Jsack's Mom's Blog

Welcome to my blog where I share my special needs parenting journey with my heart, truth, and love, one story at a time. ❤️

#Mondaymusings-Lets talk about mental health on #Bellletstalkday

 
I have a story to share I always have. I have a big heart and a big vocabulary and I’m always up for a honest, open discussion. Yet the one thing that always silenced me was my depression. To speak of it meant a horrible feeling of shame that washed over me. I have struggled with the stigma of it since I was very young. I was four years old when my parents separated and with that brought an immense sadness. 

I had no control of it but I was glad to see the fighting stop in my daily life. There were still tears, prayers, and long heart to heart talks but the hurtful words thrown about so carelessly were gone. My Dad took on another life and family and my Mom was forced to make a life as a single parent to two little girls who needed her. She struggled with mental health too, sleeping at odd hours of the day, angry outbursts, tear filled days and nights as her heart was broken over her failed marriage. 

I saw it all, heard the stories, and did my best to comfort her. Being empathic I could feel every emotion and it was like a double edge sword living with this pain. I was so young and impressionable and yet I was growing wise to the ways of the world. I grew up like any other typical kid living in this  existence as I fought with the sadness and anger that would overtake my heart. The world was too loud, confusing, chaotic, and busy. I didn’t know how to cope so I turned to prayer, songs, and my faithful books. 

I grew into a sullen teenager and battled with anyone who would talk to me. My poor Mom didn’t know what to do and so we attended family therapy. I soon started having nightmares as triggers from my childhood came back to haunt me. I would go days on end not sleeping which means my Mom did do. I was finally diagnosed with clinical Depression and Insomnia 

I refused medication as I had such a fear of being drugged into what I call the “Ritalin generation.” It seemed like any child who couldn’t sit still, thought outside the box, and expressed a volatile opinion was put on the token drug of choice. I wasn’t going to be a statistic so I chose to take a more natural route. 

My Mom supported me with this as I changed my nutrition plan, got more exercise, and took Valerian and other herbs for my lack of sleeping pattern. It was a dark and confusing time in my life and I coped with it the best I could. I soon matured into an adult and had years of journals that commemorates that confusing chaotic time in my life. As I grew older graduated and attended college my mental health issues came back full force. The stress of deadlines, securing a student loan to attend school, and maintain a relationship took it’s toll. At the age of twenty I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I also experienced a lot of death in my life losing both my Grandparents, parents, and my step sister all before I was the age of forty. I suffered with Post Partum Depression which I had with both of my babies and it was dark, devastating tunnel of grief and despair. What I hadn’t know that it was being overshadowed by Sensory Processing Disorder. I would come to know that when I took the journey with my children to a diagnosis.  Who both have two types of SPD, (also known formerly as Sensory Integration and Sensory Dysfunction Disorder) Sensory Defensive Disorder which means avoiding all sensory input to the central nervous system and  Sensory Modulation Disorder which is the opposite, it’s the seeking out of all sensory input to the central nervous system. 

 

Clara Hughes

 
I’ve learned a lot as a Mom to children with complex needs and I’m now referred to as a walking medical dictionary by my therapist. I’ve come to know from my experience that being a special needs parent is not for the faint at heart. We’re all struggling in our ways with parenting, making our marriages a priority, and trying to carve out some me time. Some of us struggle, swear, drink, and eat too much. I believe others do too they just hide it better. I still have another leg of my journey to take with my children as more letters of the alphabet are discovered with each diagnostic test and assessment. Since I’ve introduced therapy with a psychologist, a psychiatrist, occupational, physical therapists,  and speech and language pathologist their future is looking brighter with early intervention. 

 

Clara Hughes speaking candidly about her mental health

 
I advocate strongly on their behalf and my own and I share this glimpse into our lives for #Bellletstalkday. This is a mental health initiative in my country Canada and for every talk, text, tweet, and share Bell will donate five cents to Canadian Mental Health. Last year the campaign raised over $500,000 and I had the fortunate experience of meeting one of the spokespersons former two time Olympian Clara Hughes. 

Please share, talk, text, and tweet the hashtag #Bellletstalkday to erase the stigma of mental health and bring it into the spotlight than having it shrouded in darkness and fear. One random act of kindness can do so much to help others like one ripple across the water that can create a wave of understanding. 

It’s time for #Mondaymusings and all you have to do is this list of things. 


