Bloggy Moms

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kharma's Name is Not Cancer

There's a popular saying that goes "If you are mean to others, Kharma will come back and bite you in the tush."  I was also raised with the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." While those are nice sentiments, I don't believe that's how God works.
Tonight I found out that a nemesis of mine received a cancer diagnosis. Am I supposed to be happy that this happened to her? Should I  subscribe to the notion that "Kharma" got her? Not even one bit.
If I have those thoughts or feelings, then I am no better than she is. Hatred of others is contrary to what I believe.
If "Kharma" were true, then why do innocent people die of cancer? Why does this vicious disease prey upon people I care about?  Both a very good friend of mine and my cousin lost their spouses to this wretched monster. I have a friend who just found out that her cancer is back. Last week I attended a memorial for a dear neighbor of mine. He was 72! From the time of his diagnosis until the time of his passing only six weeks lapsed. Not one person had anything bad to say about this man. He always showed my family love and acceptance. When I told his wife  and him about Princess' challenges, neither one of them shirked away or passed judgment on my husband or I.
On the other hand my nemesis, made my life miserable for only a few short years but it felt like a lifetime. I did not seek out a witch doctor to curse her with cancer. When we parted ways, I left quietly. I truly tried to move on and heal from the pain she caused me.
Now that I know that my nemesis has cancer, I truly feel sadness for her. If I feel that she got her just dessert for the way that she treated me and others, then I am no better than her. I feel that the best way that I can honor God is to show her compassion even though she doesn't deserve it. Even though the easy thing to do is to give "Kharma" a fist pump.
I'm trying to be Jesus with skin on to those I come in contact with in my littler corner of the world. If I show love to those who are least deserving of it, I am honoring God.
Would you kindly join me in praying for this woman who may never have experienced much love and compassion from others? I may just muster up the courage to show her the kind of compassion that Jesus has shown me. Pray for me as well. Thanks.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Musings on Mental Health

Many people think they know what it looks like or is supposed to look like but how many really know what a mental illness looks like in real life?  I've had three people that I am biologically connected to, suffer from mental illness. It is not pretty but it is not something to be afraid of either.
Both my mother and father suffered from mental illness during several periods in their respective lives. My dad had schizophrenia. He was not medicated much of his adult life. His refusal to get the help he needed made him unstable. My mom had what was known at the time as a nervous break down shortly after her marriage to my dad.  Today doctors call this a Psychotic Break. Once she became a mother, she remained stable until the last chick (me) left the nest. The last four or five years of her life we searched for the right medications for her, but never found them.
Between the ages of six and seven my daughter was diagnosed with first ADHD and then Bipolar Disorder . We can now add OCD to that combination. Since I saw how difficult mental illness was on my parents, I pushed harder for my child to become stable.   I researched, joined an online support group and sought out qualified doctors and therapists. There was even a time when I searched for the best behavioral health hospitals in a hundred mile radius of our house.
I had no real control over what medications ultimately helped my child become stable. Her body pretty much dictated that.  We never kept her on any one medication any longer than was necessary. Some psychiatrists subscribe to the idea that if you just titrate up on a medication, eventually, you will see some benefits from it. Dr. Wonderful's belief was that we should see some changes, no matter how small, before increasing a drug. As a result of this and all of our doctor's cutting edge practices, Princess has been stable for over a year now.
Another benefit to having  parents who had mental instability, was that when my daughter was at her worst, I knew how to deal with it. I never told her what she was thinking or feeling was silly or irrational. Instead I'd try to get her to work through it or distract her. It's funny, when she was a toddler, my husband and I  would distract her to get her mind off of something that was off limits or bothering her. Now that she's older we still employ those same tactics but we have to be more sly about it.
The great thing about having a mental illness (Yes I just said that), is that the person who has it enjoys life more when they are stable.  They, and in turn their family, know how hard it was to achieve stability. They realize that every day of stability is a gift. My husband and I have noticed that our daughter feels things more deeply than the average person.  If someone is hurt or sad, my daughter is the first to console them. She has a tender heart because she knows what it feels like to hurt or be sad.
The stigma surrounding mental health is one of its biggest stumbling blocks. Many people do not want to talk about it. I feel like it's the elephant in the room. When I am at a gathering and mention that I have experience with mental illness, invariable one or two people will say, "Me too." I thought I was all alone in my struggle to get my loved ones back to being mentally healthy but it turns out there are lots of people just like me.
While living with someone with mental health challenges is difficult, it is not impossible

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Finding Our Place in This World

