Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Having Children At Varying Ages and Stages

My kids are all varying ages. Having kids at each stage of life is fascinating and completely chaotic at the same time. They all have different relationships with each other because of their ages too.

My toddler will be 2 in January so I'm reaching the terrible twos stage. She is in that inbetween stage where she's still a baby in many ways but is starting to act like a little girl at times.

My 10 year old daughter keeps acting more and more like a preteen. Last week I was dancing in the living room and she said to me, "Mom, don't embarass yourself." A few days ago her coat needed washed and when I suggested she wear her brother's for the day she said, "That's not happening." Where has my little girl gone?

My 13 year old son has his first crush. He's been navigating how to talk to and ask out this girl. So far she hasn't broken his heart but he's not sure if she feels the same way so I'm hoping he doesn't end up "crushed."

My 19 year old daughter plans on moving out at the end of this month so I will have two adult children living away from home. She will only be living about 20 minutes away. I thought since this is the second time I've experienced a child moving out it would get easier, but it's still bittersweet. 

My oldest is now 21 years old and still lives in Florida. He was talking about moving back home to Indiana but then he got a serious girlfriend so he plans on staying in Florida. He will be visiting at the end of the month after Christmas. He can only stay a few days because he got promoted at work to manager. We talk at least weekly but this will only be the second time I have seen him in two years! He's also only met his baby sister once when she was almost one!

Despite the chaos and differences, the best part of having younger and adult children is that it's easier to visualize my younger children as teenagers and adults. I'm able to see the results of both the mistakes and things I did right with the older ones and apply the lessons I've learned to raising my younger kids. It sometimes feels like I have to do mental gymnastics though because I'm discussing going to the bar for the first time with my oldest child while changing the diaper of my youngest.

I also worry sometimes about having a child so much younger than the rest of her siblings. Will she end up feeling like an only child? Will they always treat her like a "baby?" She's closest to her 10 year old sister but will she eventually feel more like a mother-like figure than a sister? Will she know her older siblings well if they all have moved out? Will she be an aunt before she's even five years old? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Should Men Be Able to Have "Financial Abortions?"

I was doing some research on single parenting and have come across an idea that I have never heard before. It relates to co-parenting and child support.

Here it is:
When women get pregnant they have several choices. They can have an abortion. They can choose to raise the child. They can choose not to name a father and give the child up for adoption. Women can even abandon a baby using the Safe Haven law.

Men do not get a say in whether or not a woman has or doesn't have an abortion. A man must go to court to get a DNA test to prove a child is his before he can object to an adoption. A woman can get a court order to get a DNA test and once it's proven the child is his force a man to pay child support.

Why can a woman have these options but a man is forced to pay child support for a child he didn't want?

There are some that say whenever a man has sex with a woman he is consenting to parenthood. If the woman decides to keep the child he can be forced to pay child support for a child he never wanted in the first place. He may even go to jail for not paying child support for a child he never wanted in the first place.

Men's Rights Activists are asking why is a man forced to be a parent when women have the options of abortion or adoption? Others take it even farther and say a man should never be forced to pay for a child he doesn't want. Many support the idea of what's called a "financial abortion." Simply put this means the father relinquishes all parental rights as well as any financial responsibility for the child without penalty during the mother's pregnancy.

One might be ready to argue that it isn't just father who pay child support. Mothers who have lost full custody do indeed pay fathers child support. This argument unfortunately isn't that simple. The article Deadbeat Moms? Should Mother's Be Required to Pay Child Support to Their Child's Father? says: 

According to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, only 5% of mothers pay child support compared to 85% of fathers. And it’s been reported that in some cases, even if the father is the custodial parent, he may STILL be ordered to pay child support to the mother if he earns more money than she does – but not the reverse. 

Does that sound like equality to you? It certainly doesn't to me.

I do think these are all excellent questions that need to be asked. It's certainly opened my eyes to what true equality among the sexes really means when it comes to parenting. It the need for "financial abortion" a legitmate argument?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Something about it didn't quite add up to me. The Men's Rights argument is that men are responsible for the child no matter what. I started to wonder what happens if the father decides to terminate his parental rights. Does he still have to pay child support?

