Welcome!

I’m Wrae and I am delighted to be here.

Please check out the “Learn More About Me” page 🙂

I am 35, and I’ve always loved writing. I’ve done some journaling, some poetry. I am on wattpad, and if you want that information, I’ll be glad to share it. This blog came pretty much out of nowhere but sometimes that’s the best thing.

I will be putting up a statement for legal reasons about what I will not tolerate on this blog, but in general, I’m pretty laid back. For sheer example, this welcome post is today’s post.

Guests are always welcome, I hope everyone enjoys what they read and leave having learned something or at least gotten a different point of view. As Jewel once said, “I’d rather see the world from another angle.”

I will have posts up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Song Lyric Saturdays are a bonus post. I also have book reviews once monthly on Wednesdays.

Happy reading!

Wrae

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Don't allow your child to be left out of family activities

Helping Your Family Understand Your Child’s Special Needs

Family can be supportive in the best circumstances, but in the worst, can be standoffish and even cruel. When your child receives a special needs diagnosis, it’s hard on everyone. It’s life changing and you will need plenty of support.

Many people, myself included, turn to their family for this support. Some get extremely lucky and their families do everything they can to help out, but some families aren’t as lucky for a few different reasons- distance, lack of family closeness, or just not wanting to get involved because they don’t understand the diagnosis. This can be deliberate.

Storytime!

Julian was diagnosed at five years old and most of Matthew’s family, including his mother, would not listen to anything either of us had to say about ADHD or autism. They thought he was just “hyper” or we just needed to discipline him more.

Okay, then.

He’s been on medication since shortly after his diagnosis, and on sleepovers, my mother in law wouldn’t take those meds with her, even though we explained how to give them. It’s not that hard. One morning, she complained for about the 900th time that Julian barely slept.

Really? I wonder why. He didn’t get his meds.

Matthew had run out of patience at this point, and he’s a very patient man. He looked his mother in the eye and told her that he did not want to hear another word about this if she wasn’t going to give him his meds. She was well aware of how to give him his meds, she just didn’t want to deal with it. She didn’t see the issue- remember, ADHD and autism aren’t a thing.

Julian has not left for a sleepover without his meds since.

The message behind this story? When you decide not to learn about a child’s medication because you don’t see the need for them, it will backfire. Just because you don’t think it’s real, doesn’t mean it isn’t. *gets off soapbox.. storytime over*

Talking to your family about your child's disability

Educate, Educate and Educate Some More

This begins with you, the parent. As soon as your child has a diagnosis, it’s time to do a lot of reading. Depending on the diagnosis, there are books out there you can read, maybe even a podcast or two if you are a fan of those. Learn how to use equipment, read up on sensory bottles, whatever it takes. If you need to, ask for help from your child’s pediatrician, specialists, etc. They are there to be a resource for you.

The more you know, the more you can help your child. They can’t always speak up for themselves, especially around a family that doesn’t understand. Don’t be afraid to challenge these family members- I’m not and they know it. I’m not saying to be rude in this challenge, but definitely come prepared with answers and don’t let anyone walk all over you. Have someone with you as backup if you’re not big on confrontation.

Some people are simply afraid. If they don’t know how to care for a child that needs medical equipment, has a severe food allergy, or is non-verbal, they stay away. If they are interested, have them come to a medical or therapy appointment. This can help them adjust a bit easier to your child’s world and get some questions answered.

The hardest explanation, I believe, is when your child has an “invisible” diagnosis. Julian is one of these kids, and it can be somewhat draining to explain that just because you can’t “see” ADHD and autism, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. I don’t think they really want to see him in the middle of a meltdown, because they would have no idea on how to deal.

They do not see the years of therapy, meds, money spent on both, my tears, the fights I had with Matthew to even get him diagnosed, the time I have spent in IEP meetings (or time I spent getting him one) and the sheer energy I have put into making sure he is the adorably funny kid he is.

