I am Winning! Day 26 – Tuesday March 11

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, a million lego pieces on the floor around me thanks to 2 little boys who eat, sleep and breathe lego.

I have so many thoughts swarming around my head. I feel like I’m trying to herd a cloud of flies. I can’t seem to grasp one or get them to neatly line up so I can process through them. I’m not sure if I’m subconsciously avoiding dealing with “them” or if I just get so few opportunities to sit and think……..and now there are just too many……

I mentioned that I have a Dr’s appt on Thursday. It’s the yearly appointment of joy and fun, if you are a woman. And, it just happens to work out that it will be 4 weeks/28 days since I started this journey. So, I will get up on Thursday and take my measurements. I’m unsure whether I want to step on my scale at home or just do it at the Dr’s office.

I mentioned that I’m scared of the number.

It’s true! And so incredibly stupid.

It’s been so freeing not knowing the number. And yet, I still mull it over and over in my head, way more often than I’d like. My thoughts go something like this……

If I’ve lost 10 pounds, that’s awesome.

Yah, but your eating has been impecable…..surely you’ve lost more than 10 pounds.

But you’ve seen yourself in the mirror….you’ve got a LONG way to go.

But you’re doing SO good.

Yah, but it’s not fast enough and you are running like crazy.

I know but I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want to set myself up for a blow.

Is it a disappointment if you’ve lost weight and gotten stronger?

No, but what if I’ve not lost hardly any weight because I gained muscle?

I don’t want to be over 200 pounds. I hate that number.

And on and on and on……..

None of that is positive. It’s not helping me.

I know that I’m fitting in clothes differently. I feel better. I can actually see my cheekbones. I feel less exhausted and crazy(anxiety is less….sort of, I guess). I’m sleeping better. I’m accomplishing more (I think). And yet, I’m still on this stupid merry-go-round.

There is less of it. So, I guess that’s a positive.

I’ve probably upped my distance in running/walking too fast. The difference is…..I feel so much better when I’m exercising. I seem to hit the “high” after 35 minutes. And it feels SO GOOD!

BUT……my knees are tired and one is a little swollen. It’s funny because it doesn’t really hurt, but it feels……weak? Maybe that’s the best word for it. So, I’m going to back off a little because I don’t want to actually damage it. But as soon as I think about backing off…I start to feel a little panicky because I don’t want to gain weight back and I don’t want to feel anxious again.

Ha! Again with the “having anxiety” about having anxiety.

At least I can recognize this and laugh at myself. Even though it’s no laughing matter. Anxiety sucks. If you’ve never really dealt with it on a constant day to day basis….count yourself blessed. It’s as wearing as long term physical pain. It’s soul crushing.

I don’t want to think like this. I don’t want to be like this. And yet, even in my weakness, there is a positive side. I’d like to think that I have a certain amount of understanding and compassion for others who may be experiencing anxiety or other mental health issues. If you haven’t really experienced long term anxiety, it can be difficult to really comprehend.

My least favorite “helpful” suggestion is, “Just stop thinking like that!”

I wish I could.

I’m not sure if it has to do with a crazy imagination or what, but just recently I was standing in the shower and my mind flashed to a picture of me slipping, hitting my head on the temperature dial, splitting my head open and dying. In one second, I went from doing a mundane task of getting clean, to a flash of panic.

I don’t want to die. I’m actually quite satisfied with where I am at right now. I don’t want to think thoughts like this. That thought or picture flashed through my head, followed by a wave of anxiety and my immediate next thoughts were, That’s the anxiety. Why does my brain do this? I don’t want to see that picture. I don’t want to feel this anxiety. The panic that washes over you in an instant, like water flowing from the shower.

I didn’t ask to feel that. I don’t want to feel that. Even though I can recognize that it’s “anxiety”, that doesn’t mean that I can just dismiss the whole experience. I’m left exhausted by the surge of panic. Even if it was only for a moment. Even if I know it’s not real, and that there is little to no chance of “that” actually happening……the experience is still wearing. I want it to just stop. If I never had a thought like that again…..I would be thrilled.

But I can use my experiences to understand and show compassion and to teach….so that when my son comes to me asking if the mark on his face could possibly be cancer. Even though, his next comment is that he knows it most likely isn’t and that its probably just the anxiety speaking…..

I can know that I’m helping him to differentiate between the anxiety and reality. I can also understand that he’s emotionally exhausted and has little reserves to “hold himself together”. I can “get” that he’s not wanting to feel or think like this.

It makes this whole situation a little easier to deal with.

But believe me….if I could just stop this…..I would.

If you don’t deal with anxiety, maybe the next time someone shares an anxious moment with you….instead of encouraging them to “just stop it”, you could just listen……and say something encouraging like, “That’s tough. It’s got to be hard fighting against that or feeling like that.” It’s amazing how encouraging validation is. It’s not saying that being anxious or stressed is okay. It’s just acknowledging that the person is experiencing stress on the mind and body; and that they are fighting against it. It’s incredible to hear someone say, “Keep going! I’m standing here with you, beside you. Even if I’m unsure what to do….I’m here!

