Posted on Leave a comment

Success, Strength & Socks?!

Life with kids

Holding back tears I asked, “DOES she have SOCKS?!” This was my BIG worry tonight as we walked through Walmart at 9:00pm on a rainy, random Wednesday night. College. My daughter is leaving for college…tomorrow and I’m worried about socks!? She is 18, dreams of being a psychologist, and the world is at her feet. Me, I’m the mom worried about if she will have socks as she goes out to show this world what striving for success and strength looks like!

I looked to the man who is my calm in the storm, casually walking a few steps ahead, he nonchalantly answers “yes.” I questioned him again. After all, I knew nearly every day, no matter how many pairs I buy, my girls are going to come steal my socks. In that moment he looked at me and calmly said “yes, your baby has socks.” I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.

Why was I crying in Walmart over socks? I’m sure I looked and sounded ridiculous. I was irritated. I was emotional. I was thinking about 18 years of time that came and went far too fast. I was happy and I was scared. So I was worried about socks. Silly, I was a wreck…but why socks?

It’s ironic, that a little over 18 years ago I was in labor. In fact, I vividly recall getting “new mom” anxiety at the hospital about socks for my new baby girl. I was asking the same question then as I was this very night. Of all things I was worried my baby wouldn’t have socks!

My mom rushed out to buy socks for my sweet baby and her tiny feet. In addition, she bought clothes to fit her tiny frame. My first was so little. My beautiful red haired, blue eyed, baby girl was full term, but weighed 6’8 and measured 17 1/2” long. So small. My first baby girl of my threefold, and my first true love.

Looking on as moms do, I saw my oldest daughter, with her two little sisters bickering. I laughed and tried to let them do their typical back and forth banter. I played the pull mom every direction and make sure she pays attention to each child. I tried to remain patient and calm as I listened to each tell me their “needs” or “wants”. My anxiety was growing, but not due to worry about her or even the other two of my threefold. I was forgetting something. Had to be.

As the night passed on I noticed my emotional state was becoming so high that I was becoming overly anxious. All the needs, wants and reminders flying around for all three girls. Then the little fights. As my anxiety increased so did my oldest daughter’s. I could see her feeling like she was getting “more” than her younger siblings. In addition, I could see her insecurity surrounding money start to make her flustered. As a result, I saw firsthand, that she was feeling all the anxiety I was trying to push down. Instead of her knowing why, I saw her viewing herself as the cause of every bit of my increasing anxiety.

I got her nearly everything she has needed over these past couple of months. We only have a few last minute needs to tie up. Yet, she still felt like she was causing my anxiety. That wasn’t it. Not at all. I was proud and wanted nothing more than for her to feel confident as she began college. Yet, I felt like I was failing her as our anxiety climbed together.

What I didn’t tell my oldest is that I wasn’t anxious over buying what she needed, her sisters bickering, or even the growing list. I was missing something, but I couldn’t place what.

This feeling was unshakeable. Maybe I was just being a mom and scared. However, I’m not scared of her making the wrong choices, failing, or getting into trouble. I know her on a level that goes beyond a typical mother/daughter relationship. We talk about everything. Above all, even if I don’t want to hear the truth, she doesn’t lie to me in the way most teenagers do lie to their parents.

Finally it hit me, right in that Walmart aisle and with those socks sitting on sale. I didn’t forget to make sure her feet were covered in clean socks. She had her toothbrush and pj’s. This went beyond the superficial level of material needs. I was forgetting the person who once inhabited that tiny frame.

She was moving beyond her past. I no longer saw a scared girl with anxiety standing in the aisles going through the mental checklist she made a year ago of everything she needed. I saw the person who had worked hard to find her own voice again. I saw a woman who was funny, kind, and a genuinely good person standing worried about her abilities.

