Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

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/

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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!

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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Gotta do what you gotta do…

February 25, 2015

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And fight we will!
If you follow my blog, you know life has been a bit of a roller coaster as of late.
I have had a brain that just won’t stop. Because when you are dealing with a high needs child, it would appear life likes to keep you on your toes, all the time.
Just when you have a smooth day you hit a huge bump, and that bump requires changing tracks.

Though dude’s recent crash has subsided and the meds seem to be levelling out and he amazes me at thirteen with the knowledge and insight he has into his anxiety and bipolar, and he fights every single day with himself to do what is needed, mainly school, we find ourselves at a crossroads. 

Where do we go from here, when everything is going well, except for one huge, ginormous trigger?
How long do we push the trigger for  before it potentially blowing?
And why the hell do I care or worry about what other people who aren’t in our situation think?
The truth is I need to let that go.

The truth is that only we know what we need to do, and yet I question it.

I question it not just for the opinion of others, but as with any changes we make in hopes of finding a solution for our child, we can only hope it’s the right choice. Because do we ever really know? Isn’t parenthood a whole lot of hoping and crossing the fingers that you’re doing the right thing?

There’s no bubble, there’s no get used to it, there’s no gotta be/do this that or the other when you’re simply trying to get your child through the toughest years of his life with bipolar and anxiety. The bubbles and the this that and others of typical children are not the main concern. The main concern is teaching, guiding and supporting while they grasp and learn to live with the turmoil that encompasses them everyday and their reality of living with it the rest of their lives, encouraging them to be the best them they can be, and to push them as far as you can without pushing to far.
Because they’re not your typical children. Because sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get through the day let alone years, without feeling judged by general society. I truly wish I would stop being told that I can’t put him in a bubble. I wish it could be understood that’s not what it’s about, and even if I am putting him in a bubble, if it meant keeping your child healthy and alive, would you not bubble yours? You gotta do what you gotta do, period.

You gotta hope and cross the fingers and hope to hell it works!

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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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Good grief, indeed!

December 14, 2014

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Ahhhh good old Charlie Brown! Sums up this week perfectly!
As I’ve mentioned this is an extremely busy time of year for myself, I’ve also mentioned that this isn’t the easiest time of year for dude.

There’s been a few signs here and there the past few weeks, that that ever so touchy balance was starting to tip.
  But I’m going to be honest, I just kept thinking they were still only a few, it’s Christmas season and I’m not sure I have time to deal with anything other than work right now so I let those signs not necessarily ignored but definitely not front and centre either because I really don’t have time for appointments, phone calls and I am dog tired to boot. Does that mean I’m a horrible mom? I don’t think so, I think any parent of a sick child sometimes just wishes positive thinking will be enough, I know I’m notorious for that, and in the meantime I miss signs that looking back I wish I hadn’t, enter all the mom guilt possible.

Apparently no matter how hard I try to pretend things are fine, sometimes they don’t listen or follow my schedule dammit!

One sign things are tipping is dude feels sick all the time, his stomach has always been a physical radar for us to use, but with flu season upon us, gallons of milk being drunk it is also sometimes hard to read the cause.
Another tell tale sign is his telling his head to shut up. For most of us we self talk in our heads, but when things are particularly tough he will voice it.
The sniffles are back, a sign he’s stressed to the max.
The rapid mood cycles hit late this week, along with crippling panic.
Then there’s the paranoia, it’s not full blown, it’s something most wouldn’t even pick up on, but thank God his teachers know these subtle signs.
Needless to say that this week I am grateful for a phenomenal team supporting him, it’s crucial we all communicate because we all see different pieces of the puzzle.
The teachers who alert administration (also Nana in our case), administration doing an assessment and comforting and contacting his psychologist who be lines for the school and spends the morning with him until I can get there, the doctor who rearranges schedules so we can see him next week instead of next month. How important the communication is  is more than I can put on words.

