Blog for Mental Health 2013

Circle of Security: A tool for peaceful relationships

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This month’s Bloggers for Peace challenge is: Peace at Home.

I don’t know if I will ever experience peace in my home – mostly because I don’t ever, truly experience peace inside of myself, for more than a fleeting moment or two.

Things I’ve been labelled with, or have chosen to label myself with, like depression, anxiety, co-dependency, and hypomania are symptoms of the inner turmoil and chaos, which have been such an ingrained part of my existence that it predates my conception and is probably just as much nature, by now anyway, as it was nurture – or lack thereof.

I finally started doing more than just collecting the data and figuring out the likely diagnoses – after all, “knowing is [only] HALF the battle,” right? The other half is figuring out the plan of attack based on what you know.

One thing I’ve been blessed with is the opportunity to participate in a therapeutic parenting group on attachment, Circle of Security. The timing of this opportunity was serendipitous, since I doubt I would have been emotionally or psychologically capable of effectively processing what I’ve been learning, even six months ago.

The timing has also been problematic and inconvenient due to childcare issues and the ongoing issues with our family’s financial issues relating to Keith’s job. This has been the “short” course of eight weeks (there is a 20 week comprehensive one I should probably seek out), and I’ve missed and, thankfully, been able to make up two of them.

The videos, handouts, and group discussions have helped me see and understand in clear and comprehensive ways, why I feel and act the way I do, the things that drive my brand of crazy, and how it not only has impacted my parenting relationships with my kids, but every other relationship I have ever had with anyone and everyone.

The tools and information provided in Circle of Security are not only guiding me in being the Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, and Kinder parent little Luna needs me to be, it has taught me where to see my own disconnects and helped me to understand in deeper and more profound ways what and where the ruptures are in the relationships with my adult children and other important people in my life. This program is primarily a early childhood parenting/caregiving curriculum, but I believe that it is also something that can be effectively adapted to anyone going through a healing and recovery process regardless of parenting status.

Just as in February I had the breakthrough, with the help of a friend who is a college professor and MSW, that I probably have cyclothymia, this course has helped me to understand that in all likelihood I grew up with Disorganized Attachment . I am able to see and understand, on a much deeper level than ever before, exactly why my life and relationships have been as chaotic, conflicted, and painful as they have been – and it isn’t just the dysfunctions and unresolved issues of everyone else; a concept I’ve paid lip service to, but have been in actual denial over.

My relationships are inconsistent, disorganized, and conflicted because I grew up in inconsistent, disorganized, and conflicted ways, surrounded by multiple generations of caregivers who weren’t capable of being or teaching any other way. I have carried that forward into the relationships with my own children.

There is an ocean of grief inside of me that is rising and needs a constructive outlet and time to rise and recede – as in the time of Noah, when the rains began to fall, the barriers to the depths broke apart and waters rose to meet the rains. I pray that my ark is built to withstand the coming flood. I pray also that I remember to rely on the provision to carry me and my loved ones through so that, when we hit land again, we have all we need to start fresh.

I cannot expect the other people in my life and in my home to choose peace with me when I am not able to be at peace with myself. If I am not attached and loving with myself, it is nearly impossible to be attached and loving with them.

Peace in the world begins with peace in the home. True peace in the home starts with peace inside of ourselves. True peace inside ourselves means being willing to go through the inner storms and accept that whatever we are experiencing externally is a reflection of our internal selves, then taking action to address it, in compassionate and loving ways.

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Mental illness, physical illness, and mommy guilt

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I have been walking around with undiagnosed back pain that I believe is a herniated disc, for almost a year now. I think that because of the increasing symptoms of sciatica. Factored in with the pain and fatigue amplification from the fibromyalgia and how that plays into insomnia which feeds both aspects of the cyclothemia (a “mild” form of bi-polar I just recently realized explains so much about my life up to this point). I’m one lump of a hot mess of a momma to little Luna.

