Hiding

Good day everyone! I hope this post finds you well.

So… I failed the 30 day vlog challenge. And I’m okay with that. The last four weeks have been emotionally exhausting and honestly, I didn’t have had it in me to be vulnerable on video. If you are a follower, you already know that I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety as a result of PTSD. This bothers me a great deal because my life is good. I have friends who are going through some really tough times right now and honestly, I hate that I fall into major depressive episodes when my shit is nothing comparatively.  But then I am reminded of one of the first things I learned at the beginning of my journey in recovery; just because their story is worse, doesn’t mean yours isn’t valid. In other words, it’s okay to feel the way you feel despite the fact that others have it worse. So here it is…

Four weeks ago, my youngest son got in to a fight at school and was suspended. He’s in 7th Grade and it’s been a rough transition for him. It turns out, he was being harassed by older students in his PE class. He did not start the fight but he did finish it. He did exactly what I have taught him to do. The unfortunate reality is, even fighting back didn’t make the other kids stop harassing him.  No matter what course of action he took, the situation just got worse. Every single day my kid was harassed and intimidated. The school’s resolve to the situation was weak at best.

Following that fight, I was on the phone with someone in Admin from the school every single day. I am not exaggerating. Every. Single. Day. It started to become one thing after another and he was VERY quickly labeled as a behavioral problem. The teachers would simply kick him out of class or send him to the office because he was “too fidgety” and “distracting” them. My son actually has a 504 in place because he suffers from ADHD and other disabilities. He is is fidgety and distracting when he is in stressful situations. The 504 is a Federal Document that allows him special accommodations to help deal with all of these issues while he is in the classroom. In a very short period of time, it became clear that the teachers had not reviewed this document and were in no way familiar with its content; despite the fact that I had spoken to each one of them about it at Back to School Night.

By the grace of God, I have a friend who is very well educated in the ways of the public school system here. When I reached out to her she helped me find the resources I needed to get my son the help he needed. In the process of getting assistance, we found out something that honestly, shocked us all. He’s gifted. He’s what they call “Twice Exceptional” or “2E”. He has learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and he’s a frickin genius. Who knew!? We were quickly able to get him out of that school and in to another school where there are resources available for kids like him. But it has proven not to be a quick fix. He had problems at the old school up until the very last minute he was there and has had problems at the new school every day since he started.

So what does this have to do with depression? Well, a lot actually. I should have been happy and relieved to have found a solution for my little guy. But the stress of it all was eating away at me and I didn’t notice. I was in mama bear mode and I was doing it alone. Please don’t get me wrong, my husband is a wonderful man. But he works 16-18 hours per day so that I can stay home and take care of the kids. This is a double edged sword. The reality is…I’m a single mom and the fight has to come from me and me alone.  I didn’t realize how much that weighed on me, until it was too late.

I want you to understand that depression is NOT a choice. If it was, believe me, I wouldn’t let it happen. It is a disease. Something I thought I had a handle on. But when it hits…it hits hard. No warning…no flashy lights to let you know you just turned on the wrong road. Just pain. A pain so deep that you can’t reach it. So intense that you can’t explain it. And because I don’t feel like I have a right to feel that way, ever, I hide. I put on a face and pretend that everything is okay. I avoid people if I can, but if I can’t, I associate cautiously and take great care to create the illusion that everything is okay. And if I were to post videos…you might see it. So hiding is much easier. And that is what I have been doing for the past four weeks…hiding.

But yesterday, I realized something. My goal in this life is to help people. To be transparent and honest. To show everyone that we can overcome anything. But if I’m hiding, I’m not overcoming it and I’m not being honest or transparent. So then, I’m a liar. The very thing I want to teach people is the very thing I am not allowing people to see.

So, the reality is this: I am coming out of a two week long major depressive episode. And it sucks. But it’s my realty and it affects my family, my friendships, and my goals in life. And here’s the thing…I am NOT the only person in this world who suffers this. I am NOT the only person who feels like they shouldn’t feel this way. I am NOT alone. What’s even better… YOU are not alone.

Maybe the fact that I can recognize all of this proves that I am on a healing path. What I want you to take away from this is that I will stand strong in my attempt to change the world. I will help the people who are like me…even if it means I can no longer hide.

Until Next Time,

Connie Ann

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An Open Letter to my Oldest Son

To My Son,

When you were born, my life was forever changed. I never knew that I could feel love so deeply and I immediately realized that “love at first sight” was real. As a baby and toddler you were filled with early firsts; early to talk, early to walk, and early to read. I don’t even remember you learning to stand…you just walked and then ran. I wanted to show you to the world and couldn’t wait to see all of the things you would do. But I became blinded by the idea of who I wanted you to be.

