Masthead header

Category Archives: Mental Illness

Looking Forward With Optimism. A Thankful Heart!

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular guest posts on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

tiffdad

Being grateful can improve one’s health. As I reflect on the past year, I have so much to be thankful for! I have two kids who I would do anything for, a great support system of professionals, family and friends, the ability to help myself and seeing gains for my efforts. I have found more peace in myself now than I ever have before. To me, Thanksgiving has a new meaning this year. The good, the bad and the rest that doesn’t always make sense. These are all the pieces of my life that I’m thankful for.

tiffany

My parents were out of town for over three months due to my dad’s lung transplant, but have been back now for a little over two weeks. My dad is home this Thanksgiving. I am grateful that my parents get to spend the holiday with us. My dad had some lung rejection issues, and he ended up in the hospital for ten days right before they came back home. His team of doctors will be checking his antibodies soon to see if the lung rejection is still happening. If his antibodies are bad, he will have to go back to the hospital for further procedures. The transition to them being back home has not necessarily been easy, but we are working on adjusting to accommodations that work for everyone. We are moving forward with my dad’s health with optimism. We are planning for a great future with him around.

raegan3

xander1

I’m thankful that Raegan, my six-year-old daughter, is starting to understand my mental health issues. She likes to show her friends and people who stop by clips from when I was in movies, television shows and commercials in my 20s. I was in the movie Four Christmases. Raegan laughs pretty hard when she sees my hands up in the air in the background. She often asks me what happens when I don’t take my pills. I forgot them one morning, and she asked if I could drive alright without them. I told her that I would be fine, as long as I took them soon. Raegan is reading very well and with great expression. She loves math, her class and her teacher. She is very wise and kind as well. She has her temper tantrum moments. Xander, my two-year-old son, is loving life. He is pretty rambunctious and is an explorer. He is full of questions, loves school (Early Childhood Family Education) and is an extremely kind and loving son. He loves exploring so much that it’s difficult for him to sit still during ECFE reading time. During gym time, he’s been running around pretending he’s a dinosaur. The other kids don’t seem to know what to think. He is proud to call the other kids in the class his friends. My experience with Xander at school has been different because I feel more chill and comfortable about everything. I am thankful for my two children. They keep me going, even when I’d rather isolate myself from the world.

raegan2

I need a support system to help me discipline and work with my kids. My parents, friends and a team of professionals help me with these issues. I take advice from each and every one of these people to help improve my situation. I am trying to help myself so I can be more independent of some of this help, as I have been over the past few months. I’m working with what I’ve been told, and am starting to figure out a parenting plan that I can do more independently. Now that my parents are home, it’s east to revert to dependence again. But I have gained confidence over the last three months as a parent. I am a parent who can prepare meals, stay organized and help with homework. I am thankful for all that I have been taught about parenting, and I plan on utilizing those skills throughout life.

Overall, I am very satisfied with how far I have come as a single parent. I am grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life, and am happy my mom and dad are now home, at least for now. My kids, support system, my ability to help myself and peoples’ responses to my gains have guided me towards more independence in life and with my children. I hope that over the years I become more confident in my myself and my skills. Every day is a new journey!

Tiffany

How I’ve Been Doing the Past Three Months

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular guest posts on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

dsc_1711

It has been more than two months since my dad had his lung transplant. My parents have been staying in Minneapolis since the surgery. They usually live a few doors away from us. How has that time away from them been for me and my kids?

As you may know from previous posts, my parents are a major part of our support system. I have struggled, but I have also become the independent woman I know I am and can be. I’ve utilized my support system, accomplished tasks and handled situations I never thought possible. I have weeded people out of my life and have become closer to some. I continue to tell myself that I am a good mom, and continue to live my life in an honest and open way. I can’t honestly say that every day I am completely happy, but I am living with hope in my mind, body and soul. I have heard great feedback from the professionals I work with and family and friends about how I am doing while my parents are gone.

Everyone has stories to tell about the best days of their life. I really have not had typical experiences. The best days of my life have not been normal. Yes, my kids’ births were pretty spectacular, but there were complications that made those days a bit horrifying. I was a single mom both times. My daughter had a CCAM, which was a large growth in one of her lungs she had removed a couple days after she was born. My son was born via c-section.

