Thought Provoking


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My Samantha and her “Lou-Lou” have always had a unique relationship.  It is a step beyond your typical brother-sister relationship.  They are buddies, but it’s more than that.  It’s almost like a twin bond, but they are years apart and that still isn’t it.

A recent example of this is the recent discovery that when she wakes in the early morning light, but isn’t quite ready to face her day, she breaks out of her room (There is a baby gate up that she can get past easily but it’s there as a visible boundary that all children need.) and crawls into bed with him until the day begins.  Last night there was a fierce thunder-storm and I fully expected her to land into bed with me, but she didn’t.  So I went to check, and sure enough it was Luke’s bed she sought safe haven in.

 

I have always believed that we all have more than one soul mate.  Some are meant to be life-long lovers.  Some are meant to be life long friends.  Some are meant to come in like a force and leave just as fast, but having played an important life changing role in the eye of the storm of their coming and going.  I can name a few of mine, I assume I have more to come.

I have truly come to believe that my Lucas and Samantha are soul mates.  In a way, they way they act around each other it’s like they are in love, but in a strictly non-sexual way. (Come on, don’t go there.)  They just have this love and need for each other that is fierce and knows no ends.  They find comfort in each other when scared.  He protects her like it’s his sworn duty, not caring that mommy and daddy would be just as happy, nay honored, to protect her.  His patience with her is a patience my Lou-Lou is not well-known for.  She can get away with things their big brother could never dream of.  When he is in deep need of his personal space, and quiet not letting anyone in, there she is by his side.  She doesn’t seem to have to ask to be let in, she’s just in.  Sure, she may not know the worries of my troubled little boy, but she seems to know how to treat them.  Hell, maybe she does know.  They’ve shown signs of being able to read each other’ minds.  You jest, but we’ve made the hive mind joke more than once around here and it’s eerie at times.

I am curious to see how their relationship forms over the years as they mature, and it matures.  However I’m willing to bet it will only get stronger.  She may not always need to crawl into his bed when the midnight storms scare her, but I’m betting if she does need to, he’ll simply role over.  Then as they’re grown and separated by more than a hallway, well… I can honestly say that thought breaks my heart.

My Sambam and Lou-Lou are one of a kind.

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I think life is about doing the things that scare you until they no longer scare you.  When was the last time you did something that scared you?  Did you do it again and again until fear was the last thing you could imagine feeling?

This year has been about crossing things off my to-do list for life.

I’m back in class.  I mean really back.  I’ve taken out loans.  If I stop going, that is all the sooner I have to pay that money back, with no degree to advance my career, to make is possible.

I sat down and wrote out a financial plan.  Some are just goals, like what year I hope to be off all government assistance by.  Some is actually dated such as going in and refinancing our car the first day of my vacation in July.  It’s almost ridiculous that taking control and making a plan could be scarier than floundering in the pools of broke, oh so broke.

This July I’m taking a 9-line zip line tour.  I can only imagine that my current “OMG WEEE!” will have the addition of “I’m going to DIE” once I’ve climbed up high, am strapped in, and it’s time to fly.

I’m boarding a plane in November to meet face-to-face a friend I’ve only ever known online.

While there I’m catching up with another friend I met in real life, who, depending on if she gets the job or not, might be able to help me rappel down the side of a skyscraper.

This year, I’m living.  And living can be some of the scariest shit there is.

So I have to ask, when was the last time you did something that scared you?  Will you comment and tell me about it?

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We are what we make of ourselves.  And our disease is what we present it to be.

If you behave badly and use your mental illness as an excuse, you are helping to propel the stigma of mental illness forward.  If I only know one person with BPD and that person makes bad decision after bad decision, drinking, drugging, sleeping around, hurting themselves and all those near them, and then turns around and blames all this behavior on their BPD as if it’s an excuse, as if they can do as they please because they have this disease, then I’m going to assume this is what I can expect from all those who have BPD.  I may well be your future boss, lover, friend.  This makes it hard for all the others who have this disease but fight every.damn.day to not let it define them prove that BPD isn’t a life wrecker.  And I don’t just mean the life of those diagnosed but the lives of those surrounding those diagnosed.

