If you’re new to these parts – I like to confess shit. Just say things that the bloggy-verse that I probably should say in actual confession [or to no one at all]. But you know – relieve the burden of carrying it around in my head. And I’m aging so I only have so much head space to spare.
This is a special confessions edition, specific on mental health since May was Mental Health Awareness Month. Yeah I’m late – but shit happens. And no I am not going to lecture you but rather confess some [very hard] truths about my mental health in hopes you might confess or face some hard truths about your own or someone you know. Regardless, know that it’s real, it can be very scary and very lonely and it should always be taken seriously.
So lets confess some shit…
I have chronic depression and anxiety disorder. And I am heavily medicated.
My depression began in middle school (about 6th grade) and anxiety kicked into high gear in high school. I don’t recall anytime since then that I’ve not had either in my life.
In my family – mental health anything was frowned upon. You were depressed? You were supposed to get over it. You had anxiety? You were told to stop being anxious. Period.
I once went off my meds cold turkey. Serotonin withdrawal is awful. NOT RECOMMENDED.
My depression has taken many forms over the years. From nights planning my death and calling the Suicide Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, just in case you need it) to cutting, pill taking, hiding my home or just not being able to fully function.
My anxiety has also surfaced in many forms over the years. Panic attacks that would send me to the ER with a heart rate into the 180s+, blackouts where I’d wake up really disoriented and not know who/where/what the hell was going on for about 30 mins, dizziness, blurred vision, the shakes, and so on.
When Mike and I started dating- my panic attacks slowed down dramatically.
I have eczema and pick at it when I’m stressed or down or just want to hurt, to feel something. My arms are scared and most of the time I don’t care to show them.
I have two main outlets to deal with life – writing and reading.
I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Most of my childhood journals were destroyed by my mother (a post for another time). But I’ve always kept a journal and always will.
I read to escape into new places, take new adventures, solve new mysteries. To get out of my own head for a while. This is part of the reason I needed a library in my home.
Working out is starting to become a new outlet. SHOCKING FOR ME, I KNOW!!! But I think it’s because I pushing myself. I’m also in the renaissance!
Sometimes I’m entirely nonfunctional. I feel like an awful human being. And I hate that my kid is now old enough know something is wrong.
I’ve found some comfort in other people who understand. I often seek refuge in the words of Jenny Lawson, my favorite blogger and author. She gets that’s depression lies and darkness is real. She saves me.
Today I officially have a teenager. I know what you’re thinking – OMG YOU LOOK AMAZING FOR SOMEONE WITH A 13 YEAR OLD!!! I totally agree. But holy shit, she’s thirteen!
I’ll be honest, I’ve never kept anything alive this long. This is my personal best. *self high five* I’d like to take a moment to thank my friends for talking me through countless near-jail experiences in the passed 13 years. Also, the Twitterverse for allowing me to bitch about my child openly. To Mike, for helping make me a parent and being my partner in this, the most challenging job I’ve ever had.
And most of all – Soph. For letting me be her mom. For forgiving me when I fuck up – and I totally do. For being self sufficient when I can’t be 200% Mom or when I just want to sleep in. For loving me and all my flaws – a never ending list. And for just being her – my reason for existing, getting up every morning, my ultimate motivation for the things I do, everyday.
It’s been a whole baker’s dozen years of parenting and I’ve learned a lot.
Parenting is the hardest job in the history of jobs. Period. It can also be the most rewarding.
There is no book that will walk you through. [Though the Dr. Sears The Baby Book is a DAMN GOOD reference for new parents. And a lot of the others in his series. Just my opinion.]
There is no love stronger than what a parent feels for their child.
Every child is different. What worked for Timmy might not work for Sally.
It’s totally okay to have favorites. I do. 🙂
Common sense is no longer common.
Pass something down from generation to generation.
There are fewer things more irritating than people telling you how to parent your child. *ahem* MOM!
Keep family traditions and start new ones.
Disciplining your child will evolve as your child grows. Time out is effective when they are 3, where as no cell phone is more effective when they are 13.
Help educate your child. It’s not all on the teachers of the world. Teach them about music, talk to them about events happening in the world so they get the facts from you not kids on the bus. Talk to them about hate, racism, sexism, all of it…so they aren’t naive but educated.
Children learn from watching you. How to love, how to hate, how to be thankful and appreciate.
Tell your children where they came from. Teach them their culture and history.
Be honest with your kids. Age appropriate honesty, of course.
Have them learn the ACTUAL names for their parts, not foo foo names.
Help them find an outlet to express themselves.
Make sure they understand kindness, generosity and forgiveness. And practice it.
It’s okay if they hate you. It doesn’t feel good but it’s okay and it will pass.
When things get heated – no matter the age – walk away to cool down. At some point screaming is no longer constructive. Otherwise shit is said out of anger, high emotions, etc. And if they need to walk away to get it together – let them.
Set realistic expectations and goals for and with your children. You want to see them succeed and not fail at something they never had a chance at to begin with.
Growing up can be hard. Let them know you are a safe place to talk about scary things like girls/boys, peer pressure, etc.
Let them dress themselves. Don’t let them leave looking like a bum or someone who works a corner. But let them find their style.
Be authentic in your parent/child relationship. Don’t act one way in public and then another behind closed doors.
Teach them to be better than you.
Don’t push your kid in any one direction – sports, academics, etc. Provide them guidance but don’t force them into something.
Learn to say no. And MEAN IT.
My two goals as a mother are to ensure my kid is happy and healthy and that she’s a kind, well rounded and productive human being in society. Soph is already the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life so if I succeed at those goals, it will just be icing on the cake.
My 11 year-old recently had a run in with a school bully. She’s a tweenager (yeah that’s a thing now) and I’ve explained that girls are just plain bitches. Anyway – it escalated and I had to call the principal. I’m all for children resolving their differences but when they cross that definitive line – adults have to step in. [And if the teachers/principal couldn’t handle it – I would come to school to handle it. But I digress…] Anyway – in providing her guidance on dealing with the situation, I advised her that true friends don’t do that to you, they don’t make you feel small or tare you down. Genuine, good friends lift you up, bring out the good in you and help you shine.
In giving her this advice – I thought I should do same. Look at the people in my life and make sure I cut out all the toxic. Have you done this lately? This, to me, should be as normal as cleaning out the fridge before trash day. GET RID OF ALL THE SHIT PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE. Put them in the trash and take them outside. Cut ’em loose! Just like you don’t want moldy ass Tupperware in your fridge that you are afraid to open, so too should not want toxic people in your life exuding toxic waste into your life.
And welcome the cleanse! Why are people so goddamn afraid of what other’s will think?Omg what if Becky is upset that I un-friended her on Facebook? Shut the hell up! Don’t let stupid people bully you into thinking you need to be socially connected to them for no reason. You would never let it happen to your children. Don’t let it happen to you. TAKE OUT THE FUCKING TRASH AND DON’T GIVE IT A SECOND THOUGHT.
Now that you’ve taken your trash out – look at what’s left. Are these your people? Refine it till it is. It takes a while. Patience young padawan.
We don’t do life alone and those of us who have attempted don’t get very far. I’m making it a point to surround myself with people who help me grow, challenge me, give me joy, love me no matter what, call me out on my shit when need be, respect my flaws and quirks and allow me to live, who make me laugh, who understand bacon is from a pig (this is a huge deal!), who are loyal, forgiving, patient, kind… these are my people. Diverse. Eclectic as fuck. My chosen family.