This blog is about my life as a mom, raising a son with a mood disorder. This is a tough journey and I hope that my words may allow others living with this illness see that they’re not alone. I’m also using this blog as a tool to process my own feelings and let go of the pain that I carry inside. If you’re new to this blog, check out my list of “Important Posts” in the right column and feel free to share your story with me. This blog shouldn’t be used for medical advice.
Last year I attended the Mood Disorders Education Day at Stanford. Today I noticed on their website that they have an audio clip available to listen to Clinic Chief, Terence A. Ketter, M.D. who is internationally known for his groundbreaking research on the neurobiology of mood disorders, speak about creativity and it’s association with Mood Disorders. If you would like to hear it yourself, visit their website, www.bipolar.org and look for the link on the bottom half of the page. Once you click there you’ll see a second page, look for With AUDIO! Creativity in Mood Disordersunder 2010 - 6th Annual Mood Disorders Education Day. Not only will you be able to listen to Dr. Ketter’s presentation, but you’ll be able to view the slideshow as well. Check it out, it’s pretty fascinating stuff!
* * *
Keep your eyes out for the 2011 Mood Disorders Education day, they may have it this July, I’ll let you know when I see a firm date. If you haven’t attended before, it’s a day designed for families and those suffering with mood disorders.
This week, I was asked a very profound question after my Strength in Scriptures post, one that moved me and really made me think. I don’t profess to have the “right” answer, but I wanted to share that question and my answer for all of you that may have asked the same question at one point in your journey. Please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below. Anonymous said... I know that scripture comforts many, however, how do you get past the “Why does God put this burden on me/my son/my husband?”. My 11 year old son has dx of ADHD and bipolar, and my husband was diagnosed at age 36 with bipolar which reared itself after a bout with mono. There was always a family history of mood disorders, but he showed no symptoms until he became sick with the immune disease. It has been devastating and debilitating for my husband, and so difficult for my son and our family. I ask seriously, how do you get to that comfort place with God? I am so angry that this mood disorders rule my life now. Why would my God do this to me? to us?
* * *
That’s a really great question! One that I’ve given much thought to before responding. I have to admit that I’ve asked myself that same question before. There was a time when I felt angry at God, I felt like He didn’t love us and that’s why we were going through all of this. I also thought that maybe He was punishing us or rejecting us.
In those feelings, I continued to pray to God and read His word. Then I came to the realization that God doesn’t want us to suffer, He didn’t make this happen to us. We live in an imperfect world. This is not heaven. So there will be disease, there will be hardships and there will be death. God even tells us in the bible that we will suffer trials in this life.
Besides the whole “free will” aspect, I’ve read that God allows trials to happen to sharpen our faith. Our faith grows deeper when we’re going through trials. I read that fruit grows best in the “valleys” (the hard times in life), not the “mountaintops” (where everything is going well). Our greatest character development takes place when we take what we’ve learned on the mountaintop and put it into practice in the valley.
You can also look at it this way, just like the muscles in our bodies, they don’t become stronger unless they’re tested and challenged. By lifting heavier weights, our muscles are pushed to their limits and thus respond by growing bigger and stronger. I think our faith is the same way, you become stronger in faith when your faith is tested, when you’re challenged and brought to your knees and turn your life over to God. I think it’s when life is so overwhelming, when we feel we can’t stand on our own that we’re most likely to let go of trying to control it all and learn to lean on God. It’s how we learn to have faith.
My pastor’s son (age 5) went through chemo when he was being treated for leukemia. My pastor said that it was in the cancer ward that the scriptures came to life for him like never before. It was in his suffering that he found new meaning in the scriptures he’s read his whole life.
I also believe trials help us to comfort others. I think when we suffer deeply, we can find the greatest comfort from God, then when we’re standing once again, we can be great comfort to those around us.