Create Some Space

Some parents just aren’t able to make things work with their families even after trying to educate, and this may be the result of or part of other issues. This isn’t great, but it happens. It may be time to take a step back from these family members until things improve. This may be painful but the best option for you and your child. It may be stressful for everyone involved to continue to try to make things work when it’s obvious it won’t.

Don't allow your child to be left out of family activities

Build Your Own Circle of Support

Luckily, my mom and sisters are a great support. My mom and Julian are very close. I’ve also been able to create a circle of friends who get what I deal with on a daily basis- their kids are also on the spectrum. I know I can text or call them and they’re available. That is a wonderful feeling. I know that even on a crappy day, I’m not alone and one of them is probably having a day like mine. In fact, one has two kids on the spectrum, so his house is never dull.

Outside of that group, I’ve also joined a few Facebook groups, and they have been a good source of support for questions about ADHD. I’ve also joined some subreddits on the same topics. Internet groups can be a wonderful source of support, especially if you are in a rural area. This can give you a sense of community even if you’re not near an urban area.

If you are in a larger city, I recommend checking out parent groups that center around your child’s diagnosis. I participate in a walk every year with a local autism organization and love it. This year, Julian joined me- I was surprised because he hates being awake before 9 AM on a Saturday, but I was happy to get in the solo time with him. You can find these groups by Googling your city + diagnosis + organization, or a similar search.

I do have friends that either don’t have kids or have kids that aren’t on the spectrum or don’t have ADHD. This is also good. It’s refreshing and they keep me laughing. They cheer us on and cheer me up on the bad days. Everyone should have this. I highly advise finding friends like these.

It’s Fine if Not Everyone Gets It

Your family is meant to be there for you no matter what, but sadly, this doesn’t always work out. Do what you can to educate and include, but don’t stress about the rest. You have much bigger things to worry about- taking care of yourself and your child. Your family will be the ones missing out if they don’t want to come along for the ride.

Recommended Reading: Adjusting to a New World

Twin Mummy and Daddy
Book review "Struck by Living"

Book Review: “Struck By Living”

This month’s book choice is “Struck By Living”, written by Julie Hersh, a mother of two. She tells the story of her battle with depression, which began in childhood. Her older sister suffered from depression, which she saw as she came home from college a totally different person than she’d seen before. Julie was not close to her mother- she felt as if she couldn’t talk to her mother because she was so wrapped in herself and work. Julie also felt as if she couldn’t please her father no matter what she did.

Julie reflects on these relationships as she goes through life events such as her own college years, dating, marriage and the births of her two children. She took care of her children and later, her husband’s grandparents, but not herself. She didn’t take much time for herself. Her husband, Ken, becomes angry when Julie has nothing left for him.

As Julie approaches her 40th birthday, she realizes that she doesn’t want to celebrate the upcoming day. She had withdrawn into herself, had lost weight and her husband had become unsure of what to do next. She had already been hospitalized and received ECT (electroshock therapy). This had required her to stay in a mental health facility the night before and for a few days after. She was left feeling sluggish and with some memory loss. (These effects are common.)

Book review

Julie attempted suicide and Ken reached a point in which he became very serious about his wife’s treatment. Later in the story, she goes to a treatment facility for a month, and even while there, she forced herself to act well because she didn’t want to be there. She just wanted to be “normal”.

This story does end well- she is able to come home and be with her family. Julie tells her story so well that I could relate to it. It is common for many with mental illness or just ongoing stress to want to be “normal” and not have to deal with what’s going on inside them. Her story is like millions of others that should be read. I believe if more people read first-hand stories like Julie’s, it would be possible for understanding to improve. That, in turn, can help end the stigma that people with depression and other mental illnesses face.

Mental and Physical care are important

Making Connections for Better Physical and Mental Health

This question has been debated for years- is there a connection between physical and mental health?

If you ask me, yes. When I’m having a bad pain day, I’m not in a great mood. I try to pick myself up a bit, but I don’t feel 100% happy. It’s kind of hard to feel that way when your hips feel like they’re broken and/or your knees feel like someone kicked them out of places and they are throbbing.