I rely too heavily on processed, frozen preformed potatoes & breaded chicken, lunchmeat, and Pizza Hut. I always purchase clementine oranges and 10 – 20 nutrition bars, such as Cliff Bars or Odwalla bars, when I can, so she has some regular access to nutrition. I avoid keeping soda in the home between her dad’s home times (he loves his Dr. Pepper) and use Ovaltine instead of chocolate syrup to make her chocolate milk. I will get blueberries and grapes when I can. She will devour them inside of a couple of days.

The point is, I feel guilt and shame for not providing her the scratch cooked, organic, free-range, antibiotic & nitrate free, certified non-GMO diet that would help me regain health and help prevent her from potentially developing health complications later in life.

I have trouble concentrating and my skin feels hypersensitive and raw much of the time. I am easily agitated and irritable when I don’t want to be. My eyes are sensitive to light and my ears are sensitive to sound. In other words: don’t touch, don’t talk, don’t turn all the lights on, don’t make noise and LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

I do my very best to not act on these feelings and sensations. I use active listening skills often and repeat things she’s said back to her as questions, either getting, “No, I said…” or “Uh huh, that’s right…”

But, then there are my fibrofog induced ADD moments:

Mooom, I’m hungry. Get me something to eat please

“Uh huh, okay, let me finish…”

I then proceed to lose track of what I was doing and who knows how much later I get pounced on by the whiny, frustrated child proclaiming, “MOM! I tooold you get something to eat.”

I worry and fret that I can’t/don’t give her the structure and routine she needs. The foundation for developing good and healthy self-care practices:
• Oral Hygeine – she has cavities from too much sugary, carb heavy food and not enough tooth brushing.
• Sleep Hygeine – no set bedtimes or nap times. Days without naps when she’s not awake until after 9 am after a night she didn’t get to sleep until midnight or later because she fell asleep at 5 pm and woke up at 8 pm the day before.
• Too much television. Today I turned Strawberry Shortcake on at loud volume to wake her up without a fuss and a fight. I just sat her in front of The Swan Princess so I could re-create this post – after losing updated content I’d just spent 45 minutes on while she was watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua II.
• Not enough physical activity. There are weeks when we can go four days without ever opening the front door. She uses the furniture as her gym: she climbs onto the arm of the couch and either uses the back as a balance beam or uses the arm as a diving platform. The bed is her trampoline.
• She still wears Pull-Ups some days and at night. She stays dry overnight mostly, but if I forget to make sure I take her to the bathroom, she tends to have accidents because she hasn’t learned to listen to her body yet.

I carry a huge weight of unmet expectations and mommy guilt. Then we have a day like yesterday.

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Luna “reading” and singing the stories in her book.

She used to have me repeatedly read this book every night, until it got misplaced and we moved onto other things.

She was so excited when she found it yesterday morning, “Read my cat book to me mommy!”

I read the first story and two pages in she told the character where it could go to be accepted, after being rejected by the zoo.

Then, she was reading the pictures and telling the story with a combination of remembering how I read it to her as well as her interpreting and inferring from the pictures.

She’s full of creative, imaginative energy and has built her version of Horseland using a combination of multi-colored blocks of diverse shapes, empty shoe boxes, rectangular word/letter puzzles, and her shoes. It is inhabited by Disney Princess figures, brightly colored plastic ponies and molded equine figures of varying design – fantastical and mundane.

Her Head Start Home Visitor measured and weighed her on Monday, with no concerns. Her pediatrician was happy with her growth and health at her 4 year check-up in December. She’s got another appointment with a pediatric dentist on Monday. She was too wiggly and anxious at the county clinics in January and February, so she’s been referred to a private dentist. I met with her Respite Care teacher last week and the county’s Educational Support Specialist today – neither expressed concerns.

Luna is a happy, healthy, active, engaged, inquisitive, innovative, creative, independent, affectionate, alert, and intelligent four year old girl.

I experience disruptions with my physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Apparently, all that means is that my parenting abilities are affected, not impaired. I have adapted. I am overcoming. I am a good mom.

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Blog for Mental Health 2013

Blog for Mental Health 2013

Blog for Mental Health 2013

Does it seem like I’m blogging for too many causes?

In November, it was Bloggers for Movember. Last week I learned about and joined Bloggers for Peace. Now, I’m also joining the Blog for Mental Health 2013 project.

