Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Depression is loneliness. A struggle.

The quote:

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

These past couple of days I haven't been myself. Angry. Sad. Lonely. Resentful to the world. All I want to do is lock myself away and sit in silence. But I have a family to think about. Clearly that can't be done.

I was diagnosed with depression many years ago. I attempted to take my life many times. My husband took me to the doctor and they gave me those "happy" pills that are supposed to help. They didn't. I couldn't tell you how many times while on those meds that I thought about walking out into traffic and hoping someone would hit me. I contemplated it so much that I stopped taking them. Why take a med that makes you want to die? So they changed it from Zoloft to Effexor XR. That one didn't work either. So I told the doctor I didn't want meds. I would try to go back to writing like I did when I was a teenager. I did. For a little while at least.

That was back in 2006-2007. Now I just deal with it in my own way. Sometimes I lose myself in genealogy to occupy my mind. To get myself out of the rut I'm in. Sometimes I try to lose myself in a book. It helps but the depression doesn't go away. I have tried to put up a "happy" front. Tried to make the best of everything and tell myself that "I'm good" but in reality I'm not. I'm not. I'm trying my best to stay on this earth. Anyone who has ever had that feeling are the only ones who truly understand. My kids are keeping me here. They are the reason I wake up and face a new day.

I wish I never had depression. I wish I never had this pain. This unlucky mental illness that has plagued me for so long. That causes me to feel alone in my pain. I absolutely loathe it. I have family that don't know my struggle nor sometimes does it seem they care. This is why I confide in no one. Not since the one person I used to confide everything to died on June 11 2010. The day a part of me went with her. I know that is where my anger has been stemming from lately.

Mothers Day is coming up. On facebook I see friends celebrating with their moms. Enjoying the day with smiles and the "I'm so grateful shes still here". I try to be happy for them. Like their photos but in reality I feel sad and envious because I wish I could say the same. I miss the days of asking my mom what she would like and hear "I don't know" and how it used to annoy me. Now I wish I could hear that I don't know. I wish I could get that hug and photo that so many people get. I wish I could sit in my backyard with coffee in my hand and my mom sitting next to me telling stories of her childhood in Tennessee and hearing about her grandparents that I never met. I can't even bring myself to sit back there with a coffee and it has been almost seven years.

This is also my birthday month. May 18th I'll be 36 years old. Just another day on this earth is how I see it. But I try to put on my best mood for my children. I spend the day with them and think about how my mom used to come over and celebrate it with me. Now its just my kids, my husband and me. Landon keeps asking me what I want for my birthday and I don't know. I don't even want to celebrate it. I just want to hide in my room and nap that day away.

Depression sucks. It drains you. It makes you feel like you're insignificant in others lives. I have never felt so alone in this world until my mom died. Now its like its just me and then there's the world. That's why I call my kids my blessings. They pull me out of my darkness when no one else will. Without them I wouldn't be here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

When everythings meant to be broken, I just want you to know who I am.

This is me. A mom of four. A mom of a special needs child. Emotionally and physically drained. Some days I feel like years have been added to my life. No joke. I seriously feel as if I am going to fall apart. I cannot stress enough how much it takes a toll on ones mind alone.

People... Since I became a mom of a special needs child it has turned me into a anti people person. I literally can't stand the stares. The comments. The advice they feel you need to hear. This morning was a bad morning and my sons bus driver felt the need to give her own advice. While I'm standing there hyperventilating and crying because Landon decided to fight me to the bus. I was already breaking down. I didn't need to be told how to handle my son. She hasn't been the only one. I deal with this every time we go somewhere. Someones always gotta say something. They know better than you. Its so frustrating. I have thought many times to just pack my family up and run to an isolated place. You know its sad when a person gets to that point.

Yes Landon is a handful. We have good days. We have bad days. There is no in between. Lets be real here. I have cried more in the past year than I ever have. Teenage hormones have changed him. Hes become more outgoing and has acted out more than in the past years. There are days where I do walk into my room and I just cry. Something my mom always told us six kids to do. When you're overwhelmed and feel like you need to scream. Do it. You need to cry out of frustration. Do it. Don't hold it in.