As you grew older, mom and dad began to drift apart and divorce became a reality for our family. The pain you suffered from that experience began to shape you. Though, I refused to see it; refused to believe it. Before long, you were a lost young man, struggling to get through each day.  As you began the journey of your teen years, life threw you some pretty tough curve balls; peer pressure, bullying, and abandonment by your father. I tried, so desperately, to save you from all of the pain and force you back on to the right track. But I was not in control and you were falling deeper down the rabbit hole as you trudged through high school.

For four years I watched you, night after night, struggle to focus on homework. I watched you fall, over and over. I cried with you, I prayed for you, and I laughed with you. More than anything, I learned from you. I learned how to love unconditionally. I learned how to try harder. I learned to never give up. I learned to be vulnerable. I learned to enjoy life and let the little things go. Most importantly, I learned how to let you be the man you want to be, not the man I wanted you to be.

Together, we learned how to stand.

The truth is, you are not who I wanted you to be. You are better than any version of you that I could ever have imagined you to be. You are strong, you are courageous, you are brave, you are fearless, and you are wise beyond your years. Regardless of the punches life throws at you, I know you will push through; you will survive. I am proud to call you my son. I thank God that he trusted me to care for you and help guide you through this messy life.

Today you graduated high school. Tomorrow begins an exciting new journey. Live your life, find love, learn to trust, and hold on to joy. You are worthy of it all…go show the world what you can do.

With Much Love,

Mom

 

Let’s Get Serious

I generally try to keep my posts light and humorous, however, I believe there is value in being real and true to my followers. I will be tackling a pretty deep subject today, one that is very personal to my family and I. I am not looking for sympathy. I am simply looking to raise awareness.

When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed as Manic Depressive. I spent a lot of years ignoring this diagnosis as it never felt “right” to me. We all have an internal instinct that helps us filter certain things in life and that instinct told me that I was not suffering from that. Yet, I remained depressed. I knew the depression stemmed from bad things that happened when I was a child. I knew, very well, the issues I had and was well able to verbalize them to myself. However, I did not dare tell anyone else the things I had been through; the things I had experienced in my young life that broke me in to a million pieces. I pushed through and did my best to put the pieces back together on my own. That is how I lived my life from the time I was initially diagnosed until I was 40 years old. 25 years, lost and alone; a shell of a human being.

I developed severe anxiety when I was about 17 years old. To the point that I could not even go through a drive thru. The idea of having to talk in to that little speaker box mortified me. My self-esteem was at rock bottom and I questioned every single move I made. Yet, I pushed on.

In my early twenties, after my oldest son was born, I was again diagnosed as Bi-Polar. The doctor wanted me to take medication but I knew that wasn’t right. I instinctively felt that they were wrong but they wouldn’t listen to me. Looking back now, I can see that they weren’t listening because I wasn’t talking.

I went on to have two more children and by the time my youngest was three years old, my marriage was ending and I was working 24/7 in an effort to keep my mind occupied. Busy work was a wonderful escape. I was 33 years old and divorced. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the woman staring back at me. I had become someone I hated and certainly not the woman I had wanted to be. I suffered long boughts of depression. Though the anxiety was nowhere near as bad as it had once been, it was still there on occasion. I floated through life in denial that there was something wrong. But there was something wrong. I just didn’t know what it was.

By the time I was 39 years old, I had made many positive changes in my life. I quit the family business and opted for a more traditional, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm job with weekends off. This provided me more time with my kids. I started attending Church and utilized some of the unique resources they had to offer. And still, I wasn’t happy and I was not at peace. I decided to stop denying my mental health and seek help.

I started with anti-depressants. The list of side effects I suffered was LONG. I think I experienced every single side effect listed in the flyer. What was worse, was that the pills did not make a difference. I was still suffering from depression, in fact, the depression got worse. I became frustrated and the voice in my head that said this wasn’t right got louder and louder each day. I finally decided to seek the help of a therapist.

The initial few sessions were diagnostic. For the first time in my life I was honest about the things I experienced growing up. For some reason, I was shocked to learn that I was not suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder. I had always known that wasn’t right, but I had second guessed myself enough that a diagnosis different from that was a bit of a hit. I discovered that I was in fact suffering from PTSD. I could not wrap my head around this. How was this possible? I filled my spare time pouring myself into books and articles and medical journals. But still, how could this be? I am not a soldier. I haven’t been in any terrifying battles. Or… had I? After a few months of consistently seeing my therapist (I prefer Life Coach), I finally figured it out.

