Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Five Diagnoses and Reality

Good afternoon fair reader,

Today I am going to continue to delve into the realm of mental health with you. We are getting ready to celebrate our 2nd Annual White Friday when we wear white to shine a light on mental health. Depression and mental health carries a huge stigma and the way to dispel that is to talk about it. So, instead of just telling you the research or stuff you can get on your own, I have decided to talk to you about my personal battle. Maybe, it will help you be honest about your own experience and we can start talking about it and supporting each other rather than perpetuating the darkness.
So here are my FIVE diagnoses that are mental health related. The last one just contributes.
1. MDD- Major Depressive Disorder
Yep, I fight (and mostly win) the big D. MDD is more severe and chronic than just depression and you get that label after having long periods of depression without a break.

2. PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Although I did serve in the USAF, I never saw combat. I broke my back in a training accident at 19. It ended my Nursing career and just about broke me. It added the MD to my D. Then while awaiting medical boards for my discharge I was a victim of what the military calls MST or Military Sexual Trauma. You civilians call it rape. Victim shaming from someone who was supposed to be my friend and threats of the perp kept me quiet for years. None of us are in the service anymore so I don't have that reason to hold it in.

3. PD- Panic Disorder

This is the shitty one. It wasn't so bad until I almost wrecked my car driving home but everything went downhill from there. Thankfully I had the best boss ever at the time who put up with me while we got things under control. I probably should have gotten fired for walking away from the register to sob on the bathroom floor because I thought I was going crazy. And the first morning after I started the meds that kept me from having the Panic attacks in my sleep, he nursed me through by helping me get the fog out. I never got to thank him for that but I was fiercely loyal to him.

4. Anxiety

Gosh, I have had social anxiety forever. I was teased mercilessly as a child. The reason I survived the bullying was because I had some awesome friends and a great Mom and Sister at home to support me. I have always known that I had a higher purpose on this earth so I fight it and go on.

5. DDD/CP/FMS- Degenerative Disk Disease/ Chronic Pain/ Fibromyalgia

This all stems from my accident. I had a compression fracture of T-12 & L-1 and broke off some bony bits on my spine. The USAF told me it was a sprain and sent me back to training. They were going to make me continue the exercise but I couldn't sit, stand, or lie down without crying. Oddly, they still never x-rayed me. I went to my civilian doctor to find the break. I have had back pain everyday since.

I carry on because I cannot quit. I fight because I do not know what else to do. I fight for others because while I do not understand your exact situation, I do understand what living in the dark feels like. I also know the gratitude that I felt and still feel for the people who stood/stand by me.

Please take someone's hand and come in to the light rather than taking your life. Take mine. We can move slowly as long as we move forward.

Come over to Facebook and search for White Friday. We post articles, and supportive memes, and resources all the time. You can contact me and I will do my best to find local resources for you. Just don't make an irreversible decision over a temporary problem. Please.

Love, Peace, and Light to everyone!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Savory Saturday presents Chicken Paprikash

Sour Cream Chicken Paprikash

1 2 1/2 - 3 lb chicken ( I used 4 1/2 lbs of thighs)
1 large onion chopped
Salt to taste
4-8 cups sour cream (I used 2 24 ounce containers because I had more chicken and I like sauce)
1 tsp of paprika (No, just No. It is paprikash. It MUST have Paprika. I mean, your sour cream should be a funky color. I used TBSPs and then stopped measuring. Adjust to your tastes. Razark is part Slovakian so he loves it. No complaints from my kids either.)
I also add garlic cloves minced to mine because... Well who needs a reason really. We live garlic.
Slovakian Dumplings (I used egg noodles due to time but I will include the recipe below. I have also used Spaetzle aka German Dumplings because I love them. Find those in the noodle isle.)

Brown the chicken lightly in a small amount of oil until the sputtering stops. I use olive oil. Place the chicken and onion in a kettle over medium heat. I have already started in the small stocky pot (it's short but stocky) so I just add the onions and garlic. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through. Combine sour cream, paprika, and salt if using in a bowl. Whisk together to blend. Pour mixture over chicken before all moisture cooks out. I didn't have a problem with moisture and just added it after the 10 minutes. Turn the chicken to coat well, or just stir if you are using thighs. Reduce temperature to low, Cook covered 10 more minutes or until cooked through and sauce is creamy and thick. It may be kinda thin but in my experience it coats the noodles better. Stir often. Serve with Dumplings or what ever you want.

I use boneless skinless chicken thighs because you get the flavor and moisture of the dark meat but do not have to fight skin and bones. If you have small children, you will thank me for this.

