10 or so paragraphs

Hi; It’s me!

Yeah, it’s been a while, and I’ve been trying to put words to why that is, but the words aren’t coming. Yet, I must write. 

So far, 2017 hasn’t been a lot different from 2016. Hubby’s still employed, I’m working (2 part-time jobs), and the boy hates school. Nothing much has changed…and yet, some things have. 

I’ve been wanting to work on getting off of the antidepressants for a while, and apparently that time hasn’t arrived. As I sit here I think I am probably due for an increase.  

I haven’t gotten to get to any meetings to speak of, since I work so much on the weekend that by the time I get off (MAYBE) in time for Celebrate Recovery, I just want to get home and eat and then to bed. However, there are moments, too, when I think I’m squarely where I’m supposed to be, for now, even without gettign to church or meetings FOR NOW.

 I mean, I’m working at a “Home Improvement” store in the outside garden area on the weekends, and this week I begin my other part-time gig at the newly expanded Detox in a large town nearby. For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been in training M-Th, and the last 2 were spent earning a certificate that says I’ve been trained as a Peer Recovery Specialist! I’m only going to get 15 hours there, at the moment, but I am hopeful that it will turn into fulltime soon. 

I’ve been thinking about the impermanence in my life, lately, too… Why am I so used to letting go, of people, places, things, jobs, pets…? I don’t expect much of anything to last, really. It seems like that’s a symptom of PTSD, but I’m not sure. I notice the difference when I interact with folks who are more or less my age, and they’ve always lived within 100 miles of where they were born. They married once and  now,  20-30 years later, they have a family and are still happily wed. When someone talks about working in the same place for over 5 years, I get kind of lost. When they say 15-20-30 years, and they’re MY AGE, I just can’t wrap my head around it. 

 Anyway, I’m enjoying the people I work with at the Home Improvement store, and the customers are nice, too. The only real downside is that the lifting and loading of 20-50 pound bags of mulch, patio stones, and etc is making it difficult to ignore the scoliosis and the pain in my back. Being outside most of the day is good for me, I’m sure. I can’t remember the last time I was outside as much as I am there, and I like it! The flowers are all in bloom and the nursery is FULL, and I love seeing the incredible array of colors and shapes. The flowers range from the size of a pencil eraser to as big around as a softball, and the scent is almost intoxicatingly beautiful. Then there are the birds. 🙂

So, I think the problem I’ve had recently, which honestly began months ago, is that my insecurities about myself lead me to (or are caused by?) compare myself to others, and guess what? Yes, you’re right. They ALWAYS come out better than me. 

I have loved to people-watch since I was a teenager. Now I watch people to see how things are “supposed” to be done, like hair, clothes, makeup, social cues. I think it goes back to the idea of being a Pilgrim in this world that influences me to not get attached to trends, or celebrities, or…what have you. Does that make any sense? 

I’ve only begun trying to wear make-up again for the last yearr or so, after about a 25-year hiatus. Geez, the last time I looked in the mirror that often, there were NONE of the lines & wrinkles I see now. I am grateful to have lived this long, but I don’t know how I feel about AGING. 

So. That’s a lot of why I have been quiet of late. I don’t feel like I have anything encouraging or positive to say, so I stay quiet. Is that another result of the Social Media world – only showing our happy, and “UP” side? I know if I looked at most everyone’s Facebook pictures, I’d swear noone else has ever been depressed. I know that’s not the truth. Maybe a hiatus from FB/Twitter would do me good. I expect I’ll have some things to write about in the coming weeks…but for now, I’m just gonna keep on “working out my own salvation”, and see where He leads me next. 

I hope your Spring is bright and sunny. Here’s a picture of something from the Garden Center.  

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. 

Holidays in Sobriety

For those in early sobriety, this time of year can be fraught with potential (recovery) land mines. 

Workplace Christmas parties, family get-togethers that we can be under a lot of pressure to attend, and the increasing reminders of alcohol (& etc) everywhere can all be overwhelming. 
For many of us, just the thought of spending an extended period of time with our families can be a stressful proposition. Past hurts are revisited, and the family can be confused or angry at the sober person for no longer partaking with them…

What I know is that there are always AA/NA meetings. Usually there are marathon meetings on Christmas and New Year’s, which are back-to-back meetings for 24 hours. Christmas/Hanukkah will have events in church/temple, for those who prefer those instead of (or in addition to) 12-step meetings.