It certainly wasn’t my intention to become an activist with my blogging. However, in light of the journey of growth, healing, and recovery that I am on and have been on for significant portions of the past twenty years in my own life, which began with a diagnosis of depression and suicidal ideation in my teens and twenties, all of these things tie in together.

Bloggers for Movember

Bloggers for Movember started as a movement to raise awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer. Somewhere along the way it came to include raising awareness for Male Mental Health issues. There is almost a cone of silence around those issues in men. Many men who wind up in the penal system and/or homeless experience mental illness in one form or another. Many men who become domestic violence abusers, as well as substance abusers with destructive and compulsive behaviors have mental illness as a factor in their behavior. Yet, bringing the topic of Mental Illness into conversations regarding these things is often dismissed, ridiculed, and treated as a poor, pity me excuse for bad behavior and that bleeding hearts are making excuses for them. So, the ones experiencing the problems first hand self-medicate, act out, and operate in denial, while their symptoms and actions wreak havoc in their relationships and in the lives of the people around them. Because I have had many men in my life; family, friends, and acquaintances, who have dealt with (or not) these things I have been affected and witnessed the effects on others.

Click this badge to join

Click this badge to join

I see the Bloggers for Peace movement as an opportunity to work toward peace and reconciliation regarding the ostracization and stigma people who are labeled as different or other because of mental illness diagnoses and associated behaviors experience and suffer from at all levels and in various ways: personal, professional, educational, governmental, and societal. People who may have unrecognized or undiagnosed mental health issues often operate and function in ways that make them targets for bullying, hatred, intolerance, and diminished opportunities for self-realization and advancement. All of these things are disruptive to the most fundamental place where peace begins, in the inner self.

When I saw Cate’s post on her blog, Infinite Sadness or Hope, and read these words:

Being part of this project is important to me, because I know how hard it is to live in this society where mental illness is not seen as okay. I want to do my bit to spread the word that it is totally okay. I not only want to make life easier for other people who have mental illness, but I also want to contribute a message that prepares our world to be more accepting of mental illness in the future. May the next generation not have to fight with stigma. May they be able to find the acceptance and peace they deserve.

I knew I needed to be part of this project. It is important and it matters. It is an action toward peace. It is an action toward increasing awareness, which can and will lead to understanding and acceptance.

There are three steps to becoming a participant in the project:

1.) Take the pledge by copying and pasting the following into a post featuring “Blog for Mental Health 2013″.

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma. ~ I, Kina Diaz DeLeon, do so pledge.

2.) Link back to the person who pledged you.

I did this earlier when I referred to Cate’s post. You can consider this an open pledge, so feel free to link to Human in Recovery and this post!

3.) Write a short biography of your mental health, and what this means to you.

I was first diagnosed with depression as a teenager. I had the not quite vague idea that depression ran in my family. At that time, it was believed that my mother had committed suicide, died of depression, when I was 12 years old. My legal guardian self medicated with marijuana and toxic relationships. My grandmother showed signs of dementia by the time I was in my early 20’s but no one recognized it. I thought she was a bitter, angry, paranoid, and unstable old woman. For the last 17 years I have been in a chaotic and toxic relationship with a man who I believe experiences undiagnosed and untreated Borderline Personality Disorder and possibly unrecongized and undiagnosed learning and developmental delays or disabilities. Other family members have dealt with depression, PTSD, substance addiction and abuse. Many friends and acquaintances have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. I have worked in the Adult Foster Care system for behavioral and developmentally delayed persons who experienced multiple diagnoses and had been severely abused, neglected, and marginalized by their caregivers. There has never been a time in my life where the stigma, ignorance, and effects of mental illness did not affect or impact my life in one way or another. I’m pretty sure I am not alone, but it has almost always felt like I was alone, especially when surrounded by those who were unaware and dismissive of their own potential mental health issues. It has been devastating in so many ways.

However, I am finally seeing hope, healing, growth and progress. All since I began blogging in December 2011. This is why I am joining the Blog for Mental Health 2013 project.