DSC03254

DSCN5859

The day after my dad’s lung transplant turned out to be one of the best days of my life. My dad was sick for about 16 years before his transplant. For years, I was full of both worry and hope that his life could turn around. Hope for more time and years to spend with me and the kids. Nobody knew what was going to happen with his health. He was at the end of his life if something wasn’t done. When my dad got the call that a lung was ready for him, I was full of hope and excitement. This is going to work out, I told myself. The same type of feeling I had when my daughter was just days old and had a large lobe of one of her lungs removed.

I was SO happy that my kids and I could be at the hospital in Minneapolis for the procedure and be there when he woke up. I was the first person in my dad’s hospital room when he woke up from the surgery. I sat there with him as he nodded his head with big eyes open and a breathing tube in his mouth. I held back the tears as we experienced an emotional moment. That day was one of the best days of my life. We were feeling together that the hope was still alive. Seeing the excitement in my dad’s eyes, knowing the lung transplant finally happened and at that moment, my dad was going to be okay.

dsc_1702

dsc_1712

tiffdadkids

My family prepared for the lung transplant for months, even years. My dad was staying optimistic, as he is, yet preparing for both the best and worst that could happen. My family wanted to prepare me and the kids for the time that my parents would be away. I’m not a cook, or at least I thought I wasn’t before my dad’s transplant. I have felt pride letting my parents know that I have been cooking for myself, the kids and sometimes friends, while they have been away. One of my favorite meals I’ve made while they have been gone was Hawaiian marinated pork chops, white rice and vegetables. I am experimenting with the food that we have available to us. I hope to experiment more during the remainder of the time they are away. I am going to cook for my parents when they get back home. The plan is for them to come back in about a month if my dad’s health is stable.

tiffmeal

Since my parents have been away, I have occasionally been attending church and a group called Celebrate Recovery. We sing, learn and are able to talk in a group setting. We go when we can and if the kids are not too tired. I listen and isolate myself at times, and focus on the voices in my head. My psychiatrist said that isolation is a way to end up back in the hospital. I enjoy talking in the group setting with people who are also experiencing life. It’s nice to actually express my feeling and thoughts to real people. We are often told to talk less and listen more. One of my friends recently told me that she feels like she is in an interview session with me. I guess I just like to learn about peoples’ lives. It’s pretty awesome when I get to express myself too, and when questions are asked of me.

Overall, some consistency is coming into my family’s life. Kids seem to thrive on consistency.

tiffkids

tiffkids2

Since my parents have been away, I have really felt the social stigma about mental illness. I can pretty much guarantee that a few people reading this are scared of the mentally ill, or they just don’t know what to think about them. We are not all scary, no more than the normal population. Like it or not, I am an individual with the label of mentally ill. I admit, I used to feel the same about people with the label of mentally ill. My grandfather used to work at a state hospital in Jamestown, North Dakota. When I was young, I recall thinking of the mentally ill as being locked away, shut out from society, walking around with nowhere to go. Weird, strange, do not talk to them because they are dangerous, living a different life. Yet, I found them interesting and found some connection with their lives. Little did I know that I’d be one of them someday. These days, the mentally ill are usually given respect and people are talking out about their illness. We are able to thrive and live normal lives. I spent a lot of time in a state hospital years ago, and know how frustrating it can be to be shunned from society. I have met many people in different institutions that I have found much in common with. Many people who are just scared of being themselves. Some people who are just reaching out for someone to be there for them. I do not feel that I am scary, I just have a gigantic label placed on me. We are all unique and different.

I cherish friends, family and strangers who have accepted and allowed me to be the person I am meant to be. I am grateful that God blessed me with two kids who make my life worth living. I am more than just a face. I am single and talk often in my posts about finding love in any kind of relationship. Sometimes I have found a false love that I wanted to be there, to be real.

Recently, I met with my psychiatrist and let him know what was going on. I also told him that my dad was doing great! I told him that often I don’t know what to say while having a conversation. The rules we have as a society are tough. I’ve learned that people can either accept me or reject me. I have a strong support system either way!

My dad and my daughter have had major health issues with their lungs. Dealing with these life-threatening illnesses has made me a stronger individual. I have become much more realistic about what is important in life and what really doesn’t matter. In dealing with real-life trauma both in my life and others’ lives, I have become stronger and more focused on moving forward and not looking back.

