Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mamas, Mind Your Own Biscuits!!!

I have seen the stories about citizens taking matters into their own hands concerning the children of others. There was the one where kids were walking home and cops were called. There was the one where a mom left her 9 yr old at the park while she worked. There was the one where cops were called when someone saw a child playing outside naked. There was the one where a neighbor threatened to call the cops because a child was laughing too loudly outside.

What is going on that neighbors have to make everything their business?  Why are they calling the cops instead of speaking directly to their neighbor about the situation? I always felt blessed to live in a small community where parents look out for each others kids and if they see something inappropriate they might reprimand the child and then also talk to that child's parent. I felt that way until now. Now, not so much.

On Monday I caught my son climbing where he was  not supposed to on school property. I asked him to stop and not do that again. On Tuesday I caught him throwing a rock at the building at the dance studio my daughter's attend. I asked him to stop and not do that again.

On Tuesday another parent caught him throwing a rock at the school building and climbing where he was not supposed to. She reprimanded him, but then, instead of telling me so I could deal with him she told the principal.

I feel this was unnecessary considering it was after school hours and no damage was done. I did not know anything about it until I got a call from the school Wednesday afternoon. I was asked to come and talk to the principal. I was not told what this was about.

There are several problems with how this all happened.

 First, dismissal changed this year so that everyone is dismissed at different times, every five minutes to avoid hallway congestion. I can no longer just go get all of my kids at once. I need to wait for all of them to arrive at the parent pick-up area. My kids arrive at 3,305, 310, and 315. Parents are required to pick up their kids by 315. I was waiting one day and one of the teachers that were supervising the parent pick-up area told me it would be fine for me to just come at 315 so I would not have to wait and not to worry because the children are always supervised by the assigned teacher. Apparently, this was not the case, if they were outside doing whatever when I arrived on several occasions. I am assuming it has to do with who is supervising.

Second, my son has ADHD, therefore needs supervision when he has idle time to get in trouble. He has trouble with impulse control so he needs constant reminders when he does inappropriate behaviors. This is something we are working on. If I tell him to stop then he does it again he is made to sit. He normally stops because sitting idle is torture for him.

Third, why did the parent not talk to me about this so that I could decide what needed to be done? This is where I feel the whole thing just went terribly wrong. I pray, that when (not if because it will happen) her child does something wrong, the witness has the decency to let her know, instead if being a whistle blower and telling the school.

Now I want to address this mother:

Dear concerned parent,
Thank you so much for reprimanding my child when he behaved in an inappropriate manner. I really appreciate that. I do not, however, appreciate you being a narc, and taking it upon yourself to tattle on my son to the principal. Maybe it makes you feel powerful to get a child it trouble, maybe you think I am scary that you didn't want to tell me or maybe you just like to butt into other people's business. You will be disappointed to know that my child did not receive a consequence because the principal knows about his  issues with impulse control, that he has ADHD, that we are working on it, and that he goes to therapy twice a month. She also knows that he was supposed to have been being supervised but wasn't. She was actually very nice to me about it, and worked with me to find a solution. I hope your delicate little flowers never do anything wrong, but if (most likely when) they do, it is my hope that whoever catches them will have the common human decency to let you know without feeling the need to involve higher-ups. If I ever see you again it will take all my strength to keep myself from totally going off on you. I may just go all Real Housewives on you and yank out some of your beautiful (fake) blonde hair, so if I were you I would steer clear of ever seeing me. If you do, I would suggest walking the other way!

                                                                              Sincerely, a mother who knows how
                                                                                               to mind my own biscuits!

P.S. Keep this on your playlist as a reminder, it may keep other parents from ending up hating you!

So, what do you all think of other parents trying to take over our parenting for us?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Yep, I'm Lazy! Sorry-Not Sorry

I have five kids. They keep me busy from 3-10 daily. Before everyone went to school I was busy all day cleaning, doing meals and entertaining them. For twelve years I ran around like a chicken with it's head cut off. When they all went to school I decided to do whatever I want to while they are gone.

