This is our journey & our normal. #specialneeds #AutismAwareness #MentalHealthAwareness #advocate #mother

If you don’t have time to read this entire post, then just keep scrolling.

If you don’t have a special needs child or a child with a mental health condition, then you have not a clue what it’s like in our world. So don’t speak on something you haven’t no experience with.  And don’t put us inside the general population of general parenting, yea there may be some commonalities but not all the way. We do what we gotta do to help ease our own daily challenges and frustrations and we don’t need you to advise us on what you think works. I don’t care even if you’ve accomplished a degree in child psychology because it still doesn’t and will not ever compare or measure up to the daily challenges that we live with, battle through, and sometimes pull our hair out about throughout the entire day and wake up to the next day and do it allover again.  It’s really NOT as simple or as easy as we make it look.  Behind closed doors alot of us parents, caregivers, have a lot to navigate through.  So after your few minutes of assessing a situation, and your input is to just spank him/her or some other punishment that you think works effectively, well it doesn’t. 

Some of us parents, have it harder than others, some of our children aren’t able to verbalize how their day was while in another person’s care, and they become just as frustrated about things as others would, only their unable to verbalize it to us, so we are left to figure it out based upon other behaviors.  Some of us have children who can verbalize their day, and yet they have behavioral issues that are sometimes unexplainable and outbursts that occur for no apparent reason.  Some of us have children that have destroyed our property because of their aggression and anger but we don’t talk about that.  Some of us have children who appear “normal” by physical appearance but their bullied because of how they sound when they speak.  Some of us have adult children who are still wearing diapers and aren’t toilet trained.  Some of us want to do things just like any other average family, but it’s not possible due to other factors. Some of us can’t work because of the needs of our children, the multiple hospitalizations, ongoing procedures, medication management, feeding therapies, etc. 

Some of us are at a point where we’re fed up with others saying insensitive statements.  Some of us have chosen to become advocates for others.  Some of us are tired of the jerks in this world, but who isn’t.  Some of us just want to be able to have a full nights sleep without our kid getting up at 3am and rewinding their Barney tape.  Some of us just want a day where we can breathe and have some quiet time.  Some of us just want to the freedom to relax and not have to always feel rushed because we feel tense because we know our child is getting ready to have a public meltdown. 

Most of us lack outside, trustworthy, adequate, appropriate supports.  And therefore we don’t want to just put our child into the hands of just any caregiver.  Some of us have to walk on eggshells.  Some of us have to avoid triggers that set our kids off.  Some of us are drained and worn down.  However, we get through it, and we learn as we go.  We make it look like it’s no big deal. 

Another fact, most others don’t know, is this, many of us special needs families don’t have very many close friends, many of us are left without that village to help us raise our children.  Few of us have extended family support and compassion.  Many of us don’t get included or invited to your typical gatherings, so we stick to our own familiarity of “special needs events” so we don’t have to worry about being a “bother” to others, so we don’t have to deal with the stares, or hearing whispers and laughter at us and about us, not with us or together.  Ask yourself this, how often do you see any special needs individual out in public on a day to day?  Like when your at the mall, in the grocery store, or dining out at a restaurant?  To be honest, unless our child is “higher functioning” than you don’t see any of us. 

There are so many different terms and labels and categories that in my own opinion and it’s become white noise to myself.  None bother me anymore.  I’ve heard: “handicap, disabled, delayed, special needs, downs, autistic, non verbal, high functioning, low functioning, and they fall under the spectrum” and that’s just a few.  In anycase, Our normal is “our normal”.  Understand this, years before we even probably had a thought of bringing forth children, we didn’t forsee our future like this.  I don’t think any parent has ever envisioned what it would be like to raise a family with a child that will require extensive round the clock supervision and care well beyond adolescence.  

If we’re all unique, all different, not one of us the same, than who are you to say, our children don’t fit in.

I think if I’m honest most of us special needs parents had visions of having a child who would be considered the “typical” child who is self sufficient on an independent capacity and can work a full time job, play regular sports, and possibly move out and get married one day.  Well the truth is, for some of us, our journey has taken us a different way, and that is no longer our vision.  Because it’s truthfully unrealistic.  All I’m trying to say here is this, don’t be so quick to put your mouth upon what “you’d do if that was your kid”.  And I do know this, I’d like to believe that all of us parents, absolutely wouldn’t change a thing about our child now that they’re here and even with all the challenges. 

