Navigating life with a teenager….who happens to have bipolar disorder

Archive for October, 2014

Forget the Stinger, Give me a Glittering Horn

This is the first DP Challenge that I immediately set off to write. Most of the time, I have to think a bit before I decide if I am going to participate….but this one was fun.

You’re tasked with creating a brand new astrological sign for the people born around your birthday — based solely on yourself. What would your new sign be, and how would you describe those who share it?

I am a Scorpio.  I never quite liked the symbol of the Scorpio, with its sting. There is something I would much rather prefer.

 

Without a doubt, I would be a Unicorn.

star unicorn

 

For me, and all others that would like to share my star sign, here is a description. 

* Unicorns are fiercely independent, in both body and mind.

* They are introverted and introspective.

* They are restlessly creative, never able to focus on one type of creative outlet, instead using many forms of expression.

* They can be gentle with those they love and fierce to those who cause them or their loved ones harm.

* They like to be committed to a single partner in life.

* They like their surroundings to be warm and enveloping.

* They seek knowledge from all places.

* They hear music and see beauty and magic in everything.

* They are passionate about the things that interest them.

* They don’t like to talk, because they don’t feel heard….but if you listen, they will talk for hours.

* Few approach the unicorn because of multiple reasons.  Others are apprehensive, they misunderstand us or they are simply in awe of our abilities.

* Unicorns are loyal to those who do befriend them.

Brittney unicorn quote

Who doesn’t love Brittney??? Smartest character on Glee.

I couldn’t resist this other snippet I found…..’cause it fits my personality as well. 

unicorn code

Are there any other unicorns that would like to join me?????

Custom Zodiac

Blogging – The Ultimate Auto-Biography

blog shakespeare

It took me a while to allow myself into the world that is blogging.  Not only writing, but reading blogs made me feel uneasy.  Kind of like I was 13 and reading my sister’s diary….shhhh don’t tell her. My challenge is that I have always been in love with people, their lives, what makes them tick.  Truly, I should have studied anthropology in school….but yet, the creative force in me just had to break free, so art school it was.  An artist I am, however, I have never been a real writer and the only reason I have this blog was because my son and I realized that people needed to hear our story, to feel less alone in the world of mental illness.   I am now hooked on blogs……and to celebrate my 50th post, I thought I would tell you why.

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I was an avid reader from a young age.  We didn’t have a television until I was in middle school, instead, my dad enrolled us in multiple book clubs.  When I would exhaust those books, I would immerse myself in his book club finds , the Reader’s Digest collection, an extensive series of Kodak books and pretty much anything in the encyclopedia would grab my attention.  Yes kids, E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A ….the grandmother to Google. I was a binge reader, still am (it took me 2 weeks to read the entire Harry Potter series).  Aside from thrillers and graphic novels, I enjoy most genres.  From Shakespeare and Austen to Nicholas Sparks and Jude Devereaux, I am an equal opportunity reader. If you give me a good story, I won’t put it down.

In my teens, like many were, I was introduced to Anne Frank.  This opened up a whole new world for me, the biography.  My love of biographies then carried over into my love of biographical movies.  The thought that even the idea of a movie was based on a real person or real events would draw me in. So why then, did I have such a challenge with blogs? I think it made me feel voyeuristic.  I was reading people’s lives as they happened, not something from the past.

‘But you’re here now’ you say? Well, I learned to appreciate blogs in a new way.  I love that these are people in the here and now.  Not historical figures, not glamorous celebrities, people who are living their day-to-day, just like me. People that I can learn from in their experiences or simply have a laugh with while reading their humorous antics.  I take a new approach to blogs that helps me get over the voyeuristic aspect that bothered me initially…..I read people like a book.  If I find a blogger that I really connect with, I go back to their first post and start from the beginning of their story.  I have been binge reading in this way lately, too.  Last spring I followed a young woman’s 2 year journey to freedom from abuse while maintaining her faith.  This summer, I read about a mother’s inspiring battle with the depression that effects both her and her son.  Just this past week, I cancelled all holds I had at the library and read almost 18 months of posts about a mom of 2, raising an autistic child and struggling with the world of single parenting, dating and general life, all with a wonderful sense of humor.

Just like Hogwarts, Green Gables or an Attic in Amsterdam, I imagine the worlds of these women…..but their worlds are real.  I have found myself loving this form of reading and writing.  It connects me to the world in a way that no book could ever do.  The only problem is that now, I have to be patient and wait for little sequels on a daily basis.

The Worst Day Ever

Today’s Daily Post Challenge

We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.