This is what a typical weekday looks like for me:
645: Get the kids up and deal with the Morning Madness.
745: Arrive home, drink coffee and read my devotions
845: Go back to bed for three hours
1145: Get up and read, write, and eat

145: Do a few small chores, make phone calls, get organized, and ready for the kids to arrive.
315: Pick up the kids
330: Snacktime
400: Homework Time- Kill me now
600: Deal with Mealtime Mayhem
800: Have a lovely Bedtime Battle with the kids

This is the days we are home and not bath days. Bath and sports days are much busier.

What I do:

  • Laundry-Wash Friday, fold Wednesday, sort Thursday
  • Meals- I only cook Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Leftovers Monday and Thursday, Pizza Friday and we are gone Tuesday so fast food.
  • Dishes-Once daily
  • Baths-Twice a week
  • Pick up clutter-Daily

What I don't do:

  • Vacuum-Husband does this once every two weeks
  • Clean the entire bathroom-Spot clean only as needed
  • Mop floors-Done about twice a year
  • Dust- Never have, never will, except the TV to see it better
  • Windows-Inside only, once a year

I am sure I am missing a bunch of things I don't bother doing, but you get the idea. I am LAZY and I an NOT sorry, not one bit. No one gets old and says "Oh my, I wish I had cleaned more" This year I have been calmer and enjoyed myself much more than the previous years, and for that I am very glad!

How about you? Are you a LAZY mom too?

Friday, April 24, 2015

OMG! That's SOOOOO Funny!

I have a lot of funny stories about the happenings in my life, but they are never long enough to write a blog about. Well, I have a special treat for you! I have been saving them up! Get ready to LAUGH!

The Stoplight

I called my sister to ask directions to my niece's house. My daughter was over there and I needed to pick her up. The conversation started out pretty normally. Then she decided to be a funny one.

Sis: Do you know where main street is?
Me: Yes
Sis: Do you know what a stoplight is?
Me: Of course!
Sis: If the stoplight is green turn left. If it's red stop.
Me: I know how to drive.
Sis: Ok, so if it's green and you turn left, go down to such n such apartment building. That is where            she lives.
Me: Ok, got it.
Sis: If it's red, stop and wait until it turns green though.
Me: YES, I know that.
Sis: Then you can turn left after it turns green, but only if no one is going straight. Don't turn until no         one is going straight.
Me: I know traffic rules.
Sis: Ok, so after the light is green and there are no cars going straight go down to such n such apartments and that is where she lives.
Me: I already got that part.
Sis: Ok, well I had to tell you where to go after the light turned green.

By the time she was done giving me a hard time I was already pulling into my niece's place, and I even remembered to stop for the light and not crash into anyone going straight after the light turned green! Now, Every time I go through that town I laugh thinking about that conversation.


We were having a sleepover at my younger sisters house. It was me, my five kids, her, her husband and her son. The place is small, so you can hear everything everywhere in her place. We had 6 kids ages 2-10 all settled in for a movie and my sister was making popcorn.

She was standing in the kitchen, air popping popcorn. My 8 yr old at the time was wandering because she really does not sit. I was chatting with my sister in the kitchen. My sister got distracted my me talking incessantly when the popcorn began cascading to the floor.

Girl: I know what that means!
Sis: Oh really, what? very surprized look on face
Girl: very confidently My Fault!

My sister and I laughed and laughed! To this day, at almost 11, she still thinks that is what it means. I hope to keep it that way!

You Are Such a....!

One day, my kids were playing dress-up with old dance costumes. I instructed my 6 year old twins to find all the dresses laying randomly about the house and to hang them up. One of them began getting frustrated and whining about how she couldn't find one of them. I found it immediately.

Me: Oh, you mean this dress right here?
Girl: YES!!
Me: Weird, it must have gotten here all by itself!
Girl: STOP IT! You're being a.....
Me: A what? Jerkface?
Girl: NO!
Me: Poophead?
Girl: NO! I can't say it, it's a bad word!
Me: What? Asshole?
Girl: YES!!! laughing hysterically

Yes, I am an asshole parent! Aren't we all? 


I took a solo trip to see my little sister at her place. I was so happy to get away. It was very relaxing. After her son went to bed, and her husband was gone, we began talking about frizz problems and what solutions we have found. I had not found many I liked but she had an arsenal of tips! She suddenly jumped up and ran to the bathroom and suddenly returned with a product

Sis: This works really well, but, well, it smells kind of crotchy. You can have it if you want to, see            what you think.
Me: sniffing it. It was very perfumy scented with a sour undertone Wow really? I have never heard of a crotch smelling like that! That would be weird!