This is about the same if I’m a bit more anxious and/or depressed than usual. My limbs feel twice their actual weight, I move slower and sometimes my stomach hurts. I know I’m not the only one that feels this way in either circumstance.

Mental and Physical care are important

I’m Not Sure How This Works But…

When you don’t feel mentally healthy, your body follows behind. In the case of depression, it can be difficult to get out of bed. If you can barely get out of bed, it’s not exactly easy to take a shower, brush your teeth, eat or drink. Self- care takes a huge hit. You can read a bit about this in The Hard Days of Mental Illness

Depression can also appear after a serious illness or medical events like a stroke or heart attack. It is sometimes missed by treating physicians because they are primarily concerned with treating the main diagnosis.

They don’t so much do this on purpose, but it isn’t their main focus. Less severe depression can be assisted by lifestyle changes like sleep, exercise, or even therapy. Anti-depressants can be prescribed depending on the patient’s needs and other medications. This information can be found at Psych Central

Chronic stress, for example, can increase heart rate, tighten muscles, and raise blood pressure. This also leads to symptoms like headaches (sometimes migraines, if you’re really lucky), stomachaches, chest pain, fatigue, and even changes in sex drive. Those are potentially dangerous changes. This is why so many people are trying to reduce their stress- plus, who wants to be stressed out all the time?

Relaxing is good for your health

How Can I Change The Patterns?

There are a few things you can do to change your mind/body connection.

  • Get in touch with your emotions. Recognize your emotions then figure out what’s going on behind them.
  • Express your emotions in a healthy way. This can be a bit of a change if you haven’t done this in the past, but this change is worth it. Try writing, drawing, even coloring. Talking to someone can be very healthy. If you can, find a therapist or someone else you can trust with your thoughts. Getting unhealthy thoughts off your mind can lift a huge weight off your shoulders without realizing it.
  • Try a bit of balance. This means living a life outside of work. Work and/or school isn’t everything in life. Try to find a way to relax- going for a short walk, yoga, reading, making pottery, watching a movie, anything that helps relax you. It may be time to look at the things that don’t make you happy and let them go.
  • Develop resilience. Building up resilience is good for your emotional health. Being able to bounce back from a negative event or stress can improve your outlook on life. This can include building a support system, being positive, accepting change and keeping things in perspective.
  • Take good care of yourself. This means eating well, sleeping, creating a safe space for yourself, and other things.

This information is from Family Doctor

Good food can boost your strength

Starting Small

If you haven’t been taking care of yourself lately in this area, here are a few ideas to restart that plan:

  • Make a doctor’s appointment. This can be your yearly physical with a physician, OB/GYN, even a dentist if you haven’t been in a couple of years.
  • Face masks are the best. Try one if you haven’t in a week.
  • Buy or update a planner.
  • Take a long, hot shower or bath.
  • Read a daily inspirational quote (if you have social media, this is very easy to do. There are many pages for these.)
  • Spend some time in nature.
  • Meditate, even if it’s for 5 minutes. (It may take some time to fully get into it, and this is okay.)
  • Journal. If you need ideas on where to start, see The Joys of Journaling
  • Watch a funny YouTube video or one with cats.
  • Do something creative- puzzles, painting, sketching, anything you can think of.

What do you think about the connection? Do you think it’s there? It is incredibly important to take care of ourselves in all ways possible.

“Mrs.AOK,

Song Lyric Saturday with Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj has had a bit of a diva meltdown lately, and I don’t know what’s going on there. Her tour got moved to next year- I hear it was due to her new album “Queen” coming out later than anticipated and she wanted to make sure the tour was as good as she wanted it to be. She cited “production issues.”

Okay, then.

I’ve also heard it was due to low ticket sales.

Then she came for Kylie Jenner, Travis Scott and their baby Stormi. His album did better than hers, putting her at #2. She blamed a baby for her not being #1.

Come on, Nicki, get it together, sis.

Nicki Minaj pic

If that wasn’t enough, Cardi B threw a shoe at her during a Fashion Week party because she was tired of Nicki clowning her.

