A lot has been going on lately. My youngest started his special pre-school after the child study team finally decided to test him, and low and behold he came up autistic. Quelle surprise! We were all sick with a “flu like virus” for a week and half (which I’m pretty sure just means we had the flu). And it has snowed every week since the beginning of the year. In addition to the normal ups and downs of having three special needs kids and keeping up with my editing job, you would think at this point in the year I would be at my wits end. And up until this year you would be right.
But something amazing happened to me in January. Something that was long overdue. I finally went to see a psychiatrist about my anxiety and depression, and he, in his infinite wisdom, put me on anti-depression/anti-anxiety meds…AND THEY WORKED!
They didn’t just work a little either. After three days on half a dose I felt completely different! What does that mean for me? Let me explain.
My whole life there has been this running commentary in the back of my head. Anytime I would have to think over a problem or something would go wrong, my brain would start working out how to fix it and/or how it could be worse or how it was worse or what tragedies would befall me or people I love because of whatever it was I was thinking about. This kept going until a new thing would pop into my head or needed addressing.
I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t want it to be happening. But I couldn’t make it stop.
Three days into the meds something amazing happened. My mind was suddenly silent. The running commentary was gone. The constant chatter of a thousand worries had quieted. For the first time in my life, I could sit in peace and think about nothing or (and this is even more amazing) I could think about something, and then I could stop! My worries and cares no longer sat on top of me all day. I could still think about problems I was having or try and work out solutions, but the thoughts no longer haunted me hours later.
The closest comparison I can come up with is imagine you have tinnitus. There is a constant buzzing in your ears 24/7. Now imagine one day…it just stopped. The feeling is incredible.
I never really knew what other people meant when they said “relax” or when people talked about being at peace until now. I thank God my husband kept on me to go and talk to the doctor and that the first thing he prescribed me worked. There is still a lot in my life that needs fixing and organizing, but now I feel like I have the presence of mind to do it.
I am sharing this post because I know there are a lot of people out there who are afraid to go to a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist because of the stigma of mental diseases. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to gain from getting help. Anxiety and depression can be fixed, sometimes with therapy, sometimes with medication. I lived my whole life not knowing what having a peaceful mind meant and now I do. And I couldn’t be happier. Please, if you think you need help, get help. You are worth it.
Title image by hopeimages.
There are a couple things you need to know about my family before I continue this post. Firstly, we are all geeks here, especially in relation to movies and TV. All of our favorites are cartoons and/or contain swords or lasers or both. Both my husband and I grew up as geeks and have been indoctrinating our children it the world of geekery since they were born.
As you may know from some of my other posts we have three young boys, which means at my house we don’t get to watch a lot of “grown-up” TV. Until recently it was mostly Nick Jr. Dora and Diego would compete for attention with SpongeBob and Patrick (my kids still use the word ‘barnacles’ as a curse word). So you can imagine how happy I was when the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon came and not only did my kids like it, but it was also amazing! I took to watching it with them and we recorded it so they could watch it whenever they wanted until the DVDs came out. (If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it now. It one of the best cartoons I’ve seen in years!)
Not once did anyone I know have a problem with me watching a “boy’s show”. I’d grown up with TMNT. It was a given that I would end up watching it with my kids. The fact that I was a girl didn’t come up even once.
Then a month ago, I noticed my boys were spending a lot of time on Saturday mornings, watching Netflix with my husband in his office. I finally decided to go see what they were up to and found them all laughing away at the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Now before I go further I would like to point out that not only did I like My Little Pony as a kid, but I have the video tapes of both the original pilot episode and the My Little Pony movie that went to theaters long, long ago. When my boys were a lot younger, the movie was one of their favorites. They watched it all the time. If you haven’t seen it and are a fan of 80s cartoons you should check it out. (Seriously Danny DeVito and Madeline Kahn are two of the many awesome voice actors.)
Anyway, based on all this what do you think happened when I caught them watching the new series? To my shame, it wasn’t what you think. I believe I said something like, “Oh, you guys are watching that show.” Then I rolled my eyes and walked away.