We’re doing the very best we can to keep them educated, safe, loved, cared for, nurtured, disciplined, corrected, and encouraged, inspired and respected.  So please the next time you’re out and you see a situation where you might normally be so quick to throw in your 2 cents, instead remember reading this.  And if after all this, you have an attitude of “that’s their problem or I don’t care they still need to….” Or something to that affect, than your just a cold hearted individual who lacks compassion and most of all you lack trying to understand.  All you see is what’s occuring in the moment.

Thanks for those who will respect what I have to say.  And if your a negative Nancy, keep it to yourself and just know this, our truth is our truth, our journey is our journey, our normal is our normal, and our experience is what makes us experts in what we have lived to tell others who are just beginning their journey as a special needs parent and might be feeling confused and hopeless.  There is hope in Jesus and there is support and advocacy out there. 

I’m just one mom who speaks on behalf of some others.  I’m just brave enough to write and share what some still may not have the courage or feel the need to say.  I’m just a mom and this is just a small part of my journey with motherhood and parenting.  Be blessed! -Erika

“What’s wrong with him?” #specialneeds #mentalhealth

As a mom to my son, Erik. Down thru the years I have encountered some very nice people, but sadly I have also encountered some very nasty and ugly people. I have been asked by people of all ages from his peers to adults, “WHATS WRONG WITH HIM?” Mostly when he wasn’t talking yet and he was only able to make sounds and body movements for expressing excitement. Back then he used sign language mostly.

I have also witnessed others like my son being mistreated, overlooked, stared upon with disgust, and it really takes me to a place that others rarely see I can go. YES, I have a button so don’t push it. I can turn into the incredible Hulk when you mistreat my child.

So here’s a challenge for life to the ones who are uneducated, uninformed, maybe willfully ignorant, or possibly just a mean spirited person.

When it comes to a negative perspective about individuals with special healthcare challenges, RATHER THAN ASKING YOURSELF “WHATS WRONG WITH HIM/HER?” How about you take a moment to get to know the person so you can learn everything that is right about them? Just because a person is nonverbal doesn’t mean they aren’t able to comprehend how you treat them or what your saying. Just because a person talks loudly doesn’t mean that they are angry or needs to be restrained. Just because a person is wheelchair bound doesn’t mean they don’t still have other abilities, some that may blow you away. Just because a person may appear to be “limited” doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t be able to break the “limits” you think can’t be broken. Just because a person may look very different, act very different, respond differently, or express themselves differently, doesn’t give another person the right to mistreat them, shun them, or say nasty things about them. After all, we’re all different already, no one is the same. So next time your out and you run into someone who’s living with obvious special challenges, take a moment to smile at them, say hello, or greet them. Instead of staring, bickering, and acting like their contagious and going to infect you with something.

And to the people who are so perfect and like to stigmatize families that have children or loved ones with special challenges. I would just like to say this, WE DON’T HAVE DEMONS, WE ARE NOT CURSED, WE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG, AND WE ARE BEING PUNISHED BY GOD BECAUSE WE HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TO A CHILD WHO’S DEVELOPED CHALLENGES!!!!!!! I did everything that I know as right to take care of myself, my health and diet, and spiritual walk with God and yes my life still had to endure hardships, various trials and tribulations, go through GREAT suffering, but in spite of it ALL, all these have taught me, compassion, understanding, empathy, patience, faith, how to keep faith during hardships, and to have love for my enemies and ones who despitefully used me.

My son loves God and I believe he has a very special connection to our heavenly father that no one else on this earth has the same.

I’ll never forget when my son was so much younger and we were inside of Walgreens standing in line, and at that time he was probably 5 years old and really just began to talk and learned to say Hi to people and he absolutely loved to get a response and interaction from others. So he would say Hi more than just once and keep saying Hi until he got a reply back. So he said Hi to this lady standing in front of us because she made eye contact with us, and she just kept staring, but said nothing back, then I thought well maybe she doesn’t talk or she could be deaf or something, but NOPE, she heard him because he kept saying Hi, and she deliberately ignored him, and just stared at him like he had a disease, she finally turned and began talking to a person in line. So as Erik kept saying Hi, I turned to my son and said, You know what Erik, its okay if she doesn’t want to say Hi, some people are just rude and don’t realize just how special you are and who they are standing in line with. And he just got excited and at that time he would gesture his arms and make this whoofing sound to express his excitement.

You have to give people time to develop, grow and learn at their own pace sometimes. Sometimes its not always a ONE SIZE FITS ALL world for everyone.