Twitter and the rest of social media had a field day with that one.

Let me back up a bit. This is Nicki Minaj, who busted up the Kanye West hit “Monster” years ago. It’s my favorite Nicki feature of all time. It’s like she walked in the studio, said her piece and walked out like she dropped the mic with everyone staring at her.

“And if I’m fake I ain’t notice cause my money ain’t

Let me get this straight, wait I’m the rookie?

But my features and my shows ten times your pay?”

Basically, she’s not fake, she’s not brand new and she’s got the skills to prove it, even on her worst day. She’s rapped her way to where she is now but she’s gone from the top to the next best. I don’t think she likes it, but the way she’s publicly showing it isn’t exactly cute. I think she might want to sit back a bit and look at what she’s accomplished (a lot) and focus on her work.

Pic courtesy of pinterest

Drinking, Drugs and Your Teen: Tips for Discussion

I’ve been very open on this blog and in many other areas of my life about my struggles with drinking. My kids were center stage for some of the dumber things I did during that time, and I regret that so much. They finally stopped the barstool jokes, but it took a couple of years.

I took Julian to his 12 year checkup last week- his pediatrician talked to him about drugs and alcohol, if he had been asked to use anything. (He said no.) On the way home, we talked about this and then we talked about my drinking.

I told him that if he chooses to drink, that’s entirely his decision, but not to drive drunk. We also discussed a few other things, which you will see below.

He hates the idea of Uber/Lyft (“They might do something mean to me, Mom”) so I told him I would always come get him if he needed me. I’d prefer if he waited until he’s 21, but in the age of underage drinking, I know this might not happen. I’m also not sure of the interactions with his meds, but that may be something I need to look into.

Ritalin+Clonidine+alcohol=potential yikes.

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Drugs Are Bad, Mkay

I’ve watched too much “South Park”, but you get the idea. The talk that we need to have with our kids isn’t meant to be a funny one- I can’t figure out a way to make it funny or else I would. Matthew has decided to hand this talk over to me. I’ve worked as an addiction counselor and chemical dependency technician. When I was a mental health associate, I also got a lot of first-hand experience with people who had been using drugs and/or drinking. Let’s leave it at it’s not always pretty. I think I’m prepared?

A Few Tips on Talking to Your Kids about Drugs/Alcohol:

  • Bring up the topic calmly. The conversation I had with Julian was a pretty calm one, it just happened to follow his checkup. Let it happen naturally if you can. Sometimes these conversations don’t happen calmly, as in if your child is caught with a substance- many parents would be very angry.If you have to, let some time pass before speaking to your child. Nothing will get accomplished if both of you are angry. Ask them why they might want to use anything- boredom, wanting to fit in?
  • Discuss the dangers. In Cameron’s case, he can’t drink energy drinks. It may trigger an SVT episode, so he can forget the entire amphetamine category of drugs. His cardiologist had a very long discussion with him in the hospital about drug use, and I think it scared him. If kids know the dangers of what they’re trying out, they might be a little (or a lot, hopefully) less likely to try it again. Alcohol can lead to liver damage, and smoking can damage the lungs, throat and other areas, for example. Remind them how drugs and alcohol can affect their brains. This can affect their decision making and other skills in the future.
  • Remember that your influence matters. If you have had an drug/alcohol problem, it is up to you to decide whether to discuss it with your child- every situation is different. My kids saw some of the effects of my drinking and they remember it, so it’s not like we can skip over it. I don’t plan on discussing why I drank so heavily, because that goes into marriage issues. I plan on discussing the not-so-great things I did and what could have happened had I kept drinking. If you haven’t had this issue, you can discuss stories of people you know that have had issues- kids can relate to this pretty easily. Just be prepared for questions.
  • Provide support. Today’s teens go through a lot. Peer pressure is a bit different than it was 20 years ago. For more on this, you may want to read Why You Need to be Ready for Peer Pressure Our kids need to know we support and love them.