Write a post sharing your thoughts with us – happy, sad, philosophical, ‘silly’ even. Make it as personal as possible.


Use the hashtag #MondayMusings and link to this post.


Add your link to the linky which you will find either here and on the post of a co-host. Today’s co-hosts are Everyday Gyaan and Living My Imperfect Life

Use our #MondayMusings badge to help other bloggers join in too.


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Writer’s Quotes Wednesday

My submission to Writer’s Quotes Wednesday touches me deeply with my struggle of sinking or swimming through another tidal wave of grief and disillusionment. I pray that I will persevere by the grace of God as I’m no stranger to this pain. ❤️

 

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#1000 Speak Compassion-nurturing 

 At this moment in time I could use some nurturing. My heart has suffered from being judged, my body from pushing it to the limit of injury, my soul from putting myself last on the list of life’s priorities. It’s been my own doing, I put myself out there and recieved ridicule and embarrassment. I allowed it to hurt my heart and make me feel cheap, dirty, and ashamed. There is a thing about being too honest especially on social media.

I started a new workout routine as I’ve been living with chronic pain for the last five years. And slowly it’s grinding away at all the wonderful things I’ve accomplished over that time. The nurturing place where I housed my children and now my back is full of white hot pain if I do too much. Lifting my child who is showing all the signs of a sensory meltdown as he runs through a parking lot. Carrying him to bed after he’s so wound up from seeking sensory input all day he crashes in my arms on the couch.

Picking him up and cradling him like my little Joey and I’m his kangaroo Mama keeping him safe from a world that’s too loud, busy, bright, and at the same time beautiful in it’s simplicities and complexities. I exercise to keep myself fit, healthy, and fabulous. I started a new workout routine and matched the instructor for move for move. No matter how fast or extreme it would be in the long run. What the end result was an aggravated old back injury from a bulging disk, and not being able to walk properly for three days!!! What was I thinking I asked myself as I had to hobble around with a cane and parent from my couch?!

I wasn’t thinking about my age that’s for sure. I was thinking of who I was before when I was the fitness instructor with seventeen years experience. Who gave those intense workouts and also participated in them. It’s been a humbling experience as I recently started a fitness challenge and I’m on the sidelines cheering everybody on. I have an invitation to start a free one week bootcamp in my town. I look at each day mocking me and my lack of flexibility. How is it possible after ten years of teaching I could become so inflexible? Easy enough I allowed my mind to become that way being a right fighter, and my body became rigid and immobile.

I need to nurture that part of my myself that makes me feel whole again. I write, read, whine onto my digital paper and drink copious amounts of wine to dull my pain. Who knows of this push and pull existence that I put myself through time and  time again. It’s you my dear readers who have followed along with me on my journey through heartache, grief, self loathing, and sometimes redemption. I lay myself bare and venture out into the world when it seems to be less cold, hard, and judgemental. This is my life as a Mom with children with special needs.

You can’t see my son’s conditions but if you push them to the limit they’ll bleed through with their reactions to noise, over stimulus, and disapproving stares. One has a disorder called Sensory Avoidance. I refer to it as his needs are like a bucket of water and everyone puts in a cup throughout his day. When he’s home from school his sensory bucket is overflowing. and he needs to empty it out and self tegilate with calm and quiet time. I give him this time to decompress as I know it’s essential to his psyche and mental health!


My other son has the opposite disorder he is a seeker of sensory input and it’s referred to as Sensory Modulation. His condition I refer to as having an empty bucket that he fills with cups of water all day long with every interaction, noise, and stimulus. Each time his bucket is almost full he dumps it out and has to start all over again. So this is the push and pull of my son’s existence. One wants to avoid all contact until he’s regulated and able to fill up his bucket. The other is constantly dumping it out and finding new ways to fill it!

They both empty my patience bucket on a regular basis, and I need to fill it back up again with things that help. Like quiet time to myself, being able to read, write, soak in a bubble bath until  enveloped in the softeness and luxury. Closing my bedroom door each night and cuddling into my love my husband, my soft place to fall. He holds me and nurtures me and my hearts love bucket is full of self worth, respect, consciousness, and unconditional love. And I’m refreshed and restored and able to face another day. Whether it’s full of fighting, auditory hyper sensitives, food texture issues, sensory seeking, or sensory avoiding.