The fact is, if a father can terminate his parental rights and is no longer required to pay child support, it shoots the Men's Rights theory to pieces. Their argument that they have no choice regarding parenting is rendered completely invalid.

What happens if the court grants the petition for termination of parental rights? 
If the court grants the petition, the parent-child relationship is ended and the parent loses all rights and obligations concerning the child. The parent's obligation to pay future child support also ends, but any past-due child support must still be paid.

What happens if my parental rights have been terminated? If your parental rights have been terminated, it means the Court has entered an order that completely severs and cuts off the parent and child relationship. Here, the natural parent whose parental rights were terminated shall not thereafter be responsible for child support.

WILL I STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT IF MY PARENTAL RIGHTS HAVE BEEN TERMINATED? If your parental rights are terminated, and you owe child support that was ordered before your rights were terminated, you are still required to pay the amount owed.

If a parent’s rights are terminated (s)he no longer has any parental responsibility, including financial, and can at no point in the future legally ask to be involved in the child’s life.

Is it fair that men need to go through a costly legal process to terminate their parental rights? I'm sure Men's Rights Activists would argue no. However, a woman has to pay for an abortion or arrange for an adoption so she must take care of various responsibilities as well in order to not be a parent. The Safe Haven law does exist but I don't entirely agree that a woman should be able to abandon her child without any legal consequences.\

So the claim that a man is always forced into parenthood against his will and into paying child support isn't entirely accurate. The legal difference between terminating parental rights and a "financial abortion" is that it is done after the child has been born and paternity has been established.

A woman certainly can't escape establishing herself as the natural mother so why should a man be able to skip establishing paternity? A pregnant woman can't declare the unborn child not hers and just walk away, so why should a man be able to do so? She will still be pregnant. Is the idea of "financial abortion" granting equal rights or is it favoritism towards men who already don't have to deal with being pregnant?

What do you think? Leave your responses in the comments.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Widowed Wednesday: How Becoming a Widow Made Me a Feminist

This past weekend I came across a video by Judgybitch that to my surprise was not only something I related to, it was something I agree with...but only up to a point. I really want to be able to discuss what she's talking about with her. I want to discuss it because although we have had similar lifestyles, it actually led me to feminism not away from it.

In the video, Judgybitch talks about how as young adults we are not taught how to balance financially taking care of our family with our family life. She talks about the feminist myth that "we can have it all." When it comes to the idea of women having both successful careers and being successful mothers the idea of having it all is indeed complete bullshit. Oh there are a few lucky women (like the cake decorator neighbor Judgybitch discusses) that get to have "the best of both worlds" but for most mothers, they have to sacrifice either their career or family time. I completely agree with Judgybitch when she says this feminist myth has made many women very unhappy. However, that doesn't mean I reject feminism as a whole or the idea that mothers shouldn't pursue a career. (I explain why in a bit.)

What I related to the most in the video was how Judgybitch found herself without any practical skills and unable to help support her family financially. She explains that this isn't because she is a traditionalist but because of bad choices she made in her college education.

My story is a little bit different yet I ended up in the same situation. I was a traditionalist. In my early twenties I married a wonderful Southern Baptist man that didn't want me to work. He believed it was a husband's job to provide for the family and the woman's job to stay home and take care of the children. Being the kind of woman who needs something for herself, I worked on my writing. Along with being a housewife, I spent my time trying to get published. (This was old school publishing before blogs, ebooks, and ezines.)

I was fairly content with my lifestyle most of our marriage. I was a homemaker, stay at home mother, and a housewife and it worked for me for many years until the feminist in me won out. After long discusses about how we would make it work, my husband gave me his blessing when I enrolled in college. Maybe it was because he saw how his career was being helped by the college classes he was taking or maybe it was the fact that we had just bought our first house and he realized not solely enduring the financial burden was to his benefit. Whatever the reasons were he was going to take care of the children so I could go to school.

