restraining, but do you know why? Because that patient just tried slitting their wrists, or jumping to their untimely death. Or are lost and confused and scared to death.
You will not see patients running naked, etc.  You will see pain and hurt, and hear heart wrenching stories.
You will see very young patients, middle aged mothers, grandfather’s and everything in between.
And I promise you won’t walk out the locked doors laughing. And if you do, I’m sorry your the one with the problem.

I know many that mean nothing by sharing the  “crazy”  jokes, I know many that mean no harm.  But you are. You are flaming stereotypes that many are trying desperately to put out. I know it’s all meant in good humour, but it’s not good humour. It’s hurtful, derogatory humour, that so many assume does no harm. You’d be wrong.

I may not be able to control others, I may not be able to change the world. But I can change who I allow in mine, and I will not continue to shrug it off. I will however continue to love my loved ones the best way I can. And one of those ways is not laughing at their pain, and by using my voice and heart to fight for them and others to scared to speak up.
I may not be able to control these kinds of things, but I damn well won’t tolerate them either.

Big breath…

February 15, 2015

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It has taken me the last year, since dude’s diagnosis, to accept the fact I won’t ever have the why as to his illness. Now I must accept I can’t control the illness and certain things it causes.
And both suck!
I am a person who needs to know and more than that I am a person who hates not having control more than almost anything.
The last few months I have almost physically felt the pressures of having a bipolar kiddo who is in a crash.
By that I mean the pressures I put on myself.
Get him to get up and to school more than once a week, because how does it look if I can’t even get him to do that? Because God knows what everyone is thinking when a thirteen year old gets to stay home so much.

Mom’s lazy, mom’s to easy, mom’s not trying hard enough.

The only way I can describe our morning’s, because it’s impossible to, is that if my boy could claw his skin off he would, he’s that uncomfortable and overwhelmed.
I am none of these things, far from it.

Every night I go to bed wondering if I will play the role of bad cop, or good cop  or will I even have to put on a uniform in the morning?

I mentioned at our meeting this week, my goal was to get him a) to school 4 days a week and b) through grade nine in his current school. The psychiatrist looked at me and asked  “that’s fine, but what’s HIS goal?”

Just like that I knew neither one of us can control his disorder. Sure we can manage it, but we can not control it. 

Then there’s the pressure I feel when people question our plans for highscool.
“he has to face tough things in life”
“you can’t put him in a bubble ”
” needs socialization “….
Here’s the blunt truth.  I believe the majority of social skills ARE NOT learned in high school, except a few ones that really could be done without.

I also know that these next few years are going to be the hardest. And my job as a parent is to keep my child as stable and healthy as possible, and if we can keep him alive through these years, that’s all that matters!

I’ve realized that we as parents helping our children who are on this road,  don’t need to justify our actions to anyone. We are the only ones who know what we deal with.

I am also trying to learn to be in this moment.  I am a planner, and there must be a schedule . Not just for dude, but I myself have major add, and I need to know, to yes control my own mind and world. My family laughs that if I don’t know what is happening 5 years from now, I can’t handle it!

Yet here I am a mother trying to plan and schedule a disorder in my child I can’t, I simply can’t and that I have to accept. And this is plain hard, I want to know he’s going to be OK, I want to know exactly what days are going to be hard and exactly what that will entail.

I was told by dude’s psychologist that we must be in the moment, don’t think about tomorrow morning, or yesterday morning and definitely not the morning five years from now! And more truth could not be spoken.
I suppose dude’s not the only one trying to retrain the brain.
I suppose I will do my damdest to accept I can’t control everything, and I need to ease up on myself, and remember….
It is what it is!

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My son isn’t bipolar

February 8, 2015

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My son isn’t bipolar.
He has bipolar.

Some days it’s really hard to differentiate because bipolar can either take over, or creep in at any given time. And those moments it feels as if he is bipolar, because those moments you try so hard to push through to support and get him, actually him, back.

As parents it’s hard to share our world, because the world can be pretty cruel to our kiddos.  It’s full of misinformation, stigmas, stereotypes and ignorance. And as a parent of a mentally ill person, we know all to well how quickly those things can tip our children to a point of crisis.  And as those suffering it’s overwhelming and terrifying to try and get people to understand you are more than the label on your medical charts. Or simply understand you for you.

But at the end of the day my son has a name. And he is him, not bipolar, or any of his other diagnoses.
Truth be known not many people get to know him. Be it because they choose not to or because he prefers to not let them.
There’s a few who get to see the twinkle in his eye, and fewer who get to hear his laughter and fewer yet who see his heart.

He is not bipolar. He is so much more.

He is kind and compassionate and gentle. Though I often wish he was more so toward himself.

He will always think of others before himself. He worries more about those close then himself during his cycles.

He has more empathy then anyone I’ve ever met.

He has a unique humour, is a computer and historical whiz.

He tries harder in almost anything then your typical child. He has to because life doesn’t come easy to him.

He is an amazing big brother and incredible son.

If he likes you, he likes you unconditionally. And will always have your back. His friendship doesn’t waiver, which can be hard because he doesn’t understand why others do.

And his family is not only his strength, but his heroes, best friends and comfort. He takes pride in his cousin’s and sisters achievements and is their biggest cheerleader.

And if he let’s you see that sparkle, you can guarantee you are lucky and spec

ial and will

always be an important part of his life. Because that sparkle doesn’t show for just anyone.

The kid is more resilient than most, and braver then I will ever be.

He has a name, and it’s not bipolar.

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Kindness for Christmas

December 20, 2014

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The most wonderful time of year is upon us. Well for me anyway.
I love Christmas and all it means, no not the money and the stress, because there’s lots of both. But I make a conscious effort to limit both. Because for me it’s about family, traditions and kindness.

I speak a lot about acceptance and kindness year round, yesterday dude was shown just those things, and at the most perfect time.

Dude had a crash last week, which led us to extending his Christmas holidays. We hit the point of “remove all outside triggers and stress until he sees the doctor”  mode.  No we aren’t putting him in a bubble, but when things aren’t balanced we must do whatever we can to prevent the crash from becoming worse. School is a trigger on a good day and the festive season is often another with all of the excitement and schedule changes, so after discussing with teachers and his psychologist we decided to prevent a complete breakdown he would stay in his comfort zone.

Upon his early leave from school with our permission and more importantly his, his grade and the grade above (he’s in a small school)  were given a brief description and discussion on not only bipolar disorder, but mental illness. The response of the students was incredible in itself, but the true meaning of the story brings us to yesterday.

It was the last day before break and a few of the students asked for his email address, and emailed him Christmas and get well wishes. Just as they would a classmate in the hospital or away from school for a length of time with a physical illness.
I was left speechless.  Not often does that happen!
To top it off two of his friends handpicked a Christmas gift and sent it home with his sister.  I can’t begin to describe the look on his face as he unwrapped it.  I can’t imagine how the emailed words made him feel.
The support and compassion and acceptance that surrounds my son continues to amaze me.
Even before the discussion of mental illness, he was accepted. But now with the knowledge that he has an illness, one he can’t control I think his peers can make sense of it all, having a name makes it easier to understand sometimes.
The compassion, patience, empathy and understanding of his peers and the staff makes my heart full.
I believe no matter what is under the tree this year, his best present will be knowing he is supported, cared about and valued.

My Christmas wish is this for any child or adult struggling with illness. For each and every one of you to know you are loved, you are cared about, you are valuable. My other wish is that those who don’t suffer to extend kindness  patience  understanding and compassion to those who do.

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