And it’s not always a fair assessment to say a child or teen isn’t able to learn and fail them in your class, just because they are struggling. Have you considered that maybe just maybe it could be your teaching style that needs a different approach or a tweak? Sometimes people are good at doing their own job, but it doesn’t always mean they are good at teaching what they do. Sometimes people are good learners but not good teachers. I’ve witnessed this in college and when I worked an actual 9to5 and had to punch the clock.

I challenge you to make and take time to learn about others and get to know and understand the person you may have looked at “differently” & learn about their journey and maybe you can come to respect and accept who they are.

So it’s because of moments and memories like these that have made me continue to speak out and speak up on behalf of my own son and others who live the daily grind just like me and my family.

Thanks for listening. -EB

My voice, my views, but my son’s journey. When the wind blew bipolar our way. (Repost)

Tonight, I will be sharing a small chapter of my oldest son’s journey of life in his teenage years and becoming diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This article is through my views and facts as I know them. It is my voice of experience as his mom, caregiver, and advocate.

It all began during the middle of his 8th grade year. He had come home from school one day, not speaking and with a grimaced facial expression. Anything I said, he wouldn’t respond to, I would just get that same expression. I could discern something was off, not exactly right, and very concerned. My husband was in denial, and thought he was just playing around, because our son often would joke around. However, I knew my son wasn’t playing around and this was nothing to joke about nor was it a joke itself. I like to think of it as “mothers intuition”. It wasn’t until he was attempting to make a sandwich and turn on the TV that it was obvious he was in need of medical attention. To see that he struggled to make that sandwich and watch him begin to twitch while trying to turn on the TV, that was enough for me. I can remember my husband laying down to take a nap as he too had just gotten home from work. As soon as I came out to the living area and saw my son struggling with the remote and his face twitching, I knew in that instant, he needed medical attention and there was something serious going on, but I just didn’t know what. We immediately took him to the hospital ER and he was admitted. They ran several medical tests, labs, and everything came back negative except one small concern. But it wasn’t able to explain why he wasn’t talking and why he was having all these involuntary movements with his upper extremities.

Long story short, he was discharged after sometime in the hospital as having an altered mental status. And sent home with a sedative to treat anxiety attacks, since this was also what he appeared to be experiencing. He was referred to follow up with their social worker/pediatric psychologist for outpatient services.

After his uncontrollable symptoms had ran their course. He finally stabilized and was home, all things appeared to return back to normal for himself as well as our daily living. And might I add, this entire “thing” had flipped our entire world’s upside down, inside out and scared the living crap out of us all. It was as though, here we were sailing through life just great and then this “thing” came in and interrupted our world as we once knew it before. During this time his mental health was out of his control and required him to finish his 8th grade at home. I arranged with the school district to provide a home school tutor and created a 504 plan with accommodations for his educational needs.

For those who have no idea what I’m explaining please follow this article for more descriptive details of my journey. Never did I think my family, my son, would experience anything like this. Prior to this happening our family was blind to mental illnesses and our family was once “untouched”, “uninformed”. Some of you have absolutely no clue how difficult it is to watch your child suddenly become nonverbal, incapacitated and suddenly crippled mentally and physically. It was heart breaking and I felt like my life was moving in slow motion as I was being suffocated. I felt helpless, and afraid for his quality of life.

All I had in these moments was my faith in God which served as my weapon and continual prayer as my strength. His health had been severely impacted during this time, and it was scary because of the unknown future. He needed assistance to feed himself, tie his shoes, and walk at times. And I’m talking about a child who was born healthy, normal and on time. He was advanced in some areas of his growth and development as a toddler. He had always been highly active, involved in sports, and very independent. All the things he enjoyed before had all become things that he no longer could enjoy at times. He would still partake in doing them, but just couldn’t enjoy them as he once had. It was as though the wind blew and everything changed in the blink of an eye.

To be continued…

Tonight’s encouragement & prayer for other warriors. #MentalHealth

This is what I want writers to know.

As I scroll the feed, I read

All the stories where others have chosen to pour their heart out,

As if it’s an open journal entry for everyone to read some of their most intimate thoughts.

I read mostly ones that are tagged within the mental health or special needs titles, only because I take to heart what these individuals are battling. I read because I want to know what areas to focus my nightly prayers upon and what requests I need to make known to my Lord and Savior. I pray for others whom I do not even know on a personal level, because oftentimes, their stories are very relatable from standing in my position as a loving mom and advocate.