Then on a rainy October morning, my husband died in a car crash. Suddenly and without any warning I became the sole financial provider for our family. Me, the housewife, who had never gone to college and hadn't worked in nearly a decade was completely and utterly financially responsible for everything. If it wasn't for my husband's life insurance I don't know how I would have fed, clothed, and housed myself or our children.

However, unlike Judgybitch who sees only the negative when it comes to feminism, I realized that if I had embraced the feminist idea that a woman is more than a housewife, my husband's death may have been less devastating in that aspect. I didn't read The Feminist Mystique by Betty Friedan until last year, but I understand now my yearning to be more than a housewife was there the entire time.

The more I thought about what the traditionalists tell you, the angrier I got. Find a good husband and settle down. Be a stay at home mother and put your children before a career. You will get your happy ending. You will grow old with your husband. You will get the fairy tale.


Those traditionalists never tell you that you need a plan for when your husband dies. They never warn you that one day you, the housewife with no education and no job skills, will become the sole financial provider for your family. While yes, the feminists do perpetuate the myth of having it all, the traditionalists also perpetuate the myth of the fairy tale ending. Just find a husband to provide for you and it'll all be okay. For widows, it's not okay!

It was my anger at this myth of the fairy tale ending that led me back to feminism. It made me realize the dangers of buying into the traditionalist myth that you just need a good man to take care of you. We are not fucking Disney princesses who find our Prince and live happily ever after!

I don't blame the traditionalists exactly. You don't get married thinking that you are going to be a widow someday. Yet the fact is there are 11 million widows in the United States. Many of these women embraced being a homemaker with no plans on how they would provide for their family if they were widowed. Judgybitch never discusses how women are failed in this aspect. But why would she when her husband is alive and well?

Judgybitch is able to see how the feminist myth of having it all has failed women, but she doesn't see how the myth of the fairy tale ending has failed women like me. She doesn't see how feminism can help women prepare for when they are required to be the sole providers for their family. How could she when she sincerely believes widows are not single mothers?

I don't blame her. In fact, I hope that she and her husband do grow old together and she gets her fairy tale ending. I hope she never has to experience the fear that comes with suddenly and without warning having to become the sole breadwinner, especially considering she admits she has no income. I also sincerely hope her husband has a good life insurance policy, because it sounds like if anything were to happen she would need it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Guest Blogger: Allergies & Seasonal Fabric Choices

Any parent knows the relief that comes when your children start to sleep through the night.  Sleeping seems to be one of the biggest areas of difficulty for many children and of course their parents.  As parents we’ll do anything to help our little ones sleep through the night.  Without sleep their development will be impaired, they are more likely to be cranky and difficult, their concentration can be affected and the whole family will suffer the consequences of sleep deprivation.  One of the key elements in ensuring that our children have a comfortable and refreshing night’s sleep is buying them the best available sleepwear.  Something that keeps them cosy, maintains an appropriate temperature and will keep them allergy free.

In the Spring & Summer

You’ll want to choose light-weight fabrics that breathe beautifully.  Natural fibres are best for those that suffer from allergies and skin conditions.  Nylon, polyester and other manmade fibres can really irritate and make conditions such as eczema and psoriasis much worse.  You’d be better off picking cotton or bamboo fabrics that are ideal for allergy sufferers.  Not only are they low in irritants (especially the organic options) but they are also soft, cool and comfortable making them ideal for sleepwear.  When you consider the number of hours that a child spends in bed each night, it is essential that you find the right fabrics for their sleepwear. 

In the Autumn & Winter

During the cooler months you’ll want to ensure that your child is warm enough.  Low temperatures will not only keep them awake but could cause health problems too.  Many parents opt for fleecy sleep suits, but these synthetic fibres will only make allergies worse.  It is really important to stick to 100% natural fibres, and ideally organic fabrics that are free from pesticides.  Although wool is great for keeping warm, it can be itchy and may irritate delicate skin.  You are better opting for something more delicate and soft such as merino wool.  You could also consider layering organic cotton or bamboo items or finding sleep suits that are tightly woven to maintain the body temperature. 

