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

Archive for June, 2015

When One Door Closes Try To Not Jump Out the Window

good things happening

I know I have been MIA lately.  There has been so much going on…..and not with my kiddo, thank goodness.  He is actually in a pretty good place lately, ups and downs emotionally, but no rages and he finished the school year with the best report card he has had in years.  No, the craziness hasn’t been at home in the personal sense…..it has been in my professional life.

For the past 5 years I have worked for a wonderful small company based in NY.  When my husband was offered his dream job here in GA, they were wonderful enough to set me up with a home office and alter my hours so I could be a bit more available for the kiddo, especially for all of his doctor’s appointments.  It was perfect timing, because within months he had his first hospitalization and finally received his formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

For the past 3 years since we have been in GA, my bosses and coworkers have been the most understanding and supportive group of people I have ever worked with.  There were no hesitations if I had to log off and go pick CJ up at school or if he was having a meltdown morning and it caused me to log in late.  I was never questioned if it hindered my work….the only question that was ever asked was “Is he ok?”.  I couldn’t have asked for a better job or coworkers for this stage of our lives.

In the past few months there have some major happenings going on at work.  Our biggest client is restructuring and it has wreaked havoc on how things were going to be done at our company.   Labor intensive projects started coming through my email and I knew that changes were right around the corner.

One day, a little over 2 weeks ago, I received a phone call from my boss. She was clearly distraught and I knew what was coming.  Due to the changes, they were going to have to do some lay-offs…..me being included.  I knew this was a possibility and tried to stay as positive as I could be.  I let her know how appreciative I was of the time that I did have with the company and all that she had done for me.

As that day went on it started to sink in.  What was my next step?  I have a child in a private school quite a distance away; how would I be able to get a traditional job and still get him to and from school? I have been working from home for 3 years; how would I adjust to working in an office again?……..and did I even want to?????

Immediately, I started doing a job search and a few came up in our local school district that fit my qualifications.  I had one week before the submission deadline.  I didn’t sleep that entire week.  I knew I didn’t want those jobs.  I knew I didn’t want to go back to any traditional office job.  How could I even consider the irresponsibility of not applying, though? Not only do I have a kiddo with extra medical needs,  but my 2 step-sons will both be starting college in the fall.  The responsible thing to do would be to apply for those jobs and deal with it.

My husband and I discussed the options and he told me he would support whichever decision I made……but I don’t think he was prepared for what I was thinking.  For many years, he and I have talked about opening a photography business in the future.  My thought was….why not start now?  I could lay the ground work while he was still working full-time and then we could just expand when he was ready to come on board……most likely, after all the boys are done with school.

Even when I came up with this plan of action, I still didn’t sleep.  That application deadline was looming over my head.  I had everything ready to go, should I decide to do so.  My husband asked me what the first thing I would like to do is.  I told him about a few photography workshops I was interested in, to get a little more comfortable with my new camera and equipment.  He immediately signed me up, no questions asked.  The next day, I didn’t send in my resume to the school district….I missed the deadline…..I had confirmation of my workshop registration…..and I slept.  The decision was made.

One minute ago, I logged off my work email for the last time……..now the changes will come.  I am almost 40 years old. I graduated from art school, yet I have never had a truly creative job.  I have always excelled at other people’s businesses…..now it’s time to put all of that effort into my own. It’s going to be a hard path and financially things may be challenging for a while, but that is even more incentive to make it work.  It won’t be easy, but for the first time in my professional life, I will be putting all that hard work into creating something I love.

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The Many Faces of Courage – this mom’s thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner

courage churchhillIn the past month or so, there have been so many news items that I have had strong opinions about…..but I try to keep this blog about our life coping with mental illness and not as a soap box for my personal views on the world, so I have forced myself to keep my mouth shut all the while sitting on my hands…..both here and on FB.  That was, until I saw a few posts on Facebook the past couple of days that made me release my hands and type away.  As I have said before, we all have our own truth, and this is mine.

Earlier in the week, the Vanity Fair cover came out with Caitlyn Jenner.  Originally, my FB feed was filled with support for her……until it was announced that she would be receiving an ESPY award for courage. Following that announcement, I started seeing more and more negative posts accompanied by pictures of military personnel with the heading “This is real courage”.

Now, I believe whole-heartedly that members of our military represent courage and bravery.  If it was not for our armed forces, we would all be living a much different life in a very different country. They put their lives on the line every day for our freedom and I thank them for that……but who says that courage can only come wrapped up in camouflage?

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I was raised by a single father in a time when it was a rarity.  Most men who were single parents during that era had become so due to circumstances beyond their control.  My dad chose it.  My parents married young and divorced young. At the age of 25, my dad took on the responsibility of 2 toddlers.  He had no outside financial support, and little to no emotional support from his parents. He raised us on his own and helped us become strong, capable women. He is my hero…..he represents courage and bravery to me.

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When I was 20, my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Having spent her life roller skating, my last image of my grandmother was on skates.  She was holding the wall as she circled the floor, but she was pushing forward.  In the face of death, she chose to live life…….she represents courage and bravery to me.

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I have a 15 year old son who is living with a mental illness.  His depression and anxiety can be overwhelming at times….for both of us. He has friends…..he goes to church……he goes to school…….he loves helping others.  When there are so many people with mental illnesses that choose to lock themselves away from the world, he faces it every day……..he represents courage and bravery to me.

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All of the parents that are raising special needs children, that are advocating for them to make sure they get to have the best life possible……they represent courage and bravery to me.

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All of the adoptive parents and foster parents that choose to love another’s child as their own regardless of the challenges they may face……they represent courage and bravery to me.

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All of the people who grew up facing adversity and used it as their driving force to create a better world……they represent courage and bravery to me.

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The teenagers who are true to themselves, whether it be something as complex as sexual orientation or choice of faith, to something as simple as choice of clothing or music…..those kids that choose what’s right for them instead of what’s popular…..they represent courage and bravery to me.

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Since becoming CJ’s mom, I have had to learn to open my mind to differences.  Differences in personality, differences in lifestyle, differences in opinion.  Because of that, I try to pay attention, especially when I think I will learn from a situation. When I saw that Bruce Jenner was doing an interview with Diane Sawyer, I made it a point to watch…..and to pay attention.  My overwhelming thought at the end of that interview was “Wow, I have a feeling he just saved somebody’s life”.

Bruce Jenner made a decision many months ago.  He could have hidden away and gone through this transition in private, but he chose not to.  He knew that his experience and his life could help educate others.  He used fluff entertainment, like The Kardashians, and turned it into a platform to help us understand the transgender community a little bit better.  I read another blog post about Caitlyn Jenner being fake.  Yes, it took multiple surgeries to get there, so physically she is augmented, but Caitlyn is Bruce’s truth….one that he had hidden for 65 years.   The fact that Bruce made the decision to introduce the world to Caitlyn and have her fulfill what he considered his life’s purpose in helping others……that represents courage and bravery to me.

Honestly, I know there are many people who don’t think that is heroic…..but then, maybe people don’t realize that the statistics of suicide are staggering.  It is quickly becoming one of our nations leading causes of death.  Bruce’s choices, that Caitlyn is carrying out will, quite possibly, save lives within the LGBTQ community.  To me, someone who has the ability to save another person’s life and chooses to do so in the face of adversity is a hero in my book.

courage