I can share that I’ve seen this in my own life. When my brother-in-law died of cancer at 27 yrs old. I arrived to his home where he had just passed away and saw my mother-in-law and father-in-law standing up with incredible strength. I myself, not a Christian at the time was overcome, I felt like I couldn’t breath I was so upset over this loss, yet his parents comforted me in their strength because they were filled with God’s comfort. I will never forget this moment of God giving strength and comfort when it’s needed most.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” 2 Corinthians: 1:4
I also hope that this blog may be helping others, that the trials my family faces through my son’s illness may reach someone out there and give them comfort. I’ve been growing spiritually myself by going through these challenges. I’m changing as a person, hopefully for the better. I can see my middle son becoming a child of great faith and compassion because of all he’s gone through with his brother. I know other good things will come out of this, unfortunately it sometimes takes a lifetime to see it. I just have faith that God will use these trials for good.
I also have a unique perspective with so many families around me suffering with a child fighting an illness or disorder. In my small community alone, we have seen multiple cases of cancer, autism, lupus, bipolar disorder and other diseases in our young children. This perspective has made me realize that God is not singling me out, He’s not out to punish my family, but rather this is “life.” Most people will go through a trial of some sort, I don’t think we can escape life without it. I’m sorry that this is my son’s journey in life, but I feel empowered today to do the best I can to help him have the best life possible. I think a part of me likes to believe that God chose me to be my son’s mommy because God knew that I could do it well.
I really believe that God hasn’t abandoned me and He didn’t cause this to happen, He is by my side, He is holding me up. He gives me strength to keep fighting for my son, to forgive my son when he hurts me and to have hope for my son’s future.
I’m closest to God when my suffering is greatest, I can’t raise my son without him. I can’t do this on my own.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
I honestly have to share that I was brought to tears when I read your question. First, because I know the place of pain that you’re coming from and second, I know that I too may find myself asking those same questions again.
I also was feeling very inadequate in answering one of the deepest spiritual questions we may have in our life and I know that I can’t possibly give you a complete answer that will speak to you. I only hope that I’m able to share my heart, my journey and maybe you’ll find some piece of truth that will begin to answer your question.
I know that you’re hurting, I know that you may not see comfort in this moment, but lean on God, seek him, I know in my heart He is there with open arms.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 * * * Thank you “Anonymous” for reaching out!
Laughter is good medicine. I know first hand because I married a very funny man, the kind of guy who makes a room full of people laugh where ever we go. I have to say, his material is pretty funny stuff, so funny I’ve asked him not to use “his wife” for his jokes. It was common early in our marriage to hear my husband bring a room to tears as they laughed at little ol’ me. Thankfully, my husband has been sweet enough to keep me out of his comedy bits, but we still have a ton of stuff to laugh at.
Sometimes, finding laughter in the tough times can be very healing. More than once, my husband and I have been able to experience the feeling of empowerment when laughing at something that once brought us great pain. I think once you can laugh at a bad situation, you’re already on your way to mending those wounds.
About a year ago, I came across Stand Up for Mental Health, an organization that unites comedy with mental health with the goal of creating confidence and positive self esteem in those who suffer from mental illness, while fighting the stigma associated with it.
The founder David Granirer, who suffers from depression himself, teaches comedy classes to those with different mental disorders. Once they master the skill, they set out to perform publicly in conferences, treatment centers, psych wards, corporations, colleges and the general public.
“We use comedy to give consumers a powerful voice and help reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness” says Granirer. “The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them. It makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with adversity. Studies prove that hopeful people are more resilient and also tend to live longer, healthier lives.” (Granirer, 2000)
Check out the links provided then visit standupformentalhealth.com to see more funny clips and upcoming show dates where you can see the show live. Enjoy!
Melanie Rose, Stand Up for Mental Health Comic:
Short Documentary about Melanie Rose and how Stand Up for Mental Health has helped her:
Video Source: David Granirer's take on Stigma: Uploaded on YouTube by psychocomic1 on Jan 26, 2009 Melanie Rose, Stand Up For Mental Health Comic: Uploaded on YouTube by psychocomic1 on Jan 31, 2009 BCIT TV Feature Project: Uploaded on YouTube by Canucklehead2009 on May 18, 2009
I’ve been fortunate to find support through may people in my life, each bringing me just what I needed at just the right time. Sometimes it’s someone to cry with, other times it’s someone to laugh with and forget my worries, and in one particular friend, it’s to find love and support through God’s word. This friend of mine has suffered great challenges as a mom. Her son was diagnosed with a very dangerous brain tumor at the age of 7.
