Another Weekend Passed

It seems like the weekends go by in a blur. Between school work of my own, the kid’s school work, friends, activities with our church, and just trying to keep up with everyday life, Friday through Sunday all run together. Our lives are run by schedules, deadlines, and appointments that it feels like there is little to no time to stop and enjoy the life we have been blessed with.

I suppose being busy is better than being laden with boredom or solitude. Although, there are days when the idea of having nothing to do and nobody or obligations to attend to seems like a lofty dream, one I find myself wishing to come true. Don’t get me wrong, my life is full and good. I love my children, husband, and the family and friends that are a part of our lives. Lord knows where I’d be without any of them. However, I don’t feel it’s entirely selfish to want, and need, some personal time away from the hustle of everyday life. A day without kids complaining or fighting, a day without my phone ringing or an assignment being due, a day where my biggest concern is staying hydrated and enjoying my massage.

The blessings in my life are numerous, this I cannot deny. I’ve even learned to see blessings in things that would not be considered ‘good’ or even a blessing in disguise. It’s those moments, those encounters, and those situations that I see the opportunity for growth or to gain knowledge- both of which are blessings. Trials strengthen you. Hard times put your life into perspective. Worry, while I don’t see the feeling or manifestation of it as particularly beneficial, can bring you closer to sources of support and encouragement. I have learned to pursue God in these times of worry or uncertainty, to take difficult situations and use them as a guide for the future, and to take hard times on the chin because, if I can make it through (insert something less than enjoyable here) then I can make it through anything. It’s like strengthening an emotional and psychological muscle with God as my spotter.

But, muscles tire and hit a point of failure. You feel it a short time before it occurs but the signs are clear. Things you were doing with very little effort or thought start becoming harder to push through. There’s a little uncertainty in the choices and decisions you make, like wondering if you can really push through the next set. I get tired and weak, but at the same time I’m energized. My sleep pattern is all over the place because of this. My body and my emotions are spent but my mind doesn’t shut off.

Like regular exercise, it gets tiring after awhile; the routine, the monotony, and having to fight through everyday, sometimes by the hour, in order to provide a life to my children and to hopefully modeling to them how to live their own life. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t day where I wanted to quit; days when I would love nothing more than to not have to answer to “Mom” being called through the house, days when I didn’t end up in an argument over the words I say and how they were said, and days where I don’t have to hear the members of my family complaining or crying over the actions of another member in the family.

Peace. Calm. Just shut it all off. A long drive through the canyon. A weekend in a cabin. Focusing on refreshing my mind, body, and spirit. I could do all these things. I could find the time. It would be reasonable and justifiable. But, I don’t think I could shake the “Mom guilt” that is so often felt when I, or most mothers, do something for themselves. That’s the hard part.

So now, as the hours until dawn are getting closer, I’ll take a breath and ready myself for tomorrow. I’ll remember that this is the life I chose and I’ll remember all the good things that have from it. I take advantages of the learning opportunities as they present themselves, and I’ll flex my muscle. I talk to my spotter because without Him, nothing gets accomplished and I am at risk of hurting myself by pushing too far. I’ll finish my sets and complete the circuit. I’ll remember that the long-term rewards of my efforts far outweigh the short-term sacrifices I make. And I’ll see the blessing of it all.

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When You Just Don’t Know What To Do

If you’ve been following my blog then you know that my life is full of normal family issues, plus the added not-so-normal issues that come with having a child with mental illness. I love my daughter, I wish I could help her more, I wish she didn’t have to struggle they way she does sometimes, but mostly I wish she didn’t have a mental illness.

Most well-adjust people realize that when you become a parent, there is a sudden switch turned on in your brain to love, protect, & provide for your child. It’s primal, innate, and you can’t ignore it. It’s what tells you whether a crying baby is hungry or tired, needs a diaper change or has a gas bubble. It never goes away, it just adjusts to your child’s changing needs as they get older. Most people do anything in their power to make sure they are the best parent they can be and ensure their child is prepared to become an adult. It’s your job to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV).

