Mental Health — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Mental Health



                               

Happy November, Friends!

(How did this happen? Wasn’t it just January?)

The past few months have been sort of rough for us. For some reason, it seems like everything we’ve done, or tried to do, went horribly wrong. When things don’t go the way I envision them, I tend to get–shall we say–moody? Maybe not moody, but it makes me upset, because I am such a perfectionist (character flaw) that I want everything to go just the right way!

Boom. It hit me.

That is how it is to be our children. I’m sure that, somewhere in their bodies, they think “I want things to go right…for once!”

We focus so much on how to make the world better for them…and I think we sometimes forget to acknowledge the difficulty and emotions they must conquer daily. Some kids can’t verbalize this. I understand that. But maybe sometimes, a scream, or a bite, or a meltdown is just their way of saying, “Dang it! I need to be grumpy! This is not the way it should go!”

So, I’m vowing to change my attitude.

I’m going to spend this month–the month of Giving Thanks–to do just that. I want to be aware of the things that I am truly grateful for.

Today, I’m grateful for:

* A husband that puts up with me no matter what.

* Children who are not embarrassed to have the mom who wears pajamas to go to car line!

* Family who sends casseroles on rough days.

* Florida—where I can complain if it dips below 70 degrees!

* Our country–the place where we get to vote, we get to practice our chosen religion, and we get to see the human spirit soar through adversity.

What are you thankful for? (I’m thankful for YOU too!)



                               

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Being the Parent

I sat in the developmental psychologist’s waiting room just simply observing the behavior of the parents. Some were busy filling out paperwork, one was reading a book, another was totally in to playing Angry Birds. Not a single one was watching their child.

I watched these children, who were obviously there for a reason, as they screamed, hit one another, and ransacked the poor bookshelves—while the parents were oblivious. You know, because Angry Birds is more important…

One mother (the one filling out paperwork) finally looked at me, who was staring at the child who had a hold of another child’s ponytail, and said, “You know, I try hard.”

I gave her a nod and a smile and continued reading to Jack to keep him calm.

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The Bubble Bursts…

Sometimes, I lose my words.

Like someone popped my beautiful bubble that I worked so hard to get right.

Or I feel like the sky is closing in on me.

Actually, I feel like I’m the kid with the black cloud that only rains on me.

(Pity party, table for 1?)

So many times, on this journey, I have these huge highs….that are followed by the lowest lows. I fight hard, I play hard, I love hard…and then I get kicked in the teeth.

 

YAY: the insurance approved the wheelchair!

BOO: they’re not sure when we can actually have it (4-12 weeks is the estimate).

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Faith and Hope and Love.

The thing about faith is that…it’s not transient. You either have it or you don’t. You don’t have to believe in the God I believe in to have faith either. You can have faith in lots of things–doctors, teachers, friends.

To have faith, you have to trust. A lot. Believe. A lot.

So where does that leave us, as special needs parents? We deal with so many things on a daily basis. We put our faith in things we can’t see–the future, IEP goals, health care reform (heh).

There’s no magical devotion or book or lesson that speaks to my situation.

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As They Grow…

I am the first to admit that March 7, 2007, was one of the toughest days of my life. I sat, holding the baby that only a week prior was declared “mine” in a court of law, while a neurologist told me my son had a diagnosis that changed his life forever.

I felt numb. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt alone.

I bought chocolate. I bought wine.

I had to tell my mom…my best friend…my daughter.

All those years ago, I was sure that getting over the grief and desperation, and finding the point where I felt that I was educated enough to be an advocate was a huge achievement.

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When I Realized I Needed My Own IEP

Well hello there stranger! I’ve been MIA for a month and I’ve missed your posts and interactions. But as of today, I’m back, and can’t wait to catch up on some great posts here!

What have I been doing all this time? (Besides doing the happy dance upon the arrival of my new escape Kindle?)

I was apparently re-enrolled in Special Needs Parenting 101: Moving Forward Often Means Moving Backward. And it was like that dream I used to have in college – the one where I wake up in class on the day of finals and realize I didn’t attend lectures or read the book.

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On Our Tweens and (Not) Letting Them Flounder

“You must be so busy, with four kids!” People say when I introduce my family. And I look at them, thinking, “Well, no, not really.” (Minus the doctor and specialist appointments).

You see, until this year, there haven’t been extracurricular activities. It was enough to take two older girls to the park 3 days a week and not have them throw a rock at another child or eat wood chips. It’s not that we didn’t get out in the community, it’s just that I decided pretty much right away that it wasn’t going to work for our family. Mostly because I couldn’t handle the stress of my own expectations for the experience.

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A Homework Miracle At The Kitchen Table

She looked up at me, wrapped tight in the blanket that was holding her together. Thirty minutes she’d been yelling at math problems on crumpled paper in front of her. Pencils strewn around, nerves frazzled. Now she sat quiet. Smiling with those big brown tear-soaked eyes. Oh, she was so proud of her work! She finally got it – this long-division beast!

But even more amazing (as you can imagine if you saw my last homework post!) was HOW she got it.

Since her learning disabilities relate to auditory processing and mood, it often seems the moons and stars have to align perfectly for us to have a shot at explaining a math concept or vocabulary word without the interaction ending in a giant meltdown.

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The (Not So) Fine Art of Negotiating With My Tween’s Bipolar

We’re getting ready to go to the beach. It’s New Year’s Day. (Yes, I know I’m lucky. Truly grateful!) While I’m packing, my daughter with anxiety disorder and Bipolar is escalating. She follows me around the house as I collect towels, bathing suits, beach shoes.

“You threw out my old swim suit?!” She accuses, screaming at me.

“Last time you wore it, I told you the suit was finished. It had holes.” I reply.

“It was FINE. And you KNOW it! You want me to look ugly and all my friends are going to laugh!” She yells.

(None of her friends are coming, but you and I know that’s not really the point.)

“I’ll talk to you when you’re calm and respectful, honey.” I remind.

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Holiday Carols Were Not Written for Us

I have to tell you, I am a huge sucker for holiday music. I love hearing it while I shop in the grocery and when I’m in the car. I dream of falling snow flakes and cozy fires. I actually know all the verses of many traditional hymns and get mad when artists don’t sing them!

Then, the other night (after a particularly difficult night with the boy child) I started to think about the words, and realized that no one thought of the Special Needs Family when they wrote Christmas music.

1. Silent Night–Right. Like that’s ever gonna happen!

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