Silk is also a wonderful fabric choice.  In fact, studies show that organic cotton and silk are the least likely of all fabrics to cause irritation or allergy. 

Skin conditions

If your child has sensitive skin or is prone to allergy or skin conditions such as dermatitis then you’ll want to be vigilant about what fabrics you dress them in.  You have to be especially aware with sleepwear as you won’t be aware of any rashes or irritation until the morning.  If your child has a rash that is being irritated by their daywear then you will no doubt notice them scratching or showing signs of discomfort. 

Many children are allergic to fabrics themselves, this is more likely to be the case with manmade fibres though occasionally sheep’s wool has been shown to be an irritant.  Children can also develop allergies and intolerances to pesticides used to treat natural fibres as well as the coating used on some fibres. 

Treated fabrics

Many cottons and poly-cottons are treated with formaldehyde.  It is used to help prevent creasing and make the clothes easier to care for.  The idea of not needing to iron such clothes sounds like a godsend to a busy parent, but in reality these coatings can cause severe irritation in both children and adults. 


Sometimes the dye used to colour clothing can cause reactions too.
It is best to stick to simple, ideally organic fabrics and avoid easy-care or synthetic dyes.  Fabric conditioners and softeners can also cause allergic reactions, and are often unnecessary, especially if you buy organic cotton that is already beautifully soft.  Nowadays people are understanding more about the importance of natural fibres, organic fabrics and avoiding allergens.  There are plenty of options available to ensure that your children have the perfect sleepwear to see them through the night in comfort. 

This article was written by Jennifer Handbury who works for Snugg Nightwear. Snugg specialise in girls & boys pyjamas from some of the world’s premier kids nightwear designers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Widowed Wednesday: Widows Sue Tobacco Company and Win

I don't usually post about widows in the news but this article caught my eye. It's about how a widow of a man with lung cancer sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.and won a $13.5 million dollar lawsuit. Her case was based on the fact that the company advertised that a filtered cigarette was safer than filterless Camels. He began smoking in 1932, long before Big Tobacco was forced to come clean about the real dangers of smoking.

However, it seems the jury didn't entirely put the tobacco companies at fault. They decided her husband was 30 percent at fault with the tobacco companies 70 percent at fault.

This is not the first widow to sue R.J Reynolds. When I searched Google I found another lawsuit from back in July. Time Magazine reported that this was "one of many lawsuits referred to as an 'Engle progeny,' stemming from a 2000 $145 billion verdict in a class action suit led Dr. Howard A. Engle." Unlike the man in the first link, the widow's husband didn't even live long enough to smoke forty years. He died an untimely death at only 36.

To be honest, while I support the verdict in the case of the elderly man, I'm not so sure I entirely agree with the judgment in the case of the 36 year old.

The younger man had to have known about the dangers of smoking. If he started smoking at 13 yrs old, it would have been 1983. I decided to do some research and cigarettes were required to carry a warning label in 1965 with it being put in the name of the surgeon general in 1970. He was clearly aware of the dangers of smoking when he started. Does this still make R.J. Reynolds at fault? I suppose if you take into consideration the companies entire history of covering up the realities of smoking it does. I think this man's fault was far more than 30 percent though.

Many people call the Fast Food Industry the new Big Tobacco. Will widows be suing McDonalds's in the not so distant future? What do you think?  Leave your responses in the comments.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest Blogger: Incorporate Children into Lighting the Unity Candle

In today’s world, blended families are nothing new. It is common for a bride or a groom to add a child to the union. This has seen many youngsters participating not just in the entrance portion of the wedding ceremony, but as other active participants in the wedding. Now, sons and daughters are junior bridesmaids and groomsmen, they read passages for the newly joined parents and help with other parts of the ceremony. One favorite section of the ceremony that people love to have their children participate in is lighting the unity candle.