When you have a child with a fairly severe form of mental illness, you can do all the right things and still end up feeling like you’re failing. Some days, you just don’t know what to do. Take all the parenting books, advice from friends and family, and even some of the suggestions of doctors and toss it out the window. None of it will apply. You have to research and ask questions and advocate and get familiar with trial and error and make your own plan. In my case, you have to tell 3 different doctors that they’re wrong and keep looking for answers, get the right testing, get the right diagnosis- only to realize that things have gotten so bad that you have to have your child admitted to the state mental health hospital because everything you’ve done on an outpatient level isn’t effective. You know that despite your best efforts nothing outside of intensive inpatient treatment will benefit your 13 year-old daughter at that moment. So you make the hardest decision of your life and send her 80 miles away because you can’t help her anymore, you can’t protect her from herself, and you can’t provide what she needs.

Six months go by and great progress has been made. It’s like having a new child- literally 180* turn around. She’s happy, she’s smiling, cooperative, insightful, kind, loving, and has gained knowledge about herself. She has learned a bag full of “tricks” to be able to function outside the hospital. She gets to come home EXACTLY six months after her admission. As a parent you’re just so thankful to have her home, to have some sense of normalcy, and to have her feel better. Things are great and everyone is getting along and life is feeling right for the first time in a long time. Then the honeymoon ends.

Everyone has good days and bad days, and if they don’t they’re not normal. But recently I’m starting to realize that we’re (as a family) back to walking on eggshells and worrying about how to phrase even the simplest of words. The ups and downs have been more frequent and the bad days are starting to resemble life before hospitalization. I can tell when she’s letting her illness take over and speak for her and when she’s being a typical 14 year-old kid- most of the time. Then there are days when I just don’t know what to do anymore. I feel like maybe I’m dropping the ball somewhere, maybe I’m expecting to much, maybe I’m not expecting enough, or maybe her illness is evolving.

There are no easy answer when dealing with mental illness, especially when it comes to children and adolescents. Even more when it’s your child. I wish I could take it all away from her. She puts on a face of fearlessness and bravery, but she’s fragile and can be easily broken. I’ve cried so many tears over the last 18 months I don’t think I have any left, even when a good cry would really be nice. I worry about her future. I worry if she’ll be able to “adult” normally. I worry what will happen when I can’t make sure she takes her meds everyday or that she’s taking care of herself appropriately. Even when she makes me angry or upset because she’s said or done something to intentionally upset her sisters or mouths off to my husband, I keep telling myself silently that it’s going to be o.k. I remind myself that she can be kind and caring, compassionate and tender, my child yet a stranger.

I’ll never give up. I’ll always be pushing for more resources, more education, more awareness, and more strength. I’ll, WE, will get through the changes and the bad days. We’ll continue to celebrate small victories and learn from our setbacks. I’ll remember that this is my purpose her one earth. We’ll see the blessing in anything and everything, even the things that seem like they may break us.

I’m trying harder to “Let go, and let God”. I know that whatever I cannot handle only makes my trust in Him stronger and my faith even fuller. Even when I just don’t know what to do, He does.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”- Jeremiah 29:11

Lately…

Lately life has been, well, busy. Between three kids in school, being school full time myself, having our new fluff-ball Paisley, balancing being a mom & wife…

Lately Audrey has been stable. Ups, downs, good days and bad days, moments of sincere love, happiness and kindness, and also moments of confusion, blind anger, and disappointment in herself. Paisley starts her Puppy Obedience 101 in a couple weeks so I am hoping this will give her a sense of purpose and pride.

Lately I have an overly emotional middle child. She loves everyone so much but then would give anything for a few hours of peace and quiet. She would be content reading books in her sweats or riding her bike alone for a while. She tries so hard to be understanding and tenderhearted in a house where even the most patient person might get twitchy.

Lately my little eight year old has been dramatic. Like, really dramatic over little things. The puppy  scratched her- time to amputate. She has her behavior corrected- all the problems of the world are her fault. She is asked to do her chores- she’s an underpaid maid. She is told she needs to practice her addition and subtraction facts- she can’t do ANYTHING right. I’m not sure why she reacts the way she does. Everything is approached in a level headed manner and in an age appropriate way. The other day I literally just stared at her after trying calm her anxiety over something- I didn’t know what else to say or do. I just stared. On a positive note, she started swim classes and is loving them!