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Looking for Signs

It can be troubling to worry about or even see signs that your child may be using drugs/alcohol, but it’s something to watch for.

Behavioral Changes:

  • changes in relationships with friends/family
  • breaking curfew
  • locking doors
  • has increased appetite (marijuana will cause this)
  • clumsy behaviors
  • disappears
  • changes in energy levels
  • stealing

Personality Changes:

  • mood changes
  • withdrawn/depressed
  • hostile/angry
  • lack of motivation
  • secretive
  • silent
  • deceitful

thought-catalog-545969-unsplash.jpg

If you do realize that your child is using drugs/alcohol, there is outpatient treatment for teens, but if it is a heavy problem, your child may need inpatient rehabilitation. Please try to treat your child with love, not confrontation, as hard as it may be. They may be angry with you, but inside they are struggling. You can reach out to a local mental health professional or treatment center.

Talking to teens can be hard, and everyone involved can feel awkward. This talk, however, can save lives. If you haven’t had this talk, it may be time.

FREEBIE: Talking to Kids

If you have found this post helpful, or know someone who can benefit from it, please share! Thanks!

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Information from: Phase 2 Parenting

Teen Alcohol Abuse

Learning and Performing Under Pressure

*Trigger Warning: this post discusses suicide and suicidal thoughts. Please read at your own discretion.*

This post is for all mental health providers, professionals, physicians and dentists. I’m writing with a few people in mind- coworkers I’ve lost to suicide, and one that I admire deeply for being an attempt survivor and psychologist. Colleen, Scott, Austin, Jake and Don Ceo, this one is for you. The five of you were great to work with- I just wish it could have been longer. You were all awesome people in your own ways.

Josh, I’m so grateful you lived for many reasons, one being so that we could become friends. I had no idea what you’d been through right before we met. You’ve been able to help a lot of people in a career that you love deeply. I’m always here for you, but you know this.

Stethoscope mental health

The Research Is Out There

I had to do quite a bit of research for this post. I was aware that going into the medical field, no matter what specialty, comes with a lot of stress. Medical school, practicums, clinicals, theses, and other expectations can really throw a lot at a student.

That’s not counting other things that happen while in college and beyond- marriage, children, family issues, and so on. What happens if your thesis is thrown out? What if you don’t get the residency you wanted? What if your grades aren’t what everyone, including yourself, expected? So many questions and thoughts can run through a student’s mind. I wasn’t aware, however, of the statistics of physician suicide.

I’m using the term “physician” as a general term, but it is meant to cover all medical professionals. It’s a very stressful career. According to WebMD one physician completes suicide a day, making it the highest suicide rate of any profession. The general population rate is about 12.3 per 100,000, but in physicians, it is 28-40 per 100,000.

Many of these physicians have underlying untreated mental health issues. This shows a large need for early diagnosis, outreach and treatment. Up to 30% of residents have shown symptoms of depression. Depression is affecting up to 12% of males and 19% of females in this profession. It’s dangerous for anyone to ignore their mental health, and even more for those that care for us. More information about this topic can be found in The Dangers of Ignoring Mental Illness

The main, and possibly unique factors in physician suicide are:

  • high demands/extreme stress
  • competitiveness
  • long hours/lack of sleep
  • substance abuse
  • stigma of seeking help because of fear of losing their job- this is a major issue
  • access to lethal means- highly powerful medications
  • patient deaths/malpractice suits
  • burnout

You can read about the stigma of men seeking help for mental health issues in Men and Mental Health

Therapist office mental health

What Is Being Done?

Many facilities and medical schools are trying to pick up on this important issue and help those that are struggling. Many physicians have lost a colleague to suicide, which is a feeling I know all too well. In their case, however, they don’t get the time to grieve. Male anesthesiologists are at the highest risk, according to Washington Post due to the medications they have access to. Like many others that die by suicide, many physicians are very skilled at disguising their feelings. They may appear happy but yet suffering on the inside.