Though our challenges are very different, there’s a lot we share as mothers with children that are suffering. Through long heartfelt talks we’ve shared our fears for our children and our questions to God about why this was happening to our family. My dear friend has walked through some very dark times and is blessed to come out the other side with her son still alive.
During one particular get together, I was feeling very discouraged and sad for my son and our family. I remember asking her about her darkest times and how she got through it. In one word she said, “scriptures!”
She shared how after they were given the awful news about their son’s prognosis, members from our church got together and picked out scriptures from the bible for her to read for encouragment. They presented theses scriptures in a big jar, each written on a separate piece of paper. She shared how each day her family would turn to this jar to pull out yet another life giving scripture to lift them up and keep their eyes focused on God and his power, not the cancer that was attacking their son.
As time went on, she found herself turning to these scriptures all throughout the day. It was what kept her going. She would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic with the sick realization that her son may die, so she would pull out these little pieces of paper to read the scriptures, giving her piece of mind to fall back to sleep. Soon she had the scriptures taped on the wall throughout her house and on her mirrors in her bathroom, she was surrounded by God’s word and God was faithful in giving her strength and hope each and every day.
After our visit together, my friend sent me some of those scriptures so I could have them ready in my bible for when I needed them. Seeing this an opportunity to teach my son about using God’s word for strength, I printed some of them on a piece of paper to hang over his bed in his room and shared how he could turn to God’s word when he needed strength or to fight his fears. Since then, we’ve read them together and he’s read them alone.
For that one person who may need these scriptures today or a year from now, I have included some of them below. I pray that they will encourage you as they have for my family.
Psalm 55:16-18 As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me. Psalm 71:20-21 You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again, and bring me up again from the depths of the earth. You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side. Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death or life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
* * *
Here’s a link to my response to one of the questions asked in the comments below:
Over the years, we’ve experimented with many calming techniques, but my son’s favorite is head massage. Fortunately for me, I’m blessed to have talented relatives who are certified in massage. So when they offered to teach me a few things, I jumped on the opportunity. I have to say, it was pretty easy to learn and I was amazed how effective a few simple moves were.
After my training, I went home and asked if I had any volunteers, of course all three of my boys ran to get in line.
First, I put on some soft music and placed a drop of lemon essential oil on their temples to bring a feeling of happiness. I don’t know if it worked, but my kids got a kick out of it. I will say that even our therapist suggested smelling lemons for happiness, so I believe there’s something to this.
Next, I began the massage with slow calm movements. The boys just melted in my hands, I could see their wiggling slowing down and their breathing becoming more relaxed. Even my husband loved it, requesting a head massage on his birthday. He relaxed so much that he began snoring during the massage.
What cracked me up was when my middle child approached me the following day saying, “Mom, I think me and my brothers are going to need another massage tonight, because we’ve been building legos all day and our heads are tired!”
When it comes to my son’s mood disorder, we’ve found massage to be very effective. Now I wouldn’t recommend trying it when they’re highly agitated, but when you can see the tension growing, it’s a great solution for calming your child down before they become too upset.
We’ve also used massage to help on nights where my son is feeling stressed about falling asleep. It’s perfect for calming his body down, helping him relax and breathe. My son said, “it helps make me tired and ready for bed”.
You don’t have to get all fancy with music and oils, just having your child lay on the couch or bed and massage their forehead can make a world of difference.
If you’re new to massage, I’ve included a YouTube clip showing some simple techniques we use, everyone seems to love the forehead movements the most. Give it a try and see if it helps, maybe you too have magic fingertips!
I’m so happy to report that we had a wonderful weekend. After reading everyone’s feedback from my post Walking on Eggshells, I was very motivated to take control of our weekend so we can actually enjoy it. I thought long and hard and came up with an idea I wanted to try.
Because it was going to be a stormy weekend, I knew that we wouldn’t able to go outside to wear them out or do much on separating them, so I decided to use incentives to motivate my kids. You can call it bribing, but I like to look at it as an opportunity for them to work on being kind to one another and practice resolving conflict in a nice way.
