When Your Child Shares The Worst Part of You

It’s bad enough that I have suffered from anxiety for my entire life, and depression for the last 3 years, but the worst part of having mental illness, is being aware that it could be passed to my children.  Well, I thought the worst part would be being aware of this fact, but the worst part is actually seeing it happen and not knowing what to do about it.

My daughter, E, has been struggling for the past couple months (and as I write this, I’m realizing that’s how long she’s been going to occupational therapy… I’ll think on this as I write).  She started picking the skin on her lip when she was sick with a cold.  You know how it goes, your nose is stuffy, so you mouth breath all day and night and dry your lips out until the crack and peel.  When this happened, E realized that she could pick the skin off, and she started doing it.  No big deal, right?  I’ve done the same thing.  Then she started doing it when she was better, and her lips began to bleed.  Both top and bottom lips were picked to excess, and she kept doing it.  She’d do it in bed at night, at school, and at therapy.  It looked awful, and I knew it had to hurt, but she kept at it.  Then she started picking at her fingers….

First she just picked the skin around her fingernails when she had a hangnail.  She’d bleed and whine about the pain, asking for a bandaid.  She fell in love with bandaids and would ask for one every time she got even a little scratch.  Soon she started picking at the skin so much she was picking off chunks of skin.  The bleeding was bad, the fingers looked awful.  We tried everything from asking her why she was doing it, to telling her that was not a good thing to do, to pleading with her to stop hurting herself.  Nothing has worked, and now all ten of her fingers are picked raw and bleeding.  Still, she picks.

I’ve had to send her to preschool with six fingers in bandaids.  The teachers are aware of what’s happening, and they are trying to redirect her attention when she’s doing it.  I know a lot of the time it’s just something she does.  She’s not actively thinking “okay, time to pick the skin til it hurts!” She’s just doing it.  It’s just something to keep her hands busy when she’s bored, nervous, anxious.

(I did think, for a few days, that she was doing it just because she wanted bandaids, but after offering her a box of bandaids all to herself if she stopped, and still not seeing her stop, I knew it was something else.)

…but what can be done?  Is this a phase?  Is it something deeper?  If it is, what set it off?  Could she be suffering from my depression, anxiety, and anger?  Are my outbursts and crying getting to her?  Is listening to her brother scream all day (because I’m not holding him) grating on her nerves as well?  Does it bother her that I have to hold him and give him more attention BECAUSE he will scream if I don’t?  Does she feel left out?  If so, what can I do?  How can I help her if I can’t help myself?  When will S be easier so that I can give equally to them both.  Or, can I?  Is that ever going to be a thing?

I want to help her, but I don’t know where to start.  Should I start with myself and hope that helps her? Or is this something that also lives inside her and has nothing to do with me or S?  Is this something that therapy set off?  Does she feel odd, knowing that we are taking her somewhere because she thinks we think there is something wrong with her?  I never really have been completely on board with the therapy (it’s for social and gross motor skills), but is 50 minutes a week doing exercises and interacting with other kids something that could set off her genetic anxiety bomb?

I’m not sure what we are going to do, but my husband definitely wants us to take her in to the pediatrician.  I assume they will want us to take her to a child psychologist, but I just can’t believe that it’s to a point like that.  Isn’t there anything that can be done by me first?  Can’t I help her?  She’s my little E, and all I want is for her to feel happy and safe and loved.  Can’t I push aside my own issues and do that?  I think I can…. and I will be better for her.  She needs me, and I can do this.

Right?

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Who’s Life Is This?

A few days ago I was standing in my kitchen.  S was propped up on my hip (as is his usual position, even though he’s 13 months old and weighs 22.5lbs), and E was screaming at me to fetch her some milk (as is her usual go-to thing to scream at me about), and suddenly I had this odd sensation that I was in someone else’s life.  It was almost like someone had transported my 20 year old conscious into my now 33 year old body, and I had no clue what was happening.  I felt like I was a stranger, that I had no idea who these kids were.  I didn’t recognize the kitchen, or the way my body felt.  I was thrown into a panic.

It was quick, maybe half a second, but I felt all of those thoughts and sensations.  Then I was back to normal.  It’s been an incredibly stressful week.  My hormones are flaring because my period is on the way, my son is teething and has become some sort of horrible beast monster, and my daughter is needy beyond reason because she sees how much attention I’m having to give my son.  I am stretched thin.  I’m tired, and angry, and sad.  I guess I’m also hallucinating, or experiencing some kind of out of body experience? Is this what four straight years of stress can do to a person?  Yikes.  I need a break.

Antibiotics Fight Depression?

It’s a very odd thing, to realize that you’ve come out of the depression.  You start wondering how it happened.  What have you done differently?  Will it last?  The latter being the biggest question of all.