Tiffany

When Your Special Needs Family Wears You Thin

It’s an honor to introduce you to Aprille who’s sharing her unique journey through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas. Aprille is a mom to two children. Her son has multiple behavioral diagnoses, and her husband is an Afghanistan veteran who struggles with anxiety. As you can imagine, this has been an incredible challenge for Aprille. On the best of days, she feels “like [she’s] barely managing.” She’s had to “continually look within and evaluate [her] own mental and physical state.” Aprille is facing the challenge with courage and bravery, doing the best she can to love and nurture her family while also caring for herself. Please extend a warm welcome to Aprille, and would you leave a word of encouragement for her today? It would surely be a blessing.

Aprille4

I don’t believe there is anything all that “special” about me; but the situation I find myself in as a wife and mom is highly unique and challenging.

In 2014 my son, then just-turned four, was diagnosed with multiple behavioral diagnoses: ADHD, adjustment disorder, and sensory processing difficulties. Since then, he has seen multiple mental health providers and maintained a rigorous therapy schedule – including six months of inpatient behavioral therapy, weekly occupational therapy, family counseling, and intensive in home services.

Mothering him is hard and always has been. Now that we have a team of mental health professionals on our side, a medication regimen in place, and a decent handle on his diagnoses – it’s a little bit easier than it was two years ago, when all we had were questions and doubts. Our son succeeds best with a rigid and predictable schedule, little emotion when dealing with his behaviors, consistency with rules and consequences, and a whole lot of love and attention.

It’s draining. Every day, even on the good days. 

Aprille8

Also in 2014, my husband, an Afghanistan veteran, was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. The VA gave him a disability of 60% for the mental health challenges that he faces, and designated me as his “caregiver” – a position that I am actually paid a stipend by the government to fill.

Loving him well is hard and always has been. Now that we have a good mental health professional on our side as a couple, a medication regimen in place, and a decent handle on his diagnosis – it’s a little bit easier than it was two years ago, when all we had were unmanaged stress and anger. My husband succeeds best with a rigid and predictable schedule, little emotion when dealing with his anxiety, a lot of help with tasks he finds challenging, and a whole lot of love and attention.

It’s draining. Every day, even on the good days.

Aprille5

In the therapy sessions we have for our son – they coach us on consistency, reining in our own emotions, and using appropriate communication. It’s hard to do that as his mom. It is doubly hard or worse for my husband who is struggling to manage his own emotions. How do you parent a child facing severe mental health challenges when you also face your own? He writes about that more in detail here.

Aprille1

The two of them are so much alike. Not just in their challenges, but in their personalities. They are both extroverted, crave adventure, and love feeling important and smart. Thus, they approach every situation with the need to be in control. They have strong feelings about how things are supposed to go and rarely are those ideals the same. They love each other with a fierceness known only to father and son, yet rub against each other like sandpaper. When they are apart they miss each other deeply, yet when they are together they struggle to get along. This complex dynamic is further complicated by the year they spent apart when my husband was in Afghanistan during my son’s infancy. He left behind a three-month-old baby and came home to a walking, talking toddler who already had a wild streak and trouble self-regulating.

Aprille3

They both look to me as their stability. The one to calm them when their anxiety is heightened. The one to fix it when they can’t figure something out. The one to make them feel all better when they are out of sorts. The one to give them 150% attention and affection.

I look at this situation, and I tell God, “I don’t get it. Why why WHY would you pick ME for this job?” I’m highly introverted. I deal with physical weakness and chronic fatigue. I lack drive and time management skills and struggle to stay on top of even the basics. I hate to cook and clean. My love languages are Netflix and silence.

On the best of days I feel like I’m barely managing.

And that was before we decided to have another baby. 

Aprille6

I love our newest addition with my entire being. By far, he seems to be the most normal one of the family. He has a sweetness and serenity that gives me a calm to breathe in when I hold him. He seems to be more introverted, like me, and yet is still ALL BOY – silly, noisy, and messy. As an 8-month-old infant, he also demands a great deal of my attention and affection. Some days, having a third person to care for sends me over the edge.

