Hurt People Hurt People

​It’s been quiet here in Wondrland, and it’s not because I haven’t wanted to say anything. I’ve been wanting to talk about Mental Illness, and haven’t been certain how to approach the conversation. Cos, you know, that’s something you’re “not supposed to talk about”. But since there’s not a day that goes by when I’m not faced with evidence of mental illness in someone I know, including myself, I want to talk about it.

As you probably know, mental illness can be hereditary or it can be a response to events in a person’s life. Something that you may not be aware of (I wasn’t for a long time) is that a mental illness can begin to appear at any point in a person’s life. Childhood, adulthood, or any other time of life, things can begin to go…sideways. The part that matters most, I suppose, is when the “differences” start to be addressed and treated. 
When I began to have concerns about my child’s behavior, I was told  “that’s just how boys are!” and also, from my family members, “You were the same way at that age!” Which caused me to wonder if that’s just how the boys in MY family have always been, and if there was something going on with ME at that age that might have been handled differently, and had a seriously more positive outcome?

So I began searching the web for information to explain the things I was noticing in my boy.  I found a lot of answers to the questions that had been running through my head, and raised some new questions! For example, I had not been aware that symptoms of ADHD/ADD look very different in boys than they do in girls. I accredit this ignorance to the fact that nobody was talking about ANY kind of mental illness in children back in the 60’s and 70’s. At least, nobody my parents or I knew. 
I can’t even describe the feelings I had when I heard that when I was being punished for being “lazy” or “daydreaming” or “lying” about things I was POSITIVE I had not lied about, that it wasn’t my fault. As a young girl, I was disciplined for all of these things. Rigorously. And often. I now know that my Dad had been through essentially the same traumas when he was young.   Come to find out, I’d had the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder as far back as I can remember. Growing out of that period came the depression, “generalized anxiety disorder” and PTSD that have been my continual companions ever since. The realization that there was something unusual about the way my mind processed things motivated me to find out as much as I could about psychology. I knew I was different by the time I was about 12 or so, but didn’t know what “IT” was, exactly.  I’ll never forget the first book I read about a person my age that had a mental illness. “Lisa, Bright and Dark” told of the daily life of a teen girl who was behaving increasingly strangely, and how it was ignored, denied, and finally addressed. It shined a light on a part of me that I’d never taken out of the shadows before. It told me that I wasn’t the only one. 

You can find more info about Lisa, Bright and dark on Google or Amazon. (I tried to post a link for ya, but it doesn’t seem to be working.)

I remember my Dad asking me what I had to be sad about?! I had such a good life (and it’s not wrong, by many standards, I was VERY blessed), and I was so “ungrateful” I should be “ashamed”. And of course, I was. For a very long time. I’m not certain that I’ve gotten past that shame, even now.  It seems like a good time to write down what the difference between guilt and shame is. As I have come to understand it,  GUILT is the feeling I get when I’ve done something wrong, or BAD. SHAME is the feeling that I am BAD or WRONG. Period. How many times did our parents tell us “Shame on you”? I couldn’t tell you, but I did share what I’d learned about the difference, the next time I was told that I should be ashamed. 
So, it took years of discussion with my Mom before she accepted that antidepressants weren’t “drugs”, and they didn’t cause you to feel high. Thank God, she wasn’t so hesitant to get me to a counselor when I hit my teens, but medication was a tougher pill for her to swallow (see what I did there?). Several years ago she was even able to be helped by taking them for a while. I’m happy to say that she doesn’t seem to need them at this point. 

And so, now the generational “quirks,” we’ll call them, have shown themselves in other parts of my extended family. As the children grow into their teens and young adulthood, they’re giving (me) reasons to be concerned. I see the same symptoms that I showed at that age, and I can only hope and pray that the stigma and “what will the neighbors think?” won’t keep the adults from getting the kids to a Dr. of some sort. I understand that everyone is busy, running as fast as they possibly can to…I don’t know, rest? And I absolutely know that the cost associated with mental illness treatment can be intimidating. But guess what? If it HAS to be done, we find a way. (And if we’re not willing to address/treat the problem, we find an EXCUSE.)

I can’t help but think of my Dad, and his distaste (translated: refusal) in asking for help.  When I was probably about 10, I was at my Dad’s house and he was “partying” and dancing around, having a good time. I think Elton John was playing loudly on the record player. Well, somehow, Dad danced in the wrong place and caused the horizontal blinds to fall down onto his foot. THAT ended the dancing. For the next 2 hours or so, my stepmom and Grandma tried to explain to Dad that the end of his toe was BARELY attached, and he needed to get to the ER. He didn’t think it was that bad. He musta been HIGHHIGHHIGHHIIIGH. 

Then, many years later, when his life was in a downward spiral because of his drinking and drug use, he again insisted that he didn’t need any help, thank you very much. If the helicopters would stop flying over his shed, and the spies would stop creeping around his house, he would have been fine. But just in case, he always had a loaded .38 handy. It takes some of us longer than others to have our denial broken down. Thank God he did get clean/sober, and the rest is wonderful history. 