My daughter deserves all things good. I want this for her and every good thing in life. She has sacrificed more than many. Furthermore, my oldest daughter has been my coparent even if she didn’t ask for that responsibility. She endured the hardest circumstances in submissive silence to avoid making life harder for herself, her sisters and I when the abuse we all endured was aimed in her direction. She suffered and sacrificed her childhood, her teenage years, and her own blood, sweat and tears to help her younger sisters and I survive .

Her strength isn’t only in the survival it’s in the story she is writing in spite of the circumstances she was raised in. That strength is in her smile that is contagious. The confidence in her own abilities and the goals she has chased, regardless of the people along the way who tried to tell her every reason she would never reach them.

Her complete transparency, self awareness, genuine kindness, and inclusive nature all are part of the backbone of her identity.
It’s takes bravery to walk through the fire, but it takes perseverance to walk through that fire and not allow your entire life to be consumed by the pain.

It’s takes courage to love with your entire heart and give of yourself to others, even though that love and gift has been taken advantage of since you were young. It takes commitment to make a plan and to speak it to others, but it’s the determination that carries you across the finish line. It takes fight to face your worst fears, but it takes ferocity to overcome those fears.

My daughter is just another girl to the world, but she is going to change the world of the people who have the honor to know her. My daughter is beautiful, smart, and talented. However, she is more than any pretty pictures or my bias words could convey. My oldest daughter is the smallest of my threefold. Nonetheless, at 4’11, the truth that she has learned is “dynamite comes in small packages…BOOM!” Get ready, because this girl of mine is about to blow up on your scene.

She is my daughter, my first love, and I’m so incredibly lucky she calls me mom. She definitely has more than just socks these days, she has a whole suit of armor that she forged in the fire of her past. That armor is her success story. The one she has written each day along the way and will continue to write until it reaches completion. I am just happy to be on the sidelines cheering her on and supporting her through this crazy train ride called life. To my threefold, to my first little love. You’ve got this! Together we’ve got each other, always. ☮️❤️😊~M

Posted on 2 Comments

Summer Break? Part 1

I’m only a week overdue for posting the update I promised! Summer has come and nearly gone, but the moms out there trying to mom mental illness, mom it solo or even semi-solo, mom through it all, no matter what. We’ll ALL moms know breaks are for everyone else, but you rarely catch one. For me breaks are few and far between. Sometimes, you would consider a psychotic break comforting. After all, it means disassociation, detachment from reality, some sleep, and three meals per day where YOU didn’t have to think about it. Then there is that whole meds, people wondering when the next episode is, and everything that would be left undone. Nope, not worth it!

Summer Breakdown?

I am proud to say that, no, my threefold and I, nor ‘E’ or my bonus kid have suffered from any major breakdown nor has there been setbacks. That’s right! It’s been a rough summer for my threefold. More difficult than I had hoped for, however they have progressed in ways I never thought I would see. I couldn’t be more proud and relieved to know that we hit a very bad time, but we were able to see it through to a path that didn’t involve inpatient or injury to self, property or some major crisis. However, that hard time was the closure of a chapter for all.

Summer Bucketlist

I wanted a Disney movie wonderful summer of family fun and kids enjoying marking items off of bucket lists. I wanted us to enjoy our lives after I had watched my aunt bury 2 of her sons at 33 and 29, my cousins, 2/3 brothers, the kids I grew up with and people who hadn’t even had the chance to have their own family yet. We needed to remember that while we still have life. We needed to live it.

I wanted my threefold and I to spend some quality time together without the stress of the previous school year. I needed to have those memories and I thought that’s what they needed too. I had hoped for vacation time and for all of my family to reconnect on a level that said “this is the good life.” As a response, life said my plans were not the same as life’s. Apparently we needed something else to overcome. {eye roll}

Summer Broke

This summer was hell and I don’t mean just the heat, these demon bugs we call mosquitoes, or the fires that were sparked by my anger, anxiety or my agitated mood. I had too much going on and my focus was not in the home. It was definitely not on me. It was not on ‘E’. BOTH of our vehicles broke down. Financially we were still trying to recover from February and March’s medical bills of the over 10 weeks of inpatient and partial hospitalization we have already had between #2 and #3 of my threefold this year. Not to mention the 17 weeks we were still working on from the previous. As it always seemed to be we were struggling.