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It was 2 years ago…..exactly, 2 years ago today.  I woke up to smiling faces and breakfast in bed.  I had just enough time to eat and get myself and the kiddo dressed and out the door.  CJ had just started at a new school the day before, it was across town, so I had to drive him.  He wrapped himself up in a blanket and said he didn’t want to go. I had asked if there had been a problem on his first day.  He said it was fine, but that would change if people got to know him.  I somehow convinced him to get into the car.  Still wrapped up in his blanket, he got into the far backseat of my van.

We made it to the school and I pulled up to the curb.  He refused to get out.  I was holding up other parents, so I moved into a parking spot.  I tried to reason with him and convince him that today would be fine. He still refused to get out.  I decided I needed back up.  I went into the school to see if a counselor was available.  Sometimes if it is an adult other than me, he listens to reason.  The principal happened to be in the front office and came out with the counselor.  At this point, CJ was standing outside the van.  As soon as he saw the counselor, he bolted.  He ran across the parking lot and into the woods surrounding the school.  Someone went inside to get the officer that was on duty.  He got into his patrol car and drove down the long drive along the woods. The principal suggested I bring my car back up to the curb so CJ would have a reason to walk toward the school. About 10 minutes later I saw CJ, walking back across the parking lot in only his socks. The officer pulled around and got out of his car to hand me CJ’s shoes…..he had run into a red ant pile and panicked, took off his shoes and continued to run through the woods until the pain in his feet made him stop.

CJ got back to the school and immediately climbed into my van and wrapped himself up in the blanket once again. Somehow, the counselor convinced him to come out and talk to us.  He sat on the curb and asked them if he could talk to me alone.  He started melting down, telling me I don’t understand and that it didn’t matter if he went to school.  The only thing he wanted to do was kill himself, that was the only thing that would make his sadness go away.

The instant he said this, the officer went into action.  He really couldn’t do anything previously, but a child stating they wanted to commit suicide while sitting on school grounds allowed him take matters into his own hands.  He told me that CJ would be taken to the hospital. He attempted to get him into his patrol car, but CJ struggled and ended up falling and hitting his head on the pavement.  Now with a large scraped, bruised forehead and handcuffs on his wrists, my 12-year-old was sitting in the back of a police car.

I followed behind on the way to the hospital.  When the officer opened the door to the back of the car we found CJ knotted up into a ball.  If it wasn’t so devastating a situation, what we saw would have been amusing.  Along the ride, CJ thought he could get the handcuffs around to the front of his body and attempted to pull his arms under his body.  This resulted in him with his arms locked around his legs between his behind and his knees and he was flopped sideways on the car seat.

By this time, the meltdown was over and he was back to being happy CJ. He cooperated with the intake nurse and was put into a room with a guarded door.  It was now about 10am and my phone started to ring. A flurry of calls were coming through and I was taking the ones from family that needed to know what was going on.  Service in the hospital wasn’t great so I kept having to walk to a different spot on the floor where I could use my phone.  It was hours of walking back and forth across the hospital, talking to doctors, and holding CJ’s hand through evaluations and blood work. Finally at 4pm, CJ and I breathed for a little bit while we watched Ellen…..one of his favorite ways to relax.

We were instructed that they wanted to admit CJ into a psychiatric hospital for extended evaluation. They instructed us to go home and pack a bag for him, then they put him in an ambulance and drove him to a hospital an hour away.

My husband and I rushed home and packed things as fast as we could and then headed toward Atlanta. CJ was in the intake office when we got there and asking to see me. He begged me to not leave him there.  He said he promised he wouldn’t kill himself.  I told him it was out of my hands, the doctors made this decision and it was where he needed to be. Leaving him there was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.  The last words from him that night were ‘I hate you’.  That week he was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

My husband and I drove home at about 10pm.  It had been the longest, most hectic, most stressful day of my life…….and my worst birthday ever.

It is 2 years later.  I woke up this morning to smiling faces.  My husband and son were downstairs, putting my birthday present together….a gas fire pit.  CJ got dressed and into the car.  I drove him to school early because he had a make-up test.  He gave me a kiss goodbye and got out of the car. Tonight we will sit around the fire pit, roast marshmallows………. and celebrate life.

 

The Girl in the Elephant Sweater

Today’s DP Challenge

Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today? (Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)

elephant sweater

I don’t think I had an imaginary friend……or maybe I did and I didn’t realize that they were imaginary.  I thought I would write, instead, about a childhood friend that was in my life briefly, but made a huge impact on how I view people.