Apparently bipolar gave two shits about his mom’s schedule and made one of it’s own. 
Surprising, not really. Inconvenient, yup.
Does it matter  nope.
What matters is not only we caught this spiral before it was deeper and that dude himself has found an awareness about his illness that makes the break a bit more manageable on his part. His knowledge that this is just part of his illness brings him a bit of comfort I think.  Though he’s repeatedly said this week he wishes his life wasn’t full of ups and downs, mostly downs. He wishes he could just be normal. And one of his friends upon an explanation to the class asked if there was a cure, would he ever be better? And there’s nothing more my boy would love, it brings him peace knowing that this to shall pass.
What matters more than a few hours missed work is that we have support and a plan to get through this down slide.
What matters more than absolutely anything is that dude knows he is loved, that he is never ever going to travel these roads alone.
And what makes each and every ounce of frantic running, rearranging and super early mornings to fit in Christmas at the shop, and turmoil at home?
When I get home from a day of teaching Christmas classes, I’m bone tired and dude meets me at the door with a hug out of nowhere and says, “mom thank you for always being there for me, especially when I really need it”.

The kid is worth it all and more, but I still think Charlie’s nailed it…. Good grief!

Stay in your glass house.

November 22, 2014

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When I write, and talk for that matter, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, I try to always see both sides, I try to be politically correct. Because I don’t want to offend anyone, or hurt anyone.  But sometimes I just get pissed off. I am human after all, a human with a voice and I’ll be dammed if I will be made to feel less.
You see I don’t just have a son with mental illness, I also suffer a tad of anxiety myself and have many people I care about suffering, mostly silently with depression, anxiety and a gambit of other diagnosis.
I watch so often as many ignorant remarks are made, and I’m sick of it! Ya ya get the whole “they mean well”, ” don’t understand ” hoopla.
But I am sick and tired of the excuses people come up with to justify ridiculous comments they make. If you don’t know what to say it really is better to sometimes say nothing at all.  And if you’re reading this shaking your head thinking it’s not that bad,that it’s not that big of a deal, stop reading because you’ve obviously never been there or watched a loved one in the depths of despair trying to survive, and you obviously have a glass house. But don’t worry we can all see through the walls.

Instead of saying the attached list, try things like:
Can I help?
Do you need anything?
I don’t know what you are going through, but I am here.
No I can’t imagine.
Sometimes there are no answers, but you are loved and supported.

And sometimes there’s nothing you can say,  but just being there is all you need to offer.  To know they have a shoulder is all you can do.

I am sick of being a shoulder (and I have pretty big ones)  because of someone’s ignorant comments. I am sick of being there to wipe tears because of stigma. I’m sick of hearing and seeing shit that costs lives. I will however always be that shoulder and wipe those tears,  because there will always be people who say and share said shit,  who live in that glass house. And I will always be there whenever I an needed to pick up the pieces from their damage.

Tip your hat to the Alberta outlaw.

November 19, 2014

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https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/the-alberta-outlaw-raising-awareness-for-mental-he /

If you happen to live anywhere between grandprarie, Alberta and Nashville Tennessee and you happen to spot a cowboy on a horse named drifter.  Say thank you. Share some food, some hay and make a donation, but most of all say thank you!

This Alberta outlaw is taking on quite a feat to raise awareness and money for a cause near and dear to so many.  If your a rider you know just how daunting this road will be.  Travelling that distance on horse back is a journey in itself, doing so without food, money and a place to lay ones head makes the journey damn near impossible.

But those that are in the midst of a mental illness journey know just how

isolated and impossible surviving can feel.  It blows my mind that a single person is willing to ,  on horse back, in the worst months to travel through Alberta, step up and make a noise for such an incredibly important cause. It gives me hope

that maybe, just maybe peoples eyes will be opened to the illnesses and the stigmas.  As I told my boy about this Alberta outlaw this morning, he stood tall. He was amazed that someone would do something so unique and difficult to raise awareness and funds for something he battles daily.  I believe it made him feel a bit proud and a bit happy to hear that people care. Perhaps we don’t always see it, but people (one person at a time)  are making a difference in the world of mental health.

So if you see a lone cowboy travelling on his trusted horse, tip your hat. Tip your hat and say thank you.