Slovakian Dumplings

2 eggs
Salted water

Beat the eggs in a bowl; add dash of salt. Stir in enough flour with a fork to form a stiff dough. Drop spoonfuls of dough in boiling salted water and cook for 10 minutes or until done.

Hey, Hey it's time for a reunion

Where has the time gone? Seriously? It feels like yesterday but it has been a bit over 20 years since I walked that stage. May 25, 1995 I received my high school diploma and said, "Goodbye!"to Clear Lake High School forever. Or did I? I left the area for Air Force Basic Training but came back after. I left again to move in with my sweeties in Tyler, Texas and stayed away long enough to have a kid but it called me back. Both my husband and I were raised in the area, though he is homegrown and I was a transplant as a toddler and our parents are still here. I lived away from my grandparents and really wanted our kids to know theirs as well as possible. We moved back in 2005, just in time for our 10 year High School Reunion. So Goodbye tirned into see you later really. September me and many of my fellow Falcon Alumni will celebrate 20 years since we graduated high school. I, for one, am excited. Today I decided to talk to you about my high school experience and hopefully make you think about making time for your reunion.
I was not a popular kid. I came to our school district brand new in 4th grade after my parents divorced and we lost our home. Trying to break in with a bunch of kids who have been togethee since the sandbox in an area that housed many upperclass neighborhoods was hard. We had been there until my Mom had to care for us alone. So I didn't have many friends, I wasn't weathy, and I wasn't skinny so I was lost. It doesn't help that I was terribly depressed in a time when no one talked about kids' mental health issues or the need for counseling after divorce. I was painfully shy and that didn't help at all. I didn't really begin making close friends for a while. In fact, I have only 1 friend that I still talk to from 4th grade. Middle school brought more friends and more bullies. I was never dressed right. I didn't know a damn thing about makeup because my Mom was raised by her Dad. In fact, I rarely wear makeup these days. The group that I finally found my place with in Middle school was the head bangers and skaters. In high school it was Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC), which the popular kids called, not-so-affectionately, Rejects On The Campus. The crap I went through in school, starting with my depression and shyness caused horrible social anxiety that I still battle today. People tell me that they thought,initially, that I was conceited, mean, or just hated them but in truth I was scared shitless to say or do the wrong thing. I am getting better...
Now, why am I telling you all this? Good question. Despite hard times and some not-so-great memories, I am going to my 20th High school reunion. I have heard a lot of excuses about why people won't be going.
1. We all have aged by 20 years. Some better than others and many better than me.
2.None of us are still our high school weight. Some are bigger, some are smaller, and it is to be expected. Personally, I have given birth to 2 beautiful boys, helped raise 2 more beautiful boys, had life saving surgeries, been deliriously happy, and been lower than low. My body has taken a beating but it has definitely been lived in.
3. We haven't achieved all our goals that we ambitiously set at 17/18. Ok, I did things my own way. I sustained a disabling back injury at 19 in the Air Force and it knocked me down. I worked some shit jobs, got married, and had 2 kids before deciding to go back to school in 2007. I will graduate with my Bachelor's degree in Social Work in May 2016. It took awhile and I stumbled but I got back up. You are alive and kicking. Some days that is all you have so celebrate the shit out of it.
Here are my truths-
1. I am going to see my friends and thanks to Facebook some of those are people who didn't give me the time of day in HS. I hold very few grudges and it is likely that those people are not going.
2. I am prouder now than I ever was in school to be a Clear Lake Falcon. I survived some of the toughest, most trying times of my life and I am still here.
3. It looks like I might be working check in and *I* want to see you. I will have a genuine smile for you and your +1 & if you want to walk away and talk about my fluffy figure... I don't care anymore. Have fun. It is something in you that needs correcting, not me.
4. This reunion is being put together by people who have our best interests at heart. They listened to us and made it happen. One has even fronted personal funds to make it great. Please pay your money and come out and celebrate with us.
5. My husband, who is an alum, is worse about social situations than me. He hates crowds and loud moise. He is staying home with our kids. If you need a friendly face, I am available all night to smile and laugh with you.

Please consider coming to the Clear Lake High School Class of 95 20th reunion!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Savory Saturday- Shepherd's Pie

You know, I really do cook almost every day but we make a lot of the same stuff. I haven't had many new recipes that I have tried lately. In July when all 4 human garbage disposals kids are here I really concentrate on nutritious, filling, and cheap. I AM a college student after all. This is probably better done in the colder months but it was delicious. I got it off of Also, I tripled it because I am feeding 6 people and made it stretch 2 days.

Traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb ground beef or 1 lb lamb
1 large onion, finely diced
3 -4 large carrots, finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 -4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 glass red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 large quantity mashed potatoes (estimating 1L or 6 cups, fresh or leftover)
1 egg, beaten
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400°F.
Saute carrots in the olive oil until starting to get tender.
Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.
Season with black pepper and thyme.
Cook until browned then drain fat.
Add the butter and peas.
Sprinkle with flour and stir through.
Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce.
Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to your taste.
Remove from heat. Grease an oven proof dish** (9x13 works for me, as does an oval baker) with butter and add the sauce.
Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.
Serve as is or with some crusty bread to mop up that yummy sauce!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Five- more feelings

I feel like last Friday's five lightened my heart and soul a bit so I am going to do it again. Once again here are my Five feelings from this week.

1) excitement - I received my potential field placement assignment for my internship. I have a year of internship before graduation.

2) relief - my tests came back normal

3) overwhelmed- we had a huge assignment due on Tuesday and I was down to the wire in finishing it.

4) stubbornness - that one is with me always

5) sadness/longing - cheating? Who cares it is my post so if you don't like it then get your own blog. I miss three guys in my life. Two of them have gone to heaven and one is just gone. It is hard to think about never again seeing the people you loved so much. They shaped my life in ways no one else could.

A word about #2, please get your regular checkups and be good to your body. I have breast cancer in my Mom's side of the family so I had my first mammogram at 25. The VA decided that was good enough. So two weeks ago, when I found a lump, I decided to call my civilian doctor. They told me I was supposed to be having annual exams since 32 because my aunt was diagnosed at 42. The doctor confirmed something was there and sent me on to the specialist. There is nothing like waiting two weeks for that when it runs in the family. Thankfully the doctor at The Rose did not make me wait for results because I was quietly scared to death.

He said, "I could tell you to cut down on your caffeine. I could tell you about breast cycles and tenderness. But honestly all you will hear is NORMAL. No evidence of cancer. Go home. Kiss your kids. See you in a year."

Get your  screenings people! I am 38 & I have had my BRACAnalysis for genetic mutations of breast and ovarian cancer. I have had a colonoscopy. I have had my mammograms and ultrasounds. The discomfort, missed work, and/or nasty prep is a small price to pay to be around for your family. Cancer runs in families but it also has a mind of its own.

If I am not around to see my babies grow up, it isn't going be because I didn't fight like hell.

Peace, love, & light...


Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Musings

Good Morning fair reader!

I have a bit of time this morning before the day gets into full swing and I thought I would spend it with you all. I am working on a project for school for my last class before Internship but since I promised to give someone a ride home from work, I won't get back to it until after. I really do not like getting interrupted once I am on a roll. And yes, I have children but the little (hahaha, little) guys know that and the older ones are good. We are very lucky to have four great boys who love one another and can be helpful to each other when need be.

Today marks the beginning of our last 11 days of summer break with Red and The Gamer. I must say that this is the first year that I am truly sad. It sounds bad to say but you don't live in our world. Usually by now I have broken up countless fights and dried many tears but this summer has been very different. So by now, I am usually ready for August 1 so I can catch a break from the chaos but with the constant growing up they're doing they are changing. So it is the usual in the Little Professor tormenting the Little Prince but both of them adore having Red and Gamer here so they are playing computer games together and getting along. There have been teenaged pranks but nothing harmful. I am currently awaiting to see the payback from the sharpie moustache that Little Professor drew on Red. It has been explained that you get what you give.

I plan on enjoying the time we have left. Life is about to get busy. This will likely be my last summer off for quite some time and the kids aren't getting any younger. It has been a blessing to have this time to spend with them. It is about time to put my education to work and empower others.

Happy Monday y'all!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Five - Hiding our feelings, wearing our masks

Carrie BoBeary blogged about hidden feelings earlier. As always, I am so proud of her candor, honesty, courage, strength and kindness.  Because we're rapidly approaching White Friday, stepping out of the shadows to reveal whatever feelings lie within us is even more important.  There is no shame in what you feel, good or bad.  I am so over the stigma associated with "hidden" illnesses (including both mental illnesses and physical illnesses, like fibromyalgia and migraines).  It's time to start loving all of ourselves so that we can start loving each other fully.  So, with that in mind, here's what's raging in my head this week.