Lighting the unity candle has become a popular part of the wedding ceremony. When couples light the candle, it is supposed to symbolize the joining of two people and two families into one. The usual manner in creating a unity candle ceremony is to have one large candle surrounded by at least two smaller candles. However, people who have been including their children in the ceremony have either had one smaller candle for each child and everyone lights the candle at the same time.

Another method is for the children to light their respective parent’s candle which the bride and groom then use to light the large unity candle. This can represent the coming together of individuals who will contribute to the formation of loving family filled with affection and joy.

Sometimes the service combines the popular sand ceremony with the unity lighting ceremony. When this happens, the children pour sand into the candle’s vase to signify that they will be the base of the family and to show that they are joining together to become one. Sand and unity candle ceremonies are now included in innumerable wedding ceremonies, especially because many modern families are blended.

Incorporating children into a couple’s most important and happiest day of their lives signifies to them that they are important in the union as well. Children want to know that even though a parent has found love and they are gaining another parent, they are still valued in their relationship. Many couples choose to have their children included in the unity candle ceremony to symbolize this, and the gesture is a great way to assure their children and share with them the warmth of the new family. 

Written by Heather Bell from SimplyBridal

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Eight Years Ago Today...

Eight years ago today, the police and my sister-in-law showed up at my door to tell me my husband had died in a horrific car accident on his way to work. For some unknown reason, he veered into the oncoming lane and crashed head on an 18 wheeler hauling steel. Even though he died early that morning, I didn't learn of his death until early afternoon because we had bought our first house only two months earlier and had yet to change the address on our driver's licenses. 

After learning of my husband's death and going into shock, I was bizzarely calm enough to drive to two different schools to gather my children. One office lady kept asking me over and over if I was alright to drive. I was. The mind is a blessed thing when it comes to shock. It allows us to function in the most terrible situations. 

When we got home I sat them down on the couch all together and told them what had happened. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a mother. Our youngest was only 2 years old and couldn't understand. Listening to her ask for her daddy over and over and not understand me when I said "He can't come back" was worse than any mightmare I have ever experienced.

Because she was so little I knew that one day I would have to tell her again about how he died. It happened when she was about 6 yrs old. She was looking at the collage of photos of Scott in our living room and casually asked, "How did Daddy die? I forgot." 

My husband died on Oct 11. There was a scheduling conflict regarding Scott's funeral which my in laws so graciously took into consideration. My 31st birthday was on Oct 15. In an attempt to avoid having services on my birthday, the viewing was scheduled for Oct 14 and the burial on Oct 16. 

Unfortunately the attempt to spare my birthday was in vain. The person in charge of selling the burial sites at the cemetary was on vacation and didn't get in touch with us immediately. We were scheduled to meet the day before the burial on, you guessed it, my birthday! I spent my 31st birthday picking out both his gravesite and my own. 

I visited his gravesite to mark his deathiversary. My favorite time to visit the cemetary is fall because it has some trees and looks colorful. It brings some cheer to normally dreary place. I have to be honest though and admit I don't visit his gravesite often. I've always told people I don't visit it much because I don't feel him there any more than other places. I feel his presence just as easily in our family home. 

This is true but the real reason I don't visit often is because the idea that I am visiting the place where my body will be resting for all of time really freaks me out. Visiting it is always worse when it's so close to my birthday. It's overwhelming to be thinking about how much older I am and visit the place my body will be after I die. Every birthday is one step closer to my final resting place.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in an afterlife. I know I will be in Heaven with Scott one day and only my body stays behind. I just want that day to be a good 60 years from now. As I deal with all these feelings year after year, it's always topped off with a nice big helping of guilt. Since Scott's deathiversary is so close to my birthday, it's impossible to separate the feelings of mourning his death and mourning growing older. The older I get the stronger and more overlapped all these feelings get.

These complex feelings are always topped off with a big helping of guilt. I scold myself for making his deathiversary about me. It's not about me! It's supposed to be about him right? Yes and no. I remind myself of the saying "funerals are for the living." I'm pretty sure that applies to deathiversaries too. Plus when you are visiting your own future grave it's impossible not to think about yourself. 