If you do deal with anxiety, keep fighting. Every day is a fight. Every day you fight….you are winning!

You are winning!

I am winning!

Day 15 – February 28

Today feels like a good day. I woke up at 6:15…..stayed in bed until 7:15am, BUT….I made the choice to do that because the older kids are home today; and except for breakfast and getting dressed….Siah was all ready and packed to go to school (Yay for evening prep). So, I had time……

It’s been 2 weeks since I started this “journey” and it’s been filled with ups and downs. There have been a lot of downs, but I keep attempting to focus on the ups.

I’ve seen a pattern that I hope to break. I managed to make it out of my “fat” jeans and into my “regular” jeans…..this was a fabulous feeling, BUT…….I noticed that as soon as I reached that milestone, I wanted to quit.

Yup!

I have no idea what my weight is right now, but I know that I’m no where near an optimal weight/size/shape/fitness level. And so I choose to carry on.

I know that this has happened in the past….I’ve reached this place and figured that it was good enough and that it gave me a reason to give up. I say give up, because while I am comfortable eating this way (closer to Whole30 than paleo), it’s not easy. It requires effort and discipline. It requires not inhaling a bowl (or 3) of Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms. It requires planning ahead to have lunch and snacks. It requires making dinner instead of eating out. It requires going out for a walk/run even when I don’t want to because I’m tired or it’s snowy or it’s raining…..or I really just don’t want to. It requires a recognition that all my choices have consequences, when a part of me just wants to “do/eat whatever I want” without having to deal with the consequences.

That’s really what it comes down to……one of the things I talk the most to my kids about…..

CHOICES and CONSEQUENCES

Now, I did make a choice. It was actually a conscious choice. I chose to not monitor my food choices for a while because I was exhausted and so worn out. I knew that the consequences would be weight gain and a general feeling of physical, mental and emotional “blergh”. I needed to not feel like I was trying (and failing) to control every aspect of my life. And so I just ignored that area of my life….until I felt pretty horrid and was at the point where I could no longer fit into my “biggest” clothes.

And here I am…..wanting change.

When I was on my walk/run last night, that word was on a loop in my head.

CHANGE

I’m typically resistant to change. I like safe. I like routine. I like knowing what to expect.

Basically it all comes down to fear and control.

Again with the fear and control. ARG!

But………… I feel like this is a year of change for me.

I’m not out to force change onto myself, but I’m willing to allow change to happen and to do what I can and what I need to do to encourage that “change” to happen.

The last 2 weeks have been interesting for me. It’s eye opening to see that I do things to sabotage myself so that I can stay in a “comfortable” place. And yet that’s part of the lie….that the place I am in is comfortable….cause it’s not. And who said that life is supposed to be comfortable, anyway?

One of the “downs” of the past 2 weeks have been anxiety.

I haven’t been walking around in a 24/7 panic attack, and in fact, I’ve felt pretty stable most of the time.

I have noticed that I must be feeling worse than I realize because the desire to “escape” has been intense at times. I’ve wanted something to “take the edge off”. I’ve noticed that there have been a few more times than I’d like where I’ve wanted a glass (or 3) of wine; or to take a few Ativan just so I could escape from the pressure. I’ve noticed this particularly at the end of the day, and definitely on weekends. I’ve also noticed that when confronted with certain situations, my anxiety goes from what has seemed like “non-existent” to full on panic.

For example, Jon called me the other day when I was picking the girls up from school. My initial thought, when I heard that he was not at work but on his way home (it was earlier than his quitting time – but I had forgotten that he had a dental appt), was that something terrible had happened. He couldn’t explain himself fast enough and I could feel “worse-case-scenario-girl” kicking into overdrive.

And, Geli messaged me the other day from school…..I totally forget about what….I just remember “the forbidding feeling of doom“. I quickly cut her off to clarify that everything was ok and that she wasn’t about to “drop a bomb” on me.

I hate that aspect of my brain. I have a Dr’s Appt on March 13 and I’ll be talking with him about meds and whether or not we need to tweak things. I feel pretty good most of the time but those “flare ups” and the “desire to escape” bother me.

On a positive note….I feel a lot stronger, in regards to walking/running, than I did 2 weeks ago. I don’t feel like I’m going to die before I finish, HA!. Which is a good thing, right? I’m going further, faster than I did two weeks ago. I’m definitely not where I was when I stopped running last year, but I have the memory, both physical and mental, of what I am capable of and that has me excited for both attaining and surpassing where I was. I’ve restarted the C25K program because I figure that it can’t hurt…..and even with that…..I see differences from where I was to where I am.