I was stressed to the point I wanted to snap. I was impatient with my threefold, sitting and scheduling my life away from them while home, and so out of my depths. My focus was frazzled, fried, and finally furious at the circumstances I was in. I felt I was being oblivious to an obvious problem, overworked, overwhelmed, overlooked and finally I was OVER IT!

Summer Burn

I was ready to say “I’m done!” As my workload increased to that of a person expected to wear every hat of each position like a seasoned executive who wrote the rule book. I was trying to do the job of my superior, my support staff, be my own assistant, trainer, lead designer, sales superstar, the best, and I suddenly hit a wall. I decided to resign.

I had a staff who was overworked and overwhelmed. I had great people. In addition, they were trying to help . I asked myself why was this becoming such a nightmare. and it hit me. I was trying to save a boat that was sinking and everyone was about to jump ship. Why?

We have had high turnover for a minute now. My people didn’t quit. They grinder it out. They liked me…right? Well, I am likable, funny, driven, and have the memory of a person that will never forget about things that are really important. I’m just trying to hard or doing something wrong. I was trying to make people happy. It wasn’t the job. It wasn’t even me. It was the chaos that had come over the castle. I was merely coordinating chaos, and not correcting the issues causing it. Maybe, if I resigned it would be the white flag of surender saying I can’t manage the mess.

Summer School

My fairytale summer was shattered with my DIY crash course that I called “combat training”. I was battling the war at work and not only just promoted to a role as assistant manager in March, but I hadn’t been trained on how the processes to correctly handle the job. I had no idea that I was making things worse by constantly covering for my missing commander and chief. My loyalty and love for him and my livelihood depended on me finding the fix to any problem and showing my people I was the company woman who could handle anything. Even if I was I second guessing my every move. I knew my confidence would see us to calmer coexistence we all needed. I lied.

Summer Cold

My stress was making me sick. I had lost another ten pounds. I was not eating, not sleeping well as my mind raced at night wondering what did you forget. In addition, my usual routines all halted. Self care was non existent and my tolerance for other people’s problems went to the bottom of the list. However, I kept pushing. Something was going to have to give.

I decided to part ways. I was ready to resign. It was obvious that I was allowing yet another person take advantage of me. I wanted to give back what I was given, but I was becoming someone I didn’t like. I was becoming an angry person who hated coming to work because I was going to have another day of covering for someone else I cared for, covering for the man lying to everyone, and someone refusing to admit there was a problem. I was watching my past repeat in a work environment. I couldn’t allow myself to be broken and to become cold living in a hell I could escape from. I needed to stop the insanity. I was at peace with that.

Summer Escape

I had come to terms with my decision and turned in my resignation letter with a final lie. My lie said I had found employment that would allow me to be home more and present for my threefold. It is the only lie I felt believable enough that they wouldn’t put up the fight for me to stay. My tears had poured out of me writing that letter. I was devastated that it was a chapter that I never thought would end. At least until I funded my life as a freelance writer, designer, marketing guru, Facebook money mogul in the blogosphere of moms or whatever other dream that will one day create independence from a standard 8-5 job.

I loved this job. It was my break from my personal issues outside of there. I am awesome at this job. I am too good, actually. I am overqualified and I’m beyond grateful for that. I loved everything about my job. That was until I took the place of the man who walked out of this position before me. Red flag, maybe, but I saw my opportunity to step up. In that opportunity I sacrificed the thing I said I would not overlook again with a promise of more and a hope for the future we deserve. My threefold.