There were a couple years where I skipped going to Scott's grave in hopes of avoiding these tangled feelings. Instead my guilt was even worse! What kind of widow doesn't visit her husband's gravesite on the deathiversary?

Last year was the worst one of all. I was so busy with things going on in my life I completely forgot it. I remembered on Oct 12 at about 2 am. I felt sick with guilt and was depressed for a long time afterwards. This year I was still subconsciously feeling that guilt and was almost hyperaware of what the date was. 

Even though I feel generally the same feelings, it fascinates me how differently I handle them year to year. The deathiversary before, I spent it crying so much you'd think he had recently died. Maybe there's a version of the 7 year itch that applies to widowhood too? But it's bizzare to me that I went from crying hysterically one year to completely forgtting it the next!

Next year will be interesting. It will be my 40th birthday. I don't know if this will make things worse or if it'll just be like any other birthday. You are probably chuckling to yourself right now. Of course it's not going to like any other year, it's the big 4-0! I have no idea what to expect. I get anxious just thinking about how this next year will be my last year in my thirties.

Sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of lesson in how Scott's death and my birthday is so entertwined. If there is, even after 8 years I still haven't figured it out. But wisdom does come with age right?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guest Blogger: He Knows When You Are Sleeping...

Let’s be honest, the whole idea of that Elf on the Shelf is just creepy. My friend sent me one for my daughters a year ago, but I remember the moment I received it as if it were yesterday.

I was cutting open the box the thing came in, when my phone rang. It was my friend; the one who’d sent the box.

“Did you get it?” she asked, upon my answering.

“Um, yeah, I got it.” I said, pulling the book and the elf doll out of the box. “It’s…cute,” I lied.

My friend laughed. “Read the book to the girls. It tells the story of how the elf was sent there by Santa, to watch over them until Christmas,” she said. “I’ve heard so many parents say that it really gives incentive for kids to behave, because you’re supposed to wait until the kids are asleep, and then sneak into the room and move the elf to a different spot in the house, that way the girls will think it’s flying back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa.” She paused. “Cute, right?”

My lips curled involuntarily as I took in the wide grin on the elf’s plastic face. “Adorable,” I said.

“It’s really popular with children,” she continued. “I think the girls will like it.”

I think I would have buried this thing in the backyard were it given to me as a child, I thought.

“I’m sure they will,” I said.

This answer pleased my friend. My daughters, however–apples from my own tree that they are–were not pleased. We ended up throwing the elf doll away, at my daughters’ adamant request. I didn’t tell my friend this.

Being that I am a writer, with a healthy interest in the macabre, naturally, a story was born of this little episode. That story is called SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER, and it is scheduled to be released on amazon on 10/31/14, but you can pre-order it now for $2.99.

So, if you were one of those children who kept your limbs carefully tucked in, so as not to dangle over the edge of the bed, where any number of unimaginable creatures could take hold, and yank you into the darkness, this book is for you. All those terrors your imagination coughed up as you laid swallowed in shadows, are between the pages.

But, be warned, you might end up throwing out your child’s precious Elf on the Shelf by the end of SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER.

And if you’d like to read a sneak peak of Santa’s Little Helper, you can visit hdgordonbooks.com, and go to my blog page to download the first four chapters.

Thank you so much to Julie for allowing me to post on her amazing blog. It’s people like her that truly make my world go ‘round.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

H. D. Gordon

H. D. Gordon is the bestselling author of THE ALEXA MONTGOMERY SAGA, THE JOE KNOWE SERIES, and THE SURAH STORMSONG NOVELS. She is lifelong reader and writer, a true lover of words. When she is not reading and writing, she is busy raising her two daughters and keeping the world’s zombie population under control.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Widowed Wednesday: My Husband's Death Made Me Crazy (Literally)

This post is so deeply personal that I have been putting off writing it for weeks. My heart is beating a mile a minute. My hands are shaking. I feel on the verge of tears. All of this is odd considering I write an entire blog on what I'm about to say, but I don't say it here. I never talk about it here.

