I'm a mentally ill person raising another mentally ill person. With chickens.

Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

An introduction

I signed up for Blogging 101 this month, to get my groove back, and the first assignment is to introduce myself. You would think that would be easy at my age, but it isn’t. I always hated it in college when professors  made you go around the room and say something about yourself.  I think they just do that to waste time, and in a half-assed attempt to remember your name. Even graduate school professors do this which is just silly. I was a grad assistant and I did NOT make my students do this.

I guess I’ve told a few things about myself already: I went to graduate school, I don’t really like speaking in public, or talking about myself, I taught at least one class, and I’m trying to get my groove back. Also, I seem to have a bit of bad attitude these days. 
I’ll see if I can be a bit more positive. Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 43 and I’m actually pretty ok with that. Being younger no longer seems like that much fun, and I don’t feel too old for anything. I feel like there’s enough time ahead of me to do and see at least some of the things on my bucket list and I don’t feel like I wasted my youth.
I’m a mother of two: an eighteen-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. They could not be any more opposite. He is large, always was at the top of the percentile charts, and she is tiny. He likes to stay home, and to watch the same things over and over again, and to talk through movies and shows. She likes to go everywhere, she hardly ever sits still, she likes new things, and when she does watch the tv she doesn’t want anyone to talk. She is a dancer with five practices a week, he avoids exercise like the plague. He is on the autism spectrum, and she has ADHD. They are the joys of my life, and there is never a dull moment at our house.
I’ve been married for 19+ years, it’ll be 20 in July. My husband is not what anyone expected “back in the day”, but he is the perfect match for me. We’ve weathered many unexpected challenges over the years, and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by my side. He is never rattled by anything, he’s my rock. And he fixes things, which is something every woman should look for in a man.
I do have an abundance of education I guess. An undergraduate degree in English and a Master’s in Counseling. I’m not using any of it. I’m a stay home mom who gets a disability check every month. Sometimes I’m disappointed by the fact that I’m not working, but I’ve mostly come to terms with it. I have bipolar disorder type 2, and ADHD inattentive type. Those things do not make me a great employee, unfortunately. I’m a creative teacher and counselor, and I’m a good listener. But paperwork? I just get overwhelmed. I’ve never been as sick and exhausted as I was at the end of my counseling internship year. I finished everything and then I slept for roughly ten days. I knew I’d never be able to work like that full time. I did apply for a counseling job, but I’m a client at that agency so it was kind of a long shot. This is a small town, so I probably should have thought about that sort of thing before busting my ass in grad school and wracking up tons of student loans, but you know what they say about hindsight.
I need to find a focus for my blog. I’m not sure what exactly I want to talk about. I think the world has plenty of autism blogs, and plenty of mental illness blogs, and plenty of parenting blogs.  I can’t say what exactli makes my perspective unique, other than it’s mine, and while I hope others find it interesting and entertaining I am not sure what actually sets my voice apart from the masses. Something to continue to ponder, I guess.

Exhausted by it all

Today is a tired day. I slept into the afternoon after the kids went to school, and I dragged through laundry and chicken chores. My Adderall and coffee were just no help at all. Some days are just tired days.

Honestly, it’s probably stress.  There is a lot going on here. I’ve been delving into the past, and relationship stuff, but the reality is there is a lot happening under my nose that I would rather not deal with. My son has autism, as I’ve mentioned before. And he’s 18. So we’re in the process of becoming his legal guardians because he is not capable of making most decisions on his own.  He doesn’t really understand money beyond getting stuff at concession stands and using Target and Amazon gift cards he gets for his birthday. He’d never go to the doctor if we didn’t make him, because he’s terrified of them. He doesn’t drive because he doesn’t see well and also because I highly doubt he has the judgment necessary to do so. He has a very hard time telling the difference between what happens in a movie or on TV and what is appropriate for real life.

It’s that last one that is getting us into trouble at school. He has absolutely no filter at all. And he may be developmentally delayed, but he’s still a moody teenager. SO, when something gets on his nerves at school it’s entirely possible that he will let fly a string of expletives or threaten to “kill you while you sleep” or attempt to punch or kick you. Which is bad. He’s not actually violent by nature I don’t think, or mean. He just is kind of a parrot. He repeats things he hears or sees and he tends to do it in context, like a parrot who says “good morning” in the morning or “hello” when the phone rings. He’s always been like that, but it wasn’t so bad when he watched Toy Story or Aladdin over and over again. But his tastes have changed as he’s gotten older, so there’s a lot more anime and video games, and even though I have parental controls on EVERYTHING, and really limit what he’s allowed to watch or play, there’s a lot more violence and threatening language in things rated PG than you realize. People say “I’m going to kill you” all the time on TV, because everyone knows that it’s a joke. And kids on TV hit each other and trip each other all the time, because physical comedy is funny. But none of that is funny in real life, and he just does not get that. And YouTube is impossible to control. You have to either block it completely or hope he watches appropriate things. He LOVES to watch video game play-through videos on YouTube, which you would think wouldn’t be that big of a deal, because he only watches games he’s allowed to play. But even those games rated E or E-10  are usually narrated by some of the most foul-mouthed people I have ever heard (And I swear like a sailor on occasion!) and he just does not get that you can’t talk to people like that in real life. Or if he does, he doesn’t have the impulse control to stop things coming out of his mouth.