About a week ago, I was diagnosed with strep throat.  Not surprising, since E has brought home every cootie available from preschool, but it was pretty bad for a couple days.  The doctor prescribed amoxicillin three times a day at a 500mg dose.  I began it immediately, and within two days started feeling better physically.  Then my period started, so I started to feel bad physically again, but in an entirely new way.  I felt exhausted…. but… I felt fine mentally.  In fact, I could not drum up the sadness if I tried.  I’m not sure how many of you reading this have had to fight depression, but it’s not just a mental burden, it actually feels heavy.  You can feel it on your shoulders, in your back, in your chest.  It’s overpowering in every way…. it drags every inch of you into the abyss.

….but on amoxicillin, it’s gone.  I thought I was crazy.  I thought it was some sort of weird coincidence.  Then I turned to Google, my long-time friend for finding weird information, and there it was.  Not only articles about how doctors were studying why this happens, but there were people just like me asking if anyone else had suddenly felt better, after years of suffering, while they were on a round of antibiotics.  And there were people who noticed, and they were all just as shocked, happy, and terrified as I am.

From what I’ve gathered, it turns out that antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs can aid in helping depression because “Infection causes localized and body-wide inflammation. Inflammation generates substances called cytokines that have been shown to change how brain cells communicate. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s defense system attacks healthy tissues rather than threatening invaders. It’s possible that in some cases the wayward immune reaction could target brain cells and other nerve cells throughout the body.

I guess it’s important to note here that five months ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto immune disease.  That’s right, for those of you who have been following along with me for the past four years, I now have TWO incurable diseases, PCOS and Hashimoto’s.  I’d say I’m special, but apparently I have two of the most common diseases on the planet, so I’d say I’m pretty average, but maybe a little on the unlucky side.

Anyway, back to the topic, my brain appears to be 100% better since starting antibiotics, and I’m terrified of what might happen once my course of treatment is over.  Now that I’ve stepped back out into the sunshine of a spotless mind, I am so happy to be here.  I’m not yelling, or crying, or desperate to be anywhere but where I am.  I don’t want to sleep away the day so that I don’t have to face it.  This is what it feels like to be myself, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve felt this way.  I’m not sure if a full-time treatment of antibiotics is possible, or even if it’s the best idea in the world since I’ve already got a tolerance for antibiotics due to being on them so often growing up.  What would happen if I was really sick and really needed antibiotics to work.  Would they, if I was taking them daily?

Honestly though, I wonder whether it’d be better to risk it in the long run.  It would have to be better than living with demons inside your head?  Right?

Speaks Through Music

My husband is a very quiet man.  My family, after 13 years, still believes that he absolutely wants nothing to do with them.  I mean, in a way, they are out of their frigging minds and we both have issues with them, but the main reason is that my husband is quiet.  I talk to his own parents more than he does.  He probably talks to me more than anyone, and I still sit here and say he’s a quiet man, so you know our conversations are brief.

But, aside from being quiet, my husband is an absolute music junky.  He loves it.  It’s probably his first love, although I’d hate to have his actual answer on “who comes first, the music or the wife?”  And from this observation about his deep love of music, I have come to the conclusion that he says what’s truly in his heart by giving me music that says what he is unable to put into his own words.

Today he gave me a mix CD (something he’s been doing since we first starting dating) for my birthday.  He also gave me the day off from responsibilities.  He sees me struggle and does all he can to help.  I took off today to drive around town doing a few things for me, and popped in my CD.  I cried through the entire thing.  I feel like every song meant something. Something he was trying to say to me.  Most things were about life changing, and how it’s just something that happens, but how it also means you have to try harder to pull yourself up.  Some songs were to the point, some sounded pleading, some were there to tell me that he loves me, and always will.

He may not see it like this, but I know better.  Whether it was consciously or not, he was telling me things are hard, things are different, but things are still good, and things will get better…. and he’s going to be there with me to figure it all out.

 

“Wish I could have been there when you were driving away
For California
If you’ve got to go somewhere
Then you better go somewhere far
Did you really think I could ever go on without you?
I’m not a genius
I imagine myself being cool
In the backseat of your car

[Chorus]
Return to the moon, I’m dying
Return to the moon, please
Return to the moon, I’m dying
Return to the moon, please

[Outro]
Don’t make me wait for you at the corner of Eden Park
Don’t make me wait for you at the Serpentine Wall”

EL VY – Return to the Moon

My Little Man

Well, everyone, I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to post about this, I could probably come up with a few good excuses, and a couple bad ones, but instead I’ll just say that it took me too long and I apologize.  I am pregnant.

