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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

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ran't on Can't

Yes, I did that 't on Rant on purpose.
It gives it a little flair, don't you think??


OK - fine it's an attention getter for my fellow grammar / spelling Nazis out there.
You're welcome.



I've become increasingly annoyed by the amount of people who throw around the "I can't" line lately.

Really? Can't?
Ever heard of Oscar Pistorius?  Maybe he's a bad example being in prison and all, BUT stay with me a moment, will you? His pending murder conviction aside, this man is a DOUBLE AMPUTEE, former Olympic SPRINTER hopeful. The loss of 2 legs did not stop him from running.  He didn't "can't" - at least not in this instance. (hard to be delicate when you use a poor example).


Clearly my blog posts aren't all well thought out and mapped out - they go from brain to finger - so ride along with me further, won't you?

The hubs and I are foster parents. In truth, which he will agree, I do all the parenting work. In any case - I get a lot of "I can't" from some of these kids about themselves, or their parents. The "they can't" nonsense. No - they/you CAN - you just choose not to. They CAN work. They CHOOSE not to. You CAN read a book. You CHOOSE not to.



Can't doesn't fly with me. It never really did. Mostly because I suffer from a long stream of "I wants" (working on that) and I am ultra persistent (read pain in the ass) and I don't generally stop until I get what I want, I take a break or I don't want it anymore. Can't has never really stepped in front of me because I kick it out of my way. Maybe that's just me.

It's a choice - Crawl under a rock or claw your way up.

Is anyone else out there feeling me on this?

I don't accept "I can't" from my kids. I push the "CAN" and "WILL".

Isn't that the way things should be?

Shouldn't we be pushing our kids to dream big?  To go get what they want & bring it home to mamma for a big GREAT JOB, and to ride that into their future?

When did things get so lax?
When did it become OK to sit back and wait for someone to give you what you need instead of getting off your arse and getting it yourself? When did "can't" become the norm and people responding to "can't" with rewards?

I don't get it.

For me, it will always be can and will.
I will teach my kids the same.

Am I crazy?

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

How'd your dad / brother die? Oh, they committed suicide....

It never rolls off your tongue just like that...It doesn't.

It's more awkward.
No, it's not just awkward it's totally uncomfortable to wonder how to just spit those words out.

What do you say? My dad & brother shot themselves. They took their lives. My dad & brother committed suicide. What do you say? It's been more than 30 years now. You'd think that 30 plus years would set things little at ease.

They do - the 30 years, that my dad has been gone have gotten easier. The thoughts are always there. Just not right smack in the front of my mind like they used to be - but the reminders are everywhere.
This past Saturday was my dad's birthday.
The 27th is the date that Eric will be dead for 8 years.
Yeah, I think about it. It's there. It's always there.

I don't think anyone who's been through suicide ever forgets. You remember. Everything. Every.Last.Detail. Every.Last.Second of Every.Single.Thing that you did when you heard the news.
When the phone rang. When the police showed up at the front door. Every song. Every smell. It stays with you, and you remember how it felt to not know how to say how they died.

...and you worry.
Will it happen again?

I haven't written in a while. Mostly because I didn't think I had anything to say. Then I opened my Facebook news feed and saw that someone else that I know is struggling, in the same way that I did, to not know how to say that their family member took their own life. Died by suicide.

It was at that moment that I decided to write for her and others like her. Like you. Like someone else. Struggling for the words to say - they died by suicide.

To say that they just couldn't take one more second of pain.

As always, with these types of blog posts - I implore you - if you are suffering - PLEASE - do not suffer in silence. Someone will listen to you. Someone DOES care. Someone DOES love you. Someone WILL miss you. Someone WILL struggle with the words - they died by suicide.

Please reach out.

You are loved.

Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Facebook... To Connect or Disconnect. That is the question.

I can remember hearing about Facebook for the first time.
My husband and I had been new volunteers through our area chapter of Young Life.


Our volunteer position was to pick up a high school girl and bring her to and from Young Life group meetings. We loved hearing her stories about school, and friends, and her college preparations.  It was in this discussion that she mentioned Facebook to me as a site that helped college kids meet others, etc.  I thought - wow, pretty cool and I never thought of it again.

I never thought of it again UNTIL my young son became a teenager.