We could not stop laughing for about 5 minutes. I was rolling around, nearly falling off of the couch, tears streaming down my face! I still have the product, and every time I use it I hear It smells kinda crotchy in my head!


One evening after the kids were asleep my husband and I were laying in bed talking. I was telling him what my typical day looks like. I never finished the story because he decided to make fun of me.

Me: After I drop the kids off at school, I read my devotions, finish my coffee, then go back to bed for         3 hours.
Him: Wait? What? laughing hysterically
Me: What's so funny about that?
Him: Really? MMMMM, let's drink a bunch of coffee then go back to bed! laughing uncontrollably

I stopped talking to him and was very mad! The very next day, though, as I was pouring my last cup of coffee, I thought  MMMMM, let's drink a bunch of coffee then go back to bed. I then recognized the humor of it. It really does sound ridiculous. Now I laugh about it all the time.

My life is a colorful quilt made up of stories like these! Jealous?

Monday, April 20, 2015

How Do We Teach Kids to Stand Up For Themselves?

From birth we begin to teach kids to stand up for themselves. We teach them phrases like "Stop it" "I don't like that" "That hurts my feelings" and many others when they have a conflict with another child. When they enter school, preschool even, the schools implement anti-bullying campaigns. 

Walk into any PreK or primary school and you will be bombarded with images like these:

When you go into a middle school or high school you may see posters like this:

And that's not all. During presentations to students they use visuals like this:

Why then, do some kids not stand up for themselves and others?

I never thought much about bullying because I naively believed my kids were kind and that they knew what to do to stand up for themselves and others. I was very, very wrong.

One night I went into my daughters room to tuck her in. That is when I saw the most shocking thing:
It was a piece of notebook paper on her desk that read "I HATE (classmates name) because today she......." This line was written out ten times with space to write what is done to her each day at school by this girl. The first line was filled in with "licked my erasers, poked me with a pencil, threw my folder on the floor" 

This broke my heart. I had a talk with her and found out it had been going on for about a month, ever since she was seated next to this girl. She had done other things also. She licked her clothing, brushed eraser shavings onto her desk just to be annoying, pinched or scratched her, and threw other belonging of hers such as pencils and erasers. 

We discussed ways she could stand up for herself. She said she had done those things. I explained that the next step is getting help from an adult.

I explained to her that she needed to tell her teacher. She is such a kind tender-hearted girl. She said she did not want her classmate to get in trouble and that her classmate was only teasing. That is not teasing. Why does she not know the difference? She was afraid.

I offered to e-mail the teacher ahead of time to have his ask my daughter what has been happening with her seat mate so that she wouldn't need to approach the teacher. It all worked out. She was honest and the girl was moved. 

My question is, how many other things like this has happened that I do not know about? What will she do next time? Will she tell me? Will she allow mistreatment and not say a thing? I do not know. 

Will all the anti-bullying education, why is this still happening. What more can really be done. Are kind children like mine always going to be easy targets?

What do you do to teach your kids how to stand up for themselves?

Friday, April 17, 2015

8 Signs the Puberty Fairy is Coming

My 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter are both in the starting phases of puberty. Puberty takes between 2 and 4 years. In 4 years my other boy will be 12 and my twin girls will be 10, meaning by the time these 2 are done with puberty, the other 3 will be starting it. I do not know why I didn't think of this before but I am afraid I have set myself up for 8 years of hell. I will have 2 or 3 kids at a time going through puberty for the next 8 years. Let that sink in for a moment.