That’s right!  For anyone who’s been with me since the beginning of this blog, you know that we struggled for three years to conceive our daughter.  We tried naturally, we tried Clomid, then we went to a Reproductive Endocrinologist and finally got a diagnosis of PCOS for me, and some wonky (not the medical term) sperm from my husband.  After that we tried four medicated rounds of IUI, with only three being viable for the actual insemination part, and after a chemical pregnancy with the first IUI try, and two failed IUI’s after that, we took nine months off, regrouped physically and mentally, and then went back for IVF.  FINALLY, we had success!  Little E was conceived, carried, and born in June of 2013.  Phew… long ride… but we had made it.  Now, with a little lady on my hands, I wondered at the prospect of more.  Was I willing to go through fertility treatments again? I mean, after all, my husband and I were still considered infertile so it would take more medication, more money, more time, to conceive again, and I just wasn’t ready.  My heart wasn’t in it.  I was content, happy, finding my new balance in life with E.  *heartfelt sigh* But then…..

So, remember this post I wrote on July 13th of last year?  It was all about how I wasn’t sure a second kid was for me.  Well, three days later I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant.  Go figure!  To say I was shocked is putting it very, very mildly.  In fact, it was until recently that I think I actually kind of accepted what was happening, and I’m already 31 weeks along.  I am now elated, but at first I was scared and upset.  I didn’t know if this was something I wanted, or could even handle.  I’m still not sure I can handle it, but I know it’s something I want now.  HE is something I want.

That’s right, I have a little man on the way!

I’m hoping to post one day about how this is a wonderful thing for people who have suffered through infertility and can now have hope of a natural second, but I feel like I would need more than two minutes, and sadly, that’s all the time I have left this morning.

Until next time, lovelies!

-E

Raising Girls and Raising Boys

I’m sure you’ve all seen the latest story about the frat guys who hung signs up basically insinuating that they’d be having all the sex with all the freshman girls.  It happens year after year, time and time again, across every campus in America… and maybe other countries too, although I feel in my gut that America is the worst.  Anyone know for sure?

Anyway, every time I see these things I roll my eyes.  I don’t get angry and scared for the girls, which I know many people do, which is why news anchors say idiotic things like “I’ll put my daughter in a convent” or “I’ll keep mine home in the kitchen.”  Instead, I say, women are intelligent.  Did you know most of us can read now and everything??  Why not put a little faith into the women to make a good decision.  Why do we assume that the freshman girls will be lining up to let these guys have their way with them.  Like we are helpless and find ourselves drawn to their sexy signs about banging us and our moms. Oh, I’m turned on just thinking about it.  *This is the part where I roll my eyes*

Do you know where this world is going wrong with raising girls and boys?  We treat them differently.  We treat boys like they are supposed to brag about their conquests.  We treat girls to be embarrassed or ashamed about theirs, and it begins in infancy.

Whaaaaaat?? You say, confused by conquests in infancy, but let me explain….

When E was a little, tiny, baby girl, we went to a friends house who had a little, tiny, baby boy.  They rolled on the floor together (as neither of them could crawl or talk or do much of anything but roll), and they eventually got near each other and grabbed each others hands.  It was one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.  What wasn’t so cute, however, was my husband growling and the boys father saying “that’s my boy!”

And that’s where it starts.  You don’t notice it, because you think it’s funny, or cute, or whatever, but that’s where it starts.  We automatically think about daughters and sons as totally different beings.  We buy boys blue and girls pink, even though those are just colors and mean absolutely nothing.  We make boys play with Legos and make girls play with dolls.  We buy girls kitchen sets and brooms, we buy boys toy trucks and building sets.  I met a girl at a nail salon who said she wanted a boy because she wanted a child that could play soccer and watch sports.  My daughter has two soccer balls, which she loves to kick around, and she loves to watch football.  I know, she’s two, but she loves it. She even does the touchdown sign.

Girls and boys aren’t different beings because they have different sex organs.  They are different beings because we make them believe they are.  Women struggle to be heard, and men struggle to show emotion, both because they are told these are not important things for them, just to realize later in life that they are, but it’s too late, we’ve already been raised to believe that we are different and have rolls based on what’s hiding in our pants.

Women are more than a vagina, men are more than a penis.  Teach your children from the start that they are no different from one another and maybe, maybe, one day we can have the kind of world where we don’t see gender as being a defining criteria for life. Maybe women won’t think that their sexuality is a powerful tool, and the only tool, to get ahead in life, and maybe men won’t think they have the right to do and say whatever they want just because they are told they are the dominant sex.

Let’s remember that we are all human.  One species, not two separate species.  Let’s teach our children to love and respect one another, to hold hands, to play soccer, to watch football, and pretend to cook together.  Let’s start now, before the cycle repeats itself.