Last night, I just turned the running app on and hit play without looking at exactly what the walk/run info was….I just followed the prompts, instead of anticipating them. It felt a lot easier. Just going with it. Instead of anticipating the “tough” times and counting down every second…….I just let go of all that “control” and trusted that I could do it.

I let go of the control and put aside fear and……..it felt great. Even better, I was over a minute faster per km than my previous run/walk.

I’m excited for where I’m going and trying even harder to be content with where I am at.

It’s a process. I’m in process. It’s ok. I’m ok. I’ll be ok.

How are you doing? I’d love to hear what’s happening in your life….the good, the bad, the ugly…..it’s all ok.

Day 4 – February 17

Yesterday was a bit of a hard day for me.

It was an “at home” day and I find that unless I am super busy, then the “noise” seems to be louder on those days. It’s like there is too much time to “think” about things.

My biggest worry – my health…….every little ache or pain seems intensified. I spend a HUGE amount of effort talking “reality” to myself. The “cancer fear” seems huge. I hate it. I hate that Geli was sick for a while before we knew and by the time we found out….she was really sick. So, little things swirl around inside of my head and become huge things.

I know it’s anxiety.

I hate it.

The exchange goes something like this….

That feels “off”….hmmm, that’s weird. I remember feeling that before. I wonder if it’s serious.

Of course it’s not, that just the anxiety talking.

But how much do I discount, and what if I discount something serious because I think it’s just anxiety.

Ok, so now you are having anxiety about having anxiety….that’s messed up.

I know. I’m fine……………right?

Of course you are. Remember, you brought it up the last time you were at the Dr and he explained it.

I know, but we can’t see “inside” of me and what if……

What are the “what if’s” going to do to help you?

……………Nothing….I know………, but this is just so hard.

I wish I could just turn my brain off.

And this goes on and on….

Except that when I am busy…..I can entirely forget that there had even been an issue…that is, until I remember, AGAIN….at which point, it cycles around again.

It’s messed up.

So I go to bed and wake up the next morning and……….I’m fine. And then I have a busy day and……….I’m fine. And then I have another tough day………..and in reality, I’m still fine.

Which is why I (mostly) believe that I AM FINE.

I’m thinking I might need to go back to my trauma counselor and have a session dealing with this……..

I remember dealing with a very mild form of this before Geli was sick, but it’s been just stupid intense since Geli was diagnosed with cancer………

Other than the anxiety….it was a fairly good day. Yesterday morning, getting out of bed at 6:45am really helped with the insanity of the morning situation. It felt like a really calm morning….which is odd ’cause we don’t have too many of those.

We even had a Team Meeting between Jeremy’s two schools and it went fabulously. He really is doing well. it’s not easy. It’s never easy, but it’s nice to hear that he’s doing well, as opposed to hearing that there is something wrong. I’ve had way too many of those meetings. I will be thrilled if I never have another one, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Do you struggle with anxiety? Any tips on dealing with the intruding thoughts? Have you found a way to “turn it off”?

Day 3 – February 16

I am still nervous about actually getting up at 5:30am and going for a walk/run. Mornings have never been my strong point and so, I went for a walk last night instead of this morning….and then I woke up at 6:30am this morning and reluctantly heaved myself out of bed at 6:45am. That’s still better than 7:30ish – no?

I really, REALLY did not want to go out last night, but I didn’t want to do it this morning, even more. So, before I could really think too much about it…..I laced up my runners, harnessed the dog, and set out. It was GREAT timing on my part. There was a horrific rain storm and it hit about 5 mins into my walk. Zeus was all stressed out and kept stopping to shake the water off himself.

But, I plodded out 3 very wet and soggy kilometers. Yay me.

20140217-085301.jpg

post walk/run, blotchy lipstick and all

I’ve been struggling a bit with anxiety over the weekend. I have a tendency to run events over and over and over and over inside my head. Which……can be absolutely horrific. We were chatting with someone this weekend and later, I mentioned to Jon what stuck out at me the most from that conversation. Which I received as a horribly negative criticism and yet in reality it was a totally unimportant and insignificant comment. I recognize that it’s “anxiety” but that doesn’t seem to stop the “loop” from playing endlessly in my head.

At that point, Jon said to me, “It must really suck to live inside your head, sometimes.” Which it totally and utterly does.

HOWEVER……..I also realized, that this exact same tendency to go over and over and over an event or scenario is also what allows me to come up with creative, inventive and excellent ideas for issues or problems that I may come up against. I look at the “issue” from every angle and aspect; and am typically able to come up with incredible solutions.

So, what is a weakness……can also be a strength.

It’s interesting for me to realize that something that I thought broken about me……is also a huge gift.

Hmmmmm………..

100 Days Towards Myself

Friday February 14, 2013

Day 1

I woke up this morning, earlier than I have in a while, but later than I had hoped. That’s still a win, right? I don’t really know…….. if I’m being honest!