Over the next couple of weeks, both I and my friends (mostly guys) ragged on my husband about it whenever the show came up. I was okay with my kids watching it. It was a kids’ TV show after all. But the fact that my husband liked the very girly show too was (in our minds) a good reason to pick at him. Being my husband, he would mostly stick his tongue out at us and say something to the effect of, “You don’t know what you’re missing.” or “I can like it if I want to. It’s good!”
Not once did it occur to me that this was something I shouldn’t be doing. After all, it was a “girl” TV show. Boy’s shouldn’t like girl’s TV shows.
It took me far longer than it should have to have this epiphany, but it suddenly occurred to me a few days ago that if I could watch Ninja Turtles with my kids (and sometimes by myself) why couldn’t my husband like and watch My Little Ponies? Yes there are some extreme portions of the MLP fanbase, but that’s pretty much true of every fanbase these days. And as long as he wasn’t keeping pictures of Twilight Sparkle on his nightstand, what was wrong with him enjoying a well written cartoon with the kids or on his own?
Well, the answer is there isn’t anything wrong with it. I was guilty of making fun of him for the same thing that boys made fun of me for doing as a kid.
“You can’t like Transformers! It’s for boys!”
The hell I can’t! You try and stop me! I can like whatever I want. And if other kids made fun of my boys for liking MLP, I’m sure I would have words with them or their parents as well.
So yesterday I apologized to my husband. And I intend on sharing this with my guy friends so they stop picking on him too. My house is now (as I thought it was before) a bully free zone. Everyone in my family is free enjoy whatever shows, movies, comics, video games, etc. they want.
And that should be true in all aspects of our lives. It’s the different flavors of geeks that make our culture truly awesome. No one has the right to tell someone they shouldn’t like X or that they aren’t liking X the right way. There are enough bullies in the world. We should be supporting each other not knocking each other down.
So next time you get a chance, show some geek love to a group you normally might avoid. Because whether you like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or My Little Pony, always remember geekdom is magic.
I don’t like to brag, but I am the luckiest mom in the world. I have three beautiful, extremely smart boys who are full of imagination and love. They make me crazy and they are really messy, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Oh and as of yesterday all three of them are officially autistic.
They are all very high functioning autistic, and each of them has slightly different reasons they were classified. The youngest (who was the last to be classified, and falls somewhere in-between the other two) also as ADD and ADHD, something I’m sure none of my family is surprised by.
Does having three autistic boys in the house make life harder? I have no idea. To me, they are just them. They’ve always been who they are. Finding the correct words to describe how they behave and react to things just makes my life a little easier and will hopefully make their lives easier in the future. Now I can tell the school what they need help with and have the help given without arguments. Now I can connect with other parents with children similar to mine and share experiences and help each other. And now I can learn different ways to help my kids succeed that I may not have thought about before.
Would having non-autistic boys be easier? Maybe, but I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world.
Title image by MarianneLoMonaco.
I have an anxiety problem.
Any of you who know me personally would probably laugh if I said that to you in person, and then go, “Duh!” afterwards. With good reason. It’s blatantly obvious that I worry and stress about almost everything too much. And for a long time I’ve known that too and laughed right along with everyone else. This year changed all that.
In the fall of 2012 my twins started school and were both diagnosed with autism. In January my husband was diagnosed with bipolar II. And currently we are getting our youngest tested for autism and ADHD. Somewhere in the midst of all this I started having panic attacks again.
Yes I said again. Yes it had happened before. But back then (before I had kids) it hadn’t been that bad or very frequent. I was able to handle the stress, anxiety, and even infrequent panic attacks and still carry on with my life. I thought I was fine, just a little stressed.
But now they aren’t that infrequent. Earlier this year I was having one or two panic attacks a week. I stopped watching action movies because when my pulse went up, I started to worry it was going to shift into a panic attack.
That’s not a fun place to be. But it is what finally opened my eyes to how bad I really was, even before the panic attacks resurfaced. My anxiety was inhibiting every aspect of my life. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate like I wanted to. I wasn’t getting all the things done I needed to get done. I wasn’t enjoying any of the things I was doing and the inability to accomplish anything was making me depressed, again.
Yes I said again, again.