So, it makes me think of Dad when I hear adults replying (re: getting their kids to see someone or see if perhaps medication would help) “Counselors are a waste of money” or, even better “We don’t have time”. I love what I heard James Dobson say about parenting older childen. He said that up until that time, it’s like you’re on a ship with them, teaching them the roaps and how to stay safe, etc. Once they get to their teens, we have to pick our battles carefuly, and just keep them from jumping ship. My kids have done infinitely better with negotiating the rough waters than I did, and I attribute that to their getting help when they did. I just happened to have personal experience  that allowed me to recognise the symptoms in my children.  

Depression in kids may not look the way you’d expect it to. Kids aren’t likely to necessarily let you see the depth of their despair. (I was told to stop being such a baby when I was unable to keep my sadness from coming out.) Kids and teenagers, AREN’T supposed to be continually sad or angry (anger is what we see when sadness isn’t “allowed”), and it’s not just a part of that period. Sure, moodiness is guaranteed to be a frequest visitor when the hormones are flying around, but that’s different from being angry or sad ALL THE TIME. The worst thing we as parents can do is to be overcome by pride, not wanting to find out what “they” would think. 10 or 20 years down the road, “they” won’t even be in your life, and if they are, they still won’t be as valuable as your child’s wellbeing. Right? 
I am sometimes hesitent to speak up about matters of mental health. I was shamed and punished enough to make it quite clear to me: act normal and don’t talk about anything. It’s still a subtle influencer on my decisions today.  I appreciate your taking time out of your day to read this. I feel strongly about these issues and I’m not sure if I am able to make that clear in my writing. So I throw it out there, and hope someone catches something they can use. 

What are your thoughts? Have you seen addictions and mental illness moving down your family’s bloodline? How is it dealt with, or is it?
From my cabin in the woods. 

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My head is spinning, but not like Linda Blair’s

I was told somewhere, long ago, that while God’s timing may seemingly take FOREVER, once it comes, things can move into place swiftly. As I get older it feels like I am more able to catch a glimpse of His hand moving the chess pieces, occasionally. And they have been sliding into place pretty quickly.

I’m not sure what He’s up to, but my life has taught me that His promises are true, and that my part for now is just to “be still and know.” Or, as I’ve seen it put:

Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and know that I Am.

Be still and know that I.

Be still and know that. 

Be still and know.

Be still and.

Be still. 

Be. 
I haven’t been writing much recently, primarily because…Well, because I’ve been taking a lot of things in, and processing. You know, figuring out what MY part is in things, and looking for the good while still addressing the wrongs in my life. 

Yesterday I believe I found a door that’s about to open for me, and this morning I learned of another door closing. It’s not difficult to accept the door that’s closed, as it had become an unusually unpleasant situation in recent times, and I’d talked to God about whether I could just GO. 

Anyways. This morning I got the news about the door closing and just moments later got about 4″ closer to a concrete post than I’d meant to. With my Element. It was pretty loud, and I’m grateful that it wasn’t any worse than it was. 

So, I guess I’m telling you that things in wondrland are moving right along.

I’m trying to make sure the seatbelt is locked and keep my hands inside while the ride is still moving. 

I’d love to hear about how things are progressing in your world! What helps you when you feel like Gilligan in the Minnow during that awful storm? 

Blessings from the Victorian house on the hill. 

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Here’s a news flash: getting clean/sober is difficult. Right? That’s what many alkie/druggies will tell you. And, not unlike the feeling you get while preparing to jump into frigid water, once it’s done and over with, it’s not as scary as you may have thought.  

In the same way that our minds magnify the anticipated discomfort of the chilled water on exposed flesh, our addicted mind launches a massive campaign to convince us that going without our “medication” will be bad at the least, and more likely, downright unbearable. 

Truth is, there may be moments in early sobriety where it  does feel unbearable. And, there will also be moments that can only be described as exhilarating. 

You will never know how strong you are until you test yourself.

In my personal experience, when I have considered jumping into water that is anything but warm, the biggest motivation is that there is someone already in the water calling me to join them. If they’re encouraging me to come in, there’s one thing I can be sure of: it didn’t kill them.  

The primary reason that I don’t WANT to feel the water is simple: I have some recollection of the last time I was immersed in cold water, and it was absolutely NOT in my comfort zone. Nope. Not even close to it. Similarly, the times when I’d gone without any mood-altering chemicals were also uncomfortable in a BIG way. 
It was only after concluding that it was the only viable option, that I decided to stop using. The way I approached it was like learning to swim after finding myself in the deep end of the pool. Since I wasn’t doing a very good job (at life) on the shore, it seemed like a no-brainer that I should do what I was told by those who had been keeping their heads above water for a while. I learned to keep some distance between myself and other Newbies, because they could easily pull me under and cause me to drown. 

Staying in close contact with others walking the same path has been crucial to my recovery. In my experience, the statistics are true: 1/36 of us will STAY sober. It could be even less than that, I don’t know. But keeping my butt in places where I was continually reminded of what life was like before, saved my life. And being around old-timers gave me such hope and inspiration. 

