Looking Back at Older Topics

I’m surprised at the number of topics I have covered on this blog- I still have so much left to discuss.

Here are five interesting posts to ponder:

The Dangers of Ignoring Mental Illness

Suicide and The Media

Should You Emphasize Grades or Mental Health?

Moving Forward: The Last Fifty Years of Psychiatry

Drinking, Drugs and Your Teen

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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

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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

Book Review: “Valley Of the Dolls”

For this month’s book review, I chose a book that was a little different.

“Valley of The Dolls” is one of my favorite books, and I have loved it since the first time I read it. I don’t know how many times I have read it. The “dolls” that the book refers to is not the kind of doll your children may play with. These dolls are pills, and there is a variety of them mentioned. In this book, which is set in the 1940s-60s, they are mainly sleeping pills, with some diet pills mentioned. I don’t think any of the pills mentioned exist today, but I’m going to assume that some of them are the basis of some of the pills that are out there.

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The book is based on the lives of three young women living in New York City- Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. They meet while trying to make a life in the city coming from three very different backgrounds. Sometimes they clash, at other times they do very well together. They fall in love, experience heartbreak and one becomes a famous movie star and singer. One reaches her dreams of being a model and actress, and the other is happy as a secretary then falls into modeling for a makeup line.

Neely is the somewhat troubled one of the three. While chasing her dreams, she becomes addicted to pills and begins drinking heavily. She eventually ends up having to step back from the world to take care of herself, but not because she wants to. She also became very depressed and attempted suicide more than once. She had a hard time dealing with the pressures of stardom and her chaotic life.

Jennifer goes to Europe and back, but doesn’t find true happiness until it’s almost too late. She didn’t want to live for her body, but it is all she knows. She marries twice and almost a third to someone who truly loves her, which is all she wanted before the unforeseen occurs.

Anne finds the love of her life in Lyon Burke, the friend of her boss. She refuses to give up on him, no matter what. This love remains even after he leaves her not once, but twice. Everyone thinks she is mad for not letting go, even when she has a relationship with another man. Does Lyon ever come back for her? You’ll have to read to find out.

This book does have a sequel, set much later in everyone’s lives, and includes Anne and Neely’s children. This is called “Shadow of the Dolls”. I’ve read this, and it’s interesting. I didn’t include my thoughts on it for this review, but I definitely recommend reading it. Jacqueline Susann died in 1974 and Rae Lawrence wrote this sequel based on the outline she left behind. The storyline flows well from book to book, even though there is a very large time gap between them.

If you need a novel to keep you well entertained, this is definitely one to go for.

Picture courtesy of Pinterest

Talking About Pride

Coming Out of the Closet

I decided to use an actual definition for this one, because I understand that not everyone may be clear on this one. I also think it’s the respectful thing to do. I’ve got friends and family members in the community, so I’m very clear on what this term means. Planned Parenthood- Coming Out Definition

It’s a hard process. Some people choose to wait until a certain time, some never do. It’s an individual choice, and should be respected. If someone comes out to you, please respect that person’s decision to tell you, even if it isn’t within your own values. It takes a lot to say “I’m a lesbian” or “I like guys”, or however it is said.

There is a lot of fear in coming out, however. Many people fear these things:

  • not being accepted. If there is a history of hearing homophobic slurs throughout life, it’s going to be hard to go against that.
  • getting cut off financially/becoming homeless- especially in teens and college students. Some wait until after college for this reason.
  • anxiety, depression or other mental health issues worsening afterwards due to above issues.

There is so much more support these days for the LGBTQ+ community. I feel there is a long way to go in the legal world, but it’s coming. Marriages were a huge issue a couple years ago and I shed tears when they became legal everywhere. I believe some states are still trying to fight that one. Macklemore had it right when he said in “Same Love”- “No freedom until we’re equal/ Damn right I support it”.

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Pride Events

Have you ever been to a Pride event? I have been to quite a few. Louisville is a big city and every June, there’s a huge Pride event. This year’s event is June 15-17, with lots of food (my main requirement for anything), music and a lot of other fun things. I usually see a lot of friends while I’m there. It’s so much fun. If you’ve never been, and you’re comfortable going, go. If you aren’t sure if there is an event near you, try looking on Google “pride events” and your city or the nearest city to you. Not everyone lives in or near a big city.

These events began as a way for people to get together, have fun, be themselves, meet others and not fear being judged or getting hurt. Of course, this didn’t always go well but over the years, the events have become safer. There will always be those that oppose these events.