I have severe depression and borderline personality disorder. 

There. I said it. It wasn't really as hard as I imagined it would be. (Then again I haven't hit the publish button yet.)

You see, there is a stigma about people with mental illness. It's scary to tell this to the world because people with mental illness are treated like freaks, like weirdos, like...well...crazy people. Right now some of you reading this are uncomfortable. Some of you may be a little freaked out. Some of you may even keep reading because you have a sick curiosity. That's okay.

Because I'm used to it. I get the exact same reaction when I tell people I am a widow. There's a stigma about widows too. People get uncomfortable. People get freaked out. They even have a sick curiosity about it.

Yet I'm not announcing this for sympathy. I am announcing it because I feel empowered. Last week I received a Twitter message thanking me for being so honest about my BPD (borderline personality disorder.) It was then that I knew I had to write this post.

As a teenager at the age of fifteen, for no explainable reason I had an episode of severe depression where I was suicidal for a number of weeks. There was nothing in my life that triggered it. I had friends. I had a wonderful boyfriend. I had a good life. My only explanation is that it was chemical. 

I never had another episode of severe depression until after my husband died. One therapist told me it was prolonged grief. A few years later another therapist would tell me I was still depressed because I hadn't worked through the grief process. The truth is it's probably both.

However, i didn't have just severe depression. I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. When I received this diagnosis, I wasn't in denial. Instead I was relieved. Unlike the depression which only occurred a couple times, I looked back at my entire life and saw how BPD affected me on a daily basis. It was a relief to finally have a name for this thing that affected me so deeply.

It explained why I was such a sensitive person. It explained why I thought people disliked me and insulted me when they really didn't. It explained why it took me two years to get over my first love. It explained why I acted out. It explained why I cried so easily about things. It explained how my mood could changed so quickly. I had such bad mood swings my kids actually nicknamed me Bipolar Bear. (As it turned out BPD Bear was more accurate.)

Some of you may have a preconceived idea about borderlines. We are seen as cutters. We are believed to be stalkers like in the movies Fatal Attraction or Single White Female. Or we are seen as sensitive and fragile like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana. (Both are said to have shown symptoms of BPD.) The truth is no borderline is exactly alike. The images of BPD in the media do not accurately reflect every single borderline. The descriptions of symptoms you read on websites like WebMD don't even accurately reflect every single borderline.

Even though I had traits of BPD my entire life, up until the death of my husband I was what is called high functioning. I was able to keep my symptoms under control and live a completely normal life.

Then my husband died. My grandfather had died two years prior and my grandmother died a year after my husband. They had adopted and raised me at the age of 18 months so I basically lost my parents and my husband in a four year period. These were the three closest people in my life. It was losing my grandparents when I needed them the most that was so completely devastating. Grieving all three deaths at once was all encompassing. 

That four year period was a turning point where my mind and my life spiraled out of control. There were also other factors regarding my family which I will not share for privacy reasons.

I was so mentally ill that my family decided to hold an intervention. I mean that literally as well. My husband's family actually held a family meeting where we all discussed how to help me. While their hearts were in the right place, the truth is they were pretty much clueless as to how to help me. Eventually they realized this and called for professional help. 

I went into therapy and it was then that I was first diagnosed. Unfortunately my therapy was only temporary. I was sent on my way with well wishes and I even got better for awhile.

Then I got sick again. Only this time it was worse. My family skipped the intervention this time and went straight to the professionals. I entered therapy again and saw a psychiatrist but because I was pregnant at the time, I was not prescribed any medication. Instead I had to rely on a therapist that "didn't like labels" so my depression was treated but not my borderline personality disorder. Fortunately, getting relief from my depression prompted me to seek books, online groups, and do what I could to help myself.

