Sunday, May 07, 2017

What's Down with Mom?


"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." 
- James Baldwin



So I continue to fight this fucking depression and anxiety and it's extremely difficult.

Add the fact that I'm a mom to three school-aged kids to the mix and it is even worse.

Because kids are kids and they can only understand so much.

I’m currently staying in Toronto with my parents as I seek treatment and recovery. This means my three boys remain with their dad – except when my folks and I spend a weekend day with them each week.

So I am not working and I am not caring for my children day to day at the moment – as prescribed by my doctor.

I need rest. I need to take care of myself. 

I need to get better.

God bless the adults who do what they can do to educate themselves – and their children - about mental health.

And of course I (and other members of the family) have tried to explain as best we can -  in ways that are as age-appropriate as we can - why mommy is not around too much right now. Difficult when they are aged 15, 13 and 6 with very different personalities, questions, concerns willingness'  (is that a word?) to communicate their feelings and understanding levels.

But I would think this must be a really hard way to for school-aged kids to learn.

Ya know. When your mom has it.



Why is she sad? Anxious? Did I cause any of this? When she broke down crying when we were fighting with each other and she told us she couldn’t take it anymore…was that our fault? 

When she woke up - again -  and ran the water in the bathroom and tried to cover up the sound of her throwing up before rushing to get herself and us ready for work and school - her eyes all red and weary…was that our fault?

Is that depression? Is that anxiety?

Is that what they wonder?

God I want to hold them and tell them all no and feel that they understand that no…no…no…it is not their fault.

(Oh but by the way kids, besides it not being your fault, would you mind behaving when your mom is with you so that her anxiety doesn’t go through the roof? Thanks.)

It's hard.

Are my kids experiencing anxiety about my anxiety?

That thought really causes me a lot of…well…anxiety.

Add it to my list.

See how it never ends?

But I digress.

Teenage boys don’t tell their moms much. At least mine don’t.

Not about feelings or emotions and all that touchy feely stuff.

Sometimes they do…and I hope that they continue to do so...but generally, like many boys, they don’t seem to want to talk much - even when I call right now.

Everything is “fine” and “good” and questions about how they are doing are not often reciprocated because I think they would rather not talk about it. 

Or is that just me being anxious?

Are they just being then same boys…the same kids?

Am I being too sensitive because I miss the crap out of them?

Is this my never-ending guilt talking?

I'm guessing all of the above.

But it's hard.

So yeah. I continue to fight fucking depression and anxiety.

And it really sucks.

But those three young boys that mean more to me than anything else know that I love them.

And maybe…just maybe…this is a learning experience that will serve them and others well as they grow.

This is what I try to tell myself.

They will hopefully learn that taking care of yourself and your health is vitally important.

They will hopefully learn that mental heath is just as important as physical heath and should be taken seriously - both in themselves and in others.

Perhaps seeing that depression and anxiety are real - and seeing their mom fight and get better - will be a great lesson. 

A lesson about invisible illnesses.

A lesson about compassion. 

A lesson about pulling together as a family.

A lesson about strength and resiliency.

And as their mother…and their life-long teacher…I not only plan to teach them.

I plan to show them.

Because while many of you may not be able to see my illness…nor can you see my strength.

Smiles,

Lora



Monday, March 20, 2017

The Sun behind the Dark Cloud


"One small crack does not mean that you are broken. It means that you were put to the test and you didn't fall apart."
 - Linda Poindexter




Yet again, I'm back.

I seem to come back here when I am struggling more often than not…but it helps me to share my story…to reach out…to let people know the face of mental illness is everywhere and that others who are suffering are not alone.

I don't feel obligated…but I do feel compelled. I know that the stigma still exists and I know it needs to stop.

I choose to share with others in hopes of reaching people who are also struggling - especially those who feel that they can't share.

And make no mistake. Even I am afraid of sharing.

It is scary to be completely vulnerable and put yourself out there. But as more and more people do it…the better things will become. The more people will share.

The more people will feel safe to do so.