I have this HUGE fear of failure and in my mind, anything less than perfection is failure.

Why is that?

That is something I have been thinking about today. I’m unsure why I believe that.

There is a huge part of me that wants to control everything. That same part says that if I’m not doing things 100% perfectly, then I’ve failed. So, I’m trying to be gentler on myself.

I’d planned on doing things perfectly. Only whole foods. 3 times a week of exercise. Only 2 cups of coffee per day. Getting up to start the day at 6:30am or on the days that I’m exercising…..exercise at 5:30 for 30 mins until 6am and then shower and get ready for the day until 6:30am and be ready to go at 6:30am.

I gout out of bed at 6:45am, but I was awake at 6:30am. I don’t usually crawl out of bed until 7:30am and that is only because that’s about the latest I can leave it and still get Siah to school on time.

I had drank more than 2 cups of coffee this morning before I even realized it. Once I realized it, I stopped drinking and turned off the coffee pot.

I ate eggs, with green onions and orange peppers and proscuitto cooked until it was crispy like bacon. Then I ate more proscuitto and then even more. I justified it by telling myself that it was protein so I was ok to eat it so that I wouldn’t be so hungry again soon. And then I told myself that it was only 70 calories for the 2 slices and so in total, I ate 210 calories (of the proscuitto)…..which was probably less that 2 slices of regular bacon….but really…….it just tasted really good and I was feeling stressed.

My sister messaged me before stopping by this morning and asked what I wanted from Starbucks. I could have said nothing, but I asked for a 2 pump sugar free vanilla Americano. On Atkins, that would be a zero carb drink, but my “plans” said that I was not supposed to be eating chemicals and I was not supposed to be drinking any more coffee today…..

So have I failed…….or am I just making choices?

Are those choices leading down a positively charged path or a negatively charged path?

I had a green smoothie for lunch. Spinach, banana, orange, strawberry, mango and coconut oil.

I’ve set out on this 100 day journey and I’m not exactly certain what I’m doing. I want to lose weight. I want to feel better. I want to not ache and need pain killers. I want to have more energy and to feel stronger. I want to not feel tired ALL THE TIME. I want to ask myself some tough questions and hopefully find some answers.

I need to make some changes, but I want to figure out why I’m doing some of the things that I do, so hopefully I can make changes that will ultimately impact me LONG TERM in a positive way.

I lost 10 pounds in January. I set a goal to lose 10 lbs and I accomplished it. I’ve gained back 7 lbs in the last two weeks. All my hard work….all my effort…..all the denying and self haggling… what was all that effort for?

I don’t want to keep doing this. I don’t want to run this cycle, over and over and over again.

I’m nervous and unsettled. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to put this “out there” and then have people see that I’m a failure when I falter. I almost feel like its inevitable and that makes me feel horrid too. Like I’m just a failure waiting to happen.

Why? Why do I see myself as a failure? Why do I think that I will let myself and others down? Why do I have such a negative viewpoint of myself? What caused this? What contributed to this? Why do I feel like I am “unacceptable?”

So then, will I carry on and actually accomplish this in order to “look good” in front of others or will I accomplish this “for myself”? Or will I “fail” and accept that I am human and it really doesn’t matter if I falter, because what matters is that I carry on. Or will I fail and then give up because it’s too difficult or too much effort or because I really don’t want to have to do this…….I don’t know.

What I do know is that I want to be happy and accept myself. I want to be able to accept that I am imperfect and I don’t have to be perfect in order to be accepted or acceptable. I want to not feel so much pressure from myself to live up to some impossible standard.

It frustrates me because I actually do think I am a pretty good person, but then I wonder if I am acceptable because I try so hard to “be perfect” and that if I eased up on myself then maybe I wouldn’t be as “good” or “acceptable.” It gets pretty messed up inside my head and there is a part of me that wants to keep hashing it all out, right here-right now, so that I could figure it out and have it “done.”

But, I’m going to accept that the answers are not so clear to me at this exact moment and I’m going to walk away from this and “let it sit.” I’m not a failure for not figuring this all out right now. I’m not a failure just because I don’t have all the answers.

I’m just me. An imperfect person who keeps putting one foot in front of the other hopefully in a forward direction. And for right now……I’m choosing to be okay with that.

Jeremy Shares on Autism

Jeremy has an INCREDIBLE Behaviour Consultant. We’ve been working with Elizabeth since 2011/2012. I cannot fully express how thankful I am to have her in our lives. She is invaluable as a support person and a resource.

We recently met to discuss progress and struggles in our journey with Autism/ADHD/Anxiety. She mentioned that she was teaching a course out at UFV and would love to have Jeremy come to either share his views on living with Autism or even just to come and audit this one class where she had invited other youth with Autism to share.