So we had a family meeting where we explained that we were going to set a timer for every 30 minutes. We explained that if they were kind, respectful, didn’t fight or irritate each other, they would earn a point. Then at the end of the day, they got to use their points to buy treats from our “treat box”. The nicer they were, the more points they had to spend. If they messed up, they got a fresh start the next 30 minutes to earn another point.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but when my son started coming up with ideas of things he could do that would keep him stress free and out of trouble for a while, I knew we were off to a great start.
Only once did my son forfeit a point, this became a very heated moment, but he was able to calm back down and focus again on earning the next point.
Overall, it was an amazing day, every 30 minutes the timer would beep and I’d yell, “Everyone earned a point!” then the boys would yell out big cheers of celebration.
As for my husband and I, we enjoyed an amazing day relaxing, reading, and even napping. With the conflict being eliminated from our house, I was even able to enjoy baking cookies with my middle child. At the end of the day the boys cashed in their points, each earning a small bag of treats. Then they enjoyed their treats while we played a family game before bed.
It really was a perfect day.
* * *
So are you curious if we were able to do this on Sunday? I’m excited to report “YES!” After church we began the timer game and my son with the mood disorder actually earned the most points. When I asked him how he was able to keep it together, he said, “I just kept thinking about how upset I was when I didn’t earn a point yesterday and didn’t want that to happen again.”
To avoid offering up too much candy, on day two the boys cashed in their points for money. The most earned was a buck, now that was money well spent!
This week under the post Walking on Eggshells, Bugs Mom, a follower and fellow blogger shared a link to an article written by Janice Papolos and Demitri F. Papolos, M.D., to help us understand the predatory behavior we see in our kids that quickly turns a fun family day into a day of chaos. I really appreciated what they had to share and highly recommend you take the time to read this article.
Often times, we get frustrated with our kids when they’re provoking others. Over the years, we’ve seen our son complain of being bored, then moments later walk into his brother’s room and hit him or break his stuff for no reason. I’ve actually seen him smile with glazed eyes as he throws stuff at me because he’s bored. In the heat of the moment, I feel mad at my son for being so mean, but this article is a great reminder that this is something that isn’t done on purpose, even if they do it with a grin, they’re really suffering inside.
The article pointed out that a lot of this provoking behavior is the child’s way of coping with their inability to manage boredom. Unlike typical kids, these kids have depression that zaps out any enjoyment they would normally get from their favorite pass times, by acting out, this gives them a way to feel in control and connect with others, even if the results are negative. (Papolos & Papolos, 2004)
Other times this boredom may be a result of their executive function deficits.
“Many of these children have deficits in the frontal lobes--regions that govern the processes known as executive functions. The frontal lobes coordinate many things, including reasoning, problem solving, strategizing, working memory, attention, self-control, motor sequencing, intention, and flexibility of thought.”(Papolos & Papolos, 2002)
They explained that these executive function deficits may put our children in a zone where they can’t get a charge from their environment, so they’ll provoke others to force their environment to respond to them, even at the cost of getting in trouble. They explained that our child’s behavior is a “coping mechanism” for escaping what is intolerable to them. (Papolos & Papolos, 2004)
This was a big eye opener for me! I know that my son can’t help it, but to read about the deficits that may be causing the behavior helps me understand how much my son is suffering in a way that I didn’t know before. Now, when he’s provoking others, I can train myself to respond in a way to help him, rather than just stop him.
You should really read the whole article, they touch on so many more things, as well as practical steps to help our children.
Yesterday my son came home with quick shifting moods. At first, he was very irritable, then he became frightened when he looked at me and dropped to the floor to cover his eyes. As he began to cry, he shared that while at school taking a test, he suddenly couldn’t focus anymore. All the surrounding noises, like the movement of shifting paper or a pencil rolling on a desk became very loud and scary. He said the noises didn’t sound normal, they were altered, like they were unreal. When I asked him if he told his teacher he needed a break for fresh air he said, “I couldn’t because I was too scared to get out of my chair.”