Its a job in itself raising a special needs kid. The hours and days of therapies. The government coming into your house. Dealing with CPS. Having to explain every cut, bruise and mark in notes so CPS doesn't show up at your door again. When you have a son who doesn't feel pain and goes down the stairs on his knees... Writing that note was a doozy. I think I have written so many I could've written a book. Its sad that I have to do that. But I hate dealing with CPS. We had a worker a few years ago. She was a real winner. Actually asked my husband about my mental state because I was still grieving the LOSS of my sister months before. Yeah... Nice right? She really enjoyed seeing me upset. You could see it in her eyes. I don't even remember what her name was but when she tried to throw Native American documentation at me and told me I should do it for benefits I looked at her like she lost her damn marbles. Like I'm going to claim to be from a tribe in Michigan just to claim benefits? HA! (It was her way of making it right.) What a joke.

Dealing with teachers these past couple of years.. I'm telling you. If I could homeschool my kid I would. Just to avoid the constant phone calls, notes and meetings. They want you to medicate your kid until he becomes a zombie you know... aka manageable. If you try new medications and they don't work well try again... Try and try again. If their hyperactive they have to be on meds.  Its a no win situation. The same with cold meds and allergy meds. Landon has allergies all year round like me. He got my curse. There are only 1-2 over the counter meds I can give him for it that don't counteract his four medications he is on. One pharmacist actually told me that certain over the counter meds can cause my kid to go into cardiac arrest because of the strong medications hes on. Try to explain that to the teacher and nothing but argument. Its like they don't want to listen to you.

All of that alone makes me feel worn down. I literally cannot count how many times I have hung up with teachers and cried because of frustration. Somedays I just want to walk into a hospital and say take me. lol. Seriously though I have stayed up many nights in the past couple of weeks with Landon who was too riled up to go to bed and think about how nice sleep would be. How nice it is for everyone who is sleeping right now. Then when that finally does happen its 3 or 4 in the morning. I literally can't sit down during the day because if I do I'm out. lol. Not good folks. Not good at all.

Landon is a awesome kid. He really is. I wouldn't trade him nor his siblings for anything. I love them all to the moon and back. We have given up so much. My husband gave up his favorite job (US Coast Guard). I have fought to get him the services he needs and deserves. Countless disagreements with doctors who said he couldn't do this and that. Well.. They were totally wrong. He did all of what they said and more. He will walk through the house with a smile on his face. Loves to try to sing the words to songs of one of his favorite bands Of Monsters and Men. King and Lionheart is still his favorite song.

Laugh at accents like they're the greatest thing ever. He lives his life like there isn't a care in the world. I wish I could live like that. Finally have that library I always wanted. Go on a honeymoon we never had. Even just go on a hike in the woods and lose myself. But all of that is just thoughts. Wishes. Something that is never going to happen. But in the end seeing his face, Cheyennes face, Gavin and Brennans faces every day makes it worth it.

People ask me "how do you do it? How do you raise a special needs child and not drink or lose it?" I simply say " I'm his mom. I accepted this when he was 18 months old. I have been by his side since day one and honestly...
I do it because no one else would."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Never apologize

In the past couple of years I learned a lot. I learned who I can confide in and who I can't. Who will listen and who won't. I learned where I stand when it comes to family and friends. Its okay. But the one thing I learned most of all especially on facebook is that people will change their opinions of you in 2 point seconds flat if you don't see things their way. Its the most FRUSTRATING drama I have ever dealt with. I was accused of hating Obama (never hated anyone in my life) because I pointed out ONE policy I didn't agree with. One. I didn't bash Obama. I wouldn't bash anyone. But apparently because of an opinion I am officially a "Obama hater". Quite laughable honestly. I didn't like Clinton and wasn't accused of being a Clinton hater. I wasn't a fan of George Bush. Never was accused of being a "Bush hater". Although I'll admit his speeches were pretty entertaining. I don't even like Trump. Didn't vote for Trump. I don't like a lot of what our American government does. Honestly I wish America could've gotten a redo on candidates and now we're stuck with Trump for four years.