1. Torment: I will probably be haunted forever by what happened to my littlest boy.  The court system let me have a hand in what happened to his abuser and I made a decision that I felt would best protect her future children.  The court system lied and I doubt, sincerely, she got any kind of help from the system and I doubt, sincerely, her children are any safer.  I knew that neither decision would satisfy my desire for, let's face it, vengeance, but I made a decision with a mother's heart.  I thought it was the one that would be easiest to live with.  Now, as I look at my little monkey-boy, I still see handprints on his face and around his throat and his eye swollen shut.  At least daily my mind plays that trick on me and I am haunted.

2. Vengeance: I'm pretty sure it just runs in my DNA. It's tied, duh, to #1.  But I make decisions daily not to do something that would feel so mf'ing good  that would satisfy my need for revenge and probably land me in jail.  I'm no good to my kids in jail.  :)

3. Loneliness: I have people around me now, all the time.  I get oodles of affection.  My monkey-boy lives in my arms and occasionally, literally, hangs from my neck like a monkey.  Stomp still climbs in my lap for a snuggle.  The boyfriend provides oodles of kisses.  But I get lonely and I ache for the people in my life who matter who I don't get to see daily.  Aside from the obvious people like The Jersey Mama and The Mountain Mark and my Aunties and family, I miss my friends and sisters scattered around the U.S. in the most insane way.  As Mary Lambert sings, "how did I miss you when I didn't know you?".  I have the most amazing collection of sisters around the country.  I am no longer, by any stretch, an only child.  I no longer have to worry about never being an aunt to someone.  I have sisters and nieces and nephews in a half dozen states.  And at least a few times a day I get oh-so-wistful that I can't just grab them and hug them.  Or just drive by and drop off a book to read or some cookies.  I miss my tribe.  

4. Pride: Yesterday, I had a meeting at the college with an advisor who will be with me for the remainder of my time at SCC.  She oversees the "clinical" portion of the rest of my certification process to become a Medical Assistant.  As I was walking in that direction, I ran into a professor I have had twice before.  She asked, "may I help you?" and I gave her my name and told her who I was there to meet.  She squealed my name and hugged me.  I was sort of taken aback since I didn't know who she was.  Once she introduced herself, I was so happy to meet her!  She took me inside and introduced me and we hugged and chatted a few minutes.  As I sat with my advisor, she told me "that is high praise that XX cares so much about you!".  I was extremely flattered and blushed so hard.  I worked extremely hard last semester, well all my semesters, really, but last semester in particular, to get straight A's and to make sure I was providing the best work I could humanly possibly provide.  And I was remembered for it.  Last semester, this particular professor kept commenting that she couldn't wait for me to be done with schooling and get to work with patients because she thought I would be great in this field.  She evidently passed that information along to this advisor because I already had a positive reputation when I walked in there.  Not only is my hard wok paying off, but my gut intuition that this was the right field for me is clearly correct!

5.  Self doubt: AKA the steady diet of every mother in existence.  Any mother who says she doesn't doubt herself is a damned liar.  Of course part of this ties into #1.  Part of it ties into some stuff going on with Stomp.  But it's just there, nagging, all the freakin' time. What am I doing wrong? Can I be doing better, more, something?  That one's a real bitch.

When I'm done at the end of the day (who are we kiddin', I'm a college 'end of the day' is sometimes 48 hours without sleep when I finally collapse in exhaustion) and try to take off the "I have toooootallllly got it together" mask, I still have a hard time leaving these feelings someplace.  That's why I see a counselor. A counselor who is a flippin' saint.  Seriously, Saint John the Counselor.  So if you need help removing your masks, get some help.  There is no shame  in asking for help.  You wouldn't be ashamed to ask someone to treat you for a broken bone or to get treatment for ALS.  Don't be ashamed to take care of your mental health. It is every bit as important as your physical health.  Take care of all of you, the whole you, all of the time.  Please.

Friday Five- Feelings

I know we haven't been sticking with themes much lately but I figured I would incorporate it into my post. I don't know who reads this stuff. Hell, anyone can access it that knows how to use a search engine. Sometimes I let this limit what I post or sometimes I abstain from posting all together. You know I am pretty sure that a certain family reads along and the baby beating c$$t cannot help herself but this is too important to care about them.  If we don't talk about stuff like feelings, thoughts, and mental health then we cannot begin to erase the stigma. So what the hell, be the change you want to see in the world... Right?

Five feelings prevalent in my head this week:

1. Sadness
2. Urgency
3. Self hatred
4. Worthlessness
5. Stubbornness

Not nearly as pretty of a picture as those of you who know me see, is it? Yep, that's right folks... I wear a mask too. So do you. Not every moment of everyday but you do. And I bet, like me, at the end of the day when you get to your safe place you are exhausted. Keeping that charade up for long periods sucks! It's OK though because I understand. I understand that sometimes keeping up appearances is so much easier than trying to tell someone what is going on in your head. I cannot explain why I feel some of the feelings that I do and that list is woefully short and incredibly incomplete but it is Friday FIVE.