I don’t know if what he’s experiencing is anxiety, but whatever it is, we’re definitely in a down phase of his mood. This week he’s talked about feeling weird and very tired, he’s complained about his moods quickly changing on him. Today he woke up very irritable, slamming dishes for no reason. Yesterday, I watched him cry as he sat on the couch, then a few seconds later start to laugh through tears, with a moment of confusion on his face, then he began to cry again. It was intense to watch, his moods were changing in a matter of seconds.
I can’t imagine how hard this must be on him. Imagine being at school and hearing scary, loud noises, then being too scared to ask for help. I just don’t know how he gets through the day. He’s one courageous boy.
As he left for school I gave him a long hug, telling him to breathe through this mood changes and reminding him that this too will pass.
His Bright Light is a memoir by Danielle Steel about her own son Nick Traina who struggled with bipolar disorder (also referred to as manic-depressive). Whether you’re a fan of Danielle Steel or not, you’ll want to read this book. I read this a few years back when I was trying to read anything related to mood disorders. I was immediately drawn into this extraordinary account of her son’s life and the impact it had on those around him. She shares small details from his unusual sleep patterns as a toddler to his heartbreaking journal entries as an adolescent. Their journey from wilderness camps to psych wards and medication and even 24 hour care, detail the progression of his illness and her attempt to do whatever she could to help her son. In the end, Nick Traina took his own life at the age of 19.
Writing this book only weeks after his death, Steel gives a heart wrenching account of her son’s life, the good and the bad. The love she had for her son is unmistakable.
In the book, Steel writes, “If I had three wishes, one would be that he had never suffered from mental illness, the other would be of course that he were alive today, but the third would be that someone had warned me, at some point, that his illness–manic depression—could kill him.” (Steel, p. xx)
With that, she shares the purpose of writing this book, that her son’s life may be “a gift to others”, that lessons will be learned about his illness and a life may be saved with it. She shares that “You have to understand what you’re dealing with, to accept that what you’re dealing with is the equivalent of not just a bellyache, but liver cancer. You have to know that what you’re facing is serious, important, dangerous, and potentially fatal.” (Steel, p. xxi)
Personally, one of lessons that stuck with me is to teach my child while he’s young the importance of staying on his medication, especially when he’s feeling good. Already we’ve had this discussion many times. The other lesson I haven’t forgotten is that before a person commits suicide, they often appear ok. As Steel writes, “...manic-depressives rarely kill themselves while in the depths of depression. They often wait to do it until they feel better, are slightly manic, and have the strength to do so.” (Steel, p. 273)
I encourage you to read this book, to learn from their journey. Maybe for one of you, Steel’s wish will come true and a life will be saved.
Is it just me or do you hate the weekends? This weekend was really rough on us. Except for the scratches left on my husband’s arm after placing our son into a timeout, it wasn’t a violent weekend, but we were walking on egg shells. For the entire weekend.
It’s almost like the smell of coffee, you don’t have to see it to know that it’s brewing in the house. It’s the precursor to a rage, it’s the intense mood that’s stewing below the surface. It shows up as irritability and opposition. It’s like a predator, hunting out moments to pick at others, to create conflict for reasons unknown while leaving threats of a rage behind every incident.
The result is a lot of fighting and screaming among our boys and rising stress and disappointment within my husband and myself. As the day drags on, any optimism of having a restful weekend is completely lost and resentment starts to form. Anxiety creeps into my gut, as I flinch every time one of our boys screams, worried that a rage is breaking out, while feeling frustrated beyond belief that we can’t have 5 minutes of peace. Instead of planning fun family events, I find myself planning how to have alone time. I start to feel the weight of all the stress and give up on trying to save the sinking ship, knowing that any effort will produce the same results. Is this what raising kids is suppose to be like? Will we ever have fun and enjoy our children’s company? Or is this all we have to look forward to? Long weekends where everyone is miserable, walking on eggshells.
* * *
What do you do to survive the weekend, please share, we could use a few ideas!
It’s friday night and I wanted to send the kids off to sleep with a little family time by reading them a book while we all cuddled in one bed together. I imagined this playing out much more sweetly then it did. There was a lot of screaming, kids picking on one another and pushing each other’s buttons. At one point, my husband came upstairs and asked, “What are you trying to accomplish?” It was a good question since we were closer to chaos then cuddling.
