Another Big D-Word

I’m still in therapy and working on myself. It’s hard sometimes but it’s necessary and worth it.

There’s one issue that I thought I had faced and deal with pretty well, but maybe not.

It’s a well known fact that I have rheumatoid arthritis. You can read these posts if you need a refresher:

Facts on Facts About RA

Lessons from My Joints

Going into the Big Leagues

I know that the RA will progress and that isn’t pretty. I’ve seen how bad it can get- my grandfather struggled to do simple tasks in his later years. I plan to live my best life until I can’t. Matthew and I have even talked about moving into a smaller one floor home once the kids move out.

However, I haven’t fully accepted RA as a disability. I’ll tell people I have it but I’m quick to deny that I have a disability- it is classified as one. This is a rough one.

Invisible chronic illnesses are difficult to deal with physically but just as hard, if not harder, emotionally. When people can’t see that someone has a disability, they tend to not understand the issue. For example, my mother has a limp and uses a walker. Does that stop her? No.

People have asked me if I have considered going on disability so that I can stay home and still contribute to the household. No. I can still work part-time, which is what I’m currently doing. I’m almost certain that my rheumatologist would sign off on the paperwork, but I’m not ready to take that step.

There’s a stigma attached to all of this. People think those of us with chronic illnesses make it up- my current manager actually thought I was making up being immunocompromised. Or ifs not as bad as we say it is.

I’ve used the electric chairs in stores and get weird looks. I don’t really care. Luckily, the important people in my life understand bad pain days and flares. I do what I can when I can.

As I’m writing this, I’m awake at 6 am because my pain woke me up. I’m in a flare and am debating steroids. I know my physical limits but sometimes flares creep up on me and I don’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late.

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t want my kids to worry about or feel like they have to take care of me. Matthew, luckily, helps and understands what I’m dealing with. It’s frustrating as hell to have a chronic illness. It also gives me a different view on my life.

I know I will accept at some point that I have a disability but today is definitely not that day.

All the Wishes and Dreams

Many years ago, I knew I wanted to have kids.

At one point, four sounded great, but that got cut after Cameron was born. He was a tough baby and now he’s my most chilled-out kid.

Three is enough at this house. I have friends who have more than three, and I wonder how they do it.

Every parent that I’ve ever met has some sort of wish or dreams for their kids. Mine probably isn’t much different from theirs.

Kid pic

Doesn’t he look thrilled?

The Biggest Wish

I want my kids to live a life that they love. College is still debatable for the boys, and Lily hasn’t said much about it. I don’t think a college degree is necessary to go into an occupation.

My career required a degree, but not all do. I could have become a CNA and possibly made more, but due to RA, I’d probably have to stop at some point if not already.

My theory is: if it’s paying your bills, legal and you like it, then I support it.

Our school system has programs at each high school that students can go into for a career if they decide not to go to college. I think this is a great idea. Cameron is in a machine tool, computer-aided design (CAD) and engineering program.

He’s following in his grandfather and uncle’s footsteps. Matthew was NOT interested.

Julian is looking at programs and thinks a graphic design program might be a good idea. He loves computers and video games and loved to draw when he was younger.

If this is what makes them happy and fulfilled, who am I to stop them?

Of course, there’s more to life than working, so I hope they have a partner that they can be happy with and friends who they can be themselves with and are there when they need them. I also hope they remain passionate about what they like and believe in.

You can read more on my thoughts about my kids going to college here

Zoo selfie

Remember Who You Are

This was my grandfather’s biggest lesson to everyone in the family and it’s on his headstone.

In my kids’ case, I hope they remember that they can always come home and I’ll be here.

This also means being yourself and never running away from or changing that. That never ends well- I tried it and I was miserable.

In part of knowing who you are, I hope my kids never, ever accept being treated less than they deserve- because they deserve the best person for them. This also means never treating anyone with less respect because they’re different in any way. I think that lesson has been extensively covered.

Accepting people for who they are and where they are in life is a huge value of mine and I’ve worked so hard to teach my kids this. I think Cameron and Lily have learned a lot about acceptance, thanks to Julian.

I also hope my kids accept themselves as they are- nobody is perfect and I don’t expect anything close from them.

Funny meme

Adulting is a TRAP

I joke about this, but adulting is tough.

My boys can’t wait to hit 18, then 21 years old. They can do all the “fun things”.. Like pay bills and work?

I’m huge on self-sufficiency. No kid in this house is moving out unable to take care of themselves. All of them can cook in the microwave (we’re working on the stove), do laundry, clean the house (some better than others) and other things.

Welcome to the Future

At some point, I’m probably going to become a grandmother.

I plan to spoil them terribly and send them home.

I haven’t always been the best mom, but I’ve always loved my kids. I think they know this, and maybe my parenting will get passed down- the humorous parts, hopefully. They can do without the drinking part.

I hope my kids are great parents- they’ve seen me do my best with very little, struggle with my health (physical and emotional) and still be an okay mom.

Mainly, I want these kids to have more. We’ve struggled financially and it’s not fun for anyone involved. It’s stressful and can break a family.

I know their lives will hit difficult periods- I hope I’ve armed them with the tools to get through those times.

Just an Ordinary Mom

I’m just a mom writing a blog of my thoughts. I don’t wish or hope for much with my kids. I’d love to see where their lives lead them. I’m trying to stay healthy (and mobile) enough to do so.

For further reading:

What I want my kids to know about Friendship

Book Review: “Girl, Interrupted”

This month’s book review is for another movie/book combo.