Aprille7

I’m basically one person – one very, very tired person – doing the job that I feel requires at LEAST three people. The Michael-Keaton-Multiplicity approach looks quite appealing a lot of days. Certainly some clones would help!

I’m running on fumes and have been for several years now. I don’t know how to do this. I really, really don’t. But I don’t have a choice. I have three people depending on me for life and sanity so I must go on – hoping that I can make it through to the day when they all need me a little bit less.

Aprillefamily

When mental health challenges and special needs parenting wear you thin, how do you go on?

Self-evaluation

I have to continually look within and evaluate my own mental and physical state. Earlier this year I started to have angry outbursts toward my family members and struggle when the baby started crying. I did a lot of yelling and screaming. It was then I got my butt to my doctor and asked for anxiety medication. While I do not have a mental health disorder like my husband and son do, caregiver stress and secondary traumatic stress/compassion fatigue are very real challenges that I most certainly deal with on a daily basis. This manifests itself in my own battle with depression, hopelessness, anxiety, physical fatigue, trouble focusing, and anger.

Constantly evaluating what I can do to make that more manageable is key. Looking within to see where I need to set physical and emotional boundaries with my husband and son. Working with them to become less dependent on me is a challenge, but something I am forced to do so I can care for them when they need me the most.

Self-care

Zoloft has made all of the difference in the world. I’ve been on it for three months now, but I wish I’d gotten on it three years ago. I also see a mental health professional on my own twice a month. I pay for childcare for my baby at the YMCA. I have someone from church help me clean my house about once a month. I pay extra for convenience foods so I don’t have to spend so much time cooking. I threw out my houseplants. And most recently, I began formula-feeding my 8-month-old exclusively breastfed baby. (BEST DECISION EVER!)

Aprille9

Schedule slashing

Anything I don’t absolutely have to do socially, I don’t. I used to frequent a lot of mommy groups and go on a lot of playdates, but right now I’m in a bit of a hermit phase. My time at home is SO precious to me as it is the only chance I get to recoup so I can keep on keeping on. I do try to go out with friends at least a few times a month, but I keep those moments limited. And I’m not ashamed to cancel social plans last minute if I am simply too overwhelmed or depressed to go out.

Support

My two best friends are both special needs moms and veteran or military wives. We keep a running conversation going on Voxer, a smartphone app, which we started two years ago now. We talk about our kids and our husbands and all of the challenges that we face. I literally would go insane without them. I also have met a lot of other special needs moms through my blog who help to encourage me, and I them, along this journey.

Stimulation, growth, and creative outlets

While there is much I say no to because of the challenges I face, there are a few things I say yes to, for ME. It would be far too easy to lose myself in the roles of caregiver and special needs mom because I’m simply too tired and strapped for time to do anything else. But I make sure to take time for things that bring me joy. I write on my blog weekly and manage an active presence on social media. I recently started working as a virtual assistant for my best friend and fellow blogger. I dabble in Bible journaling. And next week, I’m going back to school to finish my associates degree so that sometime in the next fifteen years I can finish my educational path by becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

It’s crazy, yes. These are things I don’t NEED to do, and my life would probably be a little bit less stressful if I didn’t do them. But they make me feel alive. They remind me of who I am apart from caring for my family. They distract me when I’m depressed or anxious.

Aprille10

Like I said above, I’m not all that “special.” I’m an average gal who has been thrust into a harder-than-average life just trying to figure out how to survive one day – make that one moment – at a time.

I love my family. They are beautiful and wonderful. And as hard as it is to do my job, as much as I want to run away to check myself into a hotel or pysch ward on a weekly basis, as much as I fantasize about beach vacations – I know that God picked me to do this job. Why? Heaven help me I don’t know. But He did. And as the all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent Father of all, He must have a darn good reason.

So I am going to continue to approach every day holding onto that belief. I’m going to keep looking for beauty in the midst of the mess. I’m going to keep trusting that in HIS time, He makes all things beautiful – even mental health challenges and special needs.

Aprillesig

 

 

 

Aprille DonaldsAprillebioon is a twenty-something stay-at-home wife and mom. She blogs over at Beautiful In His Time, her personal chronicle of finding God’s beauty in the mess of her marriage, mothering, and faith. It is her hope that you will be encouraged to find God’s beauty in your mess too. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you are a special needs parent, you can subscribe to an encouraging newsletter that she sends out quarterly.