Summer Stolen

I had worked my butt off, literally, for this company. I felt I owed them after they moved mountains for me last summer to make it where I could be a mom and also have the place I could put that part away just for a bit and do something I loved. I was ashamed of my behavior. I was saying we needed more money than my own family needed me. A struggle any single mom knows.

Instead of staying with #2 at the hospital and going to the inpatient facility where I was needing to admit her again, I left her room in tears as she said “mom, it’s ok, you can go. You have to.” Did I? Well I needed to be in two places actually three, but I needed to not lose a promotion due to my personal life, because money had to become a larger factor.

We all need this to happen. I convinced myself I was doing the right thing. I know now she will always tell me what she thinks I need to hear in moments she thinks could be a burden. I was just blinded by a loyalty to a person who would use me and then replace me to save themself but I had no idea. As I was leaving I thought if I don’t get this promotion this will be enough to make me leave. I’m sacrificing more than I ever would, but hoped it would be better if I could have more control of the chaos. I could calm it as I could change the climate and bring the commander of my crew back.

Summer Storms

I got the promotion. The promises of change once our mid year inventory was over and the crisis at work calming down were as empty as any promise before. After deciding not to get blindsided by the brother who was thriving at this company, the man I fell in love with at this company and a few coworkers who had weathered this long hard season with me I was ready to make the move. My boss put up no fight or said any words of why I should stay. Instead, I was left thinking maybe he wanted me to leave. It was easy and unemotional. I was a mess about this, but me maybe I was just “replaceable”. I promised to help the next person as much as I could before the end of my notice in two weeks and was relieved. July would be the month that made our family reconnect and we could have some real quality time as a family. Again another storm brewed and I wouldn’t allow us to chase it anymore.

Summer Breakthrough

Little did I realize it was only the end of June and the chaos was fixing to get uncovered and everything was about blow up. I couldn’t have a summer break, I couldn’t afford a summer breakdown, we weren’t going to get a summer vacation that involved connecting and making the good memories of a life we were building and we had sacrificed for. This wouldn’t be the summer we deserved. It would be the summer that I found a way to breakthrough our barriers. It was the beginning of the new life. First we just needed to commit to weathering this summer storm and that was hitting us right at home.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Posted on Leave a comment

It’s Ok to Say ‘No’

I’ve been struggling with boundaries. I forgot that I am a person that has needs too. I think as a mom and a woman that I try to make everyone else happy and ok. Guess what? It’s ok to say ‘No’ to protect your peace. However, I know how hard it is to say ‘No’. I am learning that the ability to deny requests is going to be required for my own personal well being.

What About Me?

As a mom I’m constantly tending to my little people. I’m making sure everyone else is ok. As a manager at work I want to make sure my employees are ok. The list goes on. Suddenly, everyone is taken care of and I find myself at the end of the day physically exhausted, mentally spent and emotionally drained. I’m not selfish, it’s not about me, and it never has been. When is it my turn? Saying that out loud makes me feel selfish for even putting myself as a priority. That’s ridiculous! I deserve to be on my own list!

Wake Up Call

How did I decide to make myself more important to me? Well, I haven’t fully committed to doing anything honestly, but something has to change. I had a wake up call. I’m killing myself slowly by giving my everything to everyone else. That’s not dramatic. Unfortunately, that’s just the truth.

The past seven days I had ten hours of sleep total, I worked 60+ hours, helped my ex husband get into drug rehab, tried to care for my threefold, fix all my work problems, made sure everyone else got a day off, and maintain a relationship with my partner. I hadn’t eaten enough to sustain myself. I was too busy to drink a bottle of water. I totally forgot I was a person who needed to stop and take care of myself.

The Breaking Point

My breaking point was a cabinet truck that I had to unload by hand. I worked hard and got through it, but it took the rest of my strength. However, I kept pushing through the week. Suddenly, my body was in ketosis and I was dehydrated. My muscles were locked up. My anxiety was sky high. Also, my legs were swollen like I was 9 months pregnant. Yet, I still wouldn’t stop. I had blisters on the bottoms of my feet and had completely depleted every nutrient in my body. My diet was caffeine, ibuprofen, and the chaos around me. Enough!

