Mental Health Check

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the Action. You don’t have to be confident. Just do it and the confidence will follow. Carrie Fisher

I always admired Carrie Fisher’s feisty, unapologetic spirit! She empowered and inspired little girls, in the 80’s,like me with her role as Princess Leia. She was superbly funny in real life and a strong advocate for mental health! ❤️

It took a long time for me to call my anxiety/ panic disorder a mental health issue because of the stigmas associated with using the label “mental health”. Over the years it was implied through movies and other outlets that someone (usually women) with mental health issues were crazy, incapable, irrational, prone to mental break downs/outbursts and likely to end up in some form of institutional care. These broad stroke perceptions of mental health have denied women proper treatment, caused many to suffer in silence and some to take their own lives.

In the words of Jessie J “it’s okay not to be okay” and it’s okay to ask for help! Having a mental health issue doesn’t mean you lack intelligence or that you’re weak and it definitely doesn’t mean you’re incapable of achieving personal goals or successes! I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed I can’t do something because of my “anxiety”, I have even been told I’m lucky my husband is a good guy and has stuck around for so long, as if I possessed no other qualities or worth. Those words definitely hurt, but more so showed me there is still a huge lack of understanding and support when it come to mental health.

If you have a mental health issue please make time talk with someone you trust and get the help you need. Know your worth! Surround yourself with people who don’t see your mental health as a hindrance of your abilities, because you need people you can be candid with, who will lift you and support you without judgement. It’s not easy and I’m not naive to the struggle!

So, I’ll leave you with something I journaled that is deeply personal, unfinished, evolving, but if it helps one person know they’re not alone it’s worth it…

I am not perfect…

I struggle with anxiety and depression and feeling like I’m failing. I struggle with not being able to fix things that are out of my control. I struggle to find purpose.

I struggle!

Some days those struggles leave me with nothing to give. I’m overwhelmed! I’m exhausted! I’m bruised and broken!

I struggle!

I struggle with fear and feeling not good enough, but I know those feelings are temporary and will pass.

I struggle, but…

there are also days I feel like super woman! I get things done! I crush it! I give one hundred and ten percent of myself to my family and others! I am faithful, loyal, trustworthy, loving, empathetic, creative and worthy!

I am enough!

Because of people like Carrie Fisher, Kristin Bell, Simone Biles, Lady Gaga and so many others who have been willing to share their own struggles and speak out about mental health issues, shame is being removed and women are finally being empowered to take care of their mental health without the fear of being branded as crazy.

The Hardest Conversation

This is long so please bare with me!

Seeing all the posts about Cameron Boyce conjured up a lot of emotions, maybe because I knew Meg would be seeing it too and now she’d be exposed to some of the ugly truths that were out there and associated with epilepsy. It made me reflect a lot on our own journey and how things have evolved and changed as she’s gotten older.

When I opened my phone and read the news I froze. It hit me like a punch in the gut! My heart began to ache as it often does when I see these tragedies in some of the groups I’m in and when I think about how some of the foundations like Danny Did and Chelsea Hutchinson came to be.

I wondered how Meg would react to the news? When she was little it was easier to shield her and keep everything happy and positive, but now she’s almost 17, the information is out there, and she was going to see it!

We live in a social media culture where a smorgasbord of information is available at our fingertips. The internet is unedited, its raw and it can be pretty harsh. News like Cameron Boyce’s death is often splashed all over the internet in mass amounts without any thought for who might be reading it. People make assumptions without facts and lose filters they’d normally have in person. Emotions run high and it can be overwhelming.

I’m not speaking sanctimoniously, it’s been a learning moment for me too, I’ll admit I’ve participated in this culture. We see a post and are quick to post our fears not thinking who might be on the receiving end. At the same time the good parts of social media aren’t lost on me as I know the power and global reach of social media when it comes to raising awareness. A double edged sword I guess?!