He usually knows after he’s said something that he’s going to be in trouble, but often times that just causes things to escalate because he doesn’t WANT to be in trouble (that usually results in losing his electronics at home, which he hates). When that happens he will lash out and hit whoever’s closest, or the kid in his class that he doesn’t like. So this week we’ve had a couple of incidents, one of which was pretty bad. He had a bad morning at home and I took his stuff away and said he could have it back as long as his day was good. Well it started good, and then he told someone to F-off, so he got sent to his alternative classroom per his behavior plan and all seemed well until someone decided to talk to him about it. Then he got mad and picked up a dumbbell used for PT and raised it at the teacher’s aide like he was going to hit her. So he’s basically been in in-school suspension since Monday, and things didn’t go much better when he was let back into the classroom this afternoon.

There’s a lot more to it than a week’s worth of behavior of course. There have been a lot of medications over the years, and we have a therapist and a psychiatrist.  We didn’t have this much trouble in elementary or middle school, but the environment at the high school is just not comfortable. It’s one of those buildings that just FEELS oppressive when you walk in, and if I notice that I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone on constant sensory overload. And we haven’t had much luck with teachers or curriculum at the high school, so I think he’s bored and I know he hates the job training that they’re doing (cleaning the cafeteria after lunch, not a job he’d ever choose). So right now I’m torn about school for him. Technically the district is responsible for him until he’s 21, and I had always planned on leaving him in school ’til then, but now I’m questioning if it’s the right place for him. He’s 18, he doesn’t have to be there and if he hurts someone, even accidentally, he could end up arrested or in a state facility which is certainly not what I want for him. And I know that won’t happen at home. I don’t know what he’ll do all day at home, but at least everyone will be safe. Too much to think about for sure. I do have plans to talk with Adult Services, but I’m pretty aware of what’s available in our town and its not really geared toward people on the autistic spectrum at this point. So we’ll see.

Alex

So yeah, it’s a tired day here.

NaBloPoMo Take 2

Marshmellow

So its been awhile. But I figured it was time to attempt to get back in the game, and what better motivation than NaBloPoMo.  I tell you what, just getting started today was overwhelming and I almost called it quits.  So many badges and sign-ups and “post here’s and prompts! It’s enough to drive a person right back out the door (or away from the keyboard). But after a couple of attempts at adding the badge I gave up and decided I had better just start or I’ll never get any actual words on the page. And ultimately that is the goal: words on the page. I made myself a little more accountable this year, and announced my NaBloPoMo intentions in a Facebook group. It’s actually a health group, but I decided this counts as a mental health goal, and I really do need SOMEBODY keeping an eye on me, because I don’t really trust myself to stick with it otherwise.  And I do think writing again is important for my mental health.  I think I have lost my “voice” somewhere along the way and am just going through the motions every day.  Not going through them very well, I might add, as my house currently resembles an episode of Hoarders again.

For awhile I did okay at setting a schedule/daily goals for myself around the house, but I have given up for the most part. It’s such a thankless job, you know? And it never, EVER ends.  The minute the laundry is done the chute is full. The second you pick up one room you can’t walk through the next one. Immediately after you load the dishwasher the sink is full again. The instant you finish cooking they’re hungry again and right as you put the last grocery away there’s “nothing to eat”.  I just can not for the life of me see the point of any of it.  It was easier when they were babies, babies are so HAPPY when they’re fed and changed and they snuggle and smile at you and you want to do anything to see that smile!  And when they got a little bigger and I worried about them putting stuff in their mouths and choking or getting hurt I was much more careful around the house too.  But now they’re 9 and 18 (yes he has autism, so its kind of like having a big 10-year-old, but still, technically he’s an adult) and I feel like a maid and a personal chef and a taxi driver more than the mom a lot of the time and quite honestly I’ve kind of just quit.  I know there are people out there who get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from a spotless home and organized linen closets, but there is just no way I will ever be that person.