We all need to be loved, respected, accepted, loved, and nurtured. Please take that time to give your body, mind, and soul are crying out for. Don’t be like me who pushes and pulls into the core of my existence till my broken, weary, sleep deprived shell of a human body can’t take it anymore. Find those ties that bind you to the ones you love, absorb their love and strength, full that love bucket, and be more than, better than, stronger than the pain that threatens to grind you down. Love, nuture, take the steps to self care, and truly cherish that reflection that stares back at you from the mirror of your life.

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Open 

Trigger alert: If you’re suffering from any mental health issues pertaining to cutting or suicide. Proceed to read with caution. I discuss both in text openly. 

My life is an open book I’ve acted like I’ve had together but I really don’t. I’ve found out it takes a village to raise a child. And how lonely life can be when you don’t have a village. I’ve been open about not feeling like an adequate parent, good wife, or being a lousy friend. I have retreated into my world of words and writing, and have tried to make sense of the chaos before me. I’ve advocated for mine and my children’s mental health and have been told to hurry up and wait. Last week after an epic blow up between my oldest son and I, I put all my fears aside and phoned the mental office office. I was told to come down between the hours of 11 am to 3 pm and someone would have a meet and greet with me. 

This is how mental health is dealt with in my province. You’re set up to meet with someone who greets you and sees if you meet the criteria for obtaining services. So I went down there last Friday only to be told the Doctors aren’t seeing anymore walk ins today. That’s the worst lunch bag let down for the week. After talking my son into agreeing he does need help I leave empty handed. Today after battling with him to get up and go to school he decides not to go. I can’t deal with it after being up late myself with his brother having nightmares. I go back to bed, only to be woken up and blamed by my oldest for not going to school.

 I tell him just go eat and get dressed you’ll only be a little late. Then the fight begins that I failed him yet again, and he’s not walking into school late! I get a much anticipated call from my respite worker and I end up telling her everything that I didn’t get to tell her yesterday, with both of my children being home. My Captain (my oldest son, if you’re new to my blog) has been off for a week of school. This has been due to a teachers convention and after eight days of constant battling I NEED A BREAK. Yesterday I drive around in a new neighbourhood looking for a birthday party he was supposed to attend. I couldn’t find the location and my GPS was zero help.

 So I only had respite for a short amount of time as I had my youngest at home. I came home feeling defeated and tried to throw myself into busy ness of housekeeping so as to not start yet another arguement. There’s always something brewing on the horizon and then it came time to get ready for hockey practice. I asked my Captain to get his gear ready, while I quietly and quickly got his brother and I ready to go. We were set to leave when the comments started we’re going to be late, I wish Dad was here, I don’t want to go to hockey. I’ve been walking the thin parenting line between crazy and sane and I blew up and said get out and get your gear in the truck. He refused so I threw his bag on the lawn. Then I proceed to chase my youngest son down the block as he just wants to run away from all the noise. In the midst of my incessant parenting tantrum I lose my keys so I’m frantically looking for them.  

I find my back up set but it doesn’t allow me to lock my door with the key. Useless I know but key fobs are expensive to replace. So my crazy train is loaded up and we arrive at practice. Yes we’re five minutes late, and I just want to run away and hide somewhere. On the way home after practice I encounter a near accident as a racing truck passes five vehicles and is on coming into my lane!  I’ve got my music cranked and I’m singing Paradise by the Dashboard light. When the part of the song sung by the female lead Patti Russo comes on and says Stop right there, a voice inside my head screams the same. So I slow down and head towards the ditch just in time to see this truck fly past me and into the other lane. 

I’m literally shaking as I get home and start preparing dinner for my kids. I listen to them outside chatting while they gaze at the stars. Soon it’s bedtime and I settle in trying to process my day.  Thinking about everything crammed in my brain, it took me a long time to stop shaking and fall asleep last night. Hearing the alarm go off at 7 am after maybe four hours of sleep is like a jackhammer in my head. This morning when my son refused to go to school I said fine you don’t go to school then you go talk to a therapist. I arrive at the office only to be told they are full with walk ins. I don’t take this well at all, I complain you told me this last week and now you just opened up and your full? I have and will always be the squeaky wheel who gets the grease so I continue to triade. The receptionist sees I’m not leaving so she phones the office down the hallway to let them know I’m there.  