After all the drama of finishing the book and getting the kids to bed, I sat at my computer to check my email when I came across this You Tube video (thanks to my sister-in-law). It had me laughing in seconds and I had to share it with you, it may put a smile on your face after a rough day. Check it out!
By the way, does anyone see their husband in this video? I totally did!
Last week we had a small incident at school. When I went to pick my son up after school, the teacher pulled me aside and said that we needed to talk privately in the office. So, with the feeling of dread pouring over me, we went behind closed doors with my son. There she explained that minutes ago, during recess, a student told her that my son was jumping off the playground equipment, which is a forbidden act. When she approached my son, he admitted it and told her that he was trying to kill himself.
I took a deep breath and asked my son if this was true. He said in a defensive tone, “yes, I want to kill myself’. But after speaking with him for just a few seconds I could tell by his behavior that this wasn’t the whole story and that there was more going on with him.
As I listened to him, I could tell that what he said was said out of frustration, fear of getting in trouble and maybe embarrassment. I wasn’t sure what actions the school wanted to take, especially after reading in the news about a school that had a child taken to a psych ward for a 72 hour hold for writing the same thing. Unfortunately, these type of procedures aren’t outlined in the school manual, so I kept talking to my son, showing the teacher who was quietly watching the whole thing, that I had this under control.
When I was done, I asked her what she needed to do on her end. She said that she was letting me handle it since the incident just occurred and because she didn’t see it herself. She also said that seeing what he was going through emotionally, proved that he had suffered enough and she didn’t feel it was necessary to punish him.
Once we left the office, my son explained that he had been at his desk all day without a recess (it was minimum day) and that he didn’t eat his lunch and was feeling like he had to let his anger out, feeling frustrated because he couldn’t hold it together at school. I think it was just an impulsive moment where he had to let it out, even if it meant breaking the rules and saying that he wanted to kill himself, it was just a way to express the frustration he was feeling.
By the way, he showed me how high he was when he jumped and it wasn’t anything to be concerned about.
I’m so thankful that our school kept a level head over the incident and allowed me to make a judgement call as to what was going on with my son. By the time we were home my son was doing great and happy the whole incident was over.
Can you imagine the damage that could’ve been done had the school stepped in and had my son taken for a 72 hour hold? That’s why it’s so important for the school to work with the parents, we know our kids so well that even the tone of their voice signals to us what may be going on inside.
If you haven’t been in this situation, you may want to talk with your school about this before you’re pulled into the office. A lot of kids with mood disorders say things that they don’t mean, but at the same time, we need to be aware of any threats. I wish I had addressed this sooner, but I’m so thankful that everything went as it should.
Today I was reading through my blog list when I came across a very exciting post. My blog pal, Meg at Raising Bipolar, was listed as one of the top 5 Bipolar Blogs on Psychology Degree Online. As I was doing a happy dance for her, I read on and found out that I too was nominated on this top 5 list along with my other pal Marybeth at Ask A Bipolar.
I’m thrilled to be in such good company and know that my blog is reaching others and having a positive impact. Thank you Psychology Degree Online, you made my day!
Here’s what they said about my blog:
The diagnosis of bipolar disorder often has life-changing consequences for both the patient and his or her family. One way that people with bipolar disorder cope with the emotional highs and lows, the various drug and therapy regimens, and relationships with family and friends is to maintain a blog chronicling their progress and treatment. We've searched the web to find 50 of the best bipolar disorder blogs. My Son Has 2 Brains: This is a blog by a mother of three boys, the eldest being recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Why we love it: She offers intensely personal writing about the toll bipolar disorder takes on a family.
Just the other day I was watching tv when one of those warm and fuzzy commercials for Disneyland came on. You may know the one, where all the kids are caught on video tape as their parents surprise them by announcing,“We’re going to Disneyland!” What follows is screams of delight and images of dreams coming true as the kids enjoy the magical world of Disneyland with their family.