The Kid Version

I have a friend, Kate, that is happily raising a son, with her wife, Christy. Lucas just turned two, and he is the happiest toddler that I’ve seen in a long time. I hope he stays that adorably happy. They got married in Hawaii a few years ago and the pictures were adorable. I know they have struggles like everyone else, but they’re one of the cutest couples I’ve ever known. Lucas is like every other toddler out there- he just has two loving moms.

I wrote a post not long ago, LGBTQ Kids: A Guide for those who need a bit of help figuring out how to navigate the waters of having a child that is LGBTQ. This is becoming more common than people realize and I wanted to bring that to your, my readers’, attention. If you know someone who could benefit from it, feel free to send them the link. I think it could help parents who aren’t sure what to do. We don’t always know what to do as parents, or even aunts, uncles, and so on. That’s okay. That’s why we ask others for ideas and read up.

Kids are pretty smart. They can tell who accepts them and who doesn’t. They’ll stay closest to those that do. All kids, no matter their sexuality, need someone who loves and accepts them exactly for who they are. They don’t need or deserve ridicule for who they love. They have enough to worry about.

Mental Health Issues in The Community

Anxiety and depression are common in many people. When you are struggling with hiding who you are (or feeling like you have to), losing someone you love and having to start over in a small pool of people and not feeling fully accepted,things can get very hard.

Drugs, alcohol and self harm are three coping skills that are used by this population. Sometimes it can be deadly. There are therapists that specialize in LGBTQ issues.

This may be a good time to look into how you can become an ally or otherwise support the LGBTQ people in your life. How can you be an ally?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Why You Need to be Ready for Peer Pressure

Puberty is a Sneaky Thing

Teenagers, and all the interesting things that come along with them, sneak up on us before we even think we are ready. I barely blinked before Cameron turned 13. His voice is getting deep, he’s taller than me, and what is food? It disappears before I see it. This kid is still writing the parenting manual at my house because, clearly, this book will never be done.

Peer pressure hasn’t really hit my house yet, but I’m waiting on it. I think at some point, most kids encounter it. It might not be at school, but at school events, the park, mall, wherever else teens hang out.

NOTE: In drug descriptions, I will use the legal term for the substance. I prefer not to use slang.

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The Main Lesson

I’m skipping the main description of peer pressure, because anyone reading this is an adult and most of us have been there at least once. (Remember cutting class? That counts.) Everyone’s description is a bit different, so I’ll leave that one open.

Why do you need to be ready for it?

  1. Blood pressure purposes. I’ve had a stroke and it’s not fun. I’d like everyone reading this to avoid that scenario when your teen comes home and wants to talk about being asked to smoke a cigarette, marijuana, drink or do many of the wildly stupid challenges they have seen on YouTube.(Julian has enlightened me on that arena, and all I can say is… wow. We have had to have a few talks on that, seeing as he is the family stunt man. I can only hope those talks stick in his mind.)
  2. To know what to say. Everyone sees things differently, but nobody wants to judge their kid, right? I don’t do scripts in parenting. because that never goes well, but I do suggest asking your child what was going on when they were asked to cut class/ use a drug/drink/etc, how they felt about it, whether they wanted to, why or why not/ what happened, etc. This will likely get you better results. Talking calmly usually does. Your teen is more likely to talk to a calmer parent.
  3. Watch out for personality and other changes. Peer pressure can get intense. If you dealt with it as a teen, you can probably remember how hard it was to deal with- anxiety, depression, even anger. If your child decides for some reason to go along with the things he or she is being pressured into, there will be even bigger changes. You’ll probably be able to see those- personality changes, maybe changes in how they dress, eat, etc.
  4. To be able to help if your child doesn’t go along with the crowd. Most teens just want to fit in. Cameron had to wear a heart monitor 24/7 for a month, and it had cords that dangled a bit. He was usually able to keep them covered, but one of his classmates saw the cord and asked what it was- he told her it was for earbuds. He didn’t want to tell her he was on a heart monitor. He just wanted to be like every other 7th grader and have earbuds dangling out of his pocket at school. If your child faces peer pressure and decides not to go along with everyone else, they may face some backlash, most likely in the form of bullying. Please see my post Bullying: A Closer Look if you need information on this issue.
  5. To be able to stay informed. I mentioned YouTube videos earlier- those stunt videos are just one trend that teens get into, but it’s good to stay somewhat up to date on things. Talk to other parents, family members, etc. It can be helpful in trying to deter your teen from potentially dangerous activities.

Happy parenting! It’s a blast, isn’t it?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

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Twin Mummy and Daddy
Bringing up Georgia