When Words are Just pleas for Sleep

My youngest son gets really emotional when he’s tired. He’s seven. They reduced recess and lunch time and do more learning in a day than when I was a kid.

As adults they tell us to get up and move for at least 10 minutes each hour and yet our kids are expected to sit a pay attention for long stretches without complaint.

By the end of the day he’s tired, hungry and doesn’t want to do anything but chill. My husband and I just had a conversation about him being little and not meaning all the mean things he says and screams when he’s tired. Is that fair though?

Yesterday he told me to never speak to him ever again, my whole life. Obviously dramatic and I knew he was tired but then other words come flying out of his mouth after he apologized which were less dramatic and more mean. As a mother isn’t it my job to teach him what is and is not ok to say, even in anger or when tired?

Allowing words like “I wish you weren’t my mom” or “you probably wish I wasn’t born” just gives way to believing it’s ok to say hurtful words to people. I’m not raising boys who become men who throw words out in frustration or anger they can’t take back once they’re out there.

Am I wrong in this thinking? Should I be allowing more space for this type of communication or should I continue to remind them that words can hurt, even if you apologize later?

Mental Health/Illness – Removing Stigma

In the second post of the series I want to address the stigma related to mental illness and getting help. Buckle up and get comfy because this post has a lot of information. The last post kind of explained where my first brush with anxiety and mental health came from. For this post, I am going to back away and give you the stats.

According to a 2014 Newsweek article, “nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness each year”. One in Five (42.5 million American adults), just let that settle for a moment. I know I don’t hear about my circle of friends talking about their mental health freely and openly like it’s so normal. These numbers came from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), I am fairly certain they are not running around an polling every person.

I also know that due to stigma there are many people who suffer in silence, afraid to speak up and get any kind of help. The US Surgeon General stated in 1999 that: “Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their own mental health problems, much less disclosing them to others”

Per NAMI’s (National Alliance of Mental Illness) website the number of Americans with Mental Illness is now 46.6 Million, that’s 4.1 Million increase in five years.

Let’s break this down, according to DSM-IV, a mental disorder is a psychological syndrome or pattern which is associated with distress (e.g. via a painful symptom), disability (impairment in one or more important areas of functioning), increased risk of death, or causes a significant loss of autonomy; however it excludes normal responses such as grief from loss of a loved one, and also excludes deviant behavior for political, religious, or societal reasons not arising from a dysfunction in the individual.

If you go strictly by the DSM-IV it would appear that only the most debilitating, classified issues are mental illness. What about anxiety, general depression and countless others? According to the National Institute Mental Health (NIMH) they break these down into “Any Mental Illness” and “Serious Mental Illness”.

“Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. AMI can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment (e.g., individuals with serious mental illness as defined below).

Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The burden of mental illnesses is particularly concentrated among those who experience disability due to SMI.”

Per NIMH, 19.1% of American adults (18+) have some sort of anxiety disorder, 6.8% of adults have had PTSD in their lifetime. This isn’t just military and/or combat either, this includes domestic violence, accidents, natural or human caused disasters and a variety of other factors. World Health Organization (WHO) reports 25% of the world’s population from some form of mental illness. Why aren’t we discussing this more? Why does it take extreme acts to bring these issues to the forefront of the news stations?

If we remove the stigma of discussing mental health at an early age then perhaps more people would get the help they need and less people would feel isolated to the point of completing suicide or violence against others.

Now, what about a chronic illness and mental health? I currently have three diagnosis that are chronic, with no cure and you better believe that gives me anxiety. Harvard health put up an article that discussed anxiety and chronic illness, though for some reason they only looked at respiratory, GI and heart disease. Personally, I think they overlooked a huge portion of the demographic here but it is what it is. Worrying about your health, cost of health if you are in the United States and not one of the amazing countries where it’s free for everyone, the impact it has on your family and friends, of course you are going to have anxiety, any normal person would.

Depression is also increased for those with a chronic illness, per the NIMH website the most common are among the below:

  • Cancer
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you aren’t convinced yet that you should seek help if you suffer from anxiety, depression or another mental illness, just know, that constant “fight or flight” from anxiety is bad for your body and your brain. Depression and anxiety can increase inflammation in your body, mess up your stress hormones, interfere with your heart rate and circulation.