Those darn commercials make me cry! They make my heart ache and remind me that those type of childhood memories aren’t possible for my kids. We’re very fortunate that we went one time before my son’s illness took over, but my youngest doesn’t even remember the trip. I would so love to be spontaneous and whisk my children off to this magical kingdom, to experience the same joys that my parents gave me many summers as a kid. I loved this place so much that my husband and I went there for our honeymoon, yet now that I have a house full of children, I can’t even dream about going.
Those commercials makes me cry because it reminds me of the simple childhood my children were suppose to have, where exciting adventures were met with anticipation and joy. Those commercials remind me of the memories we aren’t creating and the memories that have turn sour.
I hate those darn commercials!
* * *
Video Source: Uploaded on YouTube by DisneyParks on Sep 22, 2010
This week has seen its ups and downs, my poor husband came home last night to be greeted by a wife who needed a good cry. Thankfully, my sweet husband has learned to listen and let me cry on his shoulder after one of those bad days, he was so good at gently reminding me that it was an illness we were dealing with and not a son that wanted to hurt me.
Today was better, but my son was still feeling a lot of anger inside. He did a great job of letting me know when he was struggling without taking it out on us and was very willing to try something to get better. So we went with our old stand by, a nice warm bath.
If you haven’t tried this with your child, give it a shot. If I can get my son into a warm bath for him to relax, he becomes completely transformed. It seems to dissolve his anger and tension and once done, he comes out with a smile and relaxed look on his face, it’s like the water melts away the bad mood, letting him shine through. To make the experience extra special, we’ve even added special lavender bubble bath for him to use.
I know it’s simple, but for us, it works like a charm. The trick is to get him into the bath before he escalates and becomes resistant to help. Heck, I bet we’d all benefit from a warm bath after a tough day, I need to keep that in mind for myself in the future!
Last nights episode of Parenthood was an all time favorite of mine. Not only did they touch on how a parent struggles to tell their child they have a disorder, but they really struck a nerve on what it’s like for a parent with a special needs child to want “normal”.
In the episode last night, there was a scene where the father is trying to get his son with aspergers to get his shoes on for school. His son is fretting about needing a particular shoe when the father is overcome with the desire to sweep his child away from his daily struggles and have fun together.
Being spontaneous, the father tells his son that they’re going to skip school and go to an amusement park where he can ride his favorite roller coaster all day.
Ok, you may be giggling right now knowing what a bad idea this is. But don’t we all want to do this at some point? In the episode, the mother warns that this is a bad idea and that they need to keep to the schedule, but the father’s desire for “normal” makes him push ahead, ignoring his wife’s warning.
Once they get loaded into the roller coaster, an unexpected announcement comes over the speaker, announcing that the roller coaster is now shutting down for the day due to repairs and that everyone has to exit the ride.
So, can you sense what’s coming?
Yep, a full blown melt down takes place as the boy cries out that he was suppose to ride this ride, the boy’s emotions are pushed over the edge as people watching take in the dramatic scene.
The father dies inside, realizing that he did indeed make a mistake, that he was chasing after a “normal” that doesn’t exist for him. He sadly says that he just wanted to have a day of fun and create memories.
So have you been there yourself?
Last year, I remember planning a special movie outing where we were invited to preview an up and coming movie. I planned ahead, even got permission for my boys to bring their DS games to keep them occupied while they waited for the movie. We were all so excited, that is until we pulled up and and my son saw the line wrapping around the building. I quickly switched into “keep him calm” mode as we approached the line and checked in with the movie studio that was previewing the film. During the check in, the staff announced that my boys were not allowed to bring in their games. I explained to them that I got permission ahead of time, but the staff said sorry, the director has made this request and we have to abide by it. Well, that was the moment where my son lost it, he started screaming and running off, while everyone stood in line watching us. I was angry at the studio for this unexpected change, I was embarrassed by the crowd watching the meltdown, assuming my son was probably a spoiled brat and I felt bad for putting my son in this situation, all because I wanted a little “normal”.
There are so many times where we try to push outside the schedule or take a risk with a stressor in order to create those family memories you always imagined having. But like anything, you get burned enough and you slowly learn the hard way that our normal looks a lot different and family memories are created in unexpected ways. I think that the sooner we get to a place of acceptance, the less heartbreak we’ll experience on the way and the better memories we’ll be creating for a lifetime.