While I cannot explain all of my feelings, or even all of the five above, I will explain the two most important ones. Number two and number five are the most important ones because those keep me grounded in some kind of sanity.

2. Urgency
The urgency to keep going to see this bad spell to the other side. The urgency to hang on in school with everything that I have. The urgency to get home to my boys and enjoy them. The urgency to help those people who have lost their urgency.

5. Stubbornness
The stubbornness to not give in to the darkness. The stubbornness to hold on to the urgency. The stubbornness beat this bastard depression and then to control the bitch named anxiety. The stubbornness to give someone else the will to go on. The stubbornness to make sure that this isn't the end of my story. The stubbornness to help you see that this isn't the end of yours either.

Go in peace, light, & love into the weekend. Let's try to laugh without abandon but if not just hold on until tomorrow. Brighter days are coming.

Love you all!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Oh, we all need her, but no one more than me

Ya know.  I keep saying it and it keeps being true.  Being an unabashed Jersey Mama mama's girl is the utter suck when I'm sick.  I mean it comes with perks (I'm talking to you, fiery temper, love for total strangers and a real propensity for the "F" word), but when we're separated by the miles and I'm cooped up sick (like, say, in a hospital room while they try to figure out what's wrong), I miss her like I'd miss the skin if it fell from my bones.  Or the left hand that twirls my hair while the right one writes.  I miss her like I would the right hand that I use to tell my tales.  And when "our song" plays on my phone and I know it' her, my eyes fill with tears every.single.time.  So, y'know, I'm passing our song around again.  Because every single child deserves a mother like mine.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Baby Blues and Blacks and Purples....

The title is silly and not grammatically correct but let me explain. I have 4 babies and even though I didn't get the first two until they were 2 1/2 & 3 1/2, I love them with all my heart. All of my boys have their unique set of challenges and all of them could benefit from the therapy system but currently only two go. I have no control over the older two but Red says he likes therapy and benefits from it. The Little Professor has only been twice since his testing and diagnosis but he actually came out smiling last time. The Little Prince (Nickelodeon)  is next to get tested as soon as I have a free 4 hours. Anyway, I digress.  So, in 2nd grade The Little Professor (LP) was diagnosed with ADHD based on family history as Razark (Dad) and Red were previously dx'd. Well, his behavior got out of control and we hit a wall with medication so I took him in for testing to confirm. The testing was eye opening. No ADHD was found. He was found to have Disruptive Behavior Disorder along with a very high IQ and issues with anger and impulsivity. This should have excited me but it scared me instead. Medication cannot help this, it was a crutch all along. It helped because it changed his brain chemistry. Three years of Adderall. Shit. Needless to say, I won't make that mistake again which is why Nickelodeon is up for testing next.
The hardest thing to admit in my life, so far, was that my boy needed professional help. It was one thing to admit that I did but my boys? Wow! There is no shame in it, y'all. You won't believe me but there isn't. The stigma that is socially constructed around mental health issues is creating needless shame. In all honesty, we all need some kind of therapy. You might have a bitch session with friends or you may choose a neutral party to see things from a different angle but either way it is natural. My LP now has an educated, compassionate, unbiased person to talk to and work through things with who doesn't live with us. She hasn't become frustrated with his sass, or been there when he threw things and he respects her opinion.

I started this journey feeling poorly. Where did I go wrong? What did I miss? What should I have done? This thinking helps no one. The important thing is to do everything that I can to ensure my child's success in life. Helping him become the best version of himself means leaving a great human being in this world long after my journey is finished.  In fact, I want that for all my children.

We need to make therapy normal. We need to educate people. We need to erase this needless stigma over mental health issues. We all have them. We all experience the blues and we all need a hand from time to time. There is no shame in asking for or seeking help. If you see someone going through something lend an ear. Offering to listen and be a sounding board costs nothing but it could save a life. Smiling and being friendly costs nothing but it might remind someone that they are not alone.

We are all in this life together and we need each other. If you need help and cannot afford it, there are a great many resources for you. Health and Human Services can direct you or look up your local United Way. It isn't a perfect system but it is better than suffering alone. Also, there are tons of medication assistance programs if you need help with paying. Be open with your treatment team and they can help you better!

Per ardua ad astra!*

Through struggles to the stars!*