I hope for others to have a better moment as the time continues to pass. I want the best outcome for others who feel trapped, alone, isolated, and lifeless. I want others to know they are valued so much more than their life might feel worth in those darkest moments.

In a perfect world, there would be a cure for mental health challenges, to completely heal from these brain disorders that cause a variety of negative life-impacting symptoms that spiral out of control.

In a perfect world, mental healthcare would be a higher priority instead of dismissing it like its the scum of the earth.

In a perfect world, we would have perfect people that are free from sickness, disease, ailments, cancers, illnesses.

In a perfect world, my son wouldn’t have died twice suffering from cardiac arrhytmia, ventricular tachycardia, suffer from seizures or developmental disabilities.

In a perfect world, my other son wouldn’t have suffered from a mental health disorder and become diagnosed with bipolar or have to battle everyday with the symptoms.

In a perfect world, my daughter wouldn’t have suffered from a mental health break, and seizures or have a seizure disorder.

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have been adopted only to be verbally abused my entire childhood and made to feel worthless and depressed. Only to find my voice many years later.

However, this world is imperfect with imperfect people. As a matter of fact we are all DIFFERENT, no two 100% alike. We ALL have flaws, we all have something good within ourselves, we all have that 1 thing we would like to change.

In reality, I would like God to change things even within my own family. I would love if I could wake up tomorrow and have some chapters just been a dream and not my reality. But instead I realize these traumatic events that have caused so much pain, heartache and long-suffering, are the very same events that have taught me to trust, taught me to endure, shown me what it is to lean and depend on God, proved to myself just how strong I didn’t know I was, and now in hindsight I can look back and draw from strength of those trying times and testimonies to give me inspiration to appreciate the moments when things are good.

And most of all, it’s helped me to see others differently, but in a light hearted way. It’s pushed away the unimportant things in my life and brought me closer to the very things that are significant. It’s helped me to lay aside every weight, which were people who I didn’t need to keep around. It’s pushed me into my purpose of advocacy.

Lastly, it’s brought me here to build this website to be a voice for others who don’t feel their heard, or maybe they prefer to share through me, or they simply feel often misunderstood. My journey has brought me here to pray for others who walked a similar path, battled a similar war, struggle with similar issues, and hope for change.

I used to say this all the time, at previous church on Friday night’s, “I thank and praise God for ALL the little things, because I know bigger and better things are yet to come”. And I’ve found this to be true.

So I’ll end it here. Whether a believer of the Holy Bible or not, or believe or don’t believe in Jesus as the son of the living God, just at least know this, I am here and I have prayed for strategically for others because afterall the ONE AND ONLY reason why I am still here TODAY, is because somebody somewhere prayed for me, and God heard and kept me when I couldn’t keep myself.

Thanks for reading, and blessings to everybody.

Words matter #MentalHealth #StigmasNoMore

When people have a Mental Health diagnosis they never even wanted themselves & others throw “words” around to stigmatize, it’s like sentencing a completely innocent person to death row for a crime they weren’t even present to commit. Falsely accused of a crime. And now dealing with consequences that don’t fit. The punishment doesn’t fit here in this scenario. Stop punishing, stigmatizing and scrutinizing people who have mental health challenges. Who knows where life will take you next. What if the tables were turned and you suddenly had a mental health diagnosis?

#EndTheStigma #StigmasNoMore #MyAnalogy

From the paths of nothing to the journey of something. #MentalHealth

If I can be very candid, this used to be ME!! ➡UNTOUCHED, UNINFORMED, UNAWARE, UNEDUCATED 💯💯💯! UNTIL the paths I once walked “untouched” “uninformed” “unaware” “uneducated” have now become the paths which lead me into being “touched” informed” “aware” and “educated”. Which further pushed me into finding my purpose and I’ve become passionate about advocating for people with mental health disorders and developmental disabilities.  Why? Because I understand the struggle, daily battles.  Because I see the stigma, the false representations, assumptions, speculations, infiltrated by the media.  They edit, crop, filter out to show what they want uninformed people to see as “mentally ill” or “disabled”.  Which not only places the idea of limitations on people but also we are somewhat forced to use some of the same terms when writing articles such as this one, just to grab the attention of the uninformed.

This is a quick sketch for a visual.

sketching on my daughters surface pro. I’m not quite the artist, but this creation hopefully gives you a visual.

Thank you for being here. I don’t take lightly the support you’ve given me by your comments, follows and shares. Again, this is my own journey. Every person has their own path, journey, and story to tell. This just happens to be mine, For now……until God says otherwise.

Blessings to you ALL!