In honor of each year I will (likely) spend in this hell here are 8 signs the puberty fairy is coming if she has not yet arrived:
  1. Physical Changes- My son is enormous and has facial hair. My daughter is getting curvy and very leggy. I do not even want to know what is happening underneath their clothes.
  2. Attitude- A day does not pass that I do not get an eye roll or back talk from one or both of them.
  3. Low tolerance for siblings- Both of them yell at their siblings daily. My son at his younger brother how annoying he is and to stop it every 5 seconds. My daughter yells at her younger twin sisters to go away and leave her alone. All the yelling makes me want to run away, but hey, at least it isn't me doing the yelling this time!
  4. Spending a lot of time alone- My son prefers to spend all of his time on Minecraft and if he isn't on it, he is just sitting around. He does not play with the other kids anymore. My daughter stays in her room goofing around with make up, clothes reading or writing for many hours a day. The plus, they aren't near me with all of their attitude.
  5. Disappointment with life in general- As a daily occurrence I hear how horrible life is or how stupid something/someone is, how mean I am or how much I am hated. This means I am doing my job, right? Thankfully, they don't swear yet! Can't hardly wait!
  6. They know EVERYTHING- Whenever I try to explain things, help with homework or answer questions they act like I have no clue what I am talking about. I have started responding with "Oh, nevermind, I'm just stupid old mom." They look at me in a condescending way then I let them figure that shit out for themselves since I know absolutely nothing at this point. It saves me a lot of time for other things actually.
  7. Going on 25- I swear some of the things they say are so adult sounding, thought through and logical, it blows me away. When I look at them I see the man and the women peeking out from within. This is SCARY shit!
  8. Toddler type behavior- OMG this one is the absolute worst and I think I would rather be set on fire. I ask my son a question or try to get him to do a chore and he starts throwing things, pounding his leg, crying and screaming. Really? Chill dude! My daughter starts doing this growl/cry thing I can not explain, stomps, or flails around like a fish out of water. Drama queen! Wow, guys, is it the end of the world because it sure seems like it. I walk away and tell them to let me know when they are done. From afar it really is quite comical to watch.

I really hope that if you have not been through it I haven't scared you to death and that if you have you got a laugh! It really isn't that bad and they are both amazing kids, this is all just a normal part of growing up. It's really scary for mama though!

What sign do you see that tells you the puberty fairy is coming?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why are Kids so Accident Prone?:Stories from the Emergency Room

A few nights ago at my latest trip to the ER with a child, I began to think about all the times I have taken a child to the Emergency Room for injury and I realized it was 10 times! Ten times in 12 years. I have another 12 years left of parenting these children, so I wonder how many more times I will end up there. Will it be another 10? Who's to say?

I decided to describe them for you here, so many ridiculous injuries! My boys have each been there 4 times for broken bones or stitches, my oldest daughter only once for a broken bone and one of my twins only once for stitches. Miraculously my youngest has not been to the ER at all.

2003: My firstborn (10 months) dived out of my arms off the couch and scraped his head on a crate we were using for toys. I was a paranoid mom so I took him in and they put ointment on it!

2004: My son (nearly 2) and I were out for a walk. I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I tried to hold my son's hand and he pulled away from me, fell, and banged his face on the curb. He chipped a tooth, which later would be pulled, and ended up with 12 stitches inside his mouth from the broken tooth ripping open his cheek.

2006: I was trying to wash my sons face (4 yrs old) and he got mad, pulled away and fell off the chair and cut his head open on the heater. 4 stitches that time.My daughter was a newborn at the time.

2007: My son (almost 5) decided to stand on a go cart to reach an apple off the tree and the little girl driving took off just as he was reaching for it. He seemed fine so we went to the zoo the next day. He did not use his arm all day so when we were done at the zoo we went to the ER. Yep, broken!

2008: I was pregnant with twins, trying to give 3 kids baths. I quickly washed up the youngest (1 1/2) and put him outside the bathroom door, pointed to his dad and said "go see daddy" and quickly shut the door so the other 2 kids would not get cold. He had turned around and grabbed the hinge side of the door. I heard a crunch and crying and quickly opened the door, picked him up and assessed the situation. His pinky was severed nearly through, hanging on by skin. You could flip it like a hinge. He needed stitches and was hysterical the entire time.

2008: I had just brought home my newborn twins the previous day when we heard my son (2)  bawling. My husband went to get him and found his lip was bit completely through. He was trying to climb the bunk bed ladder and slipped. His dad and grandma took him to the ER and I was left alone with newborn twins, a 4 and 5 year old. I was very nervous. He ended up getting the glue instead of stitches, so he was not that upset by the ordeal. I however was very nervous being home alone with the other 4 kids.