The thing that irks me more than anything else. Why is it that people don't comment or like posts on your facebook until you post something they don't like or "against liberals". That's where they all of a sudden come out of hiding for a witch hunt and start drama where its not wanted. It was a DAMN VIDEO I didn't even make. I didn't have any control over what the guy said about Democrats yet here comes the hate. This is why I almost left facebook yesterday. You can't share anything without someone getting butthurt and starting drama. Its like I'm dealing with facebook police. If you post something Anti Trump you can hear crickets. But you post a video of a guy talking about the protests and BAM here comes the bitching. "People have a right to protest their beliefs" etc etc. What about mine? Why can't I post something on facebook without someone pouncing on it? Why can't I have a difference of an opinion without feeling attacked because you feel the need to tell me I'm wrong? Its like you can't win on your own facebook. Or you have the "friends" who are on your facebook but unfollow you or hide your posts. Can someone tell me what is the point of that? Seriously? I want to be friends with you on facebook but I don't want to read your views or thoughts. Just want to string along.

Its mind boggling how people are. I seriously want to just clean out my friends list and start over. Just keep the ones who actually enjoy my posts. I have people on my facebook who I have never met who are more like family to me than my own family. Its pretty damn sad. Seriously though. I feel like a person should be able to post whatever they want regardless if you agree with it or not. I have seen people post things I don't agree with and I keep scrolling why? I don't let it bother me. I have seen pictures of things I don't want to see and do I bitch to them about it? No. I keep scrolling. Honestly. Facebook is my getaway. People don't know whats really going on in my life. No one does. I was hardly on facebook when my mom was alive because I could go to her. I would sit in my backyard and talk to her for hours with coffee. There are days where I feel so damn alone and no one knows because I don't say it. I don't tell my true business on facebook. I used to until my family criticized me for it. They think I spend all my time on facebook. While sadly they spent their entire lives criticizing me, bringing me down, making fun of me and making me feel like shit.

However the one thing I will never do is I will never apologize for who I am. No one should ever apologize for how they feel, their opinions and beliefs. Never let anyone make you feel you need to change your way of thinking because to them its wrong. Never. You be you and if they don't like it that's on them. I was raised to speak my mind. I was raised to never let anyone tell you different when they don't agree with you. Its okay to hear what they have to say. But never let them bully you into changing your mind. Thats they great thing about being able to think for yourself. I'm not gonna change. I'm going to be the same person I was yesterday. I have come to the conclusion that Facebook used to be fun. Now its all politically correct and drama. Its like high school all over again.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Autism & Halloween

Halloween is my most favorite holiday. I absolutely look forward to it every year. Not because I get to see my kiddos dressed up. Even though I love it. I just feel a strong connection to all Hallows Eve. I believe my Celtic ancestors have something to do with that. Even though for them it wasn't about dressing up and partying or giving candy to little kids. It was a spiritual and a deeper meaning. 

Halloween is a day we get to celebrate and have fun. But also keep in mind that its also the day where autistic children don't understand the fuss. My son Landon for instance could care less about dressing up. Whereas his sister and his twin brothers are stoked about getting tons of candy. For Landon its just another day. Finding a costume for him is a chore. Every year we struggle to find a costume that doesn't require a hat or mask. It seems like every costume has them. So last year I put together a Incredible Hulk costume for him and it worked out. The only time we found a hat he would wear was when he was Jimmy Johnson (Nascar driver) for Halloween one year. It was cute. 

The biggest struggle is understanding from people. That's the thing. Some people don't and we would spend a lot of time explaining why Landon didn't want to walk up to get candy. How Landon would sit down on the porch in meltdown mode because he was overwhelmed by all the children. Or the time he grabbed a handful when he didn't understand to grab one and a woman flipped out. Only to have a person on the next house over give him three handfuls because she heard the woman saying we didn't need to be taking him trick or treating because hes special needs. That was a couple of years ago. Now every year we go to the same neighborhood and the people in it have never given us strife. They are very understanding of the fact that Landon is special needs. He was first diagnosed with cognitive impairment then autism. So hes twelve years old with the mindset half his age. He has learned to only take one piece of candy though. Especially his favorite Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. That's pretty much the only thing he will eat in his bag and while his sister and brothers go through their candy in weeks. Last pillow case lasted six months. Mainly because hes not a big candy eater and wasn't eating any of it. 

