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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When the reasons you're thankful changes....


This is the time of the year that we stop to reflect on the prior year, and make a conscious effort to be thankful for the blessings in our lives.

Last year around this time I decided to start a thankful / gratitude jar. 


What a great way for my family to see all of the wonderful things that happened to us during the year, and reflect upon those things at Thanksgiving.

We started off with a bang.  Everything good thing that happened, or that we were grateful for (mostly I, since everyone else quit on me) got written down on a piece of paper and put into the jar.

Now almost a year later, I began to go through our jar reading all the little pieces of paper.  Some things brought a huge smile to  my face, others that the kids had written gave me a giggle, some gave me great reflection.  I got to see how some of the things I was thankful for, at the time, have changed completely.


Have you ever thought about the times when the things you're thankful for change completely? Sometimes they're not always obvious. Sometimes the changes are so subtle you almost miss them and sometimes they come as great heart aches that turn into miraculous new opportunities.

Have you ever thought back on the things that you really wanted - the things that made you so incredibly happy and grateful - but then that thing changed?  Was that change for the better or worse? Sometimes it's hard to see the blessing in disguise.  Sometimes the thing that you're really grateful for changes completely and you realize that the first thing wasn't at all good for you - but what came of it, the change that metamorphosized, was even better and suddenly you received a  moment of complete peace and clarity....


It's amazing how you can be so incredibly thankful for  one thing and then, over time, the original reason you were thankful changed.  Maybe your eyes were opened to something you hadn't seen or a situation changed and the original blessing is even more magnified.

It's those moments of clarity that I'm extra thankful for this year - the ways my initial thankfulness has changed.

Thank you for being a blessing in my life.

I'm so incredibly thankful for each and every one of you who hang in there with me... even during the long droughts of NOTHING in this blog - and still you hold me up and support me and send me love.


Wishing you all a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

You are all nothing short of amazing.


As always, thank you for reading my blog!

Lots of love,

Jenn

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Brittany Maynard's choice to die - My feelings on the suicide aspect.

Brittany Maynard, the 29 year old young woman with terminally ill brain cancer, ended her own life on Saturday, November 1st, 2014.
Her choice. Her terms.  Her death with dignity.

There are so many sides of this coin that I'm not even sure where I fall anymore.

No matter what I say, no matter how I feel, someone will disagree with me.  I don't care.

I've been someone who advocates AGAINST suicide.  I don't believe in suicide for any reason.

Yes, I know this was different - but is it?

For YEARS I struggled with the suicides of my father and my brother.  Being raised Catholic, I was taught that suicide meant that you gave up on your faith in God, and you were going to spend eternity in hell.  For me, that shook me on more levels than I care to admit.  It's one of the things that shredded me for years, and eventually took me away from the Catholic church.  Well, that and other reasons...
On the Christian, Biblical level - I believe God forgives.  I believe that in the 11th hour even the biggest sinner can be forgiven and go to Heaven.

But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about the suicide itself.  Is it really OK to choose to die?

Yes, it is her "right" to die with dignity.  Yes, she wanted to die before her body gave in to all of the awfulness that lay ahead with the severe diagnosis she was presented.  Yes, it was a really awful future for her and her family, from what she was told.  But WHAT IF what she was told was wrong?

This situation makes me think of my brave friends who've fought cancer.  My beautiful, wonderful friends who bravely took cancer on and beat it!  I think about those still struggling to fighting it - because they want to be here.  For what ever reason, they WANT to be here.  They WANT to live. They WANT to fight it to stay alive.  They do / did not WANT to die!  I remain in awe of them.


Brittany chose to die, and I don't understand that.

Was it bravery?  Was it fear?  What if she was wrong?  What if there was more?  What if the doctors were wrong?  What if, just what if  3 days from now - they find the defining element that will cure her - save her from the awful that she's faced.  What if?  What if?  What if?

That is what I struggle with.  The what if.


Being a suicide survivor, this would never have been my choice.  I would have fought, if not for myself - for my children, for my husband, for my friends - FOR ME.  I would have fought to live.  I would have soaked up every single second, the good, the bad and the ugly.  THAT would be my choice.

I genuinely believe we all have a plan for our lives.  Whether or not you believe in God or a higher power - most people DO believe there is a plan for their life.  What if her plan was NOT to die, but to live?  Maybe even to live and be an example of greatness in some way.

That chance is gone forever.

So many people fight daily to be alive, to live every single second.

I am truly sorry Mrs. Maynard has left this planet.  I don't condemn her choice.  It was, her choice.
I wish her and her family much peace.

I know how it feels to be left behind with the questions and no answers.

I know that somewhere in their hearts they wish she were still there - even with the awful cancer that was consuming her.

You may agree with me.  You may disagree with me.  That's OK.

You'll think about this, and when you do - think about what choice you'd make.  Think about why you'd make that choice and then wonder...

What IF?

Rest in peace, Brittany.
I wish your family much love and peace.
Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Your child & ADHD and/or Depression. To treat, or not to treat?