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It was about a month or so into the sixth grade. A brisk fall day in the Connecticut town where I lived.  As I sat in class, I heard mutterings about ‘the new girl’.  From the whispers I found out that she was in the other sixth grade classroom. Before I met her, I was informed that she was tall, with beautiful blond curls. They said she was quiet and she dressed kind of different, but that must be because she was cool…..she had to be cool, she was from another state.  Anybody was cool that wasn’t from around here.

It was time for lunch, as I left the classroom and started to walk down the hall, the blond curls caught my eye.  She was tall and pretty.  She walked in an almost haughty way down the hall, never once looking around her, like she owned it. I was a bit surprised, however, about her attire…..everyone said she must be cool…..but she was wearing a bright red sweater with a big white elephant on it. This was what everyone thought was cool???? If I wore something like that, I would be laughed out of school.

I brought my lunch, so I was the first to sit down at the table where my small group of friends usually gathered.  The new girl spotted the empty seats and asked quietly if she could join me, she brought her lunch, too.  I was confused.  Wasn’t this girl too cool to be asking to sit with me? We spent about ten minutes chatting before everyone else  made it through the lunch line.  I found out that she was pretty shy. She was self-conscious about her height was afraid that people were going to make fun of her.  She was nervous about being in an unknown place, but said that she made sure to look straight ahead when walking down the halls so the new surroundings wouldn’t bother her as much. And the sweater…..she had just moved from a warmer climate and her mother made her wear it because it was chilly out and it was the first warm thing that was unpacked.

She and I became friends for the year or so that she lived in my town.  It may seem insignificant, but that experience taught me to never feel less than anyone else. That morning, because of other people’s words, I found myself believing that I would be unworthy of this girl’s friendship…..not because she was too cool to be my friend, but because I imagined she was.  I think this was the start down my road of self-confidence. This was that moment in my life when I learned to trust in who I am and be ok with that. It also taught me to form my own opinions and not base my thoughts or feelings on other people’s judgements.

The truth was, she never even noticed all of the whispers about her.  She was too nervous about being in a new school to pay attention.  Months later, when I actually told her about her first day at school, she laughed and said “That’s funny,  I was cool for a day and all this time I just thought I was a nerd in a stupid sweater.”

 

The Cursed Hand of Hook

Hooks hand

Sunday nights tend to be family night around here.  We all head out to church youth group, where CJ attends and Michael and I try to help out where we can.  We have dinner and then come home to watch Once Upon a Time together.  This week, there was no youth group and CJ was in grumpy teenager mode, so Michael and I ended up watching it and recording it for CJ to watch later.

When CJ did watch it, I was cooking dinner and he was asking me multiple questions about the episode. One of the story lines of this week’s episode had to do with Captain Hook and him having his hand magically restored by Rumpelstiltskin.  Rumpel, however, gave Hook a warning that the hand was a part of his old, bad self and might corrupt the new, good person he has come to be.

Throughout the next couple of days, Hook finds himself in situations where he is acting aggressive and angry, just as he used to.  He begs Rumpel to remove the hand again, which he does….at a cost.  Once the hand is removed, Rumpel tells Hook that he lied.  The hand was not corrupt, but by thinking it was corrupt, Hook had an excuse for his bad behavior once again.

After CJ finished watching it, I tried have a discussion with him, and made a comparison between Hook’s hand and bipolar disorder. I sometimes wonder how often my son is using his diagnosis in the same way.  The day he was diagnosed, his attitude regarding his challenges changed.  He all of a sudden identified with another person in his life that is diagnosed bipolar and thought that he had to do the same things and act the same way, in regard to bad behavior.  I sometimes think that his diagnosis has given him an excuse to give up trying to be a responsible, respectful person.

I will keep trying to find ways to motivate him and to help him see that with treatment, he can live the ‘normal’ life he has craved since he was little. Some days, I just wish that I could have changed that day so he would have never heard the word bipolar.  Maybe if we just had the treatment and could ignore the word, he wouldn’t get tied up in his diagnosis.

hook in rope

My Film Fantasy Life

Today’s DP Challenge both excited and frustrated me.

You get to spend a day inside your favorite movie. Tell us which one it is — and what happens to you while you’re there.

So here’s the challenge for me.  I LOVE movies. Picking just one is crazy hard for me……and to pick one that I would want to be a part of for a day, even harder. So, I decided to take this challenge by age.