What I really want to say is I wish there was a way to spread awareness to everyone passing out candy to be mindful of the child that comes to their door. That not every kid is gonna understand to take one piece. Not every kid is gonna walk up in a costume they find cute or scary. I saw a special needs boy dressed up as a businessman last year because he loves suits and didn't want to wear a costume. I told his mom "hey whatever works for him." He was happy and that's all that matters. Landon was the incredible hulk but didn't wear green makeup on his face because he would've spent the entire time wanting us to rub it off. So we opted not to do it. 

I wish we could spread awareness to not pass judgement on the parents who are trying their best to get their kid off the ground because he or she is in straight up meltdown mode. If you don't know what it takes to calm down an autistic child while they're trying to harm themself keep your opinion and judgement to yourself. Try walking in our shoes for one day and see how quickly those opinions stop. Its not easy. Its not easy trying to explain to grown people what is wrong with my son. I actually became resentful of people in public because of it. The stares, the whispering and the comments is the reason so many friends of mine don't want to take their kids out in public because it embarrasses them when their kid has a meltdown. Whereas I don't care. My kid goes into meltdown mode and you want to stare or make a comment? Prepare to hear me say something you might not like. 

I'm hoping we have a successful Halloween again this year. Trick or treating is supposed to be fun, Halloween is supposed to be fun. As adults we all should show some understand and awareness that even though some on the spectrum don't truly grasp what is going on that there is a feeling of excitement there. In fact Landon got the hang of trick or treating when he realized they were putting the "good candy" in his pillow case. After that he was going to every door with a smile on his face. Made the cold rainy night in Michigan worth it. 

This Halloween please by mindful of the kids who are different. Don't ridicule them. Don't ridicule the parents when they're trying their best and most of all don't pass judgement. Don't make the family of a special needs or kid on the autism spectrum feel unwelcomed because you don't understand why the kid is flapping his hands or quirky behaviors. Its part of the spectrum we parents deal with and honestly I wouldn't trade it for anything. I know other parents feel opposite and wish their kid was normal but I see it as a part of Landon. Take it away and he wouldn't be Landon. He would be a totally different kid and of course autism doesn't define him but its a part of him. A part that I accepted since day one. 

What is Landon going to dress up as for Halloween? We have no idea. Any suggestions are welcomed as long as they don't involve a mask. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Raising a teenage girl..

I have a fourteen year old beautiful daughter who loves to test me everyday. She is my eldest of four, very opinionated and sarcastic. She gets those traits equally from her dad and I. Sometimes its fun and sometimes I shake my head at her. I love my daughter. I love being her mom. She and I have a special bond. The kind of bond where we both share the same quirky sense of humor. Its so bad that sometimes I make her hit the floor with laughter and my husband stands there looking at us like we're crazy. Maybe we are...

My daughter started freshman year in a new high school in a new school district. Last summer we gave her that choice. She could go to the high school in our city or somewhere else. She chose to go somewhere else. We figured it would be up to her because we are trying to teach her to make her own choices. I admit that as many times as I told her she was going to be okay I was just as nervous for her. But we started her in marching band camp at the end of summer in hopes it would prepare her and she did well. Which was the best thing for her. First day of marching band wasn't easy for her. We expected it coming from a middle school with no music program. She was overwhelmed and came home freaking out. She wanted to quit. So I told her to give it one more week and if she hated it she could. You can't quit marching band after one day I told her. One week later she stuck it out. Now she loves it.

I think it helped her come out of her shell. Cheyenne has always been a loner. She had a few friends that would come over. But she really wasn't one to hang out. Out of all the years she has only made a handful of friends. I think by choice. She was never a kid to surround herself with a huge group of people. A loner trait that she gets from her dad. So we have only had a handful of friends at our house at different times, days and throughout the year. The same group of friends who went to the mall with her for her birthday and she loved it. They are a good group of girls who call us mom and dad. Since she switched schools we don't get to see them. But they know they're welcomed at our house any time. 