As a recap, I suffer from anxiety and depression. It goes up and down. I have gotten pretty good at hiding it…but I'm tired. I'm exhausted in fact.

Trying to be a quality mother, employee, friend, daughter, girlfriend and all the other roles I play becomes very trying and almost impossible.



By this, I mean that I am not me when I am not well.

That is…I don't feel like me.

And once again, the black dog is lurking.

Perhaps this is getting monotonous to read. Maybe I am just repeating myself using slightly different words.

But that's OK.

I do this to keep my voice loud enough to be heard by someone…anyone…who needs to hear someone who understands.

Waking up with anxiety so bad it causes vomiting more days than not is not OK.

Breaking down in tears at the office when trying to do a job helping other people with other very serious health issues is also not OK.

That is why I am back to putting my health first. I am seeking the best help that I can and I am committed to feeling better. Life is too precious and important to not feel happy.

And there is nothing I love more than being happy…sharing happiness…spreading positivity…and enjoying life.

I know many, many people who struggle. It is so common. But many don't talk about it because of the fear.

Fear of being labelled as their illness.

Fear of being judged.

Fear of being seen as weak.

But fighting depression and anxiety is not for the weak.

You have to use every ounce of strength you have - like fighting any other disease.

Reach out. Seek help. Talk to your doctor. Talk to your friends that you trust.

Life does not have to be like this.

I know because I have fought before and have gotten better.

And I'm gonna do it again.

2017 has not started as well as I thought it would…but there is still lots of time to make it a life-changing year.

I have a wonderful family, beautiful children, a loving boyfriend and supportive friends.

I have a roof over my head and food on my plate.

I have so much love to give and share and so much more life to live.

We all have struggles in life. None of us are immune.

We just need to hug our loved ones tighter. We need to use the resources available to us.

And most of all we must advocate for our own health and well being.

Hold on.

Fight.

I'm right here cheering you on - and I promise you that others will be too if you let them in.



The sun is bright enough to pass though even the darkest cloud.

Remember that.

Love and strength to you all.

Smiles,

Lora






Monday, October 03, 2016

Doing the Cha-Cha

"Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going." 
- Chantal Sutherland


Yeah, so I just started back at work.

And I'm finding getting back to the old routine less than easy.

When you have an injury it's hard to know how you are going to respond to treatment of the injury and the rehab involved.

When I broke my leg, I had no idea that the rehab process would be as difficult as it is.

I amy be out of bed, but the pain and nausea and stress that come along with rehab is sometimes overwhelming.

I can only do my best and yet I feel like I keep coming up short.

I'm totally exhausted. It's the whole cha-cha thing.

One step forward, two steps back


It is a very slow process. Too slow for my liking.

I want to be back at work. I want to be able to walk unassisted and without a limp. I want to play with my boys and sit on the ground and run and simply have two hands to carry shit when I walk.

Because I was in bed for a few months and not moving much, I seem to be suffering from motion sickness of some sort. My body is just not used to moving much, so when I do I sometimes feel nauseous.

Hello? Yeah. If what kills you makes you stronger, I'm strong enough now thanks.


I just went to my family doctor today to figure out if something else is wrong. I found out that this is a normal physical response to my situation and had some blood work done to be sure all is normal and was given a prescription for nausea and headaches and told to work only 3 days a week, 4 hours a day for now.

I am hoping these meds help and that going back to work at a reduced schedule won't pose any issues. I am so anxious to get back to a more regular routine but also know I had a really bad break and it is going to take time to get better.

But I will get better. It may take a while and the waters may get a bit choppy but I know I will heal.

Not everyone has that.

Baby steps.

Stepping Stones


I'll get there.

Smiles,

Lora







Friday, September 09, 2016

The Fall...and Getting Up Again


"If all you can do is crawl, start crawling". 
- Rumi


OK, maybe I won't start by crawling on this path.
That could hurt. Especially my knee.
But grab the metaphor and move on.


So summer is officially over.

I mean, for parents like me.

It is currently 6:16 am on the Tuesday morning after Labour Day and to say this is a summer I am anxious to move forward and away from, it is this one.