You can donate here to help me, help others.

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An analogy about mental illness. #MentalHealthAwareness #MentalHealth

If I had to come up with an analogy about mental illness, it would be a little something like this.

It’s like those invisible bacterias and germs inside the foods we eat, or on the utensils we use. We can’t see them, so we’re unaware they exist, up until that moment when they produce symptoms upon us, and impose on our day, making us feel sickened and desperate to feel better. And our intent was to impart some nutritional value while sitting down to eat, and now that very meal that was designed to give us nutrition and energy, has become that same meal we will always remember that made us ill. So from that point forward we will likely never eat that same meal again, or be skeptical to consume it. One bad experience shifts the whole way we choose from that point forward. And we were just going along about our day, and didn’t expect to, want to, or ask to become ill, it just happened!

Unfortunately, there isn’t always a warning label!

Hopefully this article will give someone some thing to think upon, next time you think about mental illness. Specifically, those who are quick to stigmatize, judge, and lack understanding.

Thanks again for being here. This is my journey, my thoughts, my views and the path that life has taken me and my family. I speak for myself, but I also speak for others.

Different walks of life but respect the journey. #Faith #God #SpecialNeeds #MentalHealth

People come from so many different walks of life. Every individual has their own story to share. Some of us have similar paths but very different views and outcomes. Each one being born into this world to live out a purpose that has been designed specifically for that person.

Me and my youngest son. 3/31/19

Others ask me, how do I manage to do it ALL with the various challenges my children face? How do I keep it together? How am I able to financially support a big family with one source of income? When do I have time for myself? When do I get rest?

My answers, all lead to my faith in God. My Jesus journey hasnt been a bed of roses, but I have learned to trust in him down through the years. I was once skeptical about 22 years ago when I first walked into the church doors. I wasn’t raised in church and in fact very opposite. Bibles, prayer and Sunday school was never a thing of my upbringing. I’ve been tested, tried, retested and retried but in the end God has shown himself faithful even in times when I wasn’t. 22 years ago is when I came to the Lord and I’ve remained with Him since.

I keep it together with prayer, meditation, as well as natural things such as exercise at times, counseling, keeping healthy relationships, and dismissing toxic ones.

All I can say is AMEN!

I have had to quit so many jobs that I truly enjoyed due to the health crisis of my children’s lives. Money cannot replace my children or the emotions that came along with each chapter of life that was impactful. God shall supply all my needs, is what His word says and HE has yet to fail me. My husband is the sole source of earned income, but the key is being responsible with what we have been blessed with, while walking by faith not by sight.

One of my own sayings

My free time consists of staying up late once everyone is off to bed and tucked in their beds. My time of enjoyment is when my children are all doing well and no one is in the hospital as a result of their diagnoses. When I can look around and see that they are happy and fulfilling their own dreams and goals. Not fussing about a dirty room anymore, because life has much bigger issues and things that I should draw my attention toward. I rest in the Lord, meaning I know even in the bad times He is going to handle it and I just have to endure the process. My family and I have been thrown into the fiery furnace so many times, yet God made us fireproof. While the fire was intended to burn us up, instead it burnt up everything toxic around us. The heat purified things that were once impure.

This statement holds true for myself

My husband is not God, nor is he a god. But he is my partner for life. He is my one and only best friend. I honor him as the man he has proved himself to be in my life and in his role, not only as a husband but a good father to our 4 children.

My husband, Carl & myself. (Seahawks shuttle)

Our relationship began in high school and we’ve grown together, facing much adversity from racial slurs, verbal attacks because were an interracial couple. But we stuck together and we are still together, stronger by our faith. If it had not been for the Lord, I truly do not think we would still be together today.

My oldest son sharing his journey as a young man and opening up about his diagnosis with bipolar disorder

Presently, today my family is somewhat broken but still good as stitch would say from that cartoon. My children are all growing into adults. We are all at different stages of our lives. I have accepted my role as a mom and advocate. I am used to being home now. My mindset is different than it used to be in the “corporate world”. I no longer belittle my role as a “stay home mom or housewife”. I am NO where near perfect, not at all, and I’m the first one to raise my hand and admit my every fault and sin, but I also know not to stay down for too long after being knocked over. I’m not afraid anymore. I know there are brighter and better days ahead. I know because I’ve been where others are now, and I’ve been there before but I have also been brought out to see the other side. I’ve suffered many things, but I am a survivor with a voice to speak not only for myself, my children but others who haven’t found their voice yet.

