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Thursday, December 17, 2015

What is Self-Harm? Another Mom's Story

As I continue through Mental Health March, I'd like to once again thank the bloggers AND non-bloggers who've stepped up and offered to share their experiences.

I am humbled and grateful to these wonderful people for opening up and sharing themselves on something so personal.

I've got some AMAZING guest bloggers lined up.

Today, I give you Jen from I Know Where the Village Idiot Resides.
Here is Jen's experience with self harm.
I am again, 
humbled.
Thank you, Jen.  


What is Self-Harm?

I can give you a generic answer that lists a myriad of activities or I can give you the interpretation that comes from my soul; the very core of my being. 


Yes, THAT deep.

This topic hits really close to home for me. I know people that have self-harmed; I even tried it myself when I was a teen (I’m 38 now). 

In this post, I'll be talking about the day that the world as I knew it had changed forever...


It was summer-time and my 14 year old daughter had just gotten home from cheer practice.  I looked over at her and noticed a mark on her upper arm.  It struck me odd, but I knew the signs - so I asked her about it. 
“Are you cutting?”
“No mom.”

I began to notice her wearing real rubber bands around her wrist and thought to myself “that’s odd”.


Rubber bands are a coping method for cutters.
In theory, when the urge hits they don’t cut.  Instead they snap the rubber bands. Have you ever felt it? It stings. The harder you snap them, the more it stings. 

I thought to myself,  “but She said No”.


Later that day in the drive-thru at a local burger joint, she said, “Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?” 

That’s all I remember because what came next rocked my world. 

She WAS cutting.  The beautiful child that I carried for 38 weeks inside my body was hurting herself and bleeding on purpose.

WHY??? 

This happens to other people.  Not parents like us.  We are awesome. We provided the right balance of attention and rewards (laptop, phone, ipod, etc).  How could this happen in our “normal” family?  We don’t even yell in our house unless it’s me yelling at a cat.  It truly is our kids’ soft place to fall.

Little did I know that behind that behind the evil bedroom door, bad things were happening.  I never once heard her cry. 

My daughter and I talked about why and it’s all a big jumble but it all boils down to her week-long visit that past summer with her bio dad, the feeling of r
ejection, weight issues and normal teenager stuff. 

I got her immediate therapy and she was lucky.  

Unfortunately, it didn’t last.  The medical facility that I used for her therapy was changing owners and had let her therapist go. How do you tell the kid that the person that she had grown to confide in was leaving?  My daughter took it in stride and we moved on to the next.  Again, the therapist was let go.  This time she had enough.  She said “No more!”  I have to say that I couldn’t disagree with her. I would have probably been pissed off too. 

Fast forward to winter 2011. 
She had been taking an anti-depressant for a couple of years but had stopped it due to the side effects.  She was almost 16 and was having some issues that caused her to start cutting again. 

All of those scars were literally and physically re-opened. 

It got so bad that the child begged me to hospitalize her. 

You know it’s serious when someone asks to be placed in a mental hospital.  I took her immediately and she was admitted.  Her meds were changed and she received intensive therapy.  She was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, a blanket diagnosis given to kids under 18.

I remember crying so hard -  and often.  My heart was broken. 

It's been a long road.


My baby will be 17 on Friday.  She has come such a long way and I am so proud of her.  The scars cover both of her arms. 

Some day we will shop for a wedding dress and those scars may show.  The scars that will still be there, because they are a part of her forever.


In this I learned that no matter how good of a parent you are, you can be blindsided in a heartbeat.  (Clothes lined comes to mind). 

My daughter said every time that she cut herself, she felt like she was letting me down.  The only thing that saved my daughter was communication and sheer willpower. 

One could even say my awareness to ask the question in the first place had something to do with it.

What I DO know is I love that kid with every fiber of my being and will always fight for her.  She has become a pretty cool teenager and I am enjoying this different phase of parenting.

I still advocate for self-harm because it feels like it’s the least I can do. My kid made it and I am so lucky.  This I know.  I hope my experience helps you, or someone you know to see the signs and help someone you love.
Thank You,

Jen

Thank you again, Jen, for sharing something so close to your heart.