I'm sitting up in my bed. I'm exhausted.

My boys are already wide awake and the excitement of the first day of school is apparent.

My 12 yr. old walking my 5 yr. old to his first day of grade one.
Another new beginning.


In fact, as I write this, two of my boys have descended upon my bed and are singing and wrestling and I don't even know why I am trying to write a blog post.

My broken leg is healing slowly but surely. It still makes me feel claustrophobic having this leg that just does not work the way I want it too.

I'm tired of crutches. I'm tired of doctors. I'm tired of feeling lightheaded and nauseous when I try to walk.

I'm so ready for this chapter to be over.

While it is now Fall…I am ready to get up again.

I'm ready to move forward…even if I have to crawl.



So I'm choosing to think of the start of this school year as a new beginning for me.

The kids got their new clothes and skates and school supplies.

I got comfortable shoes.

Goodbye heels, hello sensible flats.
For now.


I am preparing to go back to work at the end of this month. First on a graduated schedule and then within a month, full days.

I need to build up my endurance, but I think I'm ready.

I'm finally able to drive a car again. I can get myself to physiotherapy and doctors' appointments.

I stay alone at home when the kids are with their Dad…and I'm going to be starting to do overnights with my kids.

With three boys to get ready and off to school, this will be a challenge - but this whole ordeal has been a challenge, so what the hell?

This post took me a while to write. Not because it is earth-shatteringly profound (I think we can rule that out), but because it's been a busy week.

It is now the Friday morning (like early morning - about 4:30 am) and I'm already up writing.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said "We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden".

And I've been trying to do that.

A rather cheese ball  photo of a woman who is gonna let nothing stop her.
Sue me.


But soon I'll be walking.

Then running.

Then no one will be able to stop me.

Smiles,

Lora




The Fall...and Getting Up Again


"If all you can do is crawl, start crawling". 
- Rumi


OK, maybe I won't start by crawling on this path.
That could hurt. Especially my knee.
But grab the metaphor and move on.


So summer is officially over.

I mean, for parents like me.

It is currently 6:16 am on the Tuesday morning after Labour Day and to say this is a summer I am anxious to move forward and away from, it is this one.

I'm sitting up in my bed. I'm exhausted.

My boys are already wide awake and the excitement of the first day of school is apparent.

My 12 yr. old walking my 5 yr. old to his first day of grade one.
Another new beginning.


In fact, as I write this, two of my boys have descended upon my bed and are singing and wrestling and I don't even know why I am trying to write a blog post.

My broken leg is healing slowly but surely. It still makes me feel claustrophobic having this leg that just does not work the way I want it too.

I'm tired of crutches. I'm tired of doctors. I'm tired of feeling lightheaded and nauseous when I try to walk.

I'm so ready for this chapter to be over.

While it is now Fall…I am ready to get up again.

I'm ready to move forward…even if I have to crawl.



So I'm choosing to think of the start of this school year as a new beginning for me.

The kids got their new clothes and skates and school supplies.

I got comfortable shoes.

Goodbye heels, hello sensible flats.
For now.


I am preparing to go back to work at the end of this month. First on a graduated schedule and then within a month, full days.

I need to build up my endurance, but I think I'm ready.

I'm finally able to drive a car again. I can get myself to physiotherapy and doctors' appointments.

I stay alone at home when the kids are with their Dad…and I'm going to be starting to do overnights with my kids.

With three boys to get ready and off to school, this will be a challenge - but this whole ordeal has been a challenge, so what the hell?

This post took me a while to write. Not because it is earth-shatteringly profound (I think we can rule that out), but because it's been a busy week.

It is now the Friday morning (like early morning - about 4:30 am) and I'm already up writing.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said "We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.

And I've been trying to do that.

A rather cheese ball  photo of a woman who is gonna let nothing stop her.
Sue me.


But soon I'll be walking.

Then running.

Then no one will be able to stop me.

Smiles,

Lora




Monday, August 22, 2016

The Worst Blog Post of all Time

"Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all."
 - Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems


Oh how I hate this little annoying thing called "Writer's Block".

I have been struggling on and off with this for a while. I want to write - I feel the need to write - but I don't know what to say.

Or rather - I don't know what to say publicly.

Not that I have anything to hide.

It's just that since March of this year - that's almost 5 months for those counting - I have been so wrapped up in my own crap - dealing with depression, anxiety and a really bad broken leg - that these things are really the only things I have had to write about of late.

I want to talk about things like raising a teenaged son, or dealing with children who learn in different ways, or navigating life after divorce - dating, integrating new relationships with kids, the challenges of co-parenting, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But most of these topics seem like a breach of trust to a certain degree.

My life is pretty much an open book - because that is who I am. I like to share my own personal experiences and stories. I do write on different topics, but I am very much an anecdotal writer.



But some people are much more private and I need to respect that. My son(s), my significant other, my ex…these are people who are considerably more guarded about their privacy and I get that. This is not their blog - it is mine.

It is not my place to spout details about their lives - even though their lives are so intertwined with mine.

There are many stories to be told…many lessons to be learned…many topics to discuss - but I have to be careful about the other people in my life.

And hence, so far this post is about how I can't write a post.

This is obviously me and my typewriter wearing a smashing shade of red lipstick with a bad case of the block.


That's great Lora.

Fucking brilliant.

And so in these times, I just start to write and see what comes out.

As a blogger, I have a different style of writing than, say, when I have been hired by someone else (like a magazine or website). I have a very conversational blogging style. I write the way I speak. I use slang. I sometimes use less than savoury language (sorry mom).

I edit very little.

I edit paid articles and essays and work reports like a crazy mo-fo, but not my blog.

It just feels more sincere and authentic.

It is currently 5:26am on a Monday morning.

Granted, I don't have to work today (because I am still recovering), but when I feel the need to write it kinda takes over and something pulls me out of bed - enticing me to start typing.

A more concise word for this phenomenon would be 'insomnia'.

FAK!


Why toss and turn when I could be creating? Telling a story? Sharing?

Well I will tell you why. Because I'm tired for the love of the baby Jesus - but I can't sleep!

And again a recap of this blog:

A bunch of words that are saying basically nothing.



I am so fucking profound sometimes.

I obviously need a brainstorming session but for that…one requires a functioning brain and mine is working at a sub-par level at the moment.

Not that I don't do some decent writing work in the wee hours of the morning.

This is just not one of those times.

Perhaps if I put my glasses on I will suddenly feel smarter.
Nope.
In fact, I think my goal for this post is to say absolutely nothing - except that I have nothing to say right now.

This is exciting content people!

OK. I will end the misery of it all.

This is possibly my worst blog post of all time.

Please forgive me or sue me. (The first one is much cheaper and easier for everyone. Trust.)

Smiles,

Lora




Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Handi-capable Quandary

"My disability exists, not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn't accessible."
 - Stella Young



If you've been reading recent blog posts here, you probably know that I have spent most of my summer in bed after a bad leg break.

If not - well - I have.

Because of this, I have been watching copious amounts of Netflix.

Also because of this, in the past little bit I have been learning how to crutch walk with a knee that is healing but is still very much sore when I push myself (which I have to).

As such, I have done and noticed a couple of things.

First of all…I have gone out a few times - and have noticed that certain public places of business (restaurants, stores, etc) are not all totally wheelchair-friendly. And I'm only on crutches. Some doors were not automatic. Some had steps with no ramp. I needed help from the person I was with or relied on the kindness of strangers.

This is 2016 people! I actually have been pretty passionate about this topic as throughout my childhood, my academic studies, my career and just in general, I have met and worked with many people who use wheelchairs - for different reasons - and I am sensitive to some of what these people deal with.

To be clear, I am not saying I know anything about needing to use a wheelchair on a permanent basis. My broken leg is a big inconvenience and a pain in my ass…but it will heal.

But I didn't all of a sudden become interested in issues pertaining to people who have physical (or mental) disabilities because of a few observations I had using crutches.

I did do my final major report for my Sociology degree at University on "Wheelchair Accessibility in an Urban Setting" and was told with a little editing it could be published. But with my professor in Guelph and me and my report partner both had jobs to attend to back in Toronto so unfortunately it never happened. (Sorry. Me tooting my own, little rusty horn from over 20 years ago - yay me. But I digress.)

This means different things to different people.

In any case, we spent a lot of time on this - interviewing people, each spending a day in a wheelchair in different Toronto settings to try to assess as best we could how different people and businesses defined  "accessibility'. Many were lacking. A ramp and door opener simply does not always cut it. It was an eye-opening experience.

I also grew up with a mother who worked as a physical and occupational therapist and I also worked both with people with special needs (physical and mental) in different City of Toronto summer camp programs and I now work with a number of people who have spinal cord injuries or use wheelchairs for other reasons.

That just gives you a little taste of my background.

Back to my copious TV watching for a sec.

(I promise that - I think - my point will come together eventually. Trust.)

Perhaps you have heard of a little show that used to be on regular TV and is now on Netflix called Glee.

Members of the cast of the TV show Glee.

Despite my love of musical theatre, music in general and clever film/TV writing and concepts, I had admittedly assumed Glee was kinda lame and while I checked it out a few times, I never really got into it.

Then again, I religiously watch The Bachelor, so who am I to say what is lame TV?

But then - with all this sitting and TV watching, I kinda got into Glee. It's sort of like musical theatre without having to go to the theatre. It's fun. The actors are talented singers and it is actually very well-written and parts of it are funny and parts are touching even.

Those of you who are familiar with Glee will know that there is a regular character on the show named Artie Abrams.

Glee character Artie Abrams.

We learn in the show that his character had had an accident when he was a child and as a result became paraplegic. He is a member of the central group of characters in the show - a high school show choir or "glee club".

Now let me start by saying this. Artie Abrams is played by an actor named Kevin McHale.

The talented actor/singer Kevin McHale.

Kevin is as good an actor as anyone else on the show. He is a very talented singer…and as it turns out (through research as well as a few dream sequences on the show where he could walk) - a very good dancer too. He has full use of his arms - which is a requirement of the show given the dance numbers and moves he does with his chair and arms on pretty much every episode.

But here is my caveat.

Kevin McHale does not use a wheelchair in real life.

Was he the best actor/singer for the role? I don't know - maybe he was.

But I can't help but think that there must be some very talented actors/singers out there who do use wheelchairs and who are therefore very limited in the roles they are offered.

Another thing I want to make clear. I am now very aware - and very happy - that Glee is a show like no other that I know when it comes to representing people of different races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and such.

They also have two recurring characters with Down Syndrome - both of whom are played by actors with Down Syndrome. The show even has a teacher - and main character - who has a gripping mental disorder - OCD - and it deals with her struggles in a very real and sensitive way.

Glee even regularly refers to people with disabilities as "handi-capable" - which I think is awesome.

The show has a strong anti-bully message and I think they do an excellent job of promoting that everyone is their own person and has the right to be who they are as long as they are kind (although I do wish they had a strong Muslim character - especially with the current world landscape - but that is a whole other post).

So why not hire an actor/singer for Artie's character who actually uses a wheelchair? Short of the two dream sequences I noticed - which I'm sure could have been re-jigged - I just don't get it. It actually kind of pisses me off - as much as I really do enjoy Kevin McHale on the show. Again - absolutely nothing against him.

Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me?

Again - I don't know who auditioned for the role - but I find it very hard to believe that there are not actors/singers who use wheelchairs who dream of a part like this. In fact, the character Artie struggles with this himself on the show.

At one point he dreams of being able to walk so he would be considered for more roles as a performer one day!

Hello!

Anyways…I don't mean for this to be a rant but rather an observation and food for thought because I, for one, have been thinking about it for a while.

The world ain't perfect and there perhaps are bigger fish to fry - but something compelled me to write this.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Smiles,

Lora