Selena, Carl III, Erik (present day)

I have the most valuable role and it’s what I am called to do. To be here for my children and husband without being exhausted from a 8 hour job that used to rob me of quality time with them.

My sole focus is to help my children become independent and develop life skills. Learning how to be a person of integrity, being kind to everyone. Supporting them in hardships and encouraging them to hold onto their faith in God for themselves. Not because of “religious tradition” but to develop and spend time in their own relationship with God. Because when life hits hard, and crisis disrupts your life, that college degree, part-time job, fancy car, new Jordan shoes, favorite song, these will no longer matter.

This was hung over my sons hospital bed

They have all been blessed enough at such young ages with various hardships and tribulations that they have already begun to learn that God is their only source for help in times of trouble. And in hindsight, I’m grateful even though those moments seemed dark and hopeless. Well you can’t find hope unless you’ve been hopeless right?

Another paper I typed, printed and taped to my sons hospital bed

I didnt write this article to preach, or to impress my beliefs upon you. I’m simply just answering the questions that others seem to ask me time and time again. This is what works for me and my family. We tried everything else, but God is and has been the only one and consistent support in life.

Thank you for listening and being here. Blessings to you.

Accepting the present. #MentalHealth #Grief #acceptance #love #change

In a discussion today, this thought came to me. When our loved ones life has been impacted and altered by mental illness, some of us tend to grieve the loss of the person we once knew them to be. The person before their life was impacted by this illness that came out of no where. This very illness that they have absolutely no control over or how it impacts the former abilities they used to exemplify without restraint or hesitation. I believe that’s where some of the frustration lies on caregivers. Because we have a sort of false sense of reality moving forward and keep expecting things to be the ways they used to be. Instead, we should realize life is now different.

Learning acceptance, and love for who they are now and not just who they used to be. Be accepting to the present way life is, instead of hoping for what it used to look like, this is the beginning of change. Understand that your loved one didn’t wake up “that day” deciding they wanted to have a mental illness that would disrupt their daily living. Oftentimes we try to “fix them” or “fix the situation” by unknowingly dismissing their candid feelings, which then leads to a huge misunderstanding or heated argument. I’m speaking from my own experience. That’s where the eggshell life comes into play.

Love them unconditionally and inspite of those moments when things spiral out of control or when their symptomatic and battling. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Not easy to watch our loved one suffer and battle a war that they didn’t enlist for to begin with. Love is and should be there without question. If it’s not, then I have no comment toward that, only my own views here. Everyone has a journey, every one wants to be loved and accepted. Some of us get sicker than others, and some of us have incurable diseases, minor ailments. Regardless this shouldn’t change the way love is given or love itself. Mental illness needs a cure and for the present time, in my home, the temporary cure, fix, is love and encouragement with forgiveness. Being able to forgive the words or behaviors that tend to flare up in those not so good moments. I will admit this way of life is not here by choice for either party and it requires tough skin, commitment and dedication. Make a commitment to be there for your loved one, they need your support so much more than what they express or don’t express. What looks like anger or a happy smile, could just be their “go to” mask.

Basically, I’m saying just because the outward appearance is in tact, and the disability is invisible doesn’t mean that the expectations should be pressing. Let me elaborate a little more so you can hopefully grasp what I’m explaining here. I have a son with developmental disabilities who was born on time and normal, but at the age of 2 months he suffered from cardiac arrest and seizures which impacted his growth and development. Since his age was so young when his life was impacted there was no other comparison of how he once was prior to him dying twice. His way of life is what we consider his “normal”. His development is only viewed as delayed by comparison of other children and statistics. Now had he been like the rest of my 3 children who had no known issues until way later in life then I would’ve had to accept and adjust to change from how he was to how he became. And with my youngest son, he has visible disablities so others can see he is challenged with things, such as his walk, his speech, his behaviors.