When Meg was little we advocated hard, I was fiercely protective and unapologetic for it. We were in and out of hospitals, and I wanted to protect her in any and every way I could. I wanted to learn everything and put all that information out there, because in my mind the more people knew about epilepsy the safer she was. I took a lot of flack from moms who said a lot of hurtful things and gave very critical, unsolicited advice. I was often written off as hypersensitive or as a “helicopter mom” that one was used a lot! The truth is, most of the time, I really just needed friends. It can be a difficult journey and as parents we beat ourselves up plenty, wondering if we’ve made the right decision on the meds, the procedures, the doctors, the hospitals, the care, etc… If you really want to help someone be a friend, be inclusive and don’t judge, but I digress!

We made some unbelievably supportive friends online (one of the most positive parts of social media for us) and we even got to meet a few of them when we ventured to D.C. to participate in the National walk for Epilepsy, but as Meg got older and as kids became assholes (like they do in middle and high school) Meg decided she wanted to be a bit more private and I respected her wishes.

When we told Meg about Cameron she thought it was a hoax, but we told her his family had confirmed and we saw her mind start to churn. She’s been a huge fan of Cameron since he was on Jessie and most recently as Carlos in Descendants. We knew throughout the day she would be bombarded with all the posts and comments. She was going to have questions!

“Mom he died from a seizure!”

I thought carefully about how to respond.

I explained that a seizure doesn’t always mean epilepsy. There are many addictions and other disorders that can result in seizures and told her we shouldn’t assume anything.

A few days later it was confirmed that Cameron did, in fact, have epilepsy. We talked about how there are many different types of epilepsy, the importance of taking meds and safety. We discussed how we wish we’d known Cameron was epileptic and I explained that while some people choose to use their fame as a platform to raise awareness others like their privacy.

We continued to have little chats here and there, but as the articles seemed to quiet so did Meg’s questions and up until today she seemed okay with it all!

Today was hard!

Meg saw a post from one of Cameron’s co-stars in Descendants. Apparently Descendants 3 comes out tomorrow and the co-star has posted a tribute.

“Mom Cameron had epilepsy and he died from a seizure…” she paused and rubbed her face. I could tell she wanted to ask me something, but was struggling.

“It’s okay baby you can tell me what your thinking.”

“I just don’t know how to say it!”

I knew what she wanted to say, I had been dreading this moment.

I took a deep breath and said you’re wondering because Cameron had epilepsy and he died from a seizure if the the same could happen to you?

She looked at me like I’d lifted a huge weight off of her and hugged me really tight!

“He was 20 mom!”

I’ve always been honest with her and as hard as I knew it was going to be I had to finally tell her about SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy). I explained that it was rare and just because this had happened to Cameron didn’t mean it would happen to her. We don’t know everything that led up to Cameron’s death, if he’d missed his meds, if he’d been drinking, etc… we talked again about the the different types of epilepsy, the importance of taking meds and keeping your doctor informed of changes. I told her how all disorders have risks from diabetes to heart disorders. Her eyes welled up…

“There are days I don’t mind being epileptic and there are days I hate it, today I hate it!”

My throat tightened!

“I know! I wish so much I could take it from you, but this is one thing I can’t fix baby I’m so sorry!”

I could feel my eyes starting to well up too.

We both hugged each other and cried. In that moment I just wanted to take it all away, all her pain and all her fear. I don’t know if I handled it well? How do you handle such a hard question? So I did the only thing I could in that moment…

“Oh my goodness, Meg your crying and I’m crying and it’s raining, we’re a hot mess!”

She threw her head back and laughed glad, I think, that I’d injected a little humor into the conversation. She looked at her watch.

“Why are you looking at your watch?”

Meg smiled at me through her tears.

“I was just thinking it would be funny if daddy walked in right now!”

“Oh my gosh, right!”

We hugged some more and Meg grabbed her phone. I was glad we were able to laugh a little and she seemed content with everything we’d talked about.

“I love you Mommy!”

“I love you too!”

We snuggled and watched some videos together and while it had been a difficult moment my heart swelled with pride at how well she handled everything.

Inner Demons

Anxiety, the quiet demon in my life which keeps my body in perpetual fear.  It’s the uneasy feeling in your chest, the lack of strength in your legs, the nausea in your stomach, the lack of confidence, the tightness in your throat as you choke back tears and the fear of judgement!

Anxiety is a daily struggle.

Anxiety isolates you.

Anxiety makes you question your abilities.

Anxiety makes you weak.