Sounding the Alarm

Hello!!!! SOS. HELP! Everyone saw it and asked “are you ok?” When my answer changed from yes to no, that’s when it changed. I’m an adult, a grown woman. No one can force me to take care of myself or stop until I decide. My choice. My fault. My consequences. However, it was clear I was not ok for a long time. I didn’t know how to stop doing what I’d been doing for months.

Something’s Gotta Give

I’m figuring out how to change my habits. It’s easier said than done. Saying no to anyone that you care about or want to help is difficult. It’s easier to rationalize the yes than the no. saying yes to myself feels selfish. I’m used to going until I crash. I crash, recover, and repeat my cycle. It’s not going to continue to work if I want to be able to keep going.

It’s Ok to Say ‘No’

Self care is something people say. This involves more than taking time for yourself. I am not going to book a massage and pedicure. There is no mom vacation without my kids that is on the horizon. Going to the store alone, or sitting and meditating to clear my brain is self care. Is it all there is? NO! It’s more than that, but it starts somewhere!

Self Care for me the past 24 hours has looked like a lot like stuff people should do, but for me it’s difficult. My goals to keep myself going this next week are minimal.

  • Eating at least 1 meal a day. If I eat with my kids at dinner then I’m accountable to eat.
  • Drinking water and having something to drink around me at all times.
  • Sleeping. I’ve slept 12 hours. Yes 12. And I will probably sleep more. However, deciding to be done and sleep and getting at least 4-6 hours per day is a goal.
  • Take my day off from work and try not to worry about work.
  • Spend time with my kids doing something other than appointments or errands.
  • Work at work only
  • Take some time for myself
  • Say no if it is something I can say no to.
  • Stop saving everyone and save myself.

Now, I sit and prop my feet up. I try to keep food down, because my body doesn’t feel like it is ready for this. I sleep and I allow my body to adjust to not going. I have guilt for doing these small little things, but my guilt is due to my own inability to slow down and be ok with not being ok. ☮️❤️😊~M

Posted on 6 Comments

Smile through the Struggle

There comes a point though that we can’t just smile through the struggle. We need support and someone to sit with us while we cry the tears, express our fears, and not try to tell us how to fix all of our problems. I’m here to tell you, it’s ok to not be ok. Mommin’ ain’t easy. It takes a village and in our case a damn army because we are fighters over here! But damn it, this part is hard. There are no cheat codes for raising teenagers with mental illness! Believe me, up-down-up- down, left, right, or whatever it was in the original Nintendo game, doesn’t work. I need a reset, pause or some power ups to get through our ups and downs!

I’m struggling with life throwing punch after punch. They are landing blow after blow. I’m at the point that I almost wish I’d get knocked out so I could rest a bit easier. Unfortunately, I’m just getting my ass beat. Life yet again is the bully who is kicking my ass and stealing my lunch money. Instead of just giving in and handing it over, I just keep fighting back. I still have hope that there is something better around the corner. I want to believe that all the hard my threefold and I have faced over the last several years will have some reward in store for us when we get to the other side of this obstacle course. I have to believe enough for all of us, because if I give up, so do they.

If you’ve been following our journey for a while you know 2021 brought a lot more than our fair share of hard times. Going into 2022, I was hopeful that we could close that chapter and begin seeing our way forward to the future. I felt like we finally had overcome big hurdles and found a groove. I was wrong. So wrong. 3 months in to the new year and we’ve already had 2 hospitalizations each now for #2 and #3 of my threefold.

#2 just finished a week inpatient at the beginning of the month and stepped down to partial hospitalization or day patient {hospital during the day and home at night} after this last round of inpatient care. Today while at partial #2 got upgraded to an inpatient unit at the grippy sock hotel, extended stay addition. She needs medication adjustments again. Bipolar is difficult to manage, in case you weren’t aware, now add in the fact that #2 has Bipolar 1 and also happens to be a teenager…that’s more difficult to manage. .