One thing I stand by and will always stand by is always be there for your kids even when they don't want you to.. I have always been there for her. Talked to her about everything and have been her shoulder since she was a baby.  When she was little we would read books together. We even read Little Women together which is one of my favorite books. It was the quality time I enjoyed and it became a routine until she hit thirteen. What teenager do you know wants to read a book with their mom? So that tradition has since gone. She has moved on. She is hitting the typical teenage stage. The "leave me alone" stage that I am still trying to get used to. Granted she has her moments where she will tell me about her day. Stories about her friends and how band practice went. She even chases me around the house with her Korean pop music yelling "mom listen to this song!". I literally have to run from her to save my sanity... Haha. It reminds me of her Jonas Brothers and One Direction stages. Except they're Korean boys. 

Lately though she has had her moments of not wanting to talk to me. My friends say "its normal. Just let her go. Let her do her own thing.." Thing is I was raised by a mom who refused to let us go into our own demise. I was diagnosed with depression in my teenage years. My mom saw me hit rock bottom and made it a mission to show that she was there whenever I wanted to talk. Most of the time I didn't and would try to hide in my room. But she wouldn't have any of that. She would make me sit and she would sit there and stare at me until I finally told her what was wrong. Quite honestly my mom saved me. Without her I probably wouldn't be here typing this right now. I would sit in my room and wallow in my depression. Actually thought that I should just end it because I didn't want to deal with my mental illness anymore. My mom sensed it and we would sit on the porch and talk. I would tell her everything. It wasn't easy but knowing I had her there even on my worst days really showed me that it was okay to talk about it. Even after I got married and had kids my mom would show up, I would make coffee and we would sit in the backyard and just talk. I miss those days so much. Never take time with your mom for granted because one day you will sit and think "I wish my mom was here.."

I'll admit that as a parent of a teenage girl sometimes I get frustrated with Cheyenne when she gets attitude. Tells me to go away. Yells at me and you know the typical "shut up". I usually leave her alone and she always manages to come to me and all that teenage angst is squashed. She will sit and tell me about friends and what she did that day. Or  my favorite is on the weekends.. She and I sit and watch movies together. Last weekend it was The Ring and The Blair Witch Project. The Ring she said was great but she gave The Blair Witch Project two thumbs down. She called it lame. haha. I actually love found footage movies. She and I watched an Australian one a couple of months ago called The Tunnel and it was great. Movies are our thing now. 

I understand where Cheyenne is coming from though. No teenager wants to tell their mom everything. But the thing is because of my upbringing I can't just walk away from her. I can't just pretend I don't care. Its not in my DNA. I give her space. She hides in her room. But I do check on her. See whats shes up to and show her that I'm there regardless. Yeah a teenager needs space. But the ones who are left alone are the ones who end up thinking their parents don't care. I had friends who felt that way about their parents and I vowed that I would never let my child or children feel that way. My mom was there for a lot of my friends too. She took in kids who had no where to go. She was amazing. I will admit I'm not trying to follow in her shoes because I could never live up to my mom. She raised six kids, worked, took care of the house and still managed to take the time to be there when we needed her. Even after we all moved out. She passed away six years ago and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of how lucky my siblings and I were to call her mom. 

Raising a teenager. Especially a girl has not been easy. She is still finding herself. She is figuring life out on her own and I respect that wholeheartedly. She knows her boundaries and hasn't stepped over the line yet *knock on wood*. I'm not naive to know that there is that chance. However she is a smart girl and knows its not the way to go. The only thing my husband and I can do is encourage her to stay on the right path. Shes a good kid though and through the years we were told how respectful, well mannered and a huge sweetheart she is. I want Cheyenne to know that she is loved. That even when shes grown she can call me anytime and know that mom is there no matter what. Even if it annoys her.

I would say one of the hardest jobs in the world is raising a teenager. Its challenging for sure but you can't give up on them. You can't let them hide. You have to be there. Even if you have to be their shadow. Show them that they're not alone. Don't give them too much free reign because some kids (from personal experience with friends) who get to do whatever they want feel that their parents could careless about what they do as long as they're occupied. Its sad. I had many friends who looked up to my mom because they felt their parents didn't care. My mom was there for them. Our house was full of teens because to them we were their family. Yes let them live their life. Let them hang out with friends. Go to the movies. Walk around the mall. But keep tabs on them. That's what my mom did and it showed us that she cared about what we were doing. Even though I wasn't crazy enough to act out because growing up in a military family... We knew better. haha... 