Unbeknownst to me, after I gave birth to my twins I had a pretty bad bought of postpartum depression. I got through it without knowing I had it. I went through the next pregnancy without knowing I had it. It wasn’t until I was home from delivering my youngest, two years after my twins, that I realized the difference: I could function. I could sleep. I wasn’t crying all the time. I wasn’t sitting on the couch starting at the TV all day. The difference between having postpartum depression and not having postpartum depression was night and day.
But what is happening now has nothing to do with pregnancy. My anxiety is making me depressed and I am cycling through periods of depression and high stress. Well perhaps cycling isn’t the right word. Spiraling is a better one. And it was getting a lot worse.
Before this year I thought I could handle it. I thought I was fine. I thought I just needed to relax because I was too stressed. The truth is that I have an anxiety disorder and mild depression and I need help to fix that. Watching my husband go through a similar thing this winter with his bipolar, and seeing how much counseling and medication helped him, made up my mind for me.
I’ve now been in therapy for anxiety for a few months. It’s very early on and we are taking baby steps towards fixing what’s broken in my head. I’m thinking more carefully about things that stress me out and pinpointing why they stress me out, which helps me to not be anxious about them in the first place.
I’m learning to prioritize things. And in doings so, I’m making sure that taking care of myself is one of the things I’m prioritizing. I’m also trying to cut myself some slack and making sure that if something on my to-do list slips I don’t beat myself up about it. We are also looking at my depression to see if it follows a pattern and if medication might help or not.
Trying to unwrap the way my brain thinks is going to take time, and working on being less anxious is going to be hard. Be with the support of my family and friends I know I can do it.
So why am I telling you this?
This is not a pity party. This is not a post to excuse why I’ve been floating at the edges of social media for the past year or so. This is my story I’m sharing to hopefully help other people who might have the same problem. Being permanently stressed out and anxious is not something you have to live with, it’s something that can be overcome.
And yes, initially getting anxiety therapy made me anxious. But now, it’s making me feel better. And the same can be true for you. Fighting anxiety and depression is hard, maybe even harder than just having the problems in the first place. But in the end, peace of mind is something worth fighting for.
Title image by Ines Perkovic.
Life is full of adventures. When I was little we would drive from New Jersey to Vermont to visit my mom’s family (or when we lived in Vermont, down to New Jersey to visit my dad’s family). Being in the dark ages, before GPS, we got lost a lot trying to avoid traffic through New York and Connecticut. And we loved it.
Being lost was part of the fun of traveling. We saw things we would never have seen otherwise and got to spend time as a family just goofing around in a place where nothing else could distract us. It’s harder to get lost on purpose now, but it is just as easy to have adventures.
We took the kids to the aquarium today. It was a blast! We saw giant fish and tiny fish. We got to pet sharks and stingrays. Kid #3 got to see at least ten different kinds of turtles (his favorite animal at that moment). And all three of them got their picture taken with a live 14-foot-long alligator.
The alligator’s name was Big Mike. Big Mike was behind glass standing statue still in the water, just chillin’. The kids all sat down in front of him so we could get a picture. Of course, as soon as they did, Big Mike moved.
Kid #1 wisely decided he didn’t want to sit next to Big Mike anymore and that we should go see the fish again instead. His brothers heartily agreed.
I don’t normally post pics of my boys online, but this picture is too good not to share.
Kid #1 is the one on the left. XD
Aside from adventures of the undersea kind, I’m starting out on my own adventure. An adventure into short story writing. I’m currently 900 words into a story that is set in the world of my Fading Marks series, but not involving any of the characters in the series. It was harder than I thought it would be to switch to another story after working on my novels for so long. It took me two weeks just to come up with an idea. But now that the idea is there, it’s shaping up to be a really interesting and unexpected addition to my story’s universe.
I’ve also been working my way through my portion of the Entry Plus critiques for the Fantasy Faction Anthology contest. That has been an adventure in and of itself. At first I was a little nervous giving out critiques for writers I’d never met, but the responses I’ve gotten have been great. It’s so rewarding to be able to help people with their writing, and critiquing other people’s work is helping me have a more critical eye for my own work. It’s an adventure that’s win-win in the best possible way.
Speaking of which, I should get back to work.
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” – Dr. Seuss. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Title image by favillephoto.