Maybe remission and recovery isn’t about being 100% symptom free.  Maybe it’s about having the symptoms so well-managed and maintained that you can fool even yourself into thinking you are symptom free.

And where are those people standing up saying “Look at me!  Yes I destroyed so many lives including my own for such a long time.  But nowNow!  Now I have skills and a sheer determination that I will no longer drown in my diagnosis.  I am not my diagnosis, I have my diagnosis!”

Those fighting to destroy the stigma.  Those working amazing jobs with respectable careers despite their diagnosis, terrified to let their diagnosis be known because those words could ruin it all, based on the rep of those people making poor decisions and instead of owning up to them, choosing to blame those words.  These people need you to stop and look at your actions.  I’m not saying that you can automatically stop the actions.  But you can choose to own up to what you do, instead of blaming a diagnosis thinking that you can get away with whatever you want now.  You can’t.  Do you know right from wrong?  Then except that you have done wrong.  You, the person, said those words, did those things.  Not the diagnosis.

I’m not saying I’ve never been guilty of this.  We all have at some point.  But now?  Now I’m on the other side.  And if there is one thing I can do from this side, if I get to choose that one thing, then I choose to show those where I’ve been how their actions, and not owning their actions, create the stigma that all those on both sides try to fight.

We are fighting what we, ourselves created.

How’s that working out for you?  I have to say, it isn’t working out so well over here.

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When I started this blog, back in December of 2008, one of the first things I pondered inside me and on paper was what my online identity would be.  Not being infertile or an ex-Mormon, but instead being in the throes of BPD and the early diagnostic stages, it was fairly obvious what my niche would be.

But four and a half years later, I’m not that same Karen and I’m not feeling my niche.  Not fully anyway.  I’m not in the throes of a break down.  I haven’t recently had and moved on from an affair.  I’m not in danger of taking a vacation at a mental ward.  I’m not a danger to myself or anyone else.  I haven’t cut in years.  I not scheduling my life around my therapies and my psychiatrist.  In fact, I’m not in any therapy and I only see the psychiatrist 4 times a year on a better safe than sorry policy I’ve implemented.  We’re getting ready to cut me loose there.  But since the Fibromyalgia treatment involves mental health meds, I’m not in a hurry to cut her loose because if those meds kick me too far unstable, I need her in my corner telling my meds doctor he’s a moron and to listen to me already.  He isn’t a moron.  He’s just in territory he hasn’t charted himself.

I’m not the same me.  I’ve recovered.  I’m stable.  I’m tired and cranky, but I’m raising 3 kids, working full-time and getting ready to introduce school to the mix.  You show me one woman in my shoes who isn’t tired and cranky and I want whatever she’s taking.  I assure you it isn’t legal.

In all honesty, I think that’ why I’ve slowed down on blogging.  It isn’t for a lack of words.  My husband can assure you that in the nearly 10 years we’ve been married, happily or otherwise, I’ve never once shut up.

But if I’m not writing my niche, what do I write?  What is my persona?  What place do I carve out for myself in this world to claim as mine?

I was, for a time, one of the more popular BPD bloggers out there.  Now by popular, you can’t compare me to your average blogger.  I couldn’t judge my impact by how many thousands visited me.  I couldn’t base my value on how many people pissed themselves laughing from my stories.  Instead I judged by how many emails I received crying out for help, or thanking me for help via my words.  I wasn’t marketable.  I couldn’t make ads work because millions saw them.  But I changed lives.  I saved lives.  That was success.  Honestly, that’s true success.

But I’m not that writer anymore.  Unless I drudge up old stories I can’t give those in the throes of despair something to compare to.  I can’t give you the “I’m no longer alone” effect and community.

I hit rock bottom.  I wrote it with a brutal truth.  A brutal honesty.  I broke all the rules.  I could have been denied jobs with a simply Google search.  I added real medical information about BPD.  Its diagnostic criteria, or at least how it applied to me.  Its statistics.  Who out there you see on TV, the big screen or hear all over the radio that might be going through this too.

But now I’m floating, swimming, even soaring.  I’ve grown.  And while I have no interest in taking this blog down, it is my home and it does still give important information, I don’t know how to grow it from here.

Identity.