I walk over there with my shrieking sensory child who just wants to go home and explain I want to see someone. I’m once again told I can’t and to come back tomorrow. Well the quickest way to ignite the Irish fire inside of me is to tell me I can’t do something. This is unacceptable for urgent care should I be a cutter or slit my wrists would that get me seen faster? That line of questioning and behaviour got me seen faster than taking no for an answer. I have a therapist come to meet me who says I have a few minutes of her time. So I proceed to get my kids in the office while they play with Lego. So I tell her the quickest way to get help is to act crazy. She appears taken back at my honesty, so I spew on and say I’m an open book what do you want to know? I introduce her to my kids and proceed to tell her of the life we’re living.

 I’m told I’ve come to the right place, I’m very well versed, and educated. In another time and place had I known if I’d be walking this path to mental health, I would’ve studied to be an neurologist. Anything to do with the brain fascinates me, neurological disorders, psychiatric illness, all the labels and letters associated with mental illness.  I research about them all and I just want to know more. Being educated, articulate, well versed, helps me as an advocate for mine and my children’s mental health helps everyone. Now I walk a different journey to allowing this help to transform my family. From chaos to calm, from anger to happiness, from power struggles to peace. I’ve found the quickest way to get help is to stop acting like I have it altogether. So why do I tell you all this today? Well it’s simple I live my life like a open book, I can’t hide away from it anymore welcome to my book of life. Today I start to write a new chapter of hope, help, and resolution. I really think my guardian angel drinks if I was her I would too. Cheers to you Mom and thank you for saving our lives. ❤️

This has been my submission to Ash’s Sunday Confessions on http://www.morethancheeseandbeer.com. Please check out her story, the anonymous confessions, and all the other talent who link up. Thank you for following along on my journey. 💓

Today I’m linking up with http://silverliningmama.com for her conquer challenge for the month of February. 

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One Liner Wednesday

In honour of Bell Lets Talk day I will share an inspirational quote from my favourite messenger for mental health awareness. Former Olympic athlete Clara Hughes

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This has been my submission to http://Lindaghill.com. Please check out her one liner and all the other talent who link up. Thank you. 😊

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Letting go and Letting God

Today in Canada is #BeIl Lets Talk campaign to raise awareness for mental health. For every tweet with #BellLetsTalk Bell Canada will donate five cents to Clara’s big ride across the northern part of Canada. I’m a great supporter of this cause as it’s one close to my heart. I had a very amazing and fortunate experience to meet one of it’s spokeswoman last year Clara Hughes.

Last year she stopped into the town of Hope, BC while on her ride for Hope to share her message. Clara was on a mission to cycle across the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia to end the stigma associated with mental illness. This year she took a 110 day journey and 11,000 kilometers visiting 95 communities, and over 80 schools along the way.

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She has been the only athlete that had won gold in both summer (cycling) and winter (speed skating) in the Olympics. She has also struggled with her own mental health and she spoke of her journey with courage, kindness, and bravery. She spoke very candidly about herself and I hung on her every word that night. And when I had a chance to meet her and shake her hand I was literally in awe of her beautiful spirit, honesty, and sensational smile. The most recent quote I read of hers is my favorite.

“I cannot be the only one and I’m not the only one trying to make a difference,”
“We have a long way to go but the shift is starting to happen.”

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Today I’m going to share my personal journey with my mental health. I was a happy, curious, bright, and rather serious child. I was in family therapy at the age of twelve to deal with some family issues regarding my parents separation. I was to decide by then who I would choose to live with. I chose my Mom and I grew into a sullen, hell raising teenager who was sent to live with my Dad and step Mom By the age of fourteen, I was diagnosed with depression and insomnia.

I refused to take medicine for it and opted for eating healthier. I struggled with it right up to the age of sixteen. I still opted for no antidepressants and chose a healthier lifestyle. It was when I had graduated, moved out my house and gone to college that I realized I couldn’t keep my demons inside my mind silent any longer. I saw my family doctor and she diagnosed me with anxiety at the age of twenty. I got through my first semester of college and then I decided it was enough and returned to working.

The deadlines, going back and forth to my boyfriends while living on my own, the loneliness and stress got to me so I dropped out. Fast forward in time when I was married and expecting my first baby at the age of thirty-three and I was suffering with anxiety, stress, while working full time on a part time job. My saving grace was my yoga classes that I was teaching at the time. I could relax, meditate, and put myself and my clients first. My son was born via an emergency Caesarean section. About three months into Motherhood I developed Post Partum Depression. It was a difficult journey and I made it through only to have my Dad die two years later.