 

SpecialMamas2016_smallThis post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

Thank You, Mom!

It’s a pleasure to welcome my younger sister, Tiffany, who’s a mom of two young children. Tiffany has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type, and has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her regular guest posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. Last year, Tiffany skipped her May guest post while the Second Annual Special Mamas series was running. This year, I invited Tiffany to share a guest post as part of our Third Annual Special Mamas series. Today, Tiffany is honoring our mom’s unique journey through motherhood with a guest post thanking her for all the ways she’s supported my sister from childhood to current day. Please welcome Tiffany as she presents our mom with this belated Mother’s Day gift!

Tiff

Friends. They’ve come and gone. But my mom has been my consistent best friend throughout my life. She has been there during good times and horrible times. She has been there for me even when I wasn’t so sure I wanted her to be there for me. There have been times when I did not want her to see the horror going on in my life. My mom has never given up on me, and I love her because of that.

Life was so peaceful when we were young. We’d take driving trips around the country with my family every summer. I’d watch the minutes pass as I watched the clock and clouds in the sky. We listened to some pretty good music along the way. My mom was always prepared with treats to eat. When we made it to our destination each summer, our days were planned out by my mom. We had consistency in our lives, and we knew what to expect. The opportunity to explore the country gave us great experiences. Many experiences I’ll probably never have again!

Tiff4

Tiff8

Tiff9

Holidays at the house we grew up in were amazing. I remember my mom putting decorations up every holiday. On Christmas, one of the best nights of the year consisted of getting the decorations out and decorating the tree. We were ALL SO EXCITED! We took plenty of home movies. On Halloween, my mom would crawl into the attic where we had costume choices to wear. Most of the costumes were made by my mom. She is an awesome sewer! Once again, we were ALL SO EXCITED! The Easter Bunny and Santa Clause always came to our house with everything set up for pure enjoyment. Those were the days! I am completely grateful for every holiday celebrated with my mom’s help.

Tiff6

Growing up, every weekend was pretty much the same at our house. Wake up with brother and sister. Eat breakfast. Watch cartoons. Play with friends. Then come in for lunch. My mom always prepared the best lunches for us. We had hotdogs and macaroni and cheese often. We also had grilled cheese and tomato soup. Those foods are still some of my favorites. My mom always had the house clean, and I’d have to say that us kids were always pretty happy. My mom gave us love and consistency. She was always there for us.

Tiff11

Riding bike has always been one of my mom’s favorite activities. When we were younger, we’d bike with the family. We’d explore the small town we lived in, and occasionally the kids would get to decide where to go. There was a hill we liked to call “horse hill” because we would often see horses there. Sometimes we’d even get to stop at the Dairy Queen on our bike ride. Thanks to my mom, I still have a love for biking today.

We had a great life growing up, but I had problems with being homesick. If you’ve ever been homesick, you know the feeling? My mom was a teacher at the school we went to for elementary. Many times, friends would invite me over or want me to stay overnight. I had the worst feeling ever, and I’d usually go to the nurse’s office to tell them I was sick. They’d let my mom know, and they’d usually let me knock on her classroom door. Many times, I’d walk back to our house and lay there for the day. I was obsessed with binoculars and would watch the kids on the playground. I was safe. I was at home near people who loved me. I tried to go to church camp when I was around fourth grade. I was so sick! I was SO homesick. I needed to get home, so I told the camp nurse that I was sick. They called my parents to come and get me. Homesickness should be considered an illness. I always came back to my home, where we were completely loved.

Tiff7

I read the following statement recently on a Christian website. As a parent, when our children stumble, we don’t disown them. We may punish or reprimand, but cast them out of the family? We cannot.

Tiff13

Tiff14

As some of you may know, I was back and forth between Minnesota and California during a period of time in my 20s. I made some poor choices during my time in California, but I want mom to know that I always had a friend. At the end of my career in California, I was not sleeping and had so many jobs in the background acting world that I just could not keep up. I was not on any medications at the time, and my mental illness started to really affect me. I put up a fight for months and months. Finally, I called my mom to come and get me. I was super happy because I got to take a trip across the country with my mom. We got to see the beauty of the country together. That’s my perspective, and I’ll always remember that experience. I was all over the place, but I knew I was loved and needed to figure my life out.