When he first started out it was MySpace. Like any over protective mom of a teenaged boy who likes to step on the line, I also got an account. He accepted me on his friend's list and I kept an eye on him. All of the sudden, the page got really slow. He was "hiding" on me, but WHERE the HECK was he hiding...FACEBOOK!!


So I joined Facebook and he became my friend on Facebook as well. His friends also became my friend on Facebook, ya know - since I was the cool mom (insert eye roll here.). It was still handy in keeping the kids out of trouble and communicating as I or they needed to. I didn't bother much with it until I learned that people I hadn't seen in years might also be on Facebook too!! I'd dabbled in Classmates.com and I tripped over myself on MySpace. I was totally weirded out with Facebook until I learned that there were long lost people EVERWHERE in there! I thought, wow, this could REALLY help me to connect with people I'd love to be in touch with again. Friends that live far away. Family I hadn't seen in years. I was hooked!! I LOVED IT!! It all seemed so WONDERFUL!!
Until it wasn't.


I'd recently heard and read via other media sources that Facebook has been thought to cause depression because some people couldn't handle seeing other having better lives than them. Again, can I get an eye roll here....Sheesh.

On that level, I think it's totally ridiculous.
Who the hell cares what other people are doing? If you are so unhappy with your life that you can't stand to see others having a good life - you need to do something about that and maybe get the heck OFF Facebook.

On another level...I can totally see it.


Have you noticed how absolutely MEAN Facebook is making people?

It's as if people actually believe that they are entitled to "say" mean things to people just because they're typing the words and not actually speaking the words.

The Facebook society seems to have created this "it's all about me" mentality.

I sort of get it...Facebook IS a solo sport. I mean, really - it's you and the computer. If the computer screen isn't talking to you, than who the heck is it talking to??  And DAMN that person who posted that comment. HOW DARE THEY?

I get it, but I don't.

I recently put up a random post on my page. I didn't think it was a big deal.  It was an opinion thing, run of the mill, nothing controversial. This post incited so much anger in one person, based on another person's opinion. This other person completely internalized the comment and flat out attacked this other total stranger.

This isn't just my issue. I see more than a fair share of page administrators stating how they have to ban and block people constantly due to mean or even threatening comments based on a silly post.
Yes, of COURSE we want feedback and reactions! Do we want people attacking other people or us? NO.  For the love of all that's holy, IT'S FACEBOOK! Get a hold of yourselves!

I wonder, if this were a face to face conversation or a conversation overheard from one table to another in a diner - would this person EVER have the nerve to react in such anger toward another?

The meanness on here is relentless.

I had once been accused of being a keyboard coward, which I took with a grain of salt due to its source. Truth be told - if I have something to say, I don't hide behind my keyboard. I say what I have to say to the person.
May it come out in my blog as well?  Who knows...If the situation could help someone else - yes.  I don't feel guilty because I've already addressed it. I try to NOT do that, but if I do and you think it's you...ASK. It's probably not.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

The point is - that if you heard LIVE AND IN PERSON one stranger saying something to another stranger that offended you or that you didn't agree with, would you ever have the nerve to flat out blast them? Most people would not. I would not.

I don't know what gives the people the idea that it's totally OK to say the meanest things possible to someone else based on what they do and do not agree with, just because it's being typed instead of spoken.


I'm not claiming innocence. I've had my share of things that I've typed in words. In my defense, I do actually have conversations and speak the words if I'm upset or angry about something. Have I been guilty of a "poison pen" email?  Um, yes I have. In some cases I've been absolutely remorseful about what I'd said, and apologized. Other times I'm so thankful that I finally had a chance to say what I had to say without interruption and be done with it.

Does that make me better? No. As I said, I don't claim innocence.

What I am saying is that I can totally understand why Facebook is making people feel bad.

Someone will post something totally innocuous (and this is NOT just my experience, though this has been my experience in the past) and five people will decide the comment is about them and either flat out attack them on their page, attack them on their own page or attack them in real life by spouting off to others what they took the remark or shared post to mean.

I have been called negative. I have been called hypocritical. I have been called things I won't even say on here - when the fact is that sometimes I just see a post that I like for one reason or another and I share it. If it is an emotion I'm feeling at the moment - whatever. That doesn't mean it's open season on Jenn, or that I'm inciting some sort of secret battle with another. Sometimes it just is what it is - a random post.