According to the National MS Society’s website grief, depression and anxiety are all very common mood changes that happen with a diagnosis. Obviously because the way MS hits people differently, different symptoms, degrees of the symptoms not everyone may get anxiety or depression. The anxiety stems from the unknowing of what is to come, how you will be any given day and the extent of your symptoms which can change at the drop of a hat.

Increased stress makes symptoms worse, which can make anxiety and depression worse. When your nerves and myelin is being attacked like frayed wires there will be an impact.

I encourage everyone to talk about mental health, mental illness and get a therapist. We need to remove the stigma of this silent thing happening to so many people so it is no longer the dirty little secret but part of a normal conversation.

Straight of the NAMI website,

Prevalence of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (11.2 million) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

https://www.newsweek.com/nearly-1-5-americans-suffer-mental-illness-each-year-230608

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-america

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/anxiety_and_physical_illness

https://mymsaa.org/msinformation/symptoms/anxiety/

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Emotional-Changes

Tips to Ease Anxiety, an Often Overlooked Effect of MS

 

Am I Strong Enough?

I have been told by many people that I am strong. Strong in how I keep moving forward in spite of all the bullshit that is thrown at me. Strong because in the face of everything I try to have a sense of humor. Strong because most people couldn’t handle all the shit that I deal with daily.

You know what the secret is? I am not, I am not strong, I do not want to keep having to deal with everything that keeps coming at me. If I could chose, I would say “No THANK YOU!” or “Fuck Off!” but no one is listening. No one is giving me the choice to not be strong.

I get that most people don’t think they could handle it, but you don’t know until it is the only option you have. I think of this frequently when I say something stupid to a mom with twins like “good for you, I couldn’t do that”. They didn’t have a choice either, they have to figure out how to handle multiples.

This last week I am fairly certain I tore my right biceps tendon, but I can’t get into the doctor for 2 weeks. You might think that is a weird thing to be certain about, except I tore my left biceps tendon last year so I know exactly what that dull, throbbing pain feels like. The constant weighted feeling in my shoulder if I use my arm.

Yesterday we took our boys to the mall, my body’s internal temperature regulator does not work, thanks MS. I am walking around the mall with my husband, son and service dog trying to have a good time for the kids. Meanwhile my face is turning red, my husband tells me my face is beading with sweat like I was working out , I start to lose all feeling in my legs (causing a weird limp) and all of my pain was intensified and my brain felt like it was melting. None of this was by choice. I am not a toddler, if I throw myself on the floor and have a tantrum or start crying not only would that embarrass my entire family but someone may call 911.

There have been times when people tell me “God only gives you what you can handle” and to that I say “Bullshit” and this is why I am not strongly religious. What kind of asshole gives a person MS, Meneire’s Disease, PCOS, torn hip cartilage, torn tendons, anxiety, alopecia an all the small things wrong with me and all the worse symptoms of the main issues too.

I am three months late getting my infusion for my MS, first the hospital messed up twice and then we had to wait for insurance. I finally got it approved and today my insurance approval letter says the medication that is given twice in two weeks at 300 mg doses was approved for one time of ONE mg. I am done! I am tired of fighting but I have two children and a husband that need me so I don’t have another choice I have to keep trying to move forward. It’s like climbing a escalator going the opposite direction, it’s hard and exhausting but the only other options aren’t great.

So, sorry for the long ranting of this post, but the message to take from this is you don’t actually have to be strong to look strong to people who don’t know. Mental health is important and this is why I talk to a therapist every two weeks, more frequently if needed. It’s a place where I get to not be strong to the outside world, I feel safe being vulnerable and I don’t have to worry about anyone else during those hours. I don’t have to worry about making my children or husband worried for me. You don’t have to be weak alone, you can find someone to talk to that can help you work through all the unfairness that comes your way. Work through anger, fear, sadness and resentment, oh how my therapist would be proud of me with acknowledging feelings other than anger.

It’s hard, life can be difficult and frustrating. There may be days you cry in the shower so no one knows it’s happening (shhh not me, ok don’t judge me). I do my best to try and give my boys good memories of their childhood, I work through the pain on the days I can and watch movies with them on the days I can’t.