If you think about it, we have very selective recall. I need to be taken back to how it USED to be, and hearing other people sharing about how it was terrible and horrific for them, just like it was for me, proves to me that even with slight variations on the theme, it’s still gonna SUCK. 

Anyway, it’s not easy to radically change every aspect of your life. It’s scary and uncomfortable. Easy would be staying with the status quo, not rocking the boat. Similarly to victims of domestic violence, the KNOWN insanity is more appealing than the UNKNOWN, cos, really, what if it’s WORSE? I’ve been there. 

If you’re miserable enough where you are, you will eventually break through that fear, and get the hell out. You don’t have to wait until you’ve been traumatized and scarred to allow yourself an opportunity to see if perhaps there is Something Good out there waiting for you. 

Even if you don’t know how to swim, I know of a LOT of people (myself included) who will be happy to lend you a life raft. Just let us know that you’re about to jump, and we will be there to help you hold your head above water. 

Written from my cabin in the mountains.

“Sit With Us”

I just had to spread the word about a brilliant app created to help kids find someone to sit with at lunch, thereby reducing the likelihood of their becoming a target for bullying.

I know that those who stop by wondrland are some of the most compassionate and creative folks around, and I want to ask you to share the info about this app with any – and everyone you can. (The link is at the bottom of this post.)

Too many of us grew up being bullied, and those scars don’t go away. Thanks. My Tribe is the best. ❤

​http://sitwithus.io./#!/News

Codependency kills.

~~~~~~~~This post is relate-able, whether or not you realize it, because underneath the chemicals, most (if not all) alcoholic/addicts are codependent. And this crazy behavior will not only get you drunk or high, it can ultimately be the cause of a sad, slow death. Ulcers, hypertension, depression, rage, migraines…yeah. Nobody wants needs or deserves them. So, how about you, dear reader? Have you recognized any of this behavior in yourself or those around you? It’s an area that I always need to return to and beware of falling back into. ~~~~~~~~

I am a child of an alcoholic. I have some bad habits from growing up in a dysfunctional home. Because of the way I grew up, I am a people-pleaser, a controller, a giver, a care-taker; in a word: codependent. What is co-dependent? Dan Beaver defines it as “taking responsibility for another adult” and enabling […]

via Day Twelve – Codependent and a Vent — Four Stars and a Frame

3 unbelievable things my Dad gave me

Last month, on the 21st was the anniversary of the day my Dad graduated to Heaven. I don’t know of any better way to describe our relationship, when he died, than to say that I was a Daddy’s Girl. Really, though, that doesn’t even come close to describing how it was.
It hadn’t always been like that; for most of my life he’d been self-medicating as best he could, which caused a great strain on our relationship, to say the least. That pain affected every area of my life, and still does sometimes, even after so many years of my own recovery.
Maybe that’s why it was so much sweeter when he got clean & sober and we began to get to know one another. It was just a little over a year after he got into recovery that I figured out that “maybe drinking/drugging ISN’T the answer, after all!”

So, since I didn’t mention the day on the other Social Media outlets, I wanted to commemorate it here.  Here are 3 things Dad gave me, that I wouldn’t give back, even if I could:

  1. A wonderfully warped sense of humor. No one has ever “got” my humor like Dad did, and that’s probably where I learned it in the first place.
    photo-dad.jpg

    Dad’s response when prompted to show his excitement at coming to see me in Germany.

    Sure, I’ve met a few interesting individuals who have come close, and my brother and I have had some hysterical laughs, to be sure, but we don’t really interact enough to know if our viewpoint on All Things Funny is that much the same.

  2. A faith in the Creator, and some knowledge of The Word. He was the only person I’ve ever known, personally, that read the Bible through, cover to cover (even the LONG boring lists and things) every year for the last decade or more of his life. When he broke loose of the LAW and grabbed ahold of the SPIRIT, he was the greatest man I’ve ever known.
  3. Addiction, depression, and the tools to combat and overcome them, along with whatever other unseen illnesses we may have had handed down through our relatives. My Dad found recovery in the Rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous just 7 years before he died. I am positive that he would say that they were the most fulfilling years of his life. He made a great impact on the small AA community of which he was a fixture during that time, and it blessed my heart every time I walked into a meeting and everyone knew me as “Roger’s Daughter”.

Because I’m at the library and don’t want to get myself all weepy, I’ll stop there. People will say what they want, and I know my memories and/or stories I hear from/about him might be different than others, but they’re mine.

My Dad, was for a long time, a go-getter. He broke records in salesmanship when he was a younger man. He worked hard, and he played hard. He was, I suppose, the kind of guy that you either loved him or hated him. For a while, I hated him. Thank God, he found a new way of living and made amends both verbally and with his life, so that when he died, he was my best friend.

Darn it, I didn’t want to cry.

I love you, Dad. I will miss you until I see you again.Thanks for the laughs.

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The Solidarity of the Nose-Ring Clan. Dad has his tough-guy face on, and a clip-on nose ring.

XOXOXO

 

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.