And with my oldest son, who was born normal, healthy and sailing through his growth and development. He reached early milestones of walking and talking when compared to that of others. Then many years later here came bipolar disorder! Which impacted his life, his views, his thoughts, his daily living. And it is not the same as before this illness decided to come in and hit him hard. But if you see him, he does not have obvious visible disabilities, and oftentimes the expectations presented to him are too much for him at certain times because of the symptoms that tend to flare up. Yet he tries very hard to work through, persevere, and prove himself capable. He isn’t the illness, but the illness is trying to hinder his development. He is intelligent. He is an athlete. He is hilariously funny at times. He loves music and was an honor grad. He is presently a college student. He is a believer of the gospel of Jesus and we are a Christian home. He battles everyday, as he explains to me. He dreams of becoming an Olympian thrower. And he has to work 100 times harder to achieve the same postive results as his peers, because of this illness. He is a normal young man, who is trying to beat bipolar disorder, just like someone who is battling chemo and trying to beat cancer. He is a developing adolescent, who is often misunderstood due to his inability to articulate his needs at times. He is still my baby boy, my son that I love dearly. He is changing just as we all have evolved and changed down through the years. His brain is what is sick with an illness that has no cure, YET. Plus let’s take into account he is finding ways to be independent and at the age where he’s still trying to figure out his purpose and future. So all I’m saying is regardless of the “disability, illness, disease, ailment, etc” being able to accept the present versus the past is what makes a difference. Well that’s helpful for me. Maybe not for everyone.

And to others who don’t get it, like some teachers, some first responders, even some medical professionals, there is NO ONE WAY across the board of teaching for ALL, there is NO ONE WAY of responding for ALL, NO ONE WAY of a single effective method. So just because “most” can learn, be rescued, or treated with ONE method, doesn’t mean that because you should dismiss that ONE who needs extra or different support. Sometimes you need to be that ONE to change how you teach that student, how you respond for help, how you treat that patient.

And to my fellow caregivers, parents, relatives of these loved ones, your either going to accept the process for what it really is or your going to live frustrated with always looking in your rearview.

Praying for change. Hoping for better days. Enjoying moments when life is good. Hugging often while I have opportunities. Laughing together. Creating new memories in the present. Loving each other.

Thanks again for listening, being here and following me. I hope to enlighten someone. Again, this is my journey, my views, my own opinions and what works for me and us. To each their own. Have a blessed day!

From bitter to better. Moving Forward without you. #Truths #Stigma #MentalHealth

If I can be honest. If I’m allowed to express my truths. If I can tell others how it feels to experience those chapters of my life when my youngest son died twice in my arms on two separate occasions, when he was discovered to have significant developmental delays.  When my oldest son experienced anxiety, depression, and was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. When my youngest daughter experienced severe depression that it lead her into a mental break and also had a seizure, and diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.  When our world was flipped upside down and the people who we thought would be there, weren’t and the people we didn’t expect to show support, did.  When the trust became broken, when the pain became very unbearable, when we were thrown into the fiery furnace, when I had to quit my job once again, when I had no support from the ones I expected, when life became at a halt, when people said hurtful things, when people gave advice that wasn’t relevant to me, when people thought we didn’t need help but we did, when our faith in God was tested, tried and ridiculed, when people who I thought were my friends, suddenly became “busy”, when there was no one else but God, when prayer didn’t seem to work, when my light became dimmed, when I couldn’t see my way through, when doubt began to set in, when I got tired of being misunderstood, when I got weary, when I felt at my weakest, when our lives changed, when the wind blew everything our way.  WHEN my older daughter and mom treated the rest of us like we had “evil spirits” or what we were dealing with was contagious and could spread to them!

First and foremost to Jesus Christ who is my Lord and Savior, I thank Him for being my strength when I’m weak. For being my one and only consistency. For being my only hope in the midst of bad news. For being my peace when things became chaotic. For keeping me in my right mind, while everything and others were against me. For allowing me to see clearly just WHO to dismiss from my life and WHO to keep around. To realize that blood isn’t what bonds me to another, but it’s the sacrifices of love from others that withstand any genetic makeup.

Secondly, I have to honor my husband, who is my ride or die kind of guy. He is my biggest supporter, best friend, lover, companion, secret keeper, and cheerleader.

And to my children who have stuck around. The ones who supported each other, who overcame, who loved on one another, who fought together, who learned forbearance, kindness, patience, compassion, and who have always respected and honored my role as their mom, caregiver, voice of reason, annoying advice, correction, and views on life. I love you.

What I want others to know, is that my journey has not been “the dream” that I used to envision as a little girl who wanted a family. But it has been different and full of life lessons about love, forbearance, patience, anger, frustrations, family, compassion, empathy, sympathy, truth, honesty, fairness, division, strife, and how to move forward.

The trauma that my children have suffered has me on edge most days. What they may not comprehend is this. Just as their lives have been impacted, changed, not the same, and challenged, so has my own, as their mom, as myself, as a human. I too, have to learn to move forward, to survive in the aftermath of the traumatic events of our past.