Anxiety is a confidence killer.

Anxiety is fear of the unknown.

Anxiety is lack of control.

Anxiety is hell.

I will not let anxiety define me.

For every step backwards I will push forward two.

Failure is okay because failure is where success begins.

Every day is a gift and a chance to start over.

Strength comes from within.

Love and respect are earned.

I am a survivor!

 

A Domestic Dream and a Clogged Disposal

I learned a lesson yesterday in regards to my garbage disposal… DO NOT put angel hair pasta in it!!!

Yesterday was a half day and so I went to pick up my girl and I had a plan.  I thought we could do a little shop around Target, get some food for dinner and still have time to do homework, clean house and get to youth group!

Oh Kirsten you silly, silly domestic dreamer!

The shopping part of the plan we managed no problem!  When we got to the house to complete the rest of my plan I was feeling pretty confident, we had plenty of time, and I even took a little time to give myself a high-five.

Meg got stuck into her history homework and I started cleaning so I could get things prepped for dinner.  As I got closer to the kitchen a smell hit my nose… Blah! What in the world? Was it the garbage? Nope! The garbage had been taken out that morning.  Where in the world is it coming from?  Not the trash, disposal is empty… It had to be something in the refrigerator!

I opened the door to the fridge only to quickly scrunch up my nose as the smell got a little stronger. Yup! The culprit is in here somewhere!  I started fumbling through the left overs to see which plastic container  had past its prime.  There were three… don’t judge!

I headed over to the garbage disposal to get rid of the soft stuff… that’s my rational for things that can go down the disposal.  Is it soft?  Is it small-ish? Will it jam it?  Well, I was about to be opened up to whole new world of garbage disposal etiquette the hard way.

I started with a small container of something that looked like beef stew, although I don’t remember making any, it went down in a shot, no issues there.  Next I started separating a Ziploc bag sized amount of angel hair pasta and started feeding it into the disposal.  It sounded great at first, the sound of food grinding (insert vocal imitation here) and then a it made a sound I hadn’t heard before like the whirring without the grinding and the water started to fill the sink, a lovely soupy broth that looked abd smelled like a mixture of the two containers I’d tried to empty.

What the…?

I turned the disposal off and put my hand in to feel for anything that might have gotten stuck.  Not a fan of putting my hand in the disposal as it always makes me think of horror movies, but I digress… Nothing! I grabbed the plunger and began working on the sink. For an hour and a half I plunged, emptied and refilled the sink. Did I mention to empty it I had to use a cup, a ladle and then toss it out in the back yard? Not fun and it wasn’t budging!

Finally, I turned to facebook to ask for help!  Two of my friends made me giggle when they suggested I call a SCUBA Gerbil or move house.  Another friend suggested a wire coat hanger, which lead to the ear worm “No more wire hangers!”  Thanks Mommy Dearest!  My husband’s friend suggested I call Erich!  Pfft… I can solve this!  My friend Krystal suggested baking soda and vinegar…  Let me just say on a normal clog I bet this idea is amazing.  However, when I tried it on my clog the pressure was so great I could barely keep the plug in and it was spewing out a volcanic science experiment all over the sink. Another hour passed and I was done.  You win garbage disposal!  I couldn’t get the thing to shift.

I moved on to making dinner and cleaning what I could without the use of my sink, all while grumbling and moaning to myself.  I finished prepping dinner and answered some questions about glacier tills and the Seven Year’s Wars and finally my husband walked through the door.  I explained what I did with many hand gestures and then watched him try the same techniques again to no avail.  Finally he took the pipes apart and… well… that Ziploc bag full of pasta might have been a bit more than I initially thought as it had clogged a good portion of the drain pipe.  Hubby tried to give me a little lecture, but I was so over the whole thing I wasn’t about to hear it.

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Later that evening I googled what not to put down your garbage disposal and to my surprise there was quite a lengthy list and I violate a good 90% of it.  I mean why can’t you put coffee grounds or egg shells down your disposal? I’ve been doing it for ages.  This list is so long it’s almost not worth having a garbage disposal! Anyway, I guess the moral of this story is, unless you’re married to a plumber, be careful what you put down your garbage disposal. Till next time…