2010: My son (4) was sitting on the back of the couch. My older son (8) thought he would "help" by telling him it is dangerous to sit there like that and shoved him off. I had to take him in on my daughters 6th birthday and yep, broken leg. He was in a wheelchair for 8 weeks because he couldn't run the crutches.

2010: 2 weeks later, my oldest was at a friends, I was watching the neighbors daughter. My son did not come home on time, so I took 5 kids with me to go get him. My daughter (6) went directly to the jungle gym and as she was going across, she fell and landed on her elbow. She fell because she did not want to let go of her purse! I called her dad and he came home. I took her in and it was broken, plus she needed a CT scan to be sure there was not cartilage damage (there was not). Poor girl had to learn to write left handed for 5 weeks in the first grade. CPS called my house because we had 2 broken bones in 2 weeks!

2012: My boys were wrestling on the steps and my oldest (10) landed on my youngest (6). His collar bone was broken which can't be casted so he had a sling. It was not easy trying to get him not to use his arm. He is quite the wild one.

2015: This weekend our kids were jumping on the trampoline. My husband had just set it  up that day. They were having a good time throwing pillows up as they jumped. My daughter lost her pillow over the top of it so she went to go get it. I had put old bread out for the birds earlier that day. The neighbors dog was eating it. My daughter (6) bent down to get her pillow,touched the dogs paw inadvertently and disturbed it. The dog attacked her face. This was the worst ER visit yet. She only needed 3 stitches but she has a ton of swelling and bruising.

Tell me, How many trips have you taken to the ER for your children's injuries?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hey Bloggers, Quit Bitching About Facebook!

Every single day I see a Facebook status that looks like this or similar:

"Facebook only showed my last post to 3754 people instead of all 196,208 of my followers! WAH WAH WAH! Facebook is an asshole and it sucks! I'm not rich so I can't pay to promote my page. Please help me by liking, commenting on and sharing this post so more people will see my stuff!"
Ok, I get it. Facebook doesn't show enough people our posts. It is frustrating. Even though that is true, and it sucks balls, we cannot bitch about it. There are several reasons we shouldn't and here are just a few.

1. It doesn't work.
Chances are this status will be shown to the same people that already like share and comment because that it how it works. I have fallen into this trap and it did nothing for my numbers.

2. It is annoying.
As a blogger it annoys me, so I can only imagine what a non-blogger thinks when they see it.

3. It sounds desperate.
When I did this it felt so icky to do, like I am not being true to myself. Sounding desperate and whiny makes people want to unfollow you, especially if it is a common occurrence.

4. Facebook is FREE.
Any exposure we get is all gravy. It should not be an expectation.

5. Facebook is a business. 
Of course they are going to try to make money any way they know how. Asking us to pay to promote is a smart business move. They could even expect us to pay to just have a page that is not a personal one. We should be grateful business pages are (still) FREE!

6. The algorithm  makes your personal news feed better.
The people control what they see. If they like your stuff and are active on your posts they will see more of it, if they are not, Facebook won't show it to them.

7. Before Facebook bloggers had to work harder to get a following.
Again, Facebook exposure is a bonus for us, an extra vehicle to drive our blog into more peoples lives.

There are other things you can do instead of posting a status like the one above.

1. Ask friends to like your page and share your posts.
2.Share posts in groups.
3.Share posts on your personal page.
4. Set up an e-mail subscription service for your followers.
5. Post a status about how to get notifications for your page and how to set up an interest page that posts will show up on.
6. Try posting on other social media such as Twitter, G+, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc.
7. Post a positive post saying the exact thing as the above post!
"Hey friends! If you like this post and are missing a lot of my awesome stuff, just like, comment, or share so Facebook knows you love me and shows you more!"

Bloggers, please do not hate me if you are one of those that does this. You can do what you want to. This is purely my opinion and I am not an expert by any stretch of imagination. I am fairly new to this so I am not claiming to know anything. Love to you all! You rock!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Not So Tired Anymore:How Everything I Thought I Knew Was Destroyed

Hey, guess what? The SMITH book comes out tomorrow! In anticipation of it's release, I am excited to have one of it's contributors Carin Ekre Anderson guest posting for me today! So without further ado, please help me welcome this amazing and talented writer!

  The graphic above made my heart hurt when I saw it. I think I sometimes forget how foggy life was when I felt that way; I forget that so many others are still feeling the exhaustion that comes with too many bad circumstances, too much to get through, so much bullshit it feels impossible to work a solution.