Jeremy was interested in sharing about living with Autism and so we accepted.

On Monday night, the anxiety set in and Jeremy had a hard time getting to sleep because he wasn’t sure what to expect or what would be required from him. We looked up a few things online and then I sent him off to bed with the promise that we would work on something for him to say tomorrow during our Homeschool time.

We talked a bit about himself and went through the questions that Elizabeth had sent through and came up with a paper for him to reference if he needed it.

Here is a video of him practicing at home.

We finished up school for the day and headed out to Abbotsford. We found the classroom and met up with the other teens who were also sharing. Jeremy was SO excited to meet other kids that were “Like Him”…..they Jer at UFVtalked and talked and talked. It was great to see him so relaxed and calm. He was just being himself and not “trying” to be normal.

Elizabeth had to cut the teens off….they had immediately launched into a discussion about a computer game……..and herded them into the classroom. They got settled into seats up at the front of the room and Elizabeth spoke for a bit and then invited them to share some.

I videoed some clips of Jeremy sharing. He spoke quite quietly for the first little bit, so you may need to turn your speakers up.

Jeremy was asked to share about his talents.

Sharing his thoughts about finding out that he had autism

Talking about Sensory Overload and Meltdowns

Talking about Friendship and Autism

I recognize that not everyone will want to watch multiple videos of my son talking,and that’s totally ok. I put these up here for anyone who might be interested in seeing my son, at 13 years old, sharing about his experiences with Autism and sharing how he feels about certain aspects of his life.

Moving Forward The Morning After

So I posted last night…..

I was tired and emotional and probably if those two factors had not ganged up on me….I may have filtered myself a bit more or even just made less typos…..maybe….maybe not?!?

I don’t know that this morning brought any new clarity with it.

I woke up with a killer headache……….at 5:30am.

Yah, it’s been a long day already and it’s only noon-ish. Did not get back to sleep after that. BLERGH!!!!

On a side note….It’s gorgeous outside.

That is the view to my right….

and this is my view straight ahead…..

She’s not supposed to be on the couch….but I haven’t exactly kicked her off.

It’s the last day of school before the Christmas Break….and probably my last quiet (ish) day for the next two weeks.

So, I’m taking advantage of it. I’m sitting. The house is a mess, and I made Judah pancakes for lunch. He is currently trolling Netflix….I believe Ninjago is the show of choice at this exact moment.

I’m currently staring at my Christmas Tree trying to figure out what I’m thinking, but again with the 50 million thoughts going in 50 million directions.

I had a few people send me private messages of encouragement and those were so nice to hear.

I wonder if it’s about perspective.

I’m in the middle of it all. From my position, I look around me and I see children who are unique and amazing and challenging in their own fantastic ways. I see the screaming and the bickering and the squabbling and the challenges to get them to do their chores and take care of their responsibilities. I see their shortcomings and I want to work with them to strengthen those areas while at the same time encouraging them in their strengths. I see these amazing individuals with really great hearts even in spite of all the challenges that we’ve faced individually and as a family……. But it’s a constant effort to keep these 5 bodies moving in a forward direction.

We were so isolated over the “cancer years” and before then….doing almost anything with Jeremy required HERCULEAN effort and sometimes it was easier to just not do anything. Again…..very isolating.

It is hard when you’ve had it said to your face that people can’t be friends with you because your child is too difficult. Or to hear from others that you shouldn’t subject your children to people because they are too much effort to have around and be around.

Just typing both of those down….I realize how brutal those two comments are. I mean, I know how brutal they are….I’ve lived though both of those said directly to my face and more. But I can’t imagine saying those things to someone…..EVER!!! I love children. I especially love the challenging kids. The ones that make you think and keep you on your toes. The extremely smart kids that say the most incredible things but require a little more attention and focus……I love the regular kind of kids too, but somehow, the ones that people seem annoyed with or bothered by….the ones that talk and talk and talk and talk and never shut up……I LOVE those kids. I want to go out of my way to make sure that they feel special and included and NEVER EVER a bother or an inconvenience….

I get it. I know how much effort it is. I live it…..EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! Jeremy has not been the easiest child. He requires some effort. Well, he requires a lot amount of effort. So does Josiah in a different way and Judah….well, he’s a 3 year old. What 3 year old doesn’t require some attention and effort. My boys require effort……I know this. I guess, it would just feel really good to feel like others “want” to be with my kids. Do you know what I mean? I think that in spite of their particular challenges or maybe even as a result of them….that my kids……all 5 of them are pretty amazing. I’d love to feel like others felt that too and wanted to spend time with them….not cause they HAD to, but because they WANTED to.

So, to those who have said something…..THANK YOU. Really! I appreciate it more than you may ever know.

I’m not sharing this in the hopes that people will “do” something. I am just trying to unravel some of this mess inside myself. Part of that is dealing with the hurts and wounds that I have or have gotten.