What is my angle?  My persona.  Even when blogging with 100% truth, there is still a persona in place.  Every blogger has one.  They are lying if they say otherwise.

My persona focused on the downward spiral.  It didn’t mean I lied or covered up the good times in life.  It just meant my focus was on allowing you to relate to me at my worse.  That way, I wasn’t alone and neither were you.  It kept me writing and it kept people reading, because in writing and keeping people reading, I could slip in the information about how atypical anti-psychotics, while off label, can be magnificent for treating BPD.  That information, which I came upon myself, saved my life.  Yours?  Damn skippy I’m going to work to keep people coming back if I can save a life or two because of it.  Or help people in Israel find DBT.

But what do I have now to keep people coming?  Not just the hits I get via people Googling information about BPD and my blog being front page.  What do I have to offer that will keep people actively engaged now, in 2013, and beyond?

What the hell is my identity?

I don’t want to be the girl with chronic pain.  That’s being done, and well, by many others.  I’m not a mommy blogger.  Lordissa no!  I can’t spin my day-to-day into hilarity that has you literally laughing out loud and nearly your damn ass off, not simply “typing lol” without making a sound.

And that is all OK.  I’m not regretting that.  Well, maybe I wouldn’t mind being Bloggess funny.  However, there can only be one Beyonce the Metal chicken, and sadly, I’m Victor not learning to pick my battles.  I must fight them all. Fight ALL! THE! BATTLES!  Really, I don’t understand how I’ve been married for nearly 10 years.  That’s half my adult life!  A third my total life!  I can’t even commit to a favorite color.

And that’s not my niche.  I have no advice to offer on how to make a marriage work.  Unless you want tips on sheer bullheadedness in refusing to give up.  In which case, here is what you do: Your spouse asks for a divorce.  You tell them no.  There, niche covered.  Also, that advice doesn’t actually work for most.  Also, wouldn’t recommend the potential affair in that mess.  While it oddly fixed us, that also is very usually NOT the case.  So m’kay.  Affairs bad.  Bullheadedness not usually effective.  I double covered that niche.

Guys, who the fuck am I?

No, really.

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We all brag on our kids.  So know that I know we all consider our kids to be the next Einstein, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Da Vinci, or in my case, Sheldon Cooper.  I do wholeheartedly get that.  Please understand that, as I quote the following comment left on Thawed, and then get into my response.

I’m sure you already know this, but on the off chance, here you go. If kiddo’s ADHD, showing signs of OCD, and isn’t able to manage in another educational setting (“it’s not them, it’s him”), these are red flags in the special education world. It’s worth asking the school district for a full psycho-educational run down on him. It should include academic, psychological, mental health, and anything else that you’re at all concerned about (speech pragmatics, ability to negotiate a playground, whatever). Your family may choose to homeschool, or to enroll him in a private kinder, and only you know what will work best for him and you, but it’s the district’s obligation to put him in a kindergarten with the necessary supports he requires to succeed (which damn well includes a school bus). Cognitive behavioral therapy and a tightly structured day can do wonders for kids with ADHD, and if that’s what it takes for him to manage school (and the school to manage him) then they get to provide it.

I think this warrants addressing beyond the comments section.

I don’t think the ADHD (or OCD, or any other possible diagnosis, for that matter) is why he doesn’t thrive in preschool, I honestly think he isn’t challenged enough. He went in there knowing basic multiplication so therefor couldn’t take them seriously when they tried to teach him how to count along with the other kids. At the same time he gets stuck counting past 12. It’s a patience thing. As in, he has no patience for the inferior brain trying to teach him.  He has to decide he cares and then teach himself.  Hence him questioning what the hell his brother is taught “at that school” when Thomas made a simple math mistake.  Kid was tired, Luke had no hesitation calling him on it though.

That dynamic of brothers competing aside, there is something in there that can’t be missed.  I haven’t taught Luke math.  Sure, I taught him how to count, and what the numbers looked like.  We even struggled on that.  Oh lord.  But even before he could count successfully past 8, he could tell you that 2 times 4 was 8.  Not because I taught him, but because he was watching me build something that had 4 screws on the one side and just assumed that meant there were 8 screws total.  Sure, he could have added it up, but he could only see one side.  That takes a certain amount of cognative thinking.  He was 4.