       Impossible. Sad. Hurt. Stuck. Lonely. Tired. That was me years ago. At the age of 10 I knew I was different. I cannot describe how, but I just knew. By 15 I was having anxiety and mood swings and wearing the picture perfect mask that a varsity cheerleader and medal winning vocal soloist thought she should. It is a good thing I’m loud, because when I couldn't keep my different in check anymore I screamed it from the rooftops and demanded help. How I wish other teens could be as loud. I know I am one of the lucky ones.

      It took a decade for me to find any kind of lasting stability. I have recounted some of my most vulnerable and transforming moments, some hopeful, some funny and some sad, in the anthology Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor. A cacophony of very brave writers contributed pieces of their lives so that we can show the hope we've experienced and the hilarity of our normally abnormal lives. We hope to help anyone struggling, and we press on to break the stigma that a mental health diagnosis carries so that getting help for oneself is no longer seen as “brave” but just normal and healthy. am bipolar, and I am personally doing my damnedest to be sure that it stops being a dirty word. Believe me when I say that getting side-eye from ignorant people is not something one needs whilst trying desperately to find where all the puzzle pieces fit.

      By the age of 25 I had finally found the right doctors and medication to feel like I might actually be able to do this life thing without totally falling apart anymore. Through years of counseling, self-medicating, learning, breaking, getting up again, falling down again, and one self admission to the Grace Unit, I stumbled. Now I am here: a wife, mother, daughter, sister. A writer, guitarist, keyboardist, singer and songwriter. I am all these things because I fought to find all that good stuff through the brackish muck that my mind and ever failing body produced. 

      Just a few years after I made peace with my mental health diagnosis my body woke up one day and said “Surprise bitch! Now I am destroying myself in a painful, debilitating and humiliating way!”
      OK so that is not actually how it happened, it was much slower before my optimistic fa├žade shifted and I had to admit that there were some really big awful things looming ahead. Shortly after the birth of my son I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). Basically my immune system went bonkers and began eating up healthy cells instead of germs. Within a year my abilities had already become limited. I couldn't always walk right, my hands began to swell and lock up, and I was pretty much always in some sort of pain. I felt I was in a fighting ring with the champ. Blow after blow left me stunned and more hurt than the one before. I lost my job, I could no longer play my guitar, and I couldn't always care for my son or our family home. The word devastated is as close as I can come to describing how it all felt.

      Once upon a time I had to say “I’m a little crazy,” and learn to accept it. Now I had to say “I am disabled.” I was exhausted and hurting constantly. I was short tempered and depressed.  My first illness had found a friend, and let me tell ya- they were besties. The pain fed the mood swings and vice versa. For two years I stayed in bed for every single minute I could. I cared for my son when he needed me, I cooked meals, I hid and sobbed, I isolated myself from friends, I wondered if I should walk into a beehive to spare my family the eventual resentment that I assumed comes with having to wipe someone else’s ass. Instead I borrowed a page from 15-year-old-me and found that “everything is awesome” mask she had so carefully crafted all those years ago and I slapped that thing on, telling myself  that this was the only way to be Leo’s mama without ruining him.  

      At some point in this deep depression I began talking to God again. What I had to tell him wasn’t pretty and most likely falls under the category of blasphemy. With a heavy heart I called my friend Reggie, who happens to be my former youth pastor, and told him about my crisis of faith. I expounded on how angry I was at God for ALL OF THE BAD THINGS and how I felt abandoned, betrayed, hurt and how I was certain that it was a really asshole move to tell God I was pissed at Him. He chuckled. The chuckle became a full blown laugh. I was lost, “What the hell could he be laughing about? This is some serious shit”, I thought to myself.
      When I could hear him breathe normally again I snapped at him “How is this funny?”
      The rest of the conversation will stay in my heart forever, and is what brings me here, writing my heart for all to see.
      “Carin. Just tell Him. He sees all your struggle, anger and suffering, so you may as well shout it out loud. You aren't being mean to God, you’re being honest. God already knows what is in your heart. Remember that we are made perfect in weakness.”
       But I didn't want to be perfect. I liked my life fine before.
      “You may not see it now, but there is so much you are already learning from this. I want you to write like you used to…”
      I cut him off “I can’t do ANYTHING like I used to!”
      “I’m sorry,” he quietly said, “maybe try a little at a time. Like a list. Make a list of all the silver linings you see. Maybe you’re realizing you appreciate the days when you hurt less, the things you can do on those days, or the things you get to experience with Leo now that you’re home full time. I don’t know what they are, but I know they’re there.”