I am not a soldier, but I have been fighting hard battles all of my life. My war wounds do not come from lands over seas and my trauma was not brought about by witnessing blood and life lost. The land I fought in was my own home. The blood was mine. The life lost was mine. I experienced things no child should experience and my innocence was taken from me early on. The affects of those experiences would haunt me well into my adult years. Self sabotage and self loathing prevented me from having fulfilling relationships. All because of terrible things that happened to a little girl who got lost before she ever had a chance to live.

Today, I stand before you, a Warrior. A survivor of abuse, neglect, abandonment, suicide attempts, self destruction, depression, and anxiety. Am I completely healed? No. Will I ever be completely healed? Probably not. But every day I fight. I fight to take it all back and have the life I dreamed of. The life we all deserve. A life of love, happiness, peace, and joy.

My reason for finally speaking up about this is because I want t raise awareness about mental health. If you can relate to any part of this post, you are not alone. You have a friend, an ally, a fellow warrior on your side. Someone who understands what it means to suffer, to feel pain, to feel lost, and to hit rock bottom. Remember that we have all weathered a storm or fifty in our lives. That is why it is so important to be kind to everyone who touches your life.

Mental health disorders are not a sign of weakness rather a medical condition that require attention. God wanted us to help one another survive this thing called life. Together, we can raise each other up and live life as it was envisioned to be lived. It is my goal to make a difference in people’s lives. To help anyone who has suffered rebuild and find peace.

Until Next Time,

Connie Ann

Kids & Writing

You may have guessed…kids & writing…they don’t mix. This week is spring break and I’ve discovered that my writing has some weird, mom magnet affect. I do have a process I follow before I even consider writing for the day. It goes like this…

1. Don’t even think about writing until I know they are busy doing their own thing or hanging out with friends.

2. Wait a good 10-15 minutes after they’ve left the room, to be sure that they are not coming back.

3. Cautiously, sit down and begin writing.

I think this is a wonderful strategy. Don’t you? Oh, but I forgot to give you #4 of the process. You see, after about 5 minutes of writing, I hear the word “mom” ringing in my ears. As I snap myself out of my writing bliss, I realize it is a child. “Mom, what are you doing?” “Mom, come look at this trick.” “Mom, are you listening to me?” “Mom, I’m bored.” “Mom, I’m hungry.” “Mom, are you writing?” “Mom, do you want me to leave you alone while you are writing?” “Mom, are you mad at me?” “Mom, are you writing about me?” “MOM!”

Then, this is where I think I have him fooled. I’ve already purchased the answer to boredom. It’s actually a really fun book. I know it’s a fun book because, well, I poured over it much longer than he did. My brilliant idea..not so brilliant. Maybe if he were younger, the book would have been more effective. Cause you know…tween’s.

So, I haven’t been writing the past few days and I’ve simply been enjoying the time with my kids. We played in a cool man made, dining table fort one day. We hung out, watched television, and talked the next day. And today, well, we all did our own thing with out friends and just checked in with one another periodically. It’s been fun to unplug and hang out. First spring break I’ve been able to spend with my kids in MANY MANY years. It’s okay that kids & writing don’t mix. It’s been much more rewarding to hang out in a dirty fort and watch ridiculous shows about kids at a summer camp. Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Have a lovely Easter Weekend everyone!

Until Next Time,

Connie Ann

The Duck Pond

Good day friends! I hope this post finds you well. I have been getting a lot of inquiries as to where my head has been the last few months. Some thought I had a major breakthrough on my book; some thought I died; and others thought I just gave up. Well, here I am…no book, still alive, and not giving up. So where has my head been? The Duck Pond.

If you don’t know by now, I am writing my memoir. This process has been extremely emotional and if I’m being honest, it’s exhausting most days. As I sift through my past, I often times find that I can only recall the bad memories. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to remember the bad before we remember the good. But recently, my little one brought back a memory of something I delighted in as a child.

We were on our way to church and there is a “back” way you can take that directs you through one of those round-abouts. You know…those crazy traffic circles that look like fun but are actually strategically placed death traps if you are a crappy driver? Yeah…one of those. Anyway, he LOVES the round-about. Every time we go to church, he begs me to take the round-about. With much hesitation, I almost always agree. Contrary to common belief, I am not a crappy driver and thus, I prevail! Ha!

His insistence to journey this route brought back gleeful memories of The Duck Pond. We grew up in a Suburban City outside of Denver so there wasn’t much scenery aside from the beautiful Rocky Mountains. But if you took the back roads, through an older neighborhood in our city, you came upon a man-made duck pond. Oh I loved that pond. Every time we would come home from the grocery store, I would beg my mother to drive past The Duck Pond; just as my little one begs me to take him on the round-about.