Grief, raising a toddler, and living far away from my family were the conditions that created a time bomb; that was ticking and waiting to explode! I went into therapy with a PPD support group for two years. I then became pregnant with my second child after trying to conceive for a year when my son was almost four. My Mom became very ill and died while I was eight months along. My world was sent into a tailspin and I prayed I would survive it. My baby was born at nine months, a month premature and spent two weeks in the NICU.

I realized then that no Mom was an island and I went on antidepressants for the first time and enjoyed a bubble of calm while raising my sons. I got through that grief period by attending a grief recovery program and really leaning on my family and friends. I’ve had insomnia since I was very young and gave birth to non sleepers. Eventually my oldest slept through the night at fifteen months, and by the time he was three he was sleeping through consistently. We had moved right after he turned five, and my baby was ten months old. This was our third move due to my husband’s career. 

Life in a hotel, no friends, lack of sleep, lots of stress with an incessant rain clouding my mind and heart; I sank into a deep depression. I found a doctor and she renewed my prescription and then diagnosed me with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I was only a year into my grief journey with my Mom when we moved into the hotel, while attempting to sell our house in another town. At that time I had noticed developmental issues with my baby at eighteen months. He was meeting milestones albeit later than most. Although he did walk early bouncing between beds in the hotel room. So there were some bright moments for me to hang on to.

I took him to the Doctor and was given a pat answer he’s a busy boy who’s hardly sleeping, you’re sleep deprived here’s a handout. After being fed lip service and sent on my way, I talked to my health nurse and she directed me to resources to look into ideas to help while coping on team no sleep. There was my youngest son speech delayed, having trouble with pronunciation, and moving constantly. Climbing everything, high tolerance to pain, eating ten different foods, and hardly sleeping. Then I began the long six month journey to get him assessed at two and half years, while waiting to see a developmental pediatrician.

He saw Child development counselour, Occupational therapist, Speech and language pathologist, and finally the Development pediatrician. Then with the extensive list of concerns came up he was snoring, he had oral fixation issues, hypotonia of the lower jaw which caused him to stuff his food in his mouth till he choked! I still have to watch him closely when he’s eating. After a thorough assessment the doctor said there’s no doubt in my mind that he has sensory processing disorders with Sensory Modulation Disorder being the official diagnosis. At the time he said he didn’t see any signs of autism, but you may want to have him assessed as he gets older.

So I was relieved to finally have something to work with. I went home googled SPD and took the book Out of Sync Child-By Carol Kranowitz out of the library. I finally saw my child on every page and didn’t feel so alone or lack of a better word, like a crazy hypochondriac dreaming up diagnosis’s for my son. Another month went by while I spent late nights researching and listening to my son on a baby monitor. I was on a waiting list to see an ENT and he was diagnosed with a Obstructive sleep apnea. I’ve been on team no sleep for nine years. Between anxiety, post partum depression, grief, insomnia, and heart ache I’ll admit I’ve wanted to run away and hide.

Here I stand today working through the issues one day at a time; as I take a new mental health journey with my sons and keeping my own sanity intact. I don’t have all the answers but I’ve learned over the years what works and doesn’t work for me. By taking care of myself every chance I get is the key to my emotional stability. By keeping hydrated, eating healthy, taking my vitamins, exercising, and catching up on my missing increments of sleep I’ve started to feel more hopeful than hopeless.

I’ve also started to use essential oils to help my children and myself with our anxiety. As that was what got me off of my antidepressants two years ago. Last night I was anxious and couldn’t sleep, I felt wave after wave of emotional energy coming at me as I recently had a wonderful friend pass on. I held my son who was hurting with his restless legs syndrome, and massaged his feet and legs with an oil blend for pain and let him fall asleep on my chest.

I felt like my heart could just burst from my love, grief, worry, and pain. I thought of my beloved Mama who would say this too shall pass honey child. Don’t forget to smile through it, and take care of yourself too. Day by day I listen to her wisdoms chiming in my head and singing the song I wrote for her. I feel a little more closer to her, God and heaven. And I feel blessed as that’s a team that can help me through anything, by letting go and letting God deal with it.

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