      We talked awhile longer, and I still felt confused when we hung up but just a little less angry. For the first time in a long while I had a goal that consisted of more than just survival. I began a list. At first it had only a couple lines, but eventually it grew to pages. Eventually I started writing a book, The Art Of Walking, which might just be finished in about ten years due to my snails pace-but hey, I’m doing it and I’m not feeling sorry for myself. Reggie had unknowingly made me train my mind to always be on the lookout for where joy could be found. I was always looking for that little spark of light in the darkness. This little exercise also showed me I could still do things, I just needed to stop biting off more than I could chew and do things in tiny manageable pieces. Most of my abilities were still there, I just needed to cherish them and stop thinking I had to finish everything in one sitting. Unfortunately my heart still ached to make music. I missed it like it was my faraway twin. I couldn't find a way to do it on my own, and I didn't know where to find an opening that consisted of “chick singer who can play one sloppy tune on the guitar per half hour, unpredictable swing in abilities from day to day, vocals always strong, may forget lyrics.” I doubted anyone would take me seriously or give me the opportunity to try, so I just carried it on my heart. I told no one but God, and I wrote about it in my prayer journal. This went on for a year, and one day I wrote “God, I know I am made to make music. I know you would not have given me the talent and take away my ability. There has to be a way, but I can’t find it on my own. If I am to be making music you have to send me the opportunities.”

      About two weeks later my male bestie Bryce, an epically good bass player, called with a great new idea.
      “Red, we should start an acoustic show.”
      I rambled through the lists of my limitations and he cut me off-
      “It doesn't matter. You can play a little of everything. You've learned a little keyboard right? You can do a little of that, and some light percussion-I have a hand drum. We can make it work.”

      God’s work isn't always done by God, a lot of times it’s done by people. In a later conversation Bryce would tell me that it was on his heart that he just couldn't see me not performing, that he knew I was made for it.

      After awhile another musician friend, Chad, (an amazing guitarist) approached me to be female lead vocals in his band LOLAH. He assured me that I could play as much or as little guitar and keys as I felt I was able on any given day. My reintroduction to playing full rock shows was at an outdoor festival. The wind whipped my curls around my face as I sang “Me And Bobby McGee” with such joyful loud abandon that I thought my heart would burst, and I was certain the light in my soul was evident. At the end Chad hollered to the crowd “I think we’ll keep her!”

      I have been down, but never out. My friends were moved to bring me back, to writing, to music, to life. No matter who or what imposes limitations on you, they’re wrong. You may have to go back to the old drawing board and find a new way to be you, but YOU are still there. If you suffer from mental illness you are not alone, there are many of us, as evidenced in the SMITH book, but if we can find the light I am confident you will as well. If a doctor says you’re disabled, that’s okay. Take your time, regroup, and push on.

      I am here to tell the world that limits and diagnoses do not define us, nor can they hold us back. I am doing more than I thought I ever would. The days I received my mental health and autoimmune diagnoses I would have sworn my life was over. Little did I know it was just beginning. I am still sick, but now I am not so tired anymore.

I can do all things through God who strengthens me.

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Carin Anderson is a married to the love of her life, Jesse, and is the mom to her wonderful four 
year old son Leonidus. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 15. She spent the 
next ten years searching for the right medical team who has now helped her live her life on a 
balanced path with the right coping skills and medication. With the support of her big loud 
amazing family she has found peace in life and enjoys her many hobbies of being a musician, 
singer, songwriter, and a writer. She is most happy to just be herself.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Struggle With Anxiety and How the SMITH Book Inspired me to Share My Story

I felt very privileged to be asked to read the ARC (preview) of the book Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor. The purpose of the book is to remove the stigma of mental illness. My sister as well as some fellow blogger friends of mine are contributors of this book. I really did not realize going in how inspiring this book would be for me. I was floored that these very successful people had something taboo to admit in common with me - mental illness. It seems like it is everyone's dirty little secret and we are in the position to change that. I doesn't need to be kept quiet, all we need to do is talk about it and it will become an acceptable thing.