I realize that I’ve been hurt and I definitely have some sore, open wounds when it comes to my kids and how they are perceived and received.

And this OBVIOUSLY colors how I hear people comment on my kids.

So the school wanting to help Siah….turns into….HE’S A PROBLEM…..which I can’t even fathom….cause he’s freaking sweet kid who can read and write and wants to please…….and then I go…WHAT….WHAT do I even do with that….

How could be he a problem…..which, when it comes down to it….that is not even the issue at all.

He is a great kid….who has some quirks and may require “some individualized strategies” to help him succeed and how do we (parents & school) as a collective team help him to achieve success?

So we met, and talked through some things and I think I have a better perspective. I think we are more on the same page than I “felt”.

Which is great.

Not that the whole things doesn’t still stress me out….but the Principal….she’s an amazing lady, encouraged me to trust them and to just “plug my nose and JUMP!”

I believe this school and these people are amazing people…..I believe they truly care about Josiah. I really do believe that they want the best for him. That they want him to succeed. And so…..I jump.

I’m scared.
I’m nervous.
I’m sure I’ll need reassurance again.

But…..

I want to trust.
I want to believe.
I want to be in “community.”

and so….

I carry on…

one step after the other…..hopefully in a forward direction. 🙂

Let’s Talk About Mental Health Issues……

I’m frustrated with the whole concept of guilt and Mental Health.

I, in no way, have all the answers; and on most days I question whether I have any answers. What I do know is that I deal with anxiety and have for as long as I can remember. My mom says that I was fearless as a child and so, I’m not exactly sure what happened, because I don’t really have any concrete memories where I wasn’t dealing with anxiety.

At least 3 of my kids deal with some level of anxiety and Jeremy is also dealing with ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, Learning Disability and Autism. All of those fall under the “Mental Health” umbrella. They all have areas of “Brain Disfunction.” In my mind, that means there are areas where the brain is not functioning in a Neuro-typical way. I do understand that there are many who don’t want autism classified as a mental health disorder because it is usually thought of as being a genetically predetermined disorder, and there is a certain amount of “shame” associated with mental illness or mental disorders.

I choose to think differently about the whole concept of Mental Health.

I deal with any physical health issues for myself or my children in a completely non-guilty manner. If myself or one of the kids has a cold, or a broken bone or some other physical ailment, I don’t feel guilty taking them in to see our Family Dr or a specialist, if needed. Why then, if myself or one of the kids are dealing with Mental Health Issues, should it be any different?

In my mind, it shouldn’t be any different at all.

If my car needs a tune up. I get it done. If my house needs a hose for the water tank, we get it done. If our clothes are in need of repair or replacement, then I take care of it. Why do we take care of our physical bodies and our belongings, but hesitate when it comes to mental and emotional issues.

We, often, hesitate to talk about it openly and freely. Sometimes we hesitate to even admit it to ourselves. It’s a tricky subject and not one that everyone understands or even cares to try to understand, but Mental Health and Mental Illness are not going anywhere.

I’m trying to raise my kids to understand that Mental Health is as important as Physical Health. It’s important to take care of your mental/emotional state; and it’s important to take care of your physical state.

If I needed insulin because my body never produced it, or it produced a very small amount……would that make me “less” in some way. Would it mean that I was broken and not as valuable or worthy as someone else who didn’t need insulin shots? So what if I need extra seratonin in my brain, for either a while or even forever……I don’t see how the two are different. What if genetically, I don’t produce as much as you do? Or what if I experienced some traumatic event in my life and the stress has negatively affected my body in such a way that I needed some help, in the form of seratonin or any other mental health drug…….why is that any different than needing insulin or any other drug.

I don’t see that it is.

In my family, there seems to be a huge history of anxiety and depression. I have also experienced a stillbirth, 4 pregnancy losses and cancer, as well as dealing with a child/children with special needs. So whether it’s genetically predispositioned or because of some life trauma…..I don’t know.

What I do know, is that being on medicine has helped “ME.” I’m not advocating that everyone needs to be on meds. Because if you can deal with your mental health issues through counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy….then awesome….but by doing that, you are still “taking care of” your mental health.

For the first time in my life, that I can remember, I feel like the inside of me matches the outside of me. It’s crazy hard to explain, but I will try. I’ve had many people not believe or understand that I was anxious (as a teen or young adult) because I seemed so confident and in control. I think that must be where my kids get it from. They seem to hold themselves (mostly) together when they are at school or church or “out” and then when they get home, they feel comfortable enough to “fall apart”.

I don’t know that I did a lot of “falling apart” but I did use “control” as a method of dealing with how “out of control” I felt. I felt that I needed to control my situations, the people around me and myself in order to feel safe. It got to the point where my “control issues” were hurting my relationships. And yet, I didn’t understand “why” I felt the need to “control” everything. I just knew that I felt safer when I knew exactly what to expect.