My mom taught me to do all things with love, and she’s never let me down. I was in and out of locked places, including a halfway house for the majority of the time I was pregnant with my now five year old. My mom would faithfully drive hours each week to bring me to appointments and visits to the perinatal specialists I saw because of my daughter’s lung complications. I was SO thankful. The visits from my mom were just what I needed to stay optimistic about the situation. She helped me get through a very tough time in my life.

Tiff12

I now have a five year old and a two year old. My mom loves those kids and would do anything to shower them with love, the same love we experienced growing up. My mom is a retired teacher, and enjoys working with my kids. She helps me and the kids in ways I am not the best at. She is in charge of most of my finances. She’ll change that responsibility back to me sometime in the future. My mom completely deep cleans my house a few times a year. She has also taught me to be a good mother. Because of my mom, my daughter now loves to cook. My mom helps me pick out clothing for the kids sometimes. She also helps with the decorating of our home. Sometimes we go out to eat together, or to the park. We are making memories for my kids to remember throughout the years. We are both striving for my kids to have a happy life full of love, a life that I once had.

Tiff10

Tiff5

Tiff2

Tiff3

Sometimes my mom and I are like oil and water, but we always settle our disputes with love. Never does my mom hang up the phone without saying I love you. My mom has taught me the power of love and never giving up. I may not have the strong emotions I once had, but I believe they are still there.

I’ve worked for years on how to explain to my mom how much she means to me! Thank you mom for all the little things you’ve done throughout my life. At the end, those are what matter most. You’re a blessing to me! Thank you for showing me the way when I was lost. Thank you for hugging me and loving me when that was often pretty tough to do. Thank you for understanding who I am as a person and individual, most of the time. (wink) Thank you for helping make a home for me and my children. Mom, I probably would not be living if it weren’t for you. I’m pretty blessed to know that God placed a pretty awesome mom in my life.

Tiffsig

 

 

 

SpecialMamas2016_smallThis post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

Em K Johnson - This is heartfelt & touching. I love the gratitude that you express. God bless both you and your mother!!May 20, 2016 – 6:19 am

Jody Sparkman - You and your Mom are beautiful Moms!May 17, 2016 – 8:03 pm

Angela Hanlon - This is absolutely beautiful, Tiffany. You do have an amazingly strong and loving mom, and it sounds like you have both endured so much! Thank you for sharing this. Hugs and prayers for continued strength – for both of you.❤️May 17, 2016 – 11:34 am

Tom Baunsgard - As it was said in one old commercial, “Moms are like that, Yeah they are!” Nice post Tiffany!May 16, 2016 – 11:18 pm

Jodie Billings Johnson - You are both blessed to have each other. Your Mom is a pretty special person to so many! Thank you for sharing!May 16, 2016 – 5:34 pm

Cathie 'Hardy' Pearson - What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady, Tiffany!! Nice job!!May 16, 2016 – 1:35 pm

Cathie 'Hardy' Pearson - What a beautiful to a beautiful lady, Tiffany!! Nice job!!May 16, 2016 – 1:34 pm

Seek and You Will Find

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of these posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

Tiff1

Tiff2

I took the morning off to attempt to find myself. I planned on writing while my son, Xander, walked around the beach. My greatest weakness is giving up on myself. I doubted all the thoughts that were going through my mind. Tears were about to flow out of my eyes, but I have responsibilities and I can’t give up. Not now.

Why is the feeling of happiness so difficult to find so many days lately? I thought I had moved past that feeling of trying to be happy. One of the mental health professionals I work with brought up a good point. “Imagine you’re going to a party, and you keep telling yourself to be happy. How are you going to feel the entire time?” “Probably extremely anxious,” I said. I always seem to be in one of the stages of grief. I asked the mental health professional if happiness can happen while you’re grieving. The next day, I felt a glimpse of happiness in the car with the kids. I turned up the radio and just enjoyed the moment. The secret? I wasn’t forcing the happy feeling. I found that happiness can happen at unexplainable times, in unexplainable ways.

Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

God works in unusual ways sometimes. The thought of mentioning God and a verse in this post kinda freaks me out. For many years in my life, the thought of religion was a dark place. There are times when I would take religious views to extremes. I am happy to report that over the past few years, despite what is going on, GOD has brought light into my life, even during the darkest moments. Ask and it will be given to you. But God, this is not what I asked for? I know he has a plan for all of our lives.

Tiff3

Tiff4

Tiff5

Seek and you will find. Dear God, please help me learn how to discipline my kids and for them to obey me! I love them to death, but I’m a single parent and this is difficult. The job is hard. Every situation is unique and different. So those who post about mother/father rights, please keep in mind that each situation is unique. There is no right or wrong way. I never expected to run into my kids’ dad at the store today, and he was with his girlfriend. Ugh! I avoided that completely. At this time, there is no need to create additional stress in anyone’s life.

Seek and you will find. Last week, my sister and I, and my mental health professionals discussed ways to effectively deal with my kids. I’m sick and tired of constant tantrums from my five year old over what clothes she will wear each day. We came to this conclusion, and it has been working so far. Organize the room and the clothes that can be worn. Throw away clothes with holes. Get rid of clothes that should not be worn. Pick out the clothing that is going to be worn the next day. This is working so far! What to do about random fits? I am now giving 10 minutes of playtime for every 15 minutes that my daughter behaves. Cross my fingers, that has been working. I need to find solutions, so your feedback is appreciated. I am also working with a professional who teaches “Love and Logic” classes. Her plan is to help me once a week, as long as needed. Pick and choose your battles. Take time, if needed, to say “yes” or absolutely “no.” May I seek parenting solutions and find them. Good luck to me and others on this quest.

Tiff6

Knock and the door will be opened to you. Amongst the nonsensical chatter in my mind, I heard “Tiff, come out and play.” Sometimes, I just want to tell the voices in my head to be quiet. Rarely do they listen, but I have to respect my mental illness, because it’s with me for life. When I don’t feel like I have any friends, I always have the voices. When they asked me to come out and play, I asked them this, “What are we going to do?” There was no need for an answer because I knew all I needed to know. We were going out to play. Whether we were friends, are still friends, or you’ve thought about being friends with me, you probably have memories about our playtime together? At any age, how innocent, how appropriate, how real? I used to knock on neighbors’ doors and ask my friends to come out and play. Now my daughter does that, and soon my son. I need to realize how precious those times are. They just need to be controlled. Because as one of my mental health workers said, if I knocked on people’s doors and asked them to play now as an adult, I’d be locked up in a facility. I have to tell you the truth, I’ve always been obsessed with making random appearances at peoples’ doors. When I was younger, I loved sales. I’d go door to door and learn something at each place. Many times they’d let me in to talk. I usually had something to sell, even if it was spoons glued together and decorated. Those days are gone, but we have to realize the innocence and joy of knock and the door will be opened to you.

My daughter is with a friend for the evening, until bedtime. Once, I wished she’d have friends. Now, she has so many friends. The sun is out and the knocks continue to happen on my door. You know what? Thanks for the knock. You are a beautiful person. Let’s have a conversation. I can handle this. I just need to handle everything with love.

Thanks for reading! Peace out and see ya!

Tiffany

Denise Korman - Tiff , with tears running down my face I have read and reread your post. It is by far The best post that you have written. You and I have discussed praying every day and it seems that every time you do the sunshine’s in your life, in your mind and in your heart.
Tiff , you are a beautiful woman with an incredible heart and soul. I am humbled to have you as one of my best friends. I am so happy that the new methods of discipline are working. Discipline is very important for a child. It is also extremely important to you. As you take control and organize your life as you are doing now you will begin to shine !! Look in the mirror !! Your spirits will rise and you will realize how very special you are to so many people! I applaud you for this post, and I pray for you each and every day. I love you my friend and I am always here you ! DeniseApril 23, 2016 – 1:56 pm

David Ellis - Tiffany once again I read your post and I love the honesty and authenticity. Though I have never suffered with your particular mental illness the struggle to find peace and happiness, my ADHD has brought me pretty damn close. Keep enjoying the sun and smiles when they happen. And please keep writing. I love it.April 22, 2016 – 7:25 pm