I have a unique dilemma since my child looks and can often act so "normal." I'm not quite sure where we fit in. My daughter can keep up somewhat academically with her peers. She's even advanced in reading. She is able to interact with other children her age but not all of the time. She's that square peg trying to fit in a round hole.  On the other hand, Princess rises to the top with her disabled peers. She doesn't have as many needs that are visible to the naked eye. I've had people question why we even have her in the disabilities ministry at our church because she doesn't present as differently abled. It's so tricky trying to figure out where we belong.
Before I knew all of Princess' struggles, we tried several different extra curricular activities. She took dance lessons from the time she was 1 1/2 until she was around 6. She was always the challenging one in class but we thought it was because she was bored. Then one day I got the call no parent wants to receive. One of the lead teachers at her dance school called  to tell me that my child would have to take private lessons because they could no longer handle her with other students.  Her behaviors were interfering with dance instruction. That wasn't what I was looking to do so we politely bowed out of dance.
We also tried drama. Princess loved dancing and putting on little plays at our house so I thought she'd do well with acting. I enrolled her in one of the best youth programs in our area. Princess struggled there too.  One day after acting class, I was cornered by the two directors. Even though I'd been straight forward about Princess' challenges on her application, they had not taken the time to read it. They informed me that Princess was having difficulty sitting still and listening to directions. They even had the gall to ask me if she was adopted.  About this time, Princess was refusing to get ready for acting class, I think that was the last day we went to that drama class.
Another time Princess was spotted by a talent scout. We were having a rough outing while shopping when a lovely lady approached me and asked me if my child had ever done any acting. I told her our experience. She told me that she represented an acting school for children about an hour away from our place. My husband and I checked it out, enrolled our daughter and even had head shots done in Los Angeles.  Once Princess completed the classes, she was ready to see a talent agent. We had a slight glitch though, Princess could not follow the directions of the talent agents. She lacked focus. That was the end of her hopes for getting picked up by a talent agency.
Since these experiences Princess hasn't done much. She has no interest in organized sports. I am not of the mind set of making my child do something that she doesn't like, especially one as strong willed as mine. That approach will surely back fire on me.
We even tried Gen Ed with Princess. That turned out horribly. She's currently in a small private school that is publicly funded. She's thriving there. I dread the day that our district decides that they're no longer going to pay for this.
Alternately I fear that my child is not getting what her school aged peers are getting. She has very limited computer time. She is not getting to perform science experiments or even go on field trips.
We gave up a portion of her academics to focus on her behaviors instead.
I worry that she will fall behind students in the Gen Ed setting. One day when she is ready to reenter the public school setting, will she be able to keep up with them?
Ultimately I struggle with knowing if I am giving my daughter what she needs both in the school setting and outside of it. Are my fears holding her back?
I've come to a few conclusions. One is that when my daughter is with children like her, she is as the French say, "La creme de la creme" (The cream of the cream.) Yet when she's with children without challenges, she falls to the bottom of the barrel. I think for her self-esteem I'd rather have her be at the top where it's easier for her to shine. Another conclusion is that I need to find more activities that Princess can participate in out of school. I'm going to start researching some groups for children with differing abilities. I'm hoping that the leaders of these groups will be more accepting of my special daughter. Lastly, I'm glad that my daughter is challenging because when she's enjoying herself and really shining, all of us appreciate it and savor it more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Don't go Changin'

Changes- Lots of Special Needs kids don’t do well with them.  My daughter, Princess, is no different. Right now there are a lot of changes going on in her little life. She moved classrooms, her 1:1 aide at church is on an extended vacation, her pubescent body is changing much to her chagrin…. The list goes on.
One major change is that my knight started back at school in July to become a PE teacher. It’s been a life long goal of his but for various reasons has not happened until now.  From ages 2-8 Princess knew me as the primary breadwinner. Her father was mostly a Stay-At-Home Dad. Our roles reversed to more traditional ones in 2013 when I resigned from teaching. It was a gradual change over time or so I thought.
In my mind I’m used to him being gone two nights a week. He’s also been busy working on projects on most weekends. On top of this, he’s substitute teaching as many as five days a week.  It's a lot for our kiddo to handle. 
If you know me, I’m a “go with a flow” type gal.  I thought Princess was doing well with these changes but then tonight she fessed up. She was dilly dallying before bedtime in hopes of staying up long enough to get a good night kiss from her daddy. She told me that she didn’t understand why her daddy has to become a teacher. She'd rather he stay home all of the time with her. If she had her way, both her father and I would be home all of the time.
Princess also told me that she didn’t understand why her dad had to be gone so much. I reminded her of the plan and told her that although we’d love for money to fall from the sky, it didn’t.  After our discussion, Princess picked up the pace under my watchful eye.  I said prayers with her, kissed her goodnight and tucked her in before my husband got home from his class. She still outsmarted me though, as she willed herself to stay awake until she got her second kiss; the one from her beloved daddy.
My husband and I will continue to teach Princess about changes in her life. It's a slow process but one day she'll do better with them even though she may never be a "go with the flow" person like her mother.