Book Review: “My Bipolar Mind: You Are Not Alone”

This month’s book review is on a book that I was sent by a follower. Samantha emailed me her book in December after I accepted my job and already picked out January’s book.

I am delighted that she approached me with her writing and I enjoyed it. If anyone else wants to do the same, please send me an email. It may take a while to read and review, but I am open to it. My reading list is pretty much never-ending.

**Trigger Warning: This review does discuss abuse, mental illness, and alcohol. Please read with caution.**

Samantha’s book, “My Bipolar Mind: You Are Not Alone” reads like a very intimate diary. She starts with a background of her not-so-easy childhood. This is not an easy part to read, but it may help you understand who Samantha is.

She chronicles her manic and depressive episodes in her writing and what she needs to do to improve herself. She also suffers from panic attacks. Some of those ideas include calling someone in AA, making a gratitude list and other things.

This shows that Samantha wants to improve but yet is stuck. She doesn’t have a lot of support. Her family and longtime boyfriend are less than supportive.

Writing is Samantha’s main coping skill. It is also mine. There is something about being able to get your feelings out on paper or a computer screen and know that you will feel better. Even if it isn’t a diary, it takes your mind off your troubles for a while. She begins ghostwriting and questions her talent (“I just don’t see it in myself due to my ultra-low self-esteem”).

Samantha is honest and relatable. How does her story end? Do things work out with the boyfriend? Read her book.

Samantha’s book can be found at this link: My Bipolar Mind

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Year-End Progress Report

A Huge Announcement

I have a new full-time job as a Program Coordinator starting 1/7/19, which is also Cameron’s 14th birthday. It’s in New Albany, IN, which is about 30 minutes from me.

I will be hiring, training and supervising caregivers for the elderly and (eventually) developmentally disabled adults. I’m excited because I’ve missed working. It does mean changes for the blog.

Moving Along

I will have to start batch writing for two weeks as opposed to one and I have to figure that one out. I am hoping to keep the same schedule.

I’m also ending Song Lyric Saturday. I had to take out something from the blog and that seems a bit better than the monthly round-ups or the book reviews. Both bring in a lot more traffic than Song Lyric Saturday, so Christina Perri is the last one. I love doing the book reviews and roundups, but Song Lyric Saturday had become a bit of a challenge.

I’m not sure when the autism e-book is coming out. The first draft and pics are done, but I haven’t had time to get the second draft done. I’ve had other projects come up plus this job. I’m doing some of the training at home while the kids are on winter break instead of the book as I had planned.

I’ll update when it comes out. I’m still working with Savannah on Millennial Mrs. and Mom because I love it, but the chances of picking up anything else is pretty small unless this new job entirely sucks- then it’s back to the blog full speed.

Miss Purr- one of my writing buddies

The Blog Numbers

As of December 19, the day I’m writing this, these are the numbers I have for each social media platform and WordPress. I don’t think there will be a major change before the publish date of December 26.

Facebook 622 followers

Instagram 990 followers

Blog: 216 followers

Monthly views for November: 1451

Total blog posts (2017& 2018): 284

What’s Next?

I’m not sure! I had planned for publishing both ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords. That requires some reformatting and other work that I will not have time for, so while the autism ebook is coming out, I’m not sure when they will make it to those platforms.

Guest posts? What are those? I may do some for others when I have time, but otherwise, no. Not unless I specifically contact someone. I’m picky about them, to begin with, but at this point, I’d probably lose my shit if someone missed a deadline.

I love this blog and what it has done for me and others. I have gotten a lot of comments thanking me for speaking out on some subjects. I’ve been able to help others and that’s the main mission. I have no plans on shutting it down. This blog allows me to give others the hope and strength that Jake gave me.

I doubt my talent a lot, as do many writers, artists and other creatives. I talked to someone a few days ago about a collab and said my writing was perfect for what he was looking for. I almost dropped my phone.

Point is, I mercilessly edit my work and I won’t publish anything I don’t like, no matter how rushed I am. I’d trash it first. I’ve grown a lot as a writer over this year and I don’t have the urge as often to trash a post. The last time I did, that post was one of my best. The irony.

Thanks for reading my blog. I have content ready until March. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy creating it.

Wrae

The pic of Miss Purr is mine, the others are courtesy of pinterest

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Adjusting to a New World

Many parents, myself included, envision parenting as this wonderful adventure in which kids develop at the pace they should, play instruments and/or sports, learn to drive, go to prom and all that great stuff.

But what happens when those things are altered because of a special needs diagnosis?

Cry a little

The Big Change

Some parents find out about their child’s diagnosis before or right after birth, in cases of Spinal Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and Down’s Syndrome. I know parents of kids with these diagnoses, and it has been life changing for these families. All of them have other kids without any special needs.

The adjustment is hard. I cried my way through Lily’s evaluation for First Steps the day before her first birthday, even though I knew something was not going right. I knew she needed more help than what I could give her. That story can be found in Special Needs Round Two . When her diagnosis of global delays was given, I was even more devastated. The blame game began. It took a lot of talking with Lily’s speech therapist, Denise, to realize that it wasn’t my fault that she was developmentally delayed. We are in the process of getting Lily re-evaluated. At ten, she is still showing signs of issues that we thought she had grown out of. Cross your fingers for us- we may need it.

In Julian’s case, it’s been a tougher road. His psychiatric nurse practitioner, Ann, once said that we have adjusted wonderfully as a family to Julian’s needs. I almost hugged her. I explained to her that it has not been easy and it remains a somewhat rugged path. My question is: Why not adjust? Julian is wired differently and that’s okay. If we didn’t adjust, he would feel badly about himself and I couldn’t bear the thought of this. It would also cause so much chaos for him that he doesn’t need or deserve. It would do the same for the rest of us. Why do that?

He needs the ability to feel okay about who he is, quirks and all. We’ve enjoyed watching him grow and finally develop a sense of humor. Every kid needs that, with or without a diagnosis. In a home with medical issues, this is a necessity.

I have made many mistakes in raising Julian (and his siblings). Even after reading up, trying many different things, therapy for both of us, getting Matthew on board and lots of burnt dinners in the process, things remain interesting. Julian is now 12 and puberty is kicking in.

Learning that your child has a medical and/or physical special needs diagnosis is complex. Some parents grieve the life they feel their child “should have had”. This is a rough one for me, as I’ve never done this. I can see this happening with kids with severe medical problems. A high school friend of mine has a child with spinal bifida and she lives a full life. Instead of being devastated and staying in a hole as some might, Shelly and her kids go out and do all kinds of neat things. Ryan is eight, and she is one of the coolest kids ever. She’s a tiny fighter. Some parents, like myself, are devastated and are not sure where to go next. Some fall into the “research pattern” and find all kinds of information to know exactly what to do.

This can be a great thing- I have read up a lot on Julian’s diagnoses and it didn’t hurt to work with kids with similar issues. (It did physically hurt some days, but that’s another story. I learned a lot from that job.) Some parents, sadly, go into denial. This can be damaging to everyone involved, and I highly recommend seeing a therapist, church member, or another trusted person. If it’s your partner, this can get really bad quickly, and I definitely know the pain of where it can go. Please do what you can to change that path. Talking can help. Easing your partner into information, appointments, and other things can help. Just don’t force them, because that can make things worse.

I recommend reading up, asking questions, and getting all the help from the medical community you can. The more information you have, the more empowered you feel to help your child. Julian’s been very lucky- he has had a great team from day one, because I wouldn’t let him have anything less. I’m a proud mama shark.

Never give up

It’s okay to feel different things- don’t let anyone make you feel different. Julian was diagnosed almost seven years ago, and some days I still feel overwhelmed. As of writing this post, I’m about to battle it out with his school over his IEP because it’s currently not being followed. Some days are better than others. Some days are absolutely great, some are so bad that you want to devour a liter of Cherry Coke, a bag of salt and vinegar chips and call it a day. (Okay, maybe that’s just me. I didn’t do all of that, but I considered it.) If you’re overwhelmed, write it out. Get someone to help you sort out your feelings.

Making The Best of Things

Daily life also changes. Depending on the diagnosis, your child may need assistance with everything, or nothing at all. This can become time-consuming and require an overhaul of your routine as you knew it. Food may need to be altered due to sensory issues- I live in a house with two kids with sensory issues, and I gave up on those battles years ago. Julian won’t eat french fries if he can see the potato skins or if they aren’t super warm. Lily won’t eat anything that resembles soup, any pasta that isn’t spaghetti, mainly because it looks different. Julian actually had a meltdown once over the shape of pasta my father in law used for dinner. These changes can be irritating to make, but they are necessary for the world our kids live in. I’ve learned to look inside Julian’s mind a bit, probably because of my work, and try to see the world as he does. It can get hard, but it’s worth it. Explaining this to others can get even harder, even your partner.

Small steps

It takes time to adjust- it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to learn how your child’s machines work, or how to get the wheelchair to fit in your van. Give yourself space to make those mistakes. I completely screwed up Julian’s 12th birthday party by inviting too many people, which cause him to shut down at the end, but I’m pretty sure he still likes me. He used to get mad at me when I would hold onto him with a death grip in parking lots and large stores, but he had a bad record of eloping. It was terrifying to have to run after a very fast 5 year old, especially in a parking lot. He was seven before I let him walk more than a foot or two away from me. (I never used a leash because I hate those things.)

If you’ve got a kid who takes things literally, you have to change how you talk to them. For example, I once told Julian to drop the jar of jelly he was holding after he was told not to eat anything. I was making dinner and he didn’t need to eat so soon before.

He dropped the jar.

Major mom fail.

Thankfully, the jar was plastic. That would have been an awful mess otherwise. Matthew and I have had to re-think things before we say them, because Julian thinks differently, and so does Lily, to an extent. We are still trying to figure out her thought patterns. She doesn’t quite think on a 10-year-old level, so we have to tread carefully.

Super parent

Final Thoughts and Tips:

If you have to buy things to keep your house, kid and car safe, do it. You’ll thank yourself later.

It really does take a village. I have friends that have kids with all kinds of physical/ developmental disabilities. A few have kids with autism, and they have been so helpful when I’ve needed them.

Being a parent of a special needs kid will make you a different person. I’ve fought for Julian since day one. Lily’s issues haven’t required so much of a fight, but I would do the same for her. It makes you tougher and less likely to take people’s crap.

Breathe and find something that makes you laugh. Comedy will get you through anything.

Get a binder and organize all of your kid’s paperwork. Julian and Lily have their own binders.

You are not alone, and get help if you need it. Take time for you, because your kids need Mom at her best. If you’re tired, sad and cranky, that’s not your best.

If you have other kids, let them be involved in adjustments. It’s not easy to be the sibling of a special needs kid. My kids have been pretty good about Julian, but it can get hard for us as parents. Cameron and Lily have a post about this in The Siblings’ Turn

Allow your child to live their best life. If they can do it- let them. My friend Laura Leigh’s son, Levi, is seven. He is in a wheelchair due to Cerebral Palsy, and he is an awesome kid. He smiles for days, gives his younger sister Presley wheelchair rides and loves school. I let Julian run cross country in the fifth grade and he loved it. We have a rule that his diagnoses aren’t excuses for not behaving. He does have bad days, but he doesn’t get to say, “I’ve got autism, so I get to act like that”, “I forgot my ADHD meds, that’s why I’m like this today”.

Most of all, love and accept your child the way they are. It might sound weird that I wrote that, but it is saddening that many parents don’t. Acceptance and love matters- it’s everything.

Quotes courtesy of Pinterest

Recommended Reading: The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Book Review- “Black Pain”

Thanks to Bonnie for recommending this month’s book- “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting”. This was a great book. It was definitely an eye-opener. I admire the author for opening up and telling her story because sharing your pain, no matter where you are in life, sucks.

She tells her story while letting others share theirs, which is something I do on this blog. I think it’s important to let others tell their stories as a way to give hope to others and you may never know who may get something out of it. These blog posts are a few examples of others telling their stories:

Guest Post with Adam

Guest Post with Carissa

Guest Post with Brynn

Clearly, I don’t know any famous people but I don’t think that really matters. (However, if Demi Lovato, Stevie Nicks or Gillian Flynn happen to ever read this blog and want to say something, I’m not stopping them.)

Terrie did a wonderful job looking at depression from different perspectives. It’s important to not have a close-minded view of depression or any mental health issue in general. That’s how things get misconstrued and stigmas occur.

There are some lines in this book that really stood out for me- I actually made notes so I wouldn’t forget them.

“A loss of a friend pushed Ellin to the edge, but it was the love of friends that brought her back”

I cannot say how much truth there is to this line. I went a bit over the edge after losing Jake. My family, therapist and Matthew helped, but my friends have been priceless. My friend Scott almost dragged me out of my house countless times in the first few months. I barely made it to lunch some days but Scott never gave up. He’s a great lunch date and one of the funniest people I know.

“When people only look at you physically, it is easy to start to see yourself only in a physical sense”

 

I really struggled with seeing myself as more than just a set of boobs and a pretty face. Thanks to how my own husband saw me, that’s what I felt reduced to. I forgot that I was smart, funny, creative, etc.

I lost 60 lbs over a couple of years mainly due to stress. I’m sure spending 4 days a week in the gym helped, but I really wasn’t taking care of myself. It is easy to forget who you are when others make it easy to do so. Thankfully this changed. Jake helped me remember that I’m so much more. Matthew apparently paid attention because he suddenly remembered all of this.

“Very few suicidal people want to die. They just don’t want to live the way they’re living.” – Althea Hawkins

 

I believe this so much. I’ve watched friends and family struggle with suicidal thoughts and attempts. People sometimes reach a point that they feel they cannot keep going anymore. That’s when tragedies happen.

The last part of the book emphasizes the importance of a support system. Everyone needs support. Nobody is meant to go through life alone, especially not the tough parts.

Picture credits:

Google

Pixabay

Book Review- “Weekends At Bellevue”

This month was a bit of a struggle, reading-wise. I started with a different book in mind and it wasn’t that great. Then Bonnie Price, a fellow blogger, recommended a book that I started but am still reading. I’m a multi-book reader, so this month’s review is on the other book I was reading at the time. (No worries, Bonnie! Your recommendation is coming up next month.)

I got “Weekends at Bellevue” at a book sale, and I was super curious. I love books about mental health facilities, mainly because I spent most of my career working at two. I was a mental health technician/associate, depending on the facility I’m referring to. I was at one facility for one year and the other for four.

If you don’t know what that is, think of it as a CNA with a BA in Clinical Psychology. I am not a CNA, but I did pretty much everything that covers. This was not always easy, but it was almost always fun.

I do know I will never work in geriatrics again, and thanks to not being able to perform a chokehold defense move thanks to my thyroid surgery, I’m pretty much retired from this line of work. I’m okay with this. My rheumatologist would not be happy to see me still doing physical managements with kids twice my size five days a week.

Lily and I were actually a “tech and a half” at one point (I was pregnant while working at one facility) and I literally have scars from working at the other. That happens when you have a 15-year-old hit you in the face with a stereo cord. My right eyebrow has not been the same since. That’s just one example, and I can’t make this stuff up if I wanted to. I have a full post devoted to this time- Real Stories of a (Former) Mental Health Worker

If you’ve never heard of Bellevue, feel free to look it up on Google. It is a very large hospital in New York City and has a very long and not-so-glorious history behind it. I’ve read another book about its history and I was glued to every page. This book, however, tells the story of a 3rd shift physician in charge, Dr. Julie Holland. She was there for 9 years.

It’s hard to work in a mental health facility. It takes a toll on you, physically and emotionally. This is why the turnover is so high. You see and hear things that you cannot unsee or unhear, and it’s hard to process. If you are involved in physical managements, you run the risk of getting hurt. I worked on one of the “worst” units in the second facility and loved those kids.

They may have been aggressive, loud and destructive, but for the most part, it was not entirely their fault. They also needed love, direction, and other things. You cannot leave work at a mental health facility changed, and I didn’t. Dr. Holland somewhat mentions that in the book. It certainly helped me put Julian’s diagnosis into perspective, among many other things.

Dr. Holland did a great job in explaining the symptoms of certain mental illnesses for those who don’t understand because there are many who don’t. I appreciate that, even though I knew exactly what she was talking about.

She broke things down in an understandable but not condescending way. That makes it even better. She explains what led her to psychiatry because anyone who works in psychology has a story. She also dedicated a chapter to how a day goes in the ER of Bellevue.

My story is simple- I want to help others. I originally wanted to be a child therapist, but I honestly didn’t want to go to grad school after having two kids while getting my BA. What’s next? I have no idea.

Throughout the book, she balances telling how her life flows in and out of the hospital. She watches a friend get sick from cancer (no spoilers here), gets married, has babies and even works on Christmas. When you’re Jewish, working on Christmas isn’t really on your radar.

Dr. Holland experiences a lot while she works at Bellevue, and it leads her to make some life changes. What are those changes? You will have to read to find out!