Feel free to comment or email me with your thoughts at wraemsanders@gmail.com.

I’m not sure which I like more- the book was intriguing, but the movie is a bit more in-depth. I guess it depends on whether you are more of a book or movie person.

**TRIGGER WARNING** This book review does briefly discuss suicidal thoughts, attempts, and similar topics. Please read at your own discretion.

Book cover

Title and why I chose this book:

“Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen

It’s not often that people tell their story of mental illness- at least not from the time frame that Susanna does. This book was based on her story in the 1960s when it wasn’t acceptable to tell anyone you had a mental illness, much less write a book about it. I think it’s interesting to look at a person’s story from another angle, even if it’s a different time.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

If you aren’t familiar with what it was like to be a patient in a mental health facility during this time period, Susanna’s story will give you a peek into it. Many of us are a bit curious about that, myself included. I think it’s because of my work in similar facilities. I’ve read quite a bit about facilities in the past and how patients were treated, and it wasn’t always positive.

What did I like about this book?

I like Susanna’s honesty. She breaks down her thoughts and the events that occur in the story so that the reader can understand exactly what is going on. Some of those events may be a little hard for us to comprehend because we weren’t there to witness them, but she tries her best.

What didn’t I like about this book?

I thought that the book could have been a little longer, I think it ended a bit abruptly. Everyone has their opinions on this, so maybe it’s just me. The tone of the book was a bit formal for me, but I had to remind myself of the time the book was set in.

Plot:

Susanna is hospitalized at McLean Hospital in 1967. Her hospital paperwork is actually included in the book, with some things blacked out. This wouldn’t have happened today, thanks to HIPAA. I’ve seen this in other books, but it still astounds me.

She is hospitalized following a suicide attempt- I won’t include details, but she does detail the attempt and events that follow it. She also discusses suicidal thoughts and means.

I had a laugh while reading her description of “maximum security” and McLean’s checks system. This is the way that mental health workers (“orderlies” in the book) are able to assess patients on a 1:1 (constant), 7.5, 15 or 30-minute basis for their safety. Try doing 7.5-minute checks while hugely pregnant. I did this while pregnant with Lily and it was a bit challenging.

Susanna signed herself in voluntarily and thought she would be there for two weeks- this became almost two years. She got along with her roommate and the other patients around her, and after her release, was able to find two of them. She was released after she was offered a proposal for marriage.

What was Susanna’s diagnosis? I won’t spoil that for you. It’s in her paperwork.

I’ll let you find it in the book.

Quote that I liked:

“Crazy isn’t being broken or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me amplified.”

Just because you’re broken inside doesn’t mean you’re “crazy”. Everyone’s a little broken, right?

Come back next month for another book review!

Picture courtesy of Google

How Can People Pleasing Hurt You?

I like (some) people.

Those people make me happy and I like to try to make them happy. This is how friendships and relationships work, at least in part, right?

Falling Into a Pattern

It’s one thing to try to make people happy when you can and it’s reciprocated, but sometimes, without seeing it, we can fall into a pattern of “people pleasing”.

I describe this as doing things that you may or may not be okay with or may even be detrimental to your life (financially, emotionally, physically, or in other ways, and can be a combination of these).

Everyone has a point, however, in which it just becomes too much.

Do we always see it?

No.

Do we try to change the pattern if we do?

Sometimes.

In a way, this goes back to how we are raised. Some families are rooted in religious and/or other traditions that basically require putting your needs aside for others. Even so, there’s still room for self-care. There’s space for not resenting putting yourself behind others.

Of course, our parents usually raise us in the way they were and not too long ago, it was understood that most girls were taught to please everyone, even if it made them miserable. Lily got lucky because I didn’t like this idea. This idea is still out there but is changing.

“No” is NOT the end of the world

If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you’re an adult.

When we were little, if we didn’t get what we wanted, we threw tantrums. If you’ve got kids, you have probably been on the receiving end of one. If not, please tell me what your secret was. Send an email, DM, something. I’m curious.

If you get nothing else out of this post: no is not the end of the world. Read that many times if needed.

Feelings tend to build up over time and if you spend most of yours doing everything that you don’t want to, those feelings aren’t going to be positive ones. Resentment, anxiety, and depression are just a few emotions that might pop up.

What can say “No” do for you?

  • Free up time that you would rather be doing something else
  • Give a sense of control
  • Increase sense of self-esteem
  • Relieve the stress of having to do something you don’t want to
  • Lead to other areas in your life that you can work on, like assertiveness, self-worth, etc.

People might be a bit surprised at first because they’re so used to you saying “yes” to everything, but they will get used to it. If they get mad, well, they just get mad. This might be weird and slightly weird but… It pays off.

Swear.

In the meantime, you get to have the fun of figuring out what matters to you. How do you want to spend your time? How do you feel about getting back control of your life, even by taking just one step?

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

You’re back?

I’ll continue.

Taking back your life

After you put some thinking and action into not making everyone happy…what’s next?

You can read Setting Healthy Boundaries to get a good idea on where to start. Are You Meeting Your Needs? can also be a bit helpful. Those posts are full of tips to assist you in feeling okay with making your life a bit easier and hopefully, happier.

Changes like these don’t happen overnight, so don’t get upset with yourself if you slide backwards. It happens. Just keep trying.

I’m no expert here, but things do get easier after making changes for yourself, at least in this capacity.

Go forth and be awesome!

I’m raising money to get a book published, please go here for more information. ❤

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”.

laura-ockel-197421-unsplash.jpg

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. The event has 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 identifies as 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