The biggest thing that will help you to make it through the next couple of weeks with your clean/sober date intact is to be PROACTIVE. Spend time with people who are also in recovery. Non-drinkers or users can be great people, but they’re not gonna be able to share with you their experience in celebrating the holidays sober, in spite of themselves. I know I went to at least one meeting for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s of my first 5+ years. 

If your recovery is your priority, you will be able to begin 2017 with the same clean date that you have now.

I am grateful for this new way of life, and for being able to be present for my family. I am grateful to be able to learn how to care for MYSELF, as well as others. 


See more every Saturday @ http://www.drunkless.com !

Facebook, I’m breaking up with you.

I don’t remember exactly when we met, but you instantly brought a new dimension to my life. It was like I’d found the perfect conduit for almost anything I wanted to know, and anyone I wanted to connect with. I was in a pretty sad and lonely place when you came along,  and you listened, you gave me bits of encouragement, and you helped me to find my smile again. And I felt much better with you around. You were there to bring old friends back into my life, and you even suggested people that I might like to be introduced to. Slowly but surely, I began to think of you as my go-to for any problem, or just to relieve boredom. I know you thought that all of these things were what I wanted, and for the most part, they were. 

But there was a thought in the back of my mind, nudging me toward things that I used to enjoy. Things that enriched my life and made me the kind of person that I’d only dreamt of becoming. 

Your “helpfulness” weighed on me. Your demands for attention drained me. Sure, you had good qualities, and you still do. But the scales have tipped to the negative, somehow. 

I feel like dealing with you and your incessant need to occupy my every moment has become a larger problem than I want to admit. 

We had some good times, sure, and I appreciate your being there when I needed someone. But I’m cutting the leash. The strings that kept me tied to you are not going to manipulate me any more. I just can’t afford to spend my life keeping up with you. I have responsibilities, and I have a Power much greater than you to answer to. I want to grab ahold of what’s left of my time here. 

I’m breaking up with you, Facebook. I don’t want to see you around. I have no interest in hearing about your escapades. They no longer work for me. Don’t call me. Thanks. 

…Life on God’s terms…(Part 4)

​As my baby grew, we found our “normal”, which involved frequent check-ups at the Children’s Hospital, and close monitoring of his development. 
In the year 2000, my second son was born, and I juggled one more little bundle of energy/joy, along with my “miracle baby”, who was by then 7. Not long after #2 came along, I was living the life of a single-parent, and the insanity returned for me. (The continual stresses of single-parenting brought my mental illnesses to the forefront, and once again I went to a Dr. to get help managing them. My sons deserve the best I can give them, and if that means I have to take medication to help me function, then so be it.) I didn’t know much about raising ONE boy, let alone 2! And as they grew, it became more of a challenge. I failed many times as a parent, but I’m learning to accept that that’s par for the course.  I concluded years ago that anyone who says they’ve got “no regrets” either has no children or a selective memory.

In 2010, through the wonders of technology and a Christian dating site, I met my smoking hot husband, B. I had finally divorced from the boy’s dad a couple of years earlier, and I knew that I needed help with them. God knew exactly what we all needed; my husband is my equal in many ways and absolutely surpasses my dreams in the rest of them. He is also in recovery, and my greatest support as we walk this bumpy road of life. 

First things first…

After we’d been married a couple of years, I woke up at about 4:00am and realized that I’d had a stroke. After going through many tests at the hospital, to be certain, the Dr.s concluded that, indeed, it was an actual  stroke. I had virtually no use of my left hand for many months. Physical Therapy was not in the budget, so, I just worked my hand and stretched it out, using the other one. The main thing I attribute my healing from this situation would be the prayers of the people in the church we’d found shortly after B and I were married. It wasn’t a “lightning bolt” healing, like we (instant gratification being of course my preference) would have liked, but slowly over the course of a few months, I regained the use of my hand and now people have a hard time believing me when I tell them that I had a stroke. I just love it when God does that!