Yet I kept it hidden. I didn't tell friends about my diagnosis. I didn't even tell my family members. So perhaps I didn't really accept it. It's one thing to admit to yourself that you have mental illness but quite another to admit it to others. (It's also made dating interesting as well, but that's a post for another day.)

I didn't find the courage to share it publicly until I got involved with online groups that are working to end the stigma of mental illness. It was the comparison to other diseases that made me realize I had to be honest and had nothing to be ashamed of. If I had diabetes or heart disease, would I be afraid to blog or tweet about it? No of course not. 

So first I started tweeting about it then created a special Twitter. I also started a Facebook page. Next I started a blog about it. Then I created a second blog. I still had one more place to share my story which was here. For some reason, I avoided talking about it on here.

So when that wonderful person congratulated me on "being open about my BPD" it felt partially like a lie. I was open everywhere but where the most people see what I write.

While it's true my husband's death made something snap inside of me, I know the potential was always there. Whatever is wrong with me is something I was born with. I showed symptoms of BPD as early as five years old. I had severe depression at fifteen years old. It is genetic. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I learned Grandma's "nerve pills" were actually antidepressant and/or anti anxiety medicine. There are indications of mental illness elsewhere in my family tree as well. 

I also have diabetes in my family which I have talked about often on this blog. I should be able to talk about mental illness the exact same way I talk about diabetes. I should but unfortunately the world doesn't always reflect that. There's that stigma.

Writing this post is terrifying. I don't know what will happen once I hit the publish button. You see rejection, judgment, criticism, and shame are all things a borderline is most afraid of in the world. But I have reached a point where I don't want my depression and BPD to be side issues anymore. I have to be honest about all of me. I can't censor parts of myself for this blog anymore. It's as much part of my story as becoming a widow.

I am adding the badge for the 2014 Blog for Mental Health pledge to this blog which is also hosted by A Canvas Of the Minds

The pledge says:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Weekly Round-Up (Belated)

The Weekly Round-Up

Welcome to this week's edition of The Weekly Round-up which is hosted by High-Heeled Love and My So-Called Chaos.

Here's how it works:
Share your favorite reads this week! The point of The Weekly Round-Up is to focus on other people instead of just another post about ourselves. It's to build better community, share insight into what we love to read, and hopefully introduce you to a new blogger you'll love and adore! Wanna play along? Write a post with links to your favorite blog posts from others throughout the week, put the button in it, and link up with us on Sundays! 

What I'm reading:

Criticism of Emma Watson and the #HeForShe Campaign
Recently Emma Watson made a UN speech launching the #heforshe campaign that has wowed feminists. While most are cheering her and the campaign on, some aren't so sure about it. In Unpopular Opinion: Sorry Privledged White Ladies But Emma Watson Isn't a "Game Changer" For Feminism the movement is being critcized for using a white cis-gendered celebrity yet again as the face of feminism.

The lack of intersectionality is echoed at Why I’m Not Really Here For Emma Watson’s Feminism Speech At the U.N.

The question of why Emma spoke about men's issues yet encouraged them to support women in theirs is asked in #SheForHe: Emma Watson’s Incredible Speech on Gender Equality Didn’t Go Far Enough. If everyone is needed to end gender equality why is it only #HeForShe and not also #SheForHe?

Someone Has Left the Ranks of Single Parenthood
Congratulations are in order to Single Parent Dad because he is now Married Parent Dad! Send some of that luck over to me please!

I Heart Sillouette Art
I have always loved sillouette art of any kind. 5 Nuts in a Nutshell has an awesome DIY Silhouette Art Tutorial that I just have to try myself!

I Need a Good Segway to This Next Link
I found this post What Your Poop Says About You (For Serious) over at Mama Natural. As if it wasn't an akward topic already the smiling poops make it even more awkward. Still the info is useful.

Fall Family Fun
There's a good list of ideas for quality family time in Fall Family Bucket List at More Than Mommies.

Fall Nail Art
There are some great nail art ideas in Thanksgiving and Fall Nail Art {Ideas and Tutorials at The Sparkle Queen. I'm definately going to try some of those this season!


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