I pride myself on my math skills, but I couldn’t have done that, self-taught, at 4.  How many really could have?

He has a psychiatrist who is keeping tabs on him, though yes the school board could apply it to education. But honestly, I don’t want to IEP him if I can avoid it. And when he is medicated, I can avoid it. I was going to stick him in a regular class, the reason it didn’t happen that way is because I missed deadlines I didn’t realize where come and gone, and because of his age, but not the mental curiosities. The strive for pre-K was because he’s only had 1 year of pre-school and just doesn’t seem to be quite ready for kindergarten to me.  (The school bus issue was isolated to pre-K since it’s a separate program that happens to be housed in a school.)

And the relief that came when homeschooling suddenly became a serious option, goes beyond psych evaluations and IEPs.  It goes into knowing kids aren’t meant to fit molds.  Not every child is meant to be a brain surgeon.  And the most brilliant minds out there are going to look at a standardized test and a scantron and ask: what the heck are they teaching in these schools?  I mean seriously, WTF!

I have always known my Lucas was not meant to fit a mold.  And now I’m following my heart and acting upon it.

His mental health is a concern, always. But honestly, so is what the federal government is doing to the education system. I want my little engineer to be able to get excited about robots and spend his school day building his own and then programming it to carry off a hit on his older brother, and not having to worry about the latest standardized test out there.  I think Thomas is about to take his 3rd.  For this year.

I have no doubts this kid is brilliant. But he’s brilliant in a way that won’t come across on a scantron.  It will, however,  come across when he’s making millions on government projects you don’t have the security clearance level to hear about.  Momma just prays it’s ethical.

In a sea of education options, what works for one child shouldn’t have to work for another.  If I honestly thought a public school classroom was the answer for him, I’d go fierce momma and there he’d be come fall, with or with the evaluation and IEP.  Many of you nod your head knowing this to be the case.  Some of you are just thankful you won’t have to help me hide the bodies that could potentially pile up during the process.

In the same way I know this to be the answer for Luke, I know pulling Thomas out of school is the worst education decision I could make for Thomas.  Oh my anger of teaching to tests and government interference makes me daydream about it, but he thrives in a classroom.  I know, in my head, better than to mess with that.

Sambam, meanwhile, might inspire a 3rd option.  I’m thinking an all-girls, private, boarding school.  But only when I realize she has my personality, Aphrodite’s beauty, and breathes fire, like the red dragon she is.  Once puberty hits… well she’ll be the one we hide bodies for.  We’re going to need a backyard.

The homeschool program we are placing him in starting this fall, is a virtual classroom.  They’ll provide a computer, and then he’ll have a full class with a teacher heading it, just online.  There will be field trips you can try and make it to. (All across Ohio, hence the “try”.)  There is an initiative to connect those living close to one another for play-dates.  There is a PE log sheet so that they know you are up and outside running around, skinning knees, and pelting daddy with snowballs.  I’ve seen the curriculum for K-12th grade.  Not a standardized test in site.  It’s taught to foster brilliant minds, not convince the federal government of anything.  It’s amazing how much interference we have from the government and yet how uneducated our nation really is.  I know Pat and I aren’t brilliant, but with the freedom this program gives, paired with the structure this program offers as well, I think this will meet all of Luke’s needs.  And I don’t have to worry about Pat trying to teach him algebra, because there is a licensed teacher on the other end of computer who has it covered.

Speaking of, I’ve introduced him to algebra, he thinks it’s silly, but seems to be on the cusp of understanding it.  Give me til the end of summer.  He’s got this.  He already understand that if 2+5=7, then 5+2=7, and 7-2=5.  That is step one to understanding 2+x=7, solve for x, after all.

So in short: while his mental health diagnostics will always be something to work with/around, I think in ways they will inspire greatness, and I think conventional school will only hold him back.  It’s also worth noting that his behavior in the pre-school classroom is spot on.  They find him to be a helpful, sweet, loving, joy to have around.  They just can’t seem to teach him.