If you or someone you know are harming yourself in some way, please don't suffer in silence reach out!


Please call the Self Injury Hotline - SAFE at:
1-800-DONT CUT   (1-800-366-8288) 

You may also visit the website:  www.selfinjury.com

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OMG, I'm 50. WAIT... OH.MY.GOSH I.AM. 5-0

So here it is...
Today.  Another birthday.

THE BIG ONE.

What the heck happened??

Holy SH*T!
I'm 50.
5-0.

How the heck did I get here??

Is my new name Ripa Van Winkle??  Did I blink too long and sleep through the past decade?

What the heck??

Scary how quickly time passes, isn't it?

I can remember my younger years, longing for the next birthday. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for kindergarten. Waiting for high school. Waiting to get my driver's license. Waiting to be allowed to go out with a boy. Waiting to become legal to have my (eh hem) first drink. Waiting, waiting, waiting...

What am I waiting for now?? My AARP card??? Well, heck - where is it??

This past decade, specifically, has most definitely been a decade of struggle for me in many ways.  Struggling with the pain of the loss of my brother to suicide. Struggling with the stress and anxiety of my dear sweet male teenager, at the time, doing his best to kick me over the edge. (Thank God he's now an amazing functioning member of society) Struggling to hold on to my marriage during those times. Struggling with Lupus flares as a result of the stress; Years of doctors, prescriptions, pain, bizarre behavior and fear brought on by misdiagnosis, over prescription and the suggestions of a not so great outcome. Struggling with a new kind of "avoidance" that I'd never experienced before. Further struggling with the pain of what I thought were good, solid friendships blowing up - and the realization that those whom I trusted with my heart would show me how little they valued me and my friendship.
It was a lot.
But ya know what...
It wasn't all bad.  I have a great life and in the last 2 years, I've come out on the upside of struggle.
I'm THANKFUL for that past decade as it helped me to learn to use my pain in all of these situations to help others. I decided to take control over my own health care - to ditch the prescriptions.  To look at what was really going on from all angles and seeing things for what they really were, instead of what I hoped they would become or what I thought they were. I took responsibility for my own actions, stepped out and away from who or what was pulling me down, and chose to walk in a different direction.  Not the direction that looks all fun and rose colored or easy - but the direction that leads me to real true friendship, real love, real happiness and INTEGRITY.

I'm thankful for my struggles because they led me to where I am, and point me to where I am going...

I've learned that just because someone has a degree, it doesn't mean they're all knowing.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned to know my body, because no matter how skilled - others may not always get it right.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned to know my own heart and be good with the fact that not everyone knows or cares to know my heart, and that's OK.

I've learned that not everyone who says they are your friend has your best interest at heart.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that it's OK to trust again, but that trust is earned.

I've learned that if someone wants to be a part of your life, they will make an effort to be there. All relationships are a two way street.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that the truth means entirely different things to different people.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that it's OK to keep people at arm's length when it doesn't feel right.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that the past may be filled with lovely memories, but people change and as the years go by, those lovely memories become confused and things aren't always as they're remembered to be.
Sometimes the past belongs where it was, in the rear view mirror.  In the past.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned to let go.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that when I get all wrapped up in things that seem super fun for me at the time, but really aren't good for me - God may blow it all up so that I am able to see what He really has in mind for me - and it's wonderful. I'm not being punished, I'm being blessed.

I've learned that I'm much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

I've learned that the things that I am given, that I don't know what to do with - God WILL give me what I need and get me through.

I've learned that sometimes the things that I am able to do, those I think of as stronger or better than me won't be able to handle it. God trusted ME, and that's amazing!

I've learned that every day it's up to me to make it a good day. To move ahead with a smile. To thank God for the blessings I DO have in my life and to appreciate the things that hurt me, because without those things and those people, I wouldn't have learned or grown into who I am - and who I am becoming. A perpetual work in progress.

I've learned (and seen) that I DO make a positive difference in this world - and that makes these 50 years SO worth it.

I've learned that I am exactly where I should be right now, at this place in my life.