I did believe that I was a good person and yet a part of me didn’t believe that. I believed I was a good friend and yet the insecurity and anxieties held me back from actually “being a good friend.” I thought I could do things like “sing” and yet I could never put myself fully “out there” because I couldn’t possibly be good enough and what if I made a mistake…..what would people think of me. I know that lots of people deal with a certain amount of insecurity and I don’t know that I can fully explain just how it felt inside of me. But imagine if you thought you were good enough but then you weren’t really sure if you could believe yourself…..and if you were so unsure then maybe you really weren’t good enough. Throw in some perfection issues which meant that you couldn’t or wouldn’t do ANYTHING you weren’t absolutely certain that you could do with 100% accuracy and confidence………and that pretty much left you not doing much at all. You wanted to do “stuff” but unless you could control the situation and knew exactly what to to expect and exactly what people’s reactions would be and exactly what the outcome would be……….which having all of that fall into place for any specific event, was pretty much an impossibility and if it did…..you came across so confident that no one would ever guess that you were dealing with insecurity and anxiety……and throw on top of that whole mess, that you never wanted to come across as anything less than confident and so you were exhausted all the time just trying to hold yourself together so that you could come across “PERFECTLY” because anything less than perfection was failure and “FAILURE” was never acceptable and basically you have a perfect recipe for disaster.

Knowing what I went through as a teenager/adult, and then when I finally figured out that I was dealing with “anxiety”, feeling so relieved and yet angry and grieved over all the lost time………I am strongly advocating for my children’s Mental Health when necessary.

I look back at my teenage years when I didn’t feel strong enough or worthy enough or acceptable enough to do things like, go to college or university. I figured that I was good at looking after kids and so rather than do things I was interested in, like music or teaching or even in the medical field….I took whatever jobs fell into my lap, got married and had kids. I was too scared to do anything else.

I love my husband. I love my kids. I’m not unhappy with my life, and yet…..I could have done things differently. I’ve shared this with people before and I usually hear something like, “We all feel insecure and regretful of the things we wish we had done but didn’t do.” This is different. I’m talking about life crippling anxiety. Like there where things I wanted to do and yet was SO scared to do them that even the thought of doing it stressed me out, and so I did what felt safe.

I’ve lived my entire life, up until now…..only doing things that felt safe……and that doesn’t seem like a huge list of things, especially compared to things that I have dreamed about doing over the years.

I’ve accomplished a fair amount in my 38 years but I’ve dreamed of accomplishing so much more. I’ve just discarded those dreams because I wasn’t good enough, or people would think I was stupid for wanting to do those things. I believed the lie that others could do it better than me and I shouldn’t even try in case I failed. Because failing is one of the worst things ever. I believed that. I’ve believed that for so many years and I hate it.

This is why I’m a HUGE advocate for my kids and their mental health. I’ve pushed my kids beyond every “limitation” that I’ve had that has held me back. I’ve explained why I’m pushing them into uncomfortable situations. I’ve had them ask for things from adults/teachers/doctors/etc. when they felt uncomfortable doing so. Discomfort isn’t a bad thing. Failing isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you tried and for whatever reason it didn’t work out, this time……..and that’s ok.

Never try, never win
never get a break
You miss a hundred percent of the
shots you never take

Hedley came out with this song and it’s been HUGE for me……

I’m a lot more open now. I say “yes”, when everything in me wants to say “no”, because “NO” is safe. I don’t mean that I say yes to everything. I’m still in recovery mode from the 2.5 years of cancer treatment and the havoc that wreaked on me. But, I will honestly assess my stress level, versus just saying “NO” because I’m scared. I ask myself if I’m allowing anxiety to hold me back from saying yes to something that I might actually want to do and even be good at. I try to be honest with myself about what I can do and what I can’t do, and to not view everything through the lenses of anxiety. I will even tell others that any hesitation they might sense from me is anxiety and I’m not willing to allow it to control or rule my life any longer.

Does this mean that all my days are good, confident days…..NOPE! Not at all. And when I’m having a particularly bad day – as far as anxiety goes – I am gentle with myself and honest with both myself and others as to how I am doing. Because I know that tomorrow is a new day and most likely I won’t feel the same. I have stronger days and weaker days, but now I know that I am “fighting” anxiety and that it’s not me……I’m not bad.

I am enough. I am good enough. I am strong enough. I am confident enough. I am enough.

I want my kids to believe that they are good enough and can do whatever they want. I want them to “go for” the things they want and so I advocate for them and I encourage them to advocate on their own behalf. We talk about strategies for dealing with “issues” and “insecurities” and “anxieties”. We use medication as an aid, if necessary, and we do it all without guilt. There is no guilt or shame in needing help…….whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

I am enough!
They are enough!
You are enough!