As an interesting note, tucked here at the end, that’s why he isn’t going back after Spring Break.  He’ll finish out the week/month, but once we decided to homeschool, it started to seem ludicrous to spend so much time, energy, and money to try to force pre-school to happen.  He isn’t getting anything out of it.  So he can spend those hours each week working on his math workbook I bought him.  As well as the letters and phonics books.

 

Our next step is a lined dry-erase board so he can work on penmanship, and which direction the numbers 7 and 3 face.  It’s the only thing I have to teach him in this exact regard.  He doesn’t seem to need my help otherwise.  Unless you count reading the instructions.  Other than that, I handed over the book and off he flew.

And he does.  He will.  He flies.  He will fly higher.  And I’m actually relieved to be able to loosen a chain or two.

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On the 19th of March, my mom, sister and I piled into my mom’s car and drove.  Her GPS “Maddy” took us the scenic route past farms, cows, horses and trains, without an interstate in sight.  But we were in no hurry.  We gave ourselves 5 hours to make a 2 hour drive.

We got to the bookstore in Dayton with plenty of time, so we parked the car and decided we’d go into the bookstore to look around, and find out event details.

Around this time, I realized my husband had given me a 50 with the idea that he didn’t like me wondering so far from home without any sort of cash.  I sent him a quick note warning him he’d set me loose in a bookstore with cash.  He made it clear he had been aware longer than I had, of the situation, and that I would indeed owe him.

There was one survivor.  He goes by Washington.

Funny how all three of us bookworms didn’t really realize that the book signing in a book store would involve, you know, many, many books.  I think we blocked that part out in our quest.

Our quest to meet The Bloggess.

After we spent ourselves broke, we wandered to a nearby subway for an early dinner and then a few other shops to poke around.  But with only an hour and a half left before the signing started, we made our way back to the bookstore to find our place in line.  With a heads-up from the vixen Dawnie, I knew we needed to be there well in advance.  We were the second group in line, but it grew well before 6, when we could find seats.  By the time The Bloggess was presented at 7, it was standing room only.

We had front row seats.  Score!

The Dayton reading had the privilege to be the audience that was not allowed to witness a single curse word, as she read a chapter from her book.  So Jenny, in advance, set about finding the chapter with the fewest F-bombs, and friends.  The winning chapter had only 12 words that needed replaced with hippopotamus.  You heard me, hippopotamus.  But oh you should have heard her!

We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more.

Then we single file got to meet the Goddess that is the Bloggess and have her sign our books.  Our coveted books of inappropriate hilarity.  I was lucky enough to be able to have 2 copies signed.  I bought the paperback version for myself (with a new bonus chapter, yo!) and had my older hardback version signed for my good friend Lisa who was spending the day back in Columbus growing older.  No, seriously, it was her birthday.  When I mentioned this to Jenny, she was sure to wish her a happy birthday in writing.  Lisa is one lucky hippopotamus!

We are all very lucky hippopotamuses.  Not just that this book has been written by someone so very real and honest and inappropriately hilarious.

But that this single person could make it clear to all of us who are so very isolated and alone, that we are in fact one of millions and not so different after all, is something we all needed.  We aren’t the only one with chronic pain.  We aren’t the only one with crippling anxiety.  We aren’t the only one with depression so bad we can’t leave our bed for days if not weeks.  We aren’t the only one who has cut to feel something.  We aren’t the only one.  You, I, Jenny.  We are all so unique but in the ways we need to be the same, to not be alone, Jenny has made it clear we are a community.  She has given us that gift.

So we are very lucky hippopotami indeed!

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This is what Morgan Freeman has to say about the shooting on Friday.  He has it so very right. (Edit: turns out it isn’t Mr Freeman. All very right.)

“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed
people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

In so many cases this is the truth.

We all can name Osama Bin Laden.  We could all pick him out of a line up, if he hadn’t been found.  Name one of his victims.  Sure many people can.  Many people are related to one.  But that many is not the majority.

Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Columbine, Aurora, The Unabomber, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper

Name one victim for each, off the top of your head.  Using Google is cheating.

But the men behind the horror?  Are men of legend.  Not positive legend, mind you.  But still legend.

And going back to what I posted earlier and Mr Freeman finished with, tell me about the mental health of everyone named above.

 

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