Will I post something that can be construed as mean, or something I think is funny that others won't - yes. I probably will. Not everyone going to love everything I share or post, or even know my state of mind at the time of the post, and that's OK.

I am putting this onto myself at the moment because I can relate - but also because it's a topic that I've seen people discuss over and over and over again - shutting down their Facebook accounts because it's just so mean and petty some times.

I totally get it!

I often think, "Is it even worth it to have a Facebook account?"

Then I realize that I can't control what other people think or feel. If I don't want to see the negativity other people post, well - I can control that.

I stay because I blog. I stay because I believe that some of the things that I have to share might actually help someone else going through the same stuff, and if the crap I've been through can help someone else - great. I also like to see the lives of my friends and family that live far away. I stay for some of the reasons I had when I first learned about Facebook. To connect with the people I love and care about.

I'm not going to let the negativity of someone else take that away from me.

...instead I choose to disconnect from the drama that others seem to thrive on.  I choose to disconnect from the people or things that will hurt me or people I care about. I choose to disconnect from the meanness that I don't want in my life.  I don't see it, so it doesn't exist.

You can disconnect from all of that as well.

I wish you peace.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn


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Friday, January 30, 2015

When you're not coping with the loss of a loved one

I talked to a friend the other day who's been through some pretty tragic losses one right after the other.

Their life is almost on hold because of these losses, as if what was lost no longer validated what still is.

I was without words.  I got it.

That was me not too long ago.

My brother has been gone 7 years 5 months and 2 days at this writing.  Suicide.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I remember how I felt hearing that he was gone.  I remember how I felt for days, weeks, months - and yes, years after he died.

I was changed forever.

I know I'm not the only person on this planet to suffer great loss.  I know so many others have had so much more and sometimes worse.  I never want to feel that pain.  Never.  I can only speak of my own.  The hole in my heart that, as I said - changed me.


That pain turned me from someone who was secure in who I was - to being somehow needy.

I was always afraid of the "who's next?"  I didn't form close attachments, because they'd leave anyway and I did my best to push (or scare) away anyone I felt close to so that I was doing the leaving.

I got caught up in behaviors that were bizarre, then I got sick.  Stress was a major factor in the Lupus that was always underlying, but I never knew was there.  Stress flared the Lupus - making me so sick.  This brought on other problems and it snowballed.  My normal was abnormal.  My world was upside down in so many areas.  I'm so thankful to my husband for not only sticking it out - but kicking my ass back into shape.  I'm also thankful for this blog and those of you who read regularly.
THIS was the perfect way to process everything.  (without therapy)  The good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely bizarre.  Many posts I've taken down - because WHAT THE HECK??  At the time, though - I needed to say whatever it was I'd said.

Most people I surrounded myself with didn't know how badly I was struggling.  I'm not even sure my husband knew the extent I was struggling.  I talked to NO ONE about how I felt.  I surrounded myself with people who didn't really care all that much.  I mean I didn't, so why should they?  I began to accept treatment toward me that I would have never previously accepted as OK.  It wasn't OK.  On the outside - I was fine.  I could hold it together in group settings (unless there was alcohol involved).  No one saw the dark and twisty that was inside of me.    It took a while for me to realize where I was with ME, what I expected of my life and what I expected of those in my life.  I finally began to see things as they were.  To realize that real friendship shouldn't be such hard work.  It should just be and to start fresh.  Forgive what needed to be forgiven and file the rest.  Not just with others, but with myself.

It was a long road.

Looking back now - and putting this out in print and reading it - I can't believe it was so long.  I can't believe how little I cared for myself or how much damage I did to myself in so many ways when all I really had to do was ask for help.

Never once did I ask anyone to talk with me about what I was going through.  I was ignoring it.  Trying to push through the pain.  Brave.

If you are here - don't be brave.

Don't let YEARS of your life go by in grieving.  TALK TO SOMEONE.  ANYONE.

Don't be like me.

I regret nothing in my life.  I look at everything as a lesson or a page/chapter in the book of me, but honestly - reading back, I wish there were more entries of joy and happiness than sadness and pain.

I want your pages to be filled with joy and happiness too.

Because what's gone is gone.  Truly.

Love with all you have and you will never have any regrets.

And if you're sad - talk about it.

Thank you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn