As many of you know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. And many of my followers should know by now that I’m very passionate about mental health advocacy. You can read my other articles to find out why and how I’m involved.
Last year, in 2019, this campaign was a huge success with several supporters from friends, coworkers, and people across the states. This year, I’m hopeful it will be just as successful. In this article, you’ll be able to see just a few of the people who supported during last year’s campaign. And you’ll be able to get a visual of what it’s like to wear such a powerful message on a t-shirt.
Each and every single time I’ve worn my shirt out in public, I’ve always received a compliment and asked where they can get one, well now is everyone’s chance to get their own! You can order here! (Remember the design is slightly different from last year’s.)
This year in 2020, I’ve decided to launch another awareness campaign and you’ve got a few different options to choose from at reasonable prices. The sizes range from youths small to adult sized 4X. Here is the link which will take you directly to the custom ink campaign page. This campaign is set to run for just 4 weeks, so once it closes no more orders will be accepted.
So go ahead and order your gear today, and get it in time for May! But you can wear it any day and this is a great way to help spread our message to END THE STIGMA! It’s also a great way to help honor & show our support to those who are in this fight every single day!
Please feel free to share this post within your community of followers!
Thank you for your support & much love to ALL! -Erika
This is my experience as I know mental illness, stigma and speaking out. I have a very unique journey, from both sides of the world, one being the “special needs” community, and the other being the isolated world of “mental illness”. Because for some reason God chose to let my children live with a variety of challenges, whether you consider them, “invisible disabilities, high functioning, special needs, intellectual disabilities, mentally challenged, developmentally delayed, etc” the list goes on and on and I am so used to it, that those are just words now. I could care less. I use them myself because that’s how some can identify with what I’m explaining. I do however care when it comes to offensive derogatory words or stigma!
As a caregiver & mom of children who are living with mental health challenges, and developmental delays and when my world became flipped upside down and torn to shreds in those intense “Never would have imagined this could happen to me” moments, I went thru various stages of emotions.
First, was the “why” phase. When I ask God why is this happening to my child? Second, was the “anger” phase. When I grew angry at the fact that life as I once knew It, became a stranger to me and there was nothing that could be done to change what was standing and existing right in front of me. Then came the “what, how, when, why” phase. This is where things seemed like it was going to remain stuck in turmoil and all the questions came into play. What if they never bounce back to their normal self? What if they will never be able to overcome this? What if I have lost the child I once knew before? What will their future look like? What if others find out what they’ve went through, will they be treated different? What if I lose friends myself? How did this happen? When did things change? Did I miss something? Why did it happen? Who do I turn to for help? Who can I talk to about such personal and scary stuff without being stigmatized? These were just some of my concerns and questions when my world flipped upside down the first time, during my son’s 8th grade year.
Now, nearly 6 years later. After having educated my own self about mental health and mental illnesses, and becoming involved with advocacy. My questions and concerns, and feelings have shifted. Now I ask. Why don’t people want to learn more about mental illnesses, and symptoms and how to identify a person in crisis? When will others realize that mental illnesses are brain disorders and they are caused by something medical, yet it’s mostly always labeled as “mental” so it’s dismissed that bipolar, schizophrenia are medicaly related? What if it was YOU, what if this happened to you, how would you want others to treat you? Why does the media continue to make every person living with mental illness look like a evil person? When are we going to see the people who are living successfully with mental illness? When are we going to see the commercials that someone with bipolar 1 disorder, overcame and graduated college? What would you do if your own brain had some thing similar to a heart attack? Why does there seem to be a separation between a person who has Autism, versus a person who has both Autism and Bipolar 1? Or has one but not the other? How would you feel if you were stigmatized because your child became diagnosed with Autism or Bipolar? And people said you must be cursed because your kids have issues? Why is it even okay that the media is allowed to portray false representations of mental illness?How can we eradicate stigma? What’s it going to take to eradicate stigma? Why isn’t it mandatory to be educated to the student body in high schools nationwide and staff? When will ER staff learn how to respond and what to do effectively in a mental health crisis? When will others learn that mental illness isn’t like a cold that you can catch? When will others see that NOT every individual who has a mental illness also has a drug addiction? When will people realize that NO one, NOT one person is exempt from becoming mentally ill? I say that to drive home a point, and some can disagree and maybe this is my angry phase once again, but when are people going to realize that just as much and as “normal” as my son was prior to his mental break, and as healthy as he ate and athletic as he is, and intelligent as he is, IT still wasn’t enough to keep bipolar from blowing our way and impacting his life. He was born on time, no complications, met every milestone on time or early in his development. Smart as a whip. So it doesn’t matter who you are, how healthy you eat, how active you are, what your age is, because for us, it was like one day this, and the following day literally EVERYTHING CHANGED! So learn about mental health, educate yourself. What happened to my family, can very well at any time happen to yours. Just as similar as a person who has a sudden cardiac arrest after sailing along thru life just fine, this is how I felt my son was suffering from a sudden misfire in his brain. And I truly hope and pray that one day we can find prevention, that mental illness can be detected early in children, instead of waiting until 18 to get a diagnosis. I hope that EEG’s or blood tests one day will be able to identify specifics of what looks like bipolar, schizophrenia, autism, borderline. I pray for everyone to become better informed. Especially those who are in uniforms and in a first responder role, so they can help people receive appropriate and effective treatment. I pray that mental health laws would enforced with better outcomes for both the individual and the caregiver. I pray that there would be a better more efficient way to identify someone in a mental health crisis, rather than ALWAYS having to treat them as if their on drugs or high off of them just because some symptoms are presently the same. Yet every second is crucial for a persons brain and the trauma it is going thru. I pray for better science and medical treatment.
When will the media begin showing the positive successes of individuals who live with mental illness as college graduates, high school honor students, successful engineers, game developers? Instead of always portraying the few that have had not so good outcomes. Yet the media always shows the person who commits a violent crime, and quick to mention their “mentally ill” but fails to often mention the other facts that they’ve stopped taking their medication and began self medicating.
Mental illnesses aren’t what causes evil. Evil meditations cause people to become evil, not the mental illness. I’m just saying from experience, not all people who have a mental illness are evil. Yes its possible for an evil person to have a mental illness, but again its not the mental illness that drives evil.
Mental illness often times gets the blame for heinous crimes. This is why stigma continues. Because we’re missing all the facts people! It seems like whenever a heinous crime is in the media, and Mental illness is mentioned, that alone overshadows all the remaining components to that person’s character and choices which influenced their decision to commit a heinous crime.
Mental illness is often depicted in movies as something “crazy”, “psycho”, or “dark”, “evil” because they take a character, write that he has a Mental illness and portray him as such horrific things. And this is what we support people. To those who like those horror flicks, or killer movies, which in my opinion feeds the stigma. You’ll NEVER get it, until or unless someone near and dear to you becomes sick with a mental illness. Then and only then will you view things in a different light, will you then become a little more sensitive to things you never were before. Anyways, I know what I know and so it doesn’t and will not matter what others opinions are to my own facts as I have lived them. There’s an old saying, just keep on living and after while…….
I guess I can’t expect everyone to get it! Especially those who haven’t lived a similat journey. And btw, no it’s not all peaches and cream. It’s a lot of sleepless nights, walking on eggshells, and alot of effort goes into continual caregiving and giving a care. But when you’ve walked a similar path to that of mine, then and only then will you get it. If you have questions, please contact me privately, don’t post a long comment.
The people I have met are very inspiring. They are some of the most kind-hearted, fragile, soft spoken, upbeat, funny, energetic, loving, compassionate individuals I have ever met.
I have had a very unique opportunity to meet individuals who are battling everyday with their mental health, yet because their mental illness is “invisible” to others, their mixed in and combined within the general pool of applicants, students, interns, positions, classes, etc. And to their credit, it is no ones business unless they choose to share that they battle depression, Anxiety, bipolar, etc. Yet these same individuals are just as successful, have graduated with honors, have went onto college, have become famous athletes, have became well known in society, but only few have chose to break their silence and share their journey of how they have not allowed their mental illness to cripple them. I wish anyone who has a respectable platform who has fought tooth and nail, would share to inspire others, educate the general public, and give hope to family members.
I am like Martin Luther King Jr, and I too have a dream. I dream that one day every person will be educated about mental illness and eradicate stigma that continues to exist due to ignorance and false representations. I dream that one day there will be a medical procedure to quickly and accurately identify people who are in mental health decline, rather than treating them as a drug addict or violent aggressor. I dream that we will find a cure for mental illness. I dream for a better future for individuals who live with bipolar, schizophrenia, ptsd, ADHD, autism, aspergers, borderline personality, and all others. I dream that I will live long too see change for the better. I dream that there would be equal compassion for every one who battles an illness, cancer, disease or life impacting, debilitating sickness. I dream that individuals who battle with mental illness will receive just as much compassion as individuals who battle cancer or autism or other life altering ailments.
If you’ve read this and are out of touch, uninformed or misinformed please take and make time to become in touch, informed and accurately educated about how to help someone in crisis. You could save a life!
To those who follow the articles I write, once again, thank you for being here. I know it’s been awhile. I appreciate your support and don’t take it lightly. And thank you to those who share my articles on their social platforms and outlets.
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.
Sure no one should be blamed for a mental health problem. It is my belief that everyone has a mental heath problem at one time or another. The problem is that no one can tell a person has a mental health issue. No one wears a sign! Thus, until there is a way to notice someone has a mental health issue, there is little that can be done.
This quote above was actually a comment from a reader on my article “Words Matter“, whom I will keep anonymous. Below are my views that I have chosen to write in an article rather than to display it down my feed/page since its lengthy.
I will just state my views here and hope not to offend anyone. We can’t place blame what someone doesn’t know however, everyone can make a conscience choice to stop stigmatizing others and throwing labels around whether it’s a “visible or invisible” health challenge.
Just like no one wants others talking trash about their mom/self/loved one, or referencing them by derogatory words/labels.
Just as no one knows when someone is about to go into cardiac arrest until you see the symptoms/signs of the underlying issues, but you see it’s much more common to be trained in CPR after such crisis.
In fact, when my youngest was discharged from the hospital it was mandatory for me to become trained in CPR. However, through my own experiences with both cardiac arrest, and mental health crisis there isn’t much talk about Mental Health First Aid training or suggesting it afterwards.
When my oldest was being discharged from inpatient, there wasn’t any suggestion of mental health first aid, nor was it mandatory. Instead it was just like sending me home with a bandaid that wasn’t sufficient to help aid the wound.
And I had no idea that it even existed until I began researching and taking self initiative to seek out more ways to educate myself so I can help others who are still uninformed in my same shoes. Plus become better equipped to educate and inform others who are untouched by mental health challenges. I’m not a expert, but I have the actual experience that most professionals only read about or hear during a 30 min session. I have the experience of my own journey.
Stigma is one of the causes why some individuals choose to live in isolation and silence. It is why kids often choose to hide it from their peers, teachers, and feel alone to fight in silence. Not to mention why some adults won’t speak out.
From a mother who has experienced this battle with my own children & others whom I have met in my community, I will have to somewhat disagree that little can be done. The problem is that kind of thinking, “that little can be done”, so therefore no one does anything or they just do little from the outside looking in. MORE can be done, but it’s little that is being done due to lack of funding and simply it’s not seen as a priority yet. Maybe it hasn’t impacted the “right person” yet, that person who has the power and authority to make change happen. That person who’s “untouched” and who’s views are opposite of my own.
In my own opinion, The “little” that could be done would be to change the way others view mental health disorders, and unless a person is impacted with mental health challenges they most likely won’t ever get the full effects it has on a person who suffers as well as the family/caregiver/parents. It’s kind of like this, if your son/daughter/loved one was sailing along through life and suddenly a life-altering event came in and changed his daily living, you would likely NOT want others going around defaming their character just because they have a different way of life now and a diagnosis that they didn’t expect, ask for, or want to happen to themselves, all the while they themselves are having to readjust to the issues set before them and have to fight off stigma, labels from the media, and cruelty and insensitive ignorant comments from “untouched” people.
Most of us in these situations have already grieved the loss of the person’s capabilities prior to the impact the illness or diagnosis has made in their life. There’s been some progress with Mental Health, but still A LOT of work to be done here but if everyone would begin to shift their thinking and mental health became a higher priority to those in the appropriate positions with regard to funding, laws, etc., than maybe just maybe……..
However, in spite of it all, in my journey, I have my faith & God to thank for sustaining me and my family during various trials and tribulations.
Thanks for the support, candid feedback and views. I have respect for others journeys because everyone’s path is different.
This is why I created this website, my purpose is to be the voice they don’t have, in otherwords, advocating for others who don’t feel they can be heard, or would rather have someone speak on their behalf. My passion is to help others who need help on both sides of the fence.
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?
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!
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!
Since some of my own family & those who claimed to be a friend, has chosen not to be here in times of crisis and a need for emotional support, but instead has decided to “demonize & stigmatize” because suddenly mental health disorders have impacted my children. You know what, they can kick rocks!
It sickens me to know that family who share the same blood & people who said they were a true friend, have the audacity to act this way! It’s bad enough fighting against stigma from outsiders! This moment in my life was here to expose who’s real and who’s fake. If you couldn’t be here in the most significant times, don’t bother coming back around when things are going great! Like right now!
Thank you for allowing me to vent today! And for the continued support. I hope I didn’t offend anyone. However, I’m confident I’m not the only one in this boat. Have a blessed day!
Forget about the “walking on eggshells” life, its become land mines for me.
While in discussion with other families, these are some of what we all had in common…
Being in combat isn’t easy. Buckle up because your about to take the ride of your life! Put on your armour! Be prepared for every thing and anything and expect nothing! Here we go….
It’s like every step I take, I’ve set off another bomb.
It’s like every door I try to run to for a way out of the war, just leads to another trap door.
It’s like tip toeing on creeky floorboards while trying to sneak away.
It’s watching the person you’ve always known, now exist within the same body yet their behaviors are uncertain and changed.
It’s hurtful at times to feel helpless while they need help and can’t see the need.
It’s having to be muted and unable to speak a single word.
It’s like watching all the hopes, dreams, and old way of living I once had, become shattered.
It’s like the whole world revolves around them as they become so full of themselves.
It causes me to whisper because my words ignite the fuse.
It’s being anxious about what my next action or words should be.
It’s causing me to feel uncertain.
It’s feels like I’ve become the easy target.
I’m darned if I do, yet I’m darned if I don’t do.
Its like being so ready to run that race, yet I keep falsestarting because the gun hasn’t fired yet.
It feels like trying to walk around in shoes that cause my feet to blister.
It’s knowing I have a choice to do otherwise, yet I choose empathy & forbearance, only to feel defeated.
It’s like a person sneaking up behind me and scaring the crap out of me.
It’s like I’m this little object in between those vice grips that someone else is controlling the squeeze.
It’s about agreeing to disagree just to avoid conflict.
It’s about not being able to watch what I want because I’m afraid I’ll trigger some thing.
It’s about no consideration for others yet consideration is expected in return.
It’s like being trapped inside of uncontrollable anxiety 24/7, 365!
It’s about wondering what I’m going to return home to when I walk through the door.
It’s being willing to live a life on their behalf, because they lack independence.
It’s like watching a cartoon character of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I’m the victim.
It’s like standing in the middle of a hot dessert with no shelter from the direct sunlight, being burned with every step.
It’s about knowing when to intervene and what to do or say.
It’s about just letting go and letting their consequences play out.
It’s about having tough skin and trying not to take things personal.
It’s about knowing when to walk away, when to stay and when to run.
It’s about being leaned upon but having no one for myself to lean upon.
It’s about lending my support and not expecting any in return.
It’s a lonely walk at times, because this life is so isolated and misunderstood.
It causes a lot of concerns, red flags, and sleepless nights.
It’s become tiresome, exhausting, and brings out the worst in me at times.
It’s like being lashed out at, but it’s not ok for me to bark back.
It’s about having to tolerate things that upset me, while not being able to express myself.
It’s like trying to sit down to relax but I’m bombarded by flying nats.
It’s like my mouth, hands and feet are all bound and I’m helpless.
It’s about feeling like I have to rush my efforts to every request to keep the beast calm.
It’s overwhelming to have to breathe someone else’s air all the time.
It’s very frustrating that I make so many sacrifices only to feel like it’s not enough.
If I say something my words become twisted.
If I say nothing, it means I don’t care.
If I give advice I’m being overbearing.
If I don’t give advice, then I’m blamed for not sharing my input.
It’s about the unknown.
It’s about being uncertain of what to do or not to do anymore.
It’s like a blind and deaf man walking in a land mine.
It causes me to second-guess…
It feels like I’m being pushed away, yet I try to leave, and I’m being pulled to come back.
It’s about cringing when others say the wrong things because their unaware.
It’s tiptoeing when their asleep because you feel like those are your only moments to breathe your own air.
It’s almost like having to hide in a place where I cannot be found.