I was so moved, in fact, that I decided to share my own struggle here, in hopes that many will follow suit.

This is my story.

Growing up after about age 10 I tended to worry a lot and got a bad feeling in my stomach whenever I was uncomfortable. I suppose this was the beginning, but I was not aware of that fact. I thought I was just reacting to my father's death the previous year and that the feelings would eventually go away. They never did, so I just assumed everyone must have them.

Fast forward-age 24

I went to the doctor to find out what I could do about a neck injury from a car accident. I timidly asked what I needed to do and how to do it. I got very worked up and confused. I was hysterical and acting abnormally under this circumstance. The doctor referred me to physical therapy for my neck then he gently mentioned that he thought I could have an anxiety disorder and asked me to please make an appointment with Mental Health. I was actually very pissed, thinking "nothing is fucking wrong with me" but I trusted him so I went.

The diagnosis was social anxiety. I was put on an anti-depressant and continued therapy for a year. In that time I learned coping strategies while symptoms were being controlled by medication. I learned by repetitively doing things that used to bother me that nothing bad happened when I did them.

I stopped medication to have children and did fairly well with minor episodes. Then around the time I was pregnant with my twins, my anxiety came back in full force. It was different though. This time it was excessive worry over the children's health and well being. I became obsessed with germs and sickness. Then it was obsession with keeping things neat and orderly, no missing toys. I would spend hours looking for a missing puzzle piece. I remember one time when my twins were two weeks old, screaming like a banshee over a missing toy, and I refused to feed a hungry wailing infant until I found it. It was only 15 minutes, but really, who does that? It was out of control.

Since I have been home for 12 years with kids I get nervous about going anywhere out of the ordinary. Stores and sports are fine, just not things that are not routine, such as doctor or dentist appointments. Even fun activities seem like more work than fun because of all it takes mentally for me to do them.

The thing is, when the symptoms start I act irrational and sometimes do not even realize what is happening until after the fact. My symptoms are: GI issues, sweating, shaking, rapid breathing and heart rate, and dizziness. I worry and always go to Worst Case Scenario in my head. I just have an overwhelming feeling of dread.

I yell, go into panic mode, can not sit still, sometimes I scrub things just to get rid of the ick. If it is a thing I can't do a thing about right this minute, I pace and count, or I pick my scalp and face. Yes, I know, gross. I agree. Some of these behaviors started when I was a teen but I did not know why I did them.

I found out those behaviors are an OCD component of my anxiety disorder. It is my way of having some kind of control of a situation.

Whenever I have an outburst people tell me to chill out, relax, take a pill, get over it, knock it off, get a grip, you are being irrational, stop freaking out, you're acting crazy or worse. The thing is, it is very hard to just snap out of it and those statements only make things worse. Better would be to remain calm and gentle, and, after it is over with, offer help.

The Anxiety is the cause, not an excuse, just an explanation. I want people to be understanding of my struggle, at the same time I admit that my behavior was wrong and I apologize to whoever I decided to go off on.

I feel like I am still learning, but that I am able to control my outbursts to a point, even though it is a struggle for me. If I want to scream at someone I disconnect and find a distraction (Candy Crush anyone). If I am dealing with some incompetent person on the phone I try to talk to myself in my head in a rational way. If I am worrying about what could happen I think logically instead of panicking. I also gave up keeping track of toys because if I do not know they are gone I won't make myself nuts looking for them. I guess missing toys are the kids' problem now. If there is something that can not be dealt with now (such as a place I need to call during business hours) and it is nighttime, I forget about it and watch TV or have a snack to take my mind off it.

I am seriously hoping everyone reads this book. I hope this book will help you feel less alone in your struggle if you suffer with mental illness, and if you do not, I hope it will help you to understand those living among you that suffer with mental illness.

I am living proof that this book is accomplishing what it set out to do and it is not even for sale yet! I would not have shared my story had I not read this book! Just think of the difference it will make! Please join me in helping to remove the stigma of mental illness and share your story, but first buy this book! You won't regret it! Find it on Amazon starting on April 7th!

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