It took me 50 years to get here - so I'm going to love it all up and be thankful.

So yeah, I'm 50.
Though the number tastes like vinegar rolling off my tongue, my life is sweeter than ever and I'm so thankful for that.

Cheers to another 50!  Happy, Healthy ME!
Here's to the next 50 years!!

Now where's my damn AARP card??


Thank you all for being here & for supporting my blog.

~Jenn





Special thanks to:
My amazing hubby for sticking with me through the good, the bad and the ugly - no matter how much of a pain in the ass I am & showing me unconditional love & support. (and reeling me in just before I'm about to go off the deep end)  You are my rock!   I Love you!

To my friends who I won't name out individually because I don't want to hurt anyone I don't name specifically...you know who you are. Thank you for your constant love, support, loyalty and words of wisdom. You are the essence of what true unconditional love and friendship is. Thank you for loving me just the way I am and totally getting the "Jenn" and sometimes forgiving that same "Jenn".  I Love you!!

To my wonderful and amazing children for being my inspiration.

And to my faithful blog readers ~ Although I've stopped regularly blogging on this site quite some time ago, you're still here.  Reading (even if you don't want to) and supporting still.  I don't know many of you personally - please know I love and appreciate you!

Above all to God be the glory.

Thankful!!  <3



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sometimes I wish I were a man.......

Don't worry.  I'm not going all Bruce/Caitlyn on you. (and I'm not joining the Navy, just love this poster)

I was away this past weekend.  Down the shore, as we call it here in Jersey, doing my favorite thing - people watching.



After a few years battling Lupus and the several pounds that medication put on my body, I've been on a big health kick.  Not so much trying to be skinny, but trying to do what I can to be pain free and around to see my kids grow and bless me with grand children.

OK, fine!  I want to be skinny and hot like I used to be in my 20's - THERE!  I've said it.  :)

It's a body image thing.  Do I look better than I did a year ago?  Yes.  2 years ago?  For certain.  5 years ago?  Damn straight!  I work my not so little butt off daily to try to get back to a smaller sized me.  And not for nothing, I look pretty damn good for someone turning 50 next month!

So maybe saying "I wish I were a man" is stretching it a bit far.  I certainly wish I could think more like one in some ways.

Mainly - Body image.

I know that everyone has their own petty insecurities over their personal body image - but men?  They may say - "Man, I'm fat," they they never let that hold them back.  They'll get out of the shower wrapped in a towel that might not quite reach all the way around them, drop that towel to the floor - flex naked in front of the mirror and strut away thinking, "Yeah, boy... you still got it."
They don't stress over the "moobs" or the beer belly or the excess hairs - they flaunt it.

Too hot out?  Shirt comes off!  Ready for a swim?  No worries about unsightly hairs or belly hanging out.

They don't give a shit!

I want to not give a shit!
The thing is, as a woman, I don't know how to not give a shit.
I mean, I know that not ALL women stress over their appearance & some truly don't give a shit.  I'm not that woman.  I wouldn't say that I stress over my appearance - it's more that I wish things were where they were supposed to be.  I want to keep that unsightly nonsense tucked neatly away.  Present a proper picture of what I think things should look like.  Let's say I won't be strutting around in a string bikini any time soon.  :)  Or ever again!


This is as close to a bikini as I get


I've lost probably 25-30 lbs (and still going) and I look in the mirror and see that my tummy is flabby & riddled with stretch marks from bearing 8 & 9 lb children.  I see that even though my "guns" are great up top and my shoulders look good, I have the bye bye arm on the bottom.  I don't see the positive - I see what still needs to be improved.
I don't have the "I don't give a shit."

This is something I though about quite a bit while walking along the beach and boardwalk with my family.

I noticed other women - some bearing all (mostly the young ones) - some keeping it all tucked away - and I wondered - How do you stop giving a shit?  When does that kick in?  Will vanity haunt me until the day I die?  Or will I finally say, ya know what...I don't give a shit.



For now, I'll just admire those who strut their stuff around thinking "yeah that's right, baby, I still got it!"  Because ya know what... You do still "got it!"

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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