It makes a person feel lost and unsure.
It’s about trying to avoid what triggers the bad feelings.
It’s about how to manage the stress of others while trying to manage my own stress and the stress alone that’s causing everyone stress to begin with, which is all stressful just thinking about it.
Welcome to the eggshell life, the mindfield of bombs, the battlefield of continuous grenades, the trap doors, the landfield of mines ready to blow!
This life is tiresome, mostly frustrating and it requires ALOT of forbearance, technique, listening skills, and self-reasoning.
Just one question? Is anyone else fighting this battle too? Cuz this battlefield sure seems like a desert with no one else around but bombs set about everywhere just waiting to explode with every breath I breathe and every step I take.
I ask myself, what am I to do? Am I just chopped liver? Should I stay or should I go?
Thanks for being here and for listening.
This article was inspired by myself and so many others who have shared how they are “walking on eggshells”.
FYI, just because an individual is NonVerbal. It does NOT mean they are deaf & you need to raise your voice, nor does it mean they are unable to comprehend given instructions.
There was once a time in my own son’s life that he did not speak. His development was at a different pace than that of his peers and other children his age. Heck, we didn’t even know if he would ever be able to walk or talk. But we had hope that God would answer our prayers.
This was him at his second Christmas, just learning to sit up. Boxing Producer, Don King, called us that morning to wish us a Merry Christmas, because he had learned about my son’s hairdo. That was a memorable moment in time.
It was around this time that his growth and development began to show delays in his physical capabilities along with his lack of speech. So instead we began to learn sign language by watching VHS tapes that was provided by his in-home occupational therapist.
I made sure I provided him with the best possible opportunities to gain strength through his upper extremities with hopes that he would one day walk. I had him in therapy for speech, OT and PT. He began school at the age of 3 in a wheelchair. That was a scary time for me. I cried that first day of sending him to school, following the bus all the way there. He was unable to verbalize to me or others. Not able to advocate for his own needs and still in diapers. Just some simple signs, like “more”, “eat”, “thank you”, and “done”. If he were to have a bad day, how would he be able to tell me? If someone were to mistreat him how would I find out? All these terrifying thoughts ran through my head. It took time for me to stop popping up at the classroom and calling nearly everyday. He had a nurse ride the bus due to his medical history of heart arrhythmia. He also had an IEP for his special needs and accomodations for learning. He wore a helmet to protect his head because he had began having seizures, but they eventually subsided with lots of prayer.
Those were his younger days of elementary school. He got keep the same bus driver all the way through his junior year of high school. Amazingly, she became known to him like family.
I believe he was around the age of 5 when he finally began to walk independently but still with someone nearby. He transitioned from sign language and pointing, to expressing a few sounds, and with much therapy eventually he began verbalizing with words. His speech was not clear or concise at that time, but to us, we knew what he was saying (most of the time). He had come a mighty, mighty long way from where his life began and he would continue to reach milestones as time went on.
His name is Erik. And he’s my son whom I love dearly. He loves Jesus and he acknowledges that is his Savior, literally and spiritually.
My son is different just like anyone else. Unique in his own way, and enjoys his life to the fullest. He isn’t ashamed to be who he is. And he does NOT see himself the ways others do, as having “something wrong”.
He is 17 and he still enjoys watching PBS kids, Disney pixar films, and the wiggles, Barney and child rated shows. He is all about daily routines, and enjoys eating the same foods. He is a creature of repetitive habits and he loves socializing with others.
It’s highly likely he will still be watching Monsters Inc, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and other movies even into his adulthood. He likes to rock back and forth while sitting. And he absolutely loves to praise and worship the Lord.
He is in his senior year now, and was nominated as “Lord of the day” for his Homecoming Royalty. Although he is viewed and often labeled as having “special needs” he is very popular and well-known in our community. Let’s just say he is very confident and makes his presence known wherever we go.
We do our best to keep him active and he enjoys bowling, footgolf, dancing. He also participates in basketball and cooking classes. He has won bronze, gold medals for his regionals competition for Special Olympics in bowling and basketball.
Erik and Regan at Regionals.
Thank you for taking the ride along my parenting journey once again. And for allowing me to be his voice. My life wouldn’t be the same if he wasn’t who he is today. And I could care less about the naysayers.
Because I can’t “change the people” around me so I just “change the people around me.” -Erika