As I shared this memory with my young son, I was compelled to wonder what my kids will remember about their lives when they are older. Will they only remember the bad? Will the good seem few and far between? Will memories such as this one be as significant to them as it was to me?

What I learned from this quick walk down memory lane was something I believe to be very important and I wanted to share it with you. Write down the good. The minute you remember something joyful; write it down. It’s there. Often times, it’s just buried underneath the crap and all it takes is one fleeting moment for the good to enter. But remember, it also only takes one moment for the good to leave. The good is so much more important than the bad. So I ask all of you to write it down. It may not seem significant to you now, but some day, it just might.

Until Next Time,

Connie Ann

New Year…Same Goals

Good day friends! I know it has been months since I posted and well, let’s just say I am historically bad at this whole blogging thing. But I am reminded of a quote by Anthony Robbins, “The past does not equal the future.” This can be true if we allow it to be true. So moving forward, I will only promise that I will do my best to post regularly. I want this blog to be real to life and sometimes life gets in the way.

In the past, I have made valiant attempts to ensure that all of my posts host a certain amount of humor whilst portraying the daily struggles of motherhood. Finding constant humor can often times be taxing and eventually turns something fun in to a chore. Because of this, I have decided to write what strikes me rather than writing only what is comical. No, this is not a New Years Resolution. I actually do not believe in resolutions. This year I am moving forward with the idea in mind that, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery.

What does that mean for me? It means that I am making a plan to reach my goals rather than simply listing them with no frickin idea of how to reach them. And yes, one of my goals is to post regularly; I do have a plan. I don’t know if I will attain that goal but as you can see, I am sure going to try. As the Japanese Proverb states, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” I think what is important to take from this is that we should never give up.

So, my friends, I ask you not to give up on me. I will continue to push forward and I hope that you will continue to follow me on my journey.

Until Next Time,

Connie Ann

The Room

My daughter’s bedroom is the basement of our house. Since she left, I haven’t had the courage to venture down to that space. My husband has been pushing me to move my office space down there and split the area between her and I. After all, she’s not living with us right now and the space is going to waste. Reluctantly, I finally agreed to this plan. So this past weekend, we spent our time rearranging and organizing. Do you have any idea how much crap one kid can collect? Let me tell you…

When we first venture down the stairs we realize the light bulbs are almost all burnt out. How long were there no lights? I haven’t been down here since she left. Didn’t she notice the lights were out? Okay…can’t work in the dark. Oldest goes and gets light bulbs. Now we can see. Oh my…perhaps I just figured out why she didn’t care to have light. This place is messy! And she was the one that kept her room “clean”…

She has two dressers and a chest of drawers. All full of clothes. Oh, and look, clothes on the floor. And in that basket over there. And that box. And behind that… She told me she had gone through all of her clothes before she left and everything that was still here was what she wanted to keep. Um…I don’t think so! This she hasn’t worn since 5th Grade. This is from…hmmmm…Kindergarten maybe? Okay, new plan for the clothes…I will wash ALL of the clothing I find and go through it later to determine what really needs to be kept and what can be donated. That’s gonna be a big job…

Trash. Can you imagine how much trash one 14 year old girl can accumulate? Seven bags full. Yes, you read that right. Seven large Kitchen sized bags full of trash. Trash that was not visible to the naked eye. No…it was in things, under things, and behind things.

Donations. Three large black outdoor bags full of toys, shoes, and misc items for donation. Most of these items stuffed in the closet. OMG the closet! The visions of the closet will forever be etched in my brain. It’s a small closet. I honestly don’t know how all of that crap fit in there. Three bags of donations and that does not include the clothing!

Good news though…seven bags of trash and three bags of donations pretty much cleared out the room! It’s amazing the creative places kids can find to stash things. I mean, seriously, I found random toys inside the Kleenex box, inside the stereo, inside other toys…you name it…there was something stashed in it. I told you about the closet right?

Did I mention the spiders? I was assaulted by at least three of those little suckers. I will have nightmares. Oh, and the bathroom…well…let’s just say the bathroom is currently being fumigated and bleached. I thought boys were gross. Ladies and gentlemen…girls are DISGUSTING. Don’t do it. Don’t let them have their own bathroom.

It took two days to wash the clothes. The end result was a queen sized bed, completely covered in folded clothing, about 1 foot tall. Out of all those clothes, three bags for donation and not even one dresser full to keep. Looks like we know what someone will be getting for Christmas this year…

Overall, I’d say the project was a success despite the spider attacks and the closet – I mentioned the closet right!? I’d also say, girls are just as messy as boys, if not worse. In total…13 bags of crap. That’s how much crap one kid can collect.

Until Next Time…

Connie