For example, every time I’m away from home, running errands, on a date with my hubby and I hear a siren or I see first responders with flashing lights speed past me, my mind goes to thinking I need to hurry up and get back home to my kids. I begin to wonder if their okay. My moment of free time and enjoyment gets overshadowed by thoughts from my past. So now while I’m suppose to be enjoying my free time, my thoughts and conversation becomes consumed with the topics that exhaust me at other times. There is so much more little things that I am hypersensitive about now, like the tv shows I watch I feel as though I’m on eggshells if one of them comes to sit down. Especially if it’s a scene about depression or other familiar topics that they have experienced, so then I change the channel.

Things I want to express to people who hurt me. You became just like those who stigmatize and demonize people who live with a mental illness. You said very hurtful words that have caused damage beyond repair. You have been allowed to inflict pain in my life one too many times. You have now been dismissed. You have now become a chapter in my book. You are a thing of my past and will likely not be involved in my future. As for reconciling, that ship has sailed.

What I want you to know is: My love and my life cannot be brought. I don’t want your money. I don’t want you around me, when you truly feel a certain kind of way about me and my children. I don’t like being used, manipulated, persuaded by guilt. I value myself more than you see me as worth. I will no longer tolerate willfull ignorance. I am better without you. I can accept your apology but this doesn’t mean I want you around. I have forgave you not because you deserve it, but to forgive myself for being fooled everytime. I needed your love and support in the most trying times and you chose not to be around, stating you were busy. I will no longer make you a priority. I’m making myself a priority. I want no dealings with you. Family or not! I’m moving toward becoming a better me without you. I have no ill feelings and I wish you the best in life.

The truths, I have found more love, support, guidance, direction, instruction, correction, hope, inspiration, motivation from people on the outside than I have from some of my own family!

One positive thing I can grab from the bad moments in my life is that, while I was over here suffering, forbearing, battling, warring, praying, fasting, believing for better days to come, God was strengthening me, he was revealing to me the heavy weights, the people who caused me the most pain, the most stress, the ones who I had ALWAYS been there for, would drop what I was doing and come running to their aid, he showed me that when it was my time of need, these same people were no where to be found. He showed me who was only here by their own convenience, their own motive, their own selfish gain, and only when things were good.

I’m over you and I deserve better for my own self. I will no longer put an emphasis on the people who don’t, didn’t, or won’t support me. Instead my focus is on the people who did, do and will support me in both trying times and good moments. Because for my own self care I don’t need to keep being a lifeline for others when I could hardly breathe myself. There came a time when I was broken and in need of fixing. I was once weak but God sustained me and he strengthened me. I was running on empty with nothing more to give.

I needed someone to pour back into me. I needed a shoulder to lean on. I needed someone to pick me up. I needed you to see that I’m prone to becoming weak too. I’m not always strong. Don’t get me wrong, don’t get it twisted, I realize and I can understand every body deals with their own turmoil, struggles, hardships but it’s when I knew you were just choosing to not come around, choosing not to be supportive, choosing not to answer my call for help, choosing to avoid or ignore me, and to these same people who I had ALWAYS came running to rescue, sometimes in the most inconvenient times for myself, or interrupting my sleep hours, and yet I got nothing but dead air in return. So I get it for those who had their own obligations, but for my own family to treat me/us like this!? You get the picture. Time for me to let it go.

My picture of self-care. What do you do in any life threatening emergency situation? If a plane is going down, you put your own oxygen mask on first and then help others.

Before you enter a burning building you put on your own proper fireproof gear so you can effectively attempt to rescue others.

Self care is important. I hurted a little while but I’ve moved on. I’ve found that I’m better without the toxicity that some people brought with them. I’m working toward becoming a better me. I learned through all this, that I cannot expect others to understand what they either can’t understand or refuse to learn to accept. I won’t continue to waste my good energy on people who refuse to change. I won’t drain myself to empty while I continue to keep them filled up. I can’t afford to lose myself in someone else’s story anymore. Instead I’m sharing, writing, and telling my own!

So basically I said all that to say this, For all the times you didn’t call me back, didn’t respond to texts, pulled a no show, didn’t come through, said you were busy, and yet I gave you understanding. Just know when I don’t call back, I don’t respond, and I no longer come running to your aid, and I’m NOT busy, you’ll understand too! You’ll figure it out without me.(wink) 😉

Thanks again for listening and for allowing me to be candid. Thank you for respecting my journey. I hope to inspire the readers to make themselves a priority for once, and to do whatever is necessary for you own self care. I know I speak for others as I speak for myself. Please take care of YOU!

Have a blessed day.