There is a stigma within the medical community with seeking help for mental health issues. Many are afraid that they will lose their job and/or license. They fear that their care won’t remain confidential. Some go to different cities or towns and pay cash to keep from having to report to the state boards. They also have little time away from their demanding schedules to get the care they need. These physicians care so much for others, including their own families, they barely have time for themselves.

Facilities are beginning to create cultures in which employees feel comfortable talking about what they are dealing with, minus consequences. This shows physicians do have feelings, they are not robotic. They need to support each other. More research is being done in this area to help gather more understanding for the future.

Some facilities and schools are creating peer support groups so that students/employees feel less alone during rough times. Work/life balance is also being encouraged a lot more in workplaces. Medical schools are incorporating self-care into their professional development classes. They are also teaching classes on how to notice changes in their co-workers. This can be so beneficial. This information can be found on Physician Leaders

Distressed woman mental health

Experience Led Me Here

In a decade of work, I’ve worked with a lot of people in a variety of places. I never thought about someone I worked with completing suicide. Someone dying in a car crash? Maybe. Cancer or another devastating illness? Okay. For some reason, suicide didn’t enter my mind. It did when Colleen died, and to this day, I still can’t listen to anything by The Beatles without feeling sad. They were her favorite band, and “Let it Be” was played at her funeral.

The last mental health facility I worked at, sadly, has left me changed forever. One suicide occurred months after I started (Scott), then in 2015, two happened- less than a month apart. Everyone was incredibly sad- how does this happen? Austin and Jake are missed terribly by those that loved and cared about them, myself included. I missed Austin’s visitation and funeral because I was sick, but Jake’s was standing room only. He would have been surprised to see how many people cared about him.

Recently, another former co-worker from there died by suicide, and everyone is wondering the same thing- how does this happen? I don’t think there is an exact answer. It is hard to know what people go through daily, even when they seem well put-together.

A Message

Be kind. You never know what the person next to you is going through. They may not be in a deep depression, but might just be having a very hard day. If someone you know is struggling, do what you can to help, even if that’s just listening to them for a while.

If you’re reading this and you are a mental health professional/physician, please reach out if you need it. We need you.

If this post has been helpful to you or can be to someone else, please share! Thanks! Please see this link for my new Mental Health EBook

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Humor? Yes, Please

A little comedy is always nice and I love memes. Have a good laugh!

I say all the curse words but the f-word is my fave. Matthew says I need to cut back but…nah.

Me in a job interview… I’m looking at part time positions and interviews are the worst. Hopefully nobody looks at my Twitter.

I’m very wary of people so this is me… that bird’s eye just gets me.

My sons. Anyone else’s kids? As soon as you leave the room, it’s on.

The joys of being all alone.

http://www.create-with-joy.com/2018/10/friendship-friday-blog-hop-348.html

Song Lyric Saturday with R.E.M.

This week, I picked R.E.M. They were so popular in the 80s and 90s. I have no idea what any of these guys are doing now. I loved “It’s the end of the world” partially because nobody could understand the lyrics. It was just fun to sing along with what I thought they were saying.

The song I really liked is “The Great Beyond”. I’ve never been a very religious person, and I’ve struggled with the idea of if there really is a God. I’m pretty sure that my grandmother’s 2002 death didn’t help this. I was 19, in college, and had just lost one of my favorite people. My grandmother died at 69 from complications of ovarian cancer. She was one of my biggest supporters and thanks to her, I have a deep love of makeup. She always gave me great advice and I loved her dearly. I wish she had lived to see my kids, and I know she would have spoiled them like she did with me, my sister and cousins. This is why Lily’s middle name is for her- Evette.

“The Great Beyond” is about searching for answers in a life that we aren’t really sure about. I definitely wasn’t sure about a lot of things in my life at the time my grandmother died. I’ve had a lot of times since then that I wished so badly she was here. The song is also about overcoming obstacles that you didn’t think you could and looking for answers somewhere else because you can’t find them yourself.

“I’m looking for answers from the great beyond”

This can be interpreted in many ways- like is there life after death? Can we really come back in another life?

Pics courtesy of pinterest