I know this post may not going to be popular with some folks.  I know it may be controversial.  I know that people who know more than I do about this are going to be pissed off.  I know people who have had great experiences with meds are going to think I'm a jerk for saying my piece - but I'm going there....


I'm going there for those of you who are NOT having a good experience with the meds.

My son recently sent me an article regarding gun control, mass murder (ie:  Columbine & Sandy Hook) and the one thing that all of the individuals, mostly children, had in common is that the were taking psychotropic medications.  If you don't know what that terminology refers to, it's the term for medications used to treat ADHD, depression, etc.

If you are interested, here is the article: 
(This posting will make much more sense if you read the article)

Before I continue with this post, I have absolutely NO intention in getting into a gun control debate.  Even though that IS what the headline of the article is, that is NOT at all what this post is about.  
This post is about the medications that lead children to do unspeakable things.  Whether we know it or not.

I am NOT a medical professional.  I am not well studied on drugs and their effects, benefits/side effects, etc.  I'm just a mom who once had a child diagnosed with A.D.H.D and childhood depression.  I am a mom who trusted and allowed the medical community to treat my child with psychotropic drugs.  I can only speak of what I know from what we lived.

I can honestly say - I didn't know any better.
I was a young mom.  I knew my child was having severe behavioral and learning issues in school.  I did all I knew how to.  I took my child to doctors, upon doctors, upon doctors.  I believed that they would know how to help my child.  I was desperate. I allowed doctors to prescribe medications to "help" my child.

Although the medicine helped during school - grades got better, behavior got better, my child went through changes.  Changes I didn't understand. I witnessed uncontrollable behavior and rages, but this was mostly when my child was "coming down" off of the medicine.  I was warned of this in advance, so I thought nothing of it.  They told me that would happen.  I expected it.  I did what I could to calm my child during those times.  To help as best as I could, not really knowing what to do.


This parent thing - it doesn't come with a handbook.  Sometimes you need to trust the medical professionals and the people in the schools, who see your child more in the day than you do, to properly assess what's going on.

Truth - it was traumatic.  The melt downs, coming off of the medicine, were AWFUL.  Awful to the point that other people were injured.  Awful to the point that I didn't know what was happening to my child or know what to do to help.  I saw a shell of who my child used to be.  I cried more tears than I could count.  My heart breaks now thinking of it.  It was a bad time.  Many things unfolded during those days, things I won't put out into this blog, but things I'm thankful are long behind us.

My child ended up being smarter than me and made the decision to stop taking the medication - said they didn't like the way it made them feel.  That it made them feel different, not themselves.  That all fit perfectly with what I saw.  They were NOT themselves taking this medication.  Stupidly, I did not agree with going off of the medicine - because what did I know??  I didn't feel smarter than the doctor that said my child needed this medication.

I didn't question the meds.  I watched the meds take my baby away from me on so many levels, but I didn't question the meds.  I should have questioned the meds.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda.  Didn't.  I wish I had.  I wish I'd been smarter.  I wish I'd known then what I know now.  I can honestly say that I do NOT believe my child had an issue that needed to be treated with medicine.  Was my child active?  Absolutely. Was my child defiant at times?  Of course, what child isn't?  Did my child have issues?  Yes, there was so much going on our lives it was hard not to have issues.  Do I think my child needed medicine?  Now, looking back - NO!
I didn't know any better.  I didn't question the doctors or the medicine, and I regret that.


I am fortunate that my child has overcome.  But what about those children still struggling.  What about your child - who may have once been a kind hearted, loving soul - who is now trying to kick the ever living crap out of you for shutting off their favorite TV show?  Have you questioned the not normal?  I did not.  I should have.

My plea to you, parent with a child who may be on psychotropic medications...

QUESTION THE MEDS!  PLEASE!

It's really hard to be a parent.  Especially the parent of a child with any special needs at all.  We don't "just know" what to do.  Not everyone had a positive parental influence growing up, or a positive parental role model to guide them with their own children.

If your child is not acting right on the meds, question the meds!  Trust your instincts.  Don't have regrets.  That's your baby.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

As an aside... 
I often post about the suicides of my brother and my father.
At the time of his death, my brother was taking psychotropic medications.  One of the warnings / side effects of anti-depressants, etc. is "may experience increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior".  At the time of my brother's death.  He was not in a depressive state.  He was happy.  He had met and was engaged to a beautiful young woman.  He had a great job.  Just redid his house.  Had a huge party - and then took his life.  Question the medicine!  Always question the medicine.


Another aside....
I do not suffer from depression.  I was prescribed an anti-anxiety / anti-depressant medication as a way to treat my Lupus.  It was a preventative measure to keep my stress level down so I didn't go into a flare.  This medication made me a cartoon character of myself.  Someone I once cared about will probably never speak to me again due to my actions / behaviors while on this medication.  I was NOT me.  Once I recognized that, I chose to get off the medication and stay off.  It took me over a year to be completely "normal" (my normal) and behave properly.  Question the medicine!  Always question the medicine.

Thank you for your support.  Love you all!!