5-10 :  Anything Muppets related.  I would have loved to hang out with Kermit at Pete’s Diner to be served soup by Rizzo and I know it’s not a movie exactly, but when I was little I wanted to live with Wembley and Mokey down in Fraggle Rock (clap clap).

fraggle rock

Dance Your Cares Away

10-15 : I wanted to be a Goonie so bad.  To go on an adventure to find One-eyed Willie was my dream.  If I was inside the Goon-docks for a day, the 12 year old girl in me would probably knock out that whiner, Andy, so I could kiss Mikey in the cave, because it will be our time…..our time down here.

goonies

Maybe this is the reason I prefer Samwise to Frodo

15-20 : My late teens was when I found my true love for old movie musicals. Kiss Me Kate is still one of my all time favorites.  If I could live in that movie for a day, it would bring my teen dream to life by making me a broadway star……that would get to sing and dance my way through Shakespeare (another one of loves I met when I was a teenager). I think I would make sure to be hanging out in the alley so I could sing ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ with Slug and Lippy.

kiss me kate

Dance with Fosse? Yes, Please

20-25 : Stage Door, it is said to be one of Katherine Hepburn’s worst movies….it happens to be one of my favorites.  Oh, to spend a day at auditions with the likes of Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball. Since I only get one day, I would definitely spend it towards the beginning of the movie…..I would not want to stick around for the devastating sadness at the end (you’ll have to watch to find out).

Stage door

 The calla lilies are in bloom again

25-30 :  Oh, to go on an adventure with Ben Gates in National Treasure.  Which day to pick, though??? As much as I hate heights, I would have to travel down the stairs beneath Parkington Lane.  To find and then roam the treasure room would be overwhelming and amazing.

national treasure
The secret lies with Charlotte

30- present : Please let me take the Hogwarts express.  I would love to spend a day with my classmates in Hogsmead or catch a Quidditch game…..but truthfully, my Harry Potter dream is to get lost in the room of requirement and inspect all of the treasures within.  It may sound boring to all of the magic loving, adventure seeking witches and wizards out there, but seriously, think about all of the magical history in that room.  The Universal theme park has done it’s best to recreate the movie….but sifting through the wonders of room of requirement is not one of them.

harry potter ror

Eat your heart out Ben Gates

Really though,  getting to spend a day inside a movie is not necessary. Anybody has the ability to lose themselves in these worlds while simply sitting on your sofa.  If you don’t, then maybe you’re not watching movies the right way.

The Day Everything Changed

October 14, 1999……it started out as an ordinary day.  I got into my car and drove the 45 minutes to my new job as an acquisitions rep for a large investment firm. Once I arrived at work, I was feeling a bit queasy, but chalked it up to car sickness.  I had always had motion sickness and the long commute had been wreaking havoc on my stomach since starting this job a couple of weeks prior.  I walked into the building and up the long elevator ride to an upper floor.  I walked onto the floor and my trainer simply looked at me, told me I was green and to turn around and drive back home.  I told her that it was just car sickness, but she didn’t want to risk that it was the flu and spread it around to the new batch of employees that would be spending the day in a single room together.

Although I was dreading the 45 minute ride back home, I was relieved at the thought that I could veg out on the sofa drinking ginger ale for the afternoon.  After multiple ‘sick’ stops on the way home, my head started to pound.  Having dealt with migraines since childhood, it dawned on me I had never felt this kind of pain before.  As soon as I got home, I decided to call my doctor to schedule an appointment.  She happened to have a cancellation and told me to come in right away.

Once there, I chatted with a nurse I had come to know very well.  Over the past few months I had been going through a series of testing due to recurring ovarian cysts, abnormal pap smears and menstrual cycles.  The testing had determined that I probably wouldn’t be able to have children, so we had been in discussions about hormones and a possible oophorectomy (removal of ovaries)to fix the cycles and the extreme headaches I had been having.  The nurse, Quinn, joked with me about the fact that I did really look a bit green and proceeded to do some blood work on her ‘human pincushion’…..the lovely nickname that she had given me months before during the many pregnancy tests I had to endure during the testing process.

I was then sent home with the instructions to rest, but keep a phone near-by.  The doctor had a feeling she knew what was going on and might want to immediately refer me to another doctor.  I asked her what was happening and she said that we should just wait until the test results came in.

It wasn’t but a few hours later that Quinn called me.  She told me that I was severely dehydrated, which was probably the reason for the excruciating pain in my head. She then scrolled down the list of blood tests they had done and came to the last one, a pregnancy test.  I laughed when she paused.  As was my habit when she would call me with the pregnancy test results I said “Well, we know that’s negative”……..she was quiet for a minute and sounded like she was fighting back some tears and then she said “This time it’s positive.”

Women say that their lives changed on the day their first child was born, because that was the day they became a mother. I didn’t become a mother when he was born….I became a mother in that instant 15 years ago today.