Teenagers are vulnerable. Hormones are all over the place. They need someone to be there. Even if they tell you to go away. Don't. In reality they do want you there they just don't know how to tell you. 

There is a quote by Mother Theresa about loneliness that I agree with. 

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. 

~Mother Teresa

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Not for wimps that's for sure.

When my son Landon was first diagnosed with autism we were told what we were in store for. We sat through appointments, MRI's, EEG's and genetic tests on Landon. Neurologist appointments. All for the diagnoses for Motor Apraxia and Autism. The challenges we faced were typical ASD. He didn't know how to communicate and what happens when your special needs child doesn't know how to communicate? They get frustrated and the meltdowns ensue. When he was two years old we decided it was his best interest to get him a specially made helmet.  The helmet was for when he would have meltdowns outside and would try to bang his head on the concrete. He has a permanent bald spot on the front of his head from all the banging he did. When we cut his hair we have to be careful on how short we cut in the front. Its pretty noticeable when his hair is cut too short. 

 Of course now at age twelve he doesn't wear a helmet. He has thankfully calmed down with the meltdowns. He has since learned how to tell us that he is mad or that he wants a snack. We use verbal prompts for everything. You have to because its the only way they learn. So we tell him "you have to ask?" so he will say what he wants. Hes doing great with it. He has shown a lot of progress and sometimes gets amused when we say "you have to ask". He literally laughs at us. Its the funniest and greatest moments.

Its a work in progress trying to redirect his meltdowns but we won't give up. We will never give up on him no matter the challenge. He has been keeping us on our toes since day one. He's a good kid. Always happy. Finds amusement in a lot of things. This is the same kid who loves accents. He finds Harry Potter amusing. Every time Harry speaks in the movies Landon falls over belting in laughter. His contagious laugh will have you crying tears from laughing so hard. He also loves to scream and its the worst when he does it in the store and scares people. Who thankfully laugh after the fact. We have had our fair share of moments where we stood there like "please don't turn around... Just keep walking." All the while hes snorting in laughter.

He tends to be cautious of people. But I think he gets that trait from me. If he likes you he will want to hug and will say "muah" and gives you his cheek to kiss him. If he doesn't like you he tends to get standoffish and reads people really well. That is how I have always been. I tend to be the same way and I hug people I like.. Not so much the kissing.. I hope I clarified that. Landon just recently discovered that if he gets kisses he gets attention so hes all for it. Thankfully its only to people he knows. I'm waiting for the day he decides to try it on a stranger. It will definitely be awkward. Totally giggling here.

He has many fans. He has have a fanbase for years since our days of livejournal and some of those fans root for him on my facebook. Every photo I share and every post. Every journal entry I wrote about his progress. They stuck by him and wanted to know all the details. He is truly blessed. And.. It was all done in a positive light. When people ask me "how do you deal?" I smile and say that I don't think of it as a burden. I think of how it has changed me. It has made me a better person. It taught me to be compassionate. It taught me understanding and acceptance. I accepted the fact that he was cognitive impaired and autistic since day one. I knew it was going to be a journey. But the journey has been worth it. For all the bad along the way. We surpass it with good. So much good that I love sharing him on facebook. I love showing everyone what Landon has accomplished. The silly moments because raising a special needs child there is never a dull moment. I have had mornings where he would take showers in his school clothes and posted it on facebook because its one of those moments he does that sound frustrating but in reality I'm standing there laughing along with him. Its moments like that to me outweigh the ugly side of autism. Sure its frustrating. Sure its a everyday struggle where you feel frustrated for your child. I don't look at Landon and say "he won't do this or that." I look at Landon and say "he will and he will do it at his own pace." Sure he may never go to dances, have a girlfriend and do typical teenage angst. Things like that seem so trivial when you're raising a special needs child. When I look at Landon I see a kid who will grow up and do things at his own pace. We call it "on Landons terms". He will do a lot in the future because hes already changed many lives. Every person who has met him will tell you that they absolutely love him. He is living his life in his world. We're just privileged to be a part of it.

My mom used to say "it takes a special person to raise a special needs child and that person will know what to do, what to say and stand by their side no matter what.