Saturday, November 1, 2014

Roman Holiday

I'm over here, talking Rome and the sweetness of doing nothing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Think Happy Thoughts

The first weeks of school have passed for both my newly minted High Schooler and her newly minted College student brother.  On a drama scale of 1-10, the weeks have  passed with a 5.5, which around these parts is barely a tremor.  We have been known to wrestle the kracken and come out the other side with few marks and the kracken's lunch money. The first week of Jr HS definitely fell into the kracken category.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been a total cake walk.  There were flat tires, tough auditions, unpleasantness at the college book store, crushes on other people's significant others and one truancy call for a study hall skipped in favor of hot pancakes (Can't throw stones on this one. Been there, ate the short stack). For the most part, these were easy tests for us parents.

What is really unique about this school year, is that it is starting off with a little bit of positive feedback.  In prior years, school started with a litany of complaints and spiraled downward from there.  I'm not saying my kids were pessimistic and neurotic, but the only image that is coming into my head is Alvy Singer from Annie Hall.  As a matter of fact, my daughter tends to be somewhat dark, hypochondriacal and a conspiracy theorist. Her obsession with shows about women who kill had made me seriously consider blocking the Investigation Discovery channel and don't even get me started on WebMD.  Unfortunately, most cyber-nanny programs don't have a filter to prevent googling suspected diseases and pictures of skin maladies.

My son on the other hand, has had 12 years of teachers that could only be classified (by his measure) as morons.  That is when he wasn't classifying them as irrational, demanding, nonsensical and irrelevant.  Most often, this was in response to them expecting him to do his homework and pay attention in class. Idiots! 

This year though, I have been told the following pieces of good news, that I can only devour like the positivity starved parent that I am:

- I love my English teacher Ms. Smith.  She's just like Ms. Jones, but crazier.
- I like having time gaps in my schedule so that I can nap in my car instead of the classroom.
- The salad bar at the high school is dank (Paradoxically, in the world of teenagers, this term is good)
- I like that we don't have to worry about all that hand raising nonsense.  If you have an answer, you
  just call it out.

That may not sound like amazing news to you, but I take my good news where I can get it.  And every day that they go off to school without incident I say a silent word of thanks and wish for it to continue through the school year.  Every positive day in class that keeps my daughter from asking me to home school her or put her in a convent is a good day.  And to think, there are only 7 more years of this roller coaster for us.  By then, I will be able to get my carny license and run away to join the circus.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Gifts Just Keep on Rolling in

Do you know how many times a day I ask myself "Where in the world am I ever going to find a good looking wine box for my rare wine?".  Much to my frustration, I am never able to provide myself with an answer.  I have spent countless sleepless nights, searching the internet for fancy and fashionable boxes that I can use to personalize my wine.

Then this comes in from Stephanie.  Stephanie, my angel, you have cured my sleeplessness, answered the query playing on an endless loop in my head and made me a better tennis player.  Much love Stephanie.  Much love.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

What's that sound? It definitely isn't Mensa calling to offer membership.

Sometimes I think I'm smart.

Hate when the kids go in my room when I am not home.

Decided to lock the bedroom door.

Great. Except I locked my pocketbook, cell phone and keys inside.

Tried to pick the lock.

Tried every screwdriver in the house.

Flop sweating before work.

Took 30 minutes to get the door open.

Put the magic screwdriver that actually worked in my bag for later.

Late for work.

Came home.

Door still locked.


Got screwdriver.

Couldn't open the door.

Flop sweating trying to get to my room to relax.

Decided to try opening the door with a credit card.

Finally after 20 min, I got it open.

Sometimes I think I'm smart.

This was not one of those times.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Depression is Not a Choice, Sparky

I knew that there was going to come a day when I had to write this post.  It was really a matter of how long I could keep my mouth shut before exploding.  One of my greatest fears was that I would explode at a well meaning but uninformed friend or family member and I would never want to do that.  But with the tragic death of Robin Williams, mental illness, more specifically depression, is being discussed on an endless loop and the stream of ignorance and misinformation is so deep, it's about to drown us all.

There is nothing that grinds my gears harder than ignorance about mental illness.   There have been several people in my extended family that have wrestled with various different illnesses and as such, I had to educate myself. So when I hear ignorant viewpoints on the subject, my blood boils like the lava in Vesuvius.

For example, when I hear people putting down friends or complaining about family members that struggle with things like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or depression, I get angry. I get angry because someone who is suffering from one of those disorders doesn't need your disdain.  What they do need from you is the following:

1) Support:

Work hard to help that person get the medical and psychiatric support they need.  Make sure (within your power to do so) that they take any prescribed medications as directed by their doctor and help to make sure that they get regular talk therapy sessions in conjunction with their medication.  While it is understood that not everyone has insurance coverage for these things, there are clinics available that work on a sliding scale according to income.

2) Understanding:

The first rule of caring about someone with mental illness is to understand that they are sick.  They may do or say things that are hurtful, inflammatory or just difficult to comprehend.  Try not to personalize it.  It is not about you it's about their mental illness and they may be needing more support (see #1).

3) Love:
At the end of the day, they are your friends, family, loved ones.  Love them as such.

So, with you knowing what your role is and with the 24 hour news cycle spewing misinformation at a rapid clip, let's do some myth busting.

Depression is:
According to the DSM4 (the standard diagnostic manual of the mental health profession), depression is classified as a mood disorder.  A mood disorder is further described as such:

And more specifically, major depressive disorder, the kind of depression that is likely to need to be managed throughout your life and carries the threat of suicidal thought and action, is described as follows:

Depression is not:
Depression is not a choice. Did you get that?  No? I'll repeat.  Depression is not a choice.  It's not because someone is lazy or just won't pull themselves up by the bootstraps.  Depression is not a time to practice "tough love" so that they "snap out of it".  Depression is an illness.  Would you tell someone with cancer to "snap out of it"?

The Cycle of Misinformation:
On the topic of ignorance,  there were many things that I heard this week that illustrated how far we need to come as a country around the topic of depression and mental illness.  Here are two of the most uninformed comments of the lot:

1) This was from several random news anchors - I'm paraphrasing here:  He had everything to live for, a beautiful family, a great career.  Why would he end his life? 

This comment is ignorant and diminishing as it assumes that  fame and fortune are the antidote to depression.  Again, the cancer analogy works here. Would you ask someone suffering with cancer how their fame and fortune didn't work to stop the tumor from growing?

2) Rush Limbaugh is actually quoted as blaming Robin William's depression on his political leanings. To co-opt someone's tragic mental illness as a means of advancing a political agenda is so morally reprehensible, I can't quite wrap my head around it. I won't dirty this page by quoting his ugliness, ignorance and general stupidity on the topic, but if you want to read it and have your mouth hang open like a trout, go here:

Getting Help:

Crisis Prevention:
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate support, it is best to get them to the emergency room of your nearest hospital.  If you can't get to them immediately or get them to the hospital, there are suicide prevention hotlines available, such as:  - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The signs and symptoms of a crisis situation are defined here:

Finding a Psychiatrist/Psychologist:
There is no shortage of practicing therapists and Doctors that can help treat depression.  Finding the right one for you may take some research.  Here are a few avenues to find the right one(s) for you:

1) Ask your medical doctor for a recommendation.
2) Join a support group (these are often run in local hospitals) and ask for referrals.
3) Ask a friend or family member.
4) Consult your local yellow pages or search online for someone in your area.

Let's all work to stop the ignorance, fear and misinformation around mental illness. The world will be a better place for it.