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

Advertisements

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

The, Not So Gentle, Art of Exercise…

I want to get in shape and get healthy.  So we decide to keep our gym membership because hey, now I have time to go.  Reluctantly, I make a plan and decide to stick to it.

Day One. I walk in the door and scan my little key card.  The lady behind the counter loudly says, “I see you haven’t been in in awhile.”  No, I sure haven’t.  “Is there any reason you haven’t been in?”  I quietly reply, “No reason…just life”.  “I understand”, she says, “would you like a refresher on the equipment?”  I think to myself, no I don’t need you to show me how to use a treadmill for crying out loud.  It’s not rocket science.  Instead, I quickly reply, “No thanks…I’m good.” I hang my keys and scurry off to the treadmill in an attempt to avoid any more of her interrogation.

Once at the treadmill, I place my ear buds in my ears, set my playlist, and start out slow.  It really has been awhile since I’ve been in so I know that it won’t be long before I am out of breath and ready to move to something else.  The first five minutes go off without a hitch.  I’m lost in thought about my reward at the end…the really awesome chair massage.  If I can just get through 30 minutes on the treadmill and 15 on the bicycle, life will be good.  Unfortunately, being deep in thought whilst walking on a treadmill can be dangerous.  Before I know it, the chord from my ear buds catches on the machine and I am being pulled backwards while my head is being pulled forward with the chord.  In slow motion, I lose my footing.  Suddenly I’m living an America’s Funniest Home Video’s moment as the ear buds rip from my ears and I fall in to the wall behind me. I lay there for a moment before I quickly scan the area to see if anyone saw me. A lady a couple of machines down simply looks my way, shakes her head, and turns her gaze back to the televisions. I’m stunned and embarrassed. Wait, why did I just grab my boobs? Did I think that by some miracle they might have fallen off during the fall?  Dear God. I do a quick mental check…nothing seems broken and I’m not hurt.  Well, perhaps my pride, but everything else appears to be attached; including my boobs. I clumsily get back up and decide I will try the bicycle instead. Humiliated, I make my way across the room with my head down. Perhaps I should have gotten the refresher course on the treadmill because clearly it is rocket science.

Day Two. My body hurts. More than likely from the fall because honestly, I didn’t stay much longer after my self inflicted humiliation yesterday. But not today. Today I wore clothing with pockets so I can tuck my phone and the chords neatly against my body. Once again, I attempt the treadmill. From the corner of my eye, I notice a woman a few machines down from me giving me a disapproving stare. Ah yes, that’s the woman that couldn’t be bothered to check on me yesterday. Awesome. After 25 minutes of success on the treadmill I carefully exit the machine and proudly saunter over to the stationary bike; Eye of The Tiger playing in my head. I complete 10 minutes on the bike and decide to call it a day before anything goes wrong.

My reward awaits. 10 minutes in the most amazing massage chair ever. This is really the only reason I like this gym membership. I lay down, get comfortable, and…fall asleep. Now, you would think that the feeling of the machine shutting down would awaken me. No, not me, not today. I awaken some twenty minutes later to the sound of the very annoyed lady behind the counter. Remember her from yesterday…inquisition lady? Yeah, her. “You cannot fall asleep in the massage chairs!” I mumble an apology and she informs me that I snore. I find myself scanning the gym for camera’s… am I someone’s funny outtakes this week? I am seriously not coming back here.

Day Three. I’m committed. I change the time of day that I go in the hopes that anyone who has witnessed my fitness bloopers will not be in attendance for whatever debacle I may encounter today. My thighs and my butt hurt. No pain no gain right!? But why does my butt hurt so bad? Is it getting smaller? I find myself turned sideways, staring at my butt in the plethora of mirrors; trying to decide if thirty minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the bike have miraculously shrunk my behind. As I decide the answer is no, I realize that I have acquired somewhat of an audience. I can feel my face turn red. Head down, I make a b-line for the treadmill. I miss the stair. Seriously? I’m on the floor – AGAIN – mere feet away from my first humiliation just days ago. Instinctually, I scan the room and there she is; mean disapproving lady. This time she stares at me for a long while. I’m certain that I can read her mind today and believe me…she’s not saying anything nice.  I am defeated. I pick myself up off the floor and practically run to my car.

Day Four. The gym membership has been canceled and the funds have been reallocated. I stopped at Starbucks and got a Grande Iced White Chocolate Mocha with Caramel Syrup, no whipped cream. See how I watched my figure there? No whipped cream. Next week I might order it with fat free milk. We’ll see.

Until Next Time

Connie

Cars, Chores, and Concussions

Being in a house with three boys is…we’ll say…challenging. Don’t get me wrong. I love all of the men in my life and I am very grateful to have them. They all love me and are very supportive.  I wouldn’t change it for the world. But here’s the thing. Boys like cars. Boys hate chores. And boys…well…boys are the ones who usually end up with concussions.

My oldest son has had his license for 5 months. His Grandfather gave him a Jeep when he first got his license. Four hours after it was fixed up and ready to go…he totaled it. That’s right – FOUR HOURS. I think that’s some type of record, but I can’t be sure. At first we thought we would not let him drive until he could save up money for a new vehicle. But as any parent of a 17 year old knows…I really needed him to be driving. Having another driver in the house is like Christmas every day! So, we let him use my winter driver. He only slightly wrecked it once over the past five months so that’s…something. Now he has bought himself another Jeep. I’m thinking, this is great, I get my winter driver back just in time for snow. All is well. So he, my husband, and the little one spent hours in the garage fixing it up. Seriously, hours. So many hours I forgot I had a husband and two sons for two days. Now the head gasket is blown. This means more hours in the garage. I should be happy right!? A weekend to myself. Or more like a weekend to do everyone’s chores because…

…Boys do not like chores. I actually don’t think anyone likes chores, but boys REALLY don’t like chores. Chores at our house is what I like to believe would be similar to an interrogation. Did you clean the kitchen? Are you sure? What time did you clean the kitchen? Was it before dinner because there sure are a lot of dishes still in the sink? Do you know that the counters are part of the kitchen? Do you know that the floor is part of the kitchen? Do you know that the table is part of the kitchen? Are you aware that the kitchen is in fact one entire room that requires cleaning? How about your bedroom? Oh, you cleaned your bedroom? What is all of that mess in the corner there? Well, when will you be ready to go through that corner? Is the open bag of potato chips another thing you need to “go through” to make sure you aren’t throwing away something of value? And it goes on and on and on until I finally get so frustrated that I just finish the chore myself. My apologies to my boys’ futures wives. Good thing I’m feeling up to chores this week because…

…I ended up with a concussion. Every day I watch my boys do daring things on their bikes, skateboards, and, well, anything they can get their hands on that makes for a good “war” story in their minds. They come home with cuts and bruises. I’ve been to the emergency room many times for stiches. How lucky I’ve been that they have never gotten a concussion. I, on the other hand, am not daring. I don’t ride a bicycle nor a skateboard, never have. I am very careful and mindful of stairs, ice, and obstacles on the ground. You know, safe and cautious. So imagine my surprise when stomach flu is the culprit that took me down for two weeks. Who knew fainting whilst throwing up was a thing!? So yeah, fainted, apparently hit my head, ended up with a concussion. I guess this takes me one step closer to being one of the boys. Complete with my own, weird, “war” story. All I need to do now is develop an obsessive love of fixing cars and a dire hatred of chores.

Until Next Time

Connie