I know I’ve spit the statistics before but bipolar is one of those super unpredictable mental illnesses. It’s also super difficult to diagnose. Most people seek help when they are in a deep depressive episode. Most often bipolar disorder has depressive episodes that stay for months and even years without relief. When you have a manic episode in between it can appear like you are ‘getting better’, but you’re not. Mania is the ‘polar’ opposite of depression. I like to explain it like this – if depression is the worst you will ever feel than mania is the best you can feel. If depression makes you believe you’re worthless then mania is the feeling of being worth your weight in gold. This can make it seem like you’re capable of anything. If depression makes you worry about everything then mania is the absence of worry. It’s not a good thing. This is when people ruin relationships, cheat, steal, experiment with drugs, spend every dollar they have and become invincible.

Usually a depressive episode on average has been found to last 50% longer than a manic or hypomanic episode. There is a 60% greater chance of substance abuse with bipolar disorder. The main statistic that scared me most and steals my sleep is that nearly 50% of those with bipolar will attempt suicide with an alarming 15% who complete suicide. That’s why I share our story. That’s why I won’t quit fighting for our future.

I fight hard for my threefold and I everyday to make sure that our names don’t become part of the scary statistics. I fight the stigma surrounding mental illness because the misinformation isolates us and tells us we should be ashamed to have a disorder. I laugh about our crazy life and how I am the trauma bipolar bear momma because it makes the bitterness and heaviness of these statistics a little easier to swallow. I smile through the struggle, but I guarantee tonight these statistics will steal my sleep and my peace. All I can do is continue to try and stay positive. We’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊~M

Posted on Leave a comment

Mending a Broken Heart

Another emotional week is coming to a close for my threefold. ALL three are home. Hopefully for a long time! It’s been up and down around here. I’m just trying to ride the waves of emotion and be the support my threefold needs me to be. It is a hard job, this mom thing. I will be tending to broken hearts and broken promises for the foreseeable future. Being a teenage girl is hard too.

#1 experienced her first big love over the past year. Her boyfriend {we’ll call him ‘J’} and #1 have been together for about 16 months or so. This is her first long relationship. Many of her firsts happened with ‘J’. She has been in love and it’s been beautiful to watch that young love. I actually really like ‘J’ and know he has been a good support for #1 through a very tumultuous year.

Tonight though, ‘J’ called it quits with #1. Her devastation and complete breakdown was heartbreaking for me to witness. I watched and tried to calm my sweet little girl as she hyperventilated and cried uncontrollably. I wanted to hold her, but during panic attacks she has increased sensitivity to touch. instead I sat on the cold floor with her hushing calmly and telling her that she would be ok, even if she wasn’t ok in that moment, she would be. I felt helpless I wanted to fix it, but there are no magic words to mend a broken heart. Instead, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I tried to calm her insecurities and her feelings of worthlessness.

Instead of sitting on the floor we drove to the gas station down the road. We have chocolate. We have funny tv shows and movies and we have a little heartbreak hotel set up. My newly appointed adult daughter will be sleeping in her mom’s room tonight. She will be comforted with chocolate and inappropriate humor. We will ride the wave.

As I sit writing this little dramatic comedy in the making, I am stealing away my moment to cry knowing this pain will linger with her for a while. I know that the first love and the first heartbreak that usually comes with it will be forever etched in her memory. She is tough. My stick of dynamite in a tiny 4’10” body. She has grown so much and has a bright future ahead that is bound to include more love and more heartbreak. This love will be the beautiful high school story she tells one day to her own child when they experience that first love…and the heartbreak that will break hers to watch. I’m loving her through this one knowing that life goes on and that she won’t allow the heartbreak to break her completely. I’m staying positive because I know she’s got this. I’ve got her…and I’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊~M