I got to thinking about this because my husband’s mom was texting me at midnight last night about how the state of my house keeps her up at night.  And it took every single ounce of my will power (and that is not something I have a lot of) to tell her that it was probably the vodka keeping her awake at night more than my house. She’s obsessed with STUFF, that woman. Getting stuff, organizing stuff, “selling” stuff (I don’t know that she actually sells much of anything, but she has little booths at places and an Ebay account), knowing how much stuff is worth.  Stuff is kind of her thing, stuff and vodka.  She raised my husband in a very clean, almost sterile, house full of stuff. But she wasn’t into mom stuff like attending sporting events or school activities or helping with homework or just hanging out with him. So it kind of irritates me (okay it a lot irritates me) when she tells me how worried about my kids she is because my house is messy.  Because yeah, its messy, but I’m still there for the important stuff and my kids don’t doubt for a second that they’re loved. They think I’m weird, and they are every bit as messy as I am, but they know that at the end of the day I’m there for them no matter what, and that no stuff is more important than they are.

Weird, so NOT where I expected this to go. Funny how that happens..

 

Swirling brain

Sooo.  I thought I was done until after Christmas, but then CT happened and now this morning my kids’ school went on lock-down and I just have a bad case of swirling brain.  That’s what I call it, I think the technical term is “racing thoughts” and all of us bi-polar people get them I guess.  All I know is there is more STUFF in my head than fits, and it makes me rather surly, so I’m going to try to get it out in an orderly fashion.

First of all, I wasn’t going to talk about the Newtown shootings.  I just wasn’t.  I have a daughter in 2nd grade and she truly is a miracle baby and I just can’t even wrap my head around someone doing that to her.  SO I won’t.  I know that’s kind of Scarlett O’Hara thinking, but I just will not think about it if I can help it.

I will however argue til I’m blue in the face about the fact that we need tougher gun control laws.  I think that as our country has become more owned by special interest lobbies regulation of everything protecting the average person has casually–in the name of freedom, no less–gone by the wayside. And the NRA is unfortunately the biggest of the special interest groups.  They spend BILLIONS of dollars every year scaring people into believing that there is an imminent, Nazi-style,  government take-over and that owning a gun will save them from such a fate; their dues and donations foster racial unrest by convincing white America that every brown and black person has an illegally obtained firearm so they must own 10 legally obtained firearms “for protection”.   And are we safer? No.  Because gun violence occurs in homes, between people who know each other.  Because children think guns are like on TV and video games and raid their parents’ arsenals’ and take them to school and to the park and to their rooms.   And does the NRA care that accidents happen? That suicides happen?  That Newtown happened?  Not really.  Do I think that there will actually be a change in gun laws?  Not really.  But I firmly believe that there should be.

Which leads me to my morning.  So shortly after my kids got to school we got School Reach messages (robocalls from our kids’ school).  The first one was from the high school where my son is:  It said that they were on administrative lockdown because of “Facebook posts and a suspicious person”.  The next one was from my daughter’s elementary school saying they were also on administrative lockdown.  These calls, in an attempt to be reassuring I guess, said not to call the school or to come get your child because everything was fine.  Seriously?????  Who would possibly believe that????  About 45 minutes later we got a call from elementary school saying lockdown was over, still don’t call or pick up our children.  Fifteen minutes after that, similar from the HS with emphasis on Aberdeen Police Department having been at the school.  If you knew anything about our police department (officer fired in January for hitting a house with his police car!) you would not find that very reassuring.  And they said they were just going to continue as normal.  GRRRRR.  Seriously, no one was doing much today. just do an early release.    This is a town FULL of guns.  Literally bursting at the seams with them.  Everyone hunts, and dead everything with fur is worth money even if you can’t eat it.  The trap shooting scores are in the paper next to the bowling and softball scores.  GUNS are everywhere.  And every kid has an arsenal they can raid (its scarier when you call it an arsenal, which is what it is!) so if you know a kid wants to go down in flames and take the school with him, AND its the day before Christmas break, fucking call the day.  I know you’re worried about future snow days, but have some priorities!

ANYWAY.  I realize I’m running long, and not making a ton of sense (although I feel MUCH better, thanks)  but I do need to say a word about mental health.  Actually I need to say this:  I do not use racial slurs, or the R word.  I do not use crass names for people of other sexual orientations.  I would like the same courtesy extended to myself please. You do not get to call me crazy, or nuts, or a nutjob, or a whack job, or whacko, or bonkers, or insane (unless you’re my lawyer) or disturbed, or a freakazoid, or a weirdo, or anything else that pops into your mind.  I might call myself any number of those things because I am actually mentally ill, and when I do it its self-deprecating humor.  When you do it, its rude.