Exhaustion

20130905-214113.jpg

I’m so tired…….I think I’ve been doing better and then something comes along and knocks me down so flat that I feel like any forward movement I’ve made has all been taken away and I’m right back down to scraping the bottom of the emotional/mental/physical barrel.

This week has really done me in. Between first days and lunches and anxiety and high school……it was all pretty overwhelming but I was hanging in there.

Today totally just knocked me over the edge.

I was originally going to take Jeremy out to the appt by myself, and then we had some issues trying to work out who was going to watch Judah and who would pick up Siah and I thought that maybe I might get out of having to deal with today (avoidance……awesome escapism tactic). Jon felt I really needed to be there.

Oh, I didn’t want to. It’s so hard. When your son doesn’t fit “the mold” neatly and nicely and attempting to diagnose the “puzzle” that is your child means that you have to fight with every ounce of strength that you have and even with some that you don’t have…….it’s tough. And after fighting last time and being so dismissed…….it was such a blow that I…..we….didn’t even really want to hope for this to work out.

And yet we want the best for our son and so we scrape together the courage to go to a meeting where we bare our souls and pull out every negative aspect of our son and of ourselves and of our families…….and lay it all out for someone to see and hear and sift through, in the hopes that they will be able to give us answers – or at the very least clues that will help us to help our child.

I sit there in these meetings and wonder how our genetic soup managed to come together in such a way that our son was given this……

ADHD, ODD, Anxiety, SPD and possibly ASD…..all mashed up together in one small child.

It’s SO much. It’s so much for us to deal with. It’s so much for him to deal with. It’s so much.

And yet, like with Angelica……..we make it as “normal” as we can. Bald is beautiful. Confidence is beautiful. And our brains are all unique and the things that make us unique make us so very special. We play up the incredible aspects and attempt to make the difficult things “just a matter of fact”.

But the truth is……it’s not easy. In fact, somedays it feels like a crushing impossibility.

We won’t know the results for a bit. I’m hoping for an Autism Diagnosis because there is so much in that particular diagnosis that makes sense and yet, I’m so scared to get my hopes up.

I want help. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of trying to be strong. I’m tired of carrying everyone. I’m just really tired.

To be honest, getting the diagnosis would feel like someone was validating just how difficult the past 12 years have been. Don’t get me wrong. I love this young man with every fiber of my being. Which is why I’m fighting with energy that I don’t really feel I have to give…….but it’s been tough…..really tough. And I’m tired.

I’m so tired.

Changes can be Good

So many new changes…

20130513-111031.jpg

We moved into our new home just over a week ago. The home itself is lovely and bright but the actual move just about did us in.

We have moved so many times over the past 18 years but this move was by far the absolute hardest…..even taking our move from Abbotsford to Langley after 10 years of living there.

I’m not exactly sure what made this move so horrific, but I’m almost positive that our “reserves” to be able to handle stress were non-existent and that made things so SO tough.

20130513-111448.jpg

We have things settled down to where we can sort of function but we are not actually “settled”. My room is a disaster with unopened boxes still stacked about and we are still trying to figure out how to place our furniture. It’s tough when everything had a place and now the layout has changed and you are not sure how to “Tetris” everything in. There is quite a bit of puzzling and re-arranging to try to fit 7 people and all of their stuff into a new space.

Jeremy is finally starting back into his regular homeschool routine after 2 weeks of chaos. We started a little bit at the end of last week just to ease him into it and then we hit the ground running this morning. Our “office/homeschool” room is still a bit chaotic but it’s coming along slowly.

One of the bigger changes around here, as if moving wasn’t enough, is that Siah is going to the local Elementary School. He started the first Monday that we moved. He’s been so excited. We had a big meeting with the school before we moved and then another “intake meeting”. That one was kind of rough because you are talking about all the ways your child struggles and will need help. Having a child with learning differences is not easy but having already gone through the Infant mental Health Clinic at BC Children’s has totally given us a leg up to be able to get him the help he needs.

It’s exciting to see him SO excited to go to school and meet new friends. Today he is going to attend until noon. They’ve started him attending slowly and are working up. We’ve gone from 1 hour last Monday to half a day today.

I’m shocked at how much it feels like I have “all this free time”. It’s quite a lot of work teaching two kiddos while supervising a third and trying to care for the home too.

So not only are we adjusting to a new home but also a new schooling balance. I’m excited and exhausted. Looking forward to spending the summer out on my deck and in the backyard.

Just trying to get through today…….that’s how my world feels right now. Just focused on today…….sometimes that’s all I can handle.

But I feel like this is a new beginning and I’m pretty excited. I have no idea what the future holds but for the first time in a long time……I’m feeling that we are headed in an upward direction. I feel like I can breathe. I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I’m tired but feel like we’ve crossed over from barely treading water to being able to rest and rejuvenate. It’s such a welcome feeling after the past 3 years.