Lately my husband and I barely get anytime to be together alone. The kids are SLOW to get to bed, he works terrible hours (6 am to 330 pm), and has to be in bed by 10 pm in order to function properly the next day. I miss watching our guilty-pleasure TV shows, having time to just talk uninterrupted or to take a day off from everything and just be lazy together. Even with the kids in the house on lazy days we can still give each other some much needed attention. Tomorrow (or today, rather) is his 47th birthday. We’re going to try and get some one-on-one time in.

Lately school has my head spinning. I have a year left, and I just applied for an international internship to Israel. I prayed about it, thought about it, and considered all the logistics of how things would go here at home if I am accepted into the program (which is a short term trip of only 11 days). Deep down I know this is a chance of a lifetime for me; I want this internship so badly. I also became a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts, a company specializing in organizational products, storage products, small purse & wallet line, and a small jewelry line. I was drawn to this company after a friend hosted a fundraiser for our family to help with the costs of getting a service dog. I loved their products and when I realized how much they give back to other organizations every month, it nudged me over the edge. This month they are donating  $75,000 to the Nationwide Childrens Hospital to fund behavioral health research & treatment for young girls. Clearly a topic near and dear to my heart. I am already off to a great start- and no I’m not plugging my business info in here. If you want it, just ask.

Lately I have realized that my family and I are blessed. Yes, life is difficult at times and there are days where I do want to “quit”, but when I put things into perspective it becomes clear that things could really be so much worse. I can get an education and so can my daughters. I can walk safely down my streets without worrying about a civil war going on in my town. I can worship freely. I can help others even when I’m having a bad day. Everyday I am given a new chance to be a better version of myself; to love better, to parent better, to learn better, and to give better. I can access healthcare for myself and my family. I wouldn’t mind a few upgrades in some areas but I have a good life and am thankful in all things.

Lately, when I think I have nothing left to give, God gives me the strength to keep moving on.

Lately, life has been good.

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What Nobody Tells You About Mental Illness

When you realize that somebody you love has a mental illness, your world very quickly turns upside down and inside out. You find yourself researching, reading, educating, and teaching yourself everything you can in order to be the best caretaker or support system you can. There’s doctor appointments, re-learning how to be a parent/spouse/friend, managing school or work, running your household, trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, and attempting to find time to rest.

What you’re not told about is the effects that ripple through the life you were previously living. Before I get much further, here are some statistics to help the context of this post:

Now with this information out there, here’s what nobody tells you about mental illness. Living with or caring for a person with a mental illness takes a toll on every fiber of your being. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and in every other quantifiable way you can imagine. Respite is available, where your child can spend a day or weekend with a family or organization in order to give parents and caretakers a break. However, it takes a letter from Congress and an act of God to qualify for any services like that. If you’re a middle-class family, you may as well forget about getting any assistance that you will undoubtedly need. Access to mental health care is still the least available form of health care in the nation.

It puts an indescribable amount of strain on your marriage, as mentioned above, but even more so when you are in a blended family where there is a step-parent or step-children involved. You fight over how to parent your child, what the right treatment options are, how much time is dedicated to caring for your child, and who is best equipped to take on the various challenges that come up. Sometimes you and your spouse will even argue about if the behavior of your child is a result of their mental health disorder, their stage in development, or if they are just being manipulative. There may or not be occasions where you tell your spouse to “Stop, this isn’t helping”, “Why won’t you hear what I am telling you?”, or “I will deal with it by myself”.

If a married couple can’t be on the same page regarding the numerous variables in caring for a child with a mental health disorder the results can be unbearable and irreparable. Resentment, depression, avoiding each other, and cutting the other out of the loop regarding your child are all very real and very hurtful possibilities. There is a struggle to balance your love and devotion to your spouse and marriage while also meeting the needs of your child. Some days you almost feel like you have to choose one or the other. It’s a feeling that completely sucks.

This doesn’t apply to just spouses, but to the child being cared for and other children in the home as well.You see professionals fail to mention to also make plans for your other children- counseling for the adjustment in home life, planning out time to spend one-on-one with them, and trying to explain what is “wrong” with their sibling. Their school work may suffer and it’s difficult for children and siblings to know how to answer the questions that people will always ask. There are little to no organizations geared to assisting a family from a holistic point- addressing the child with the disorder, the parents, and other siblings. Finding the right support group or other organization is extremely difficult because, again, you are trying to find something that meets the needs of a group of people.

Finding a case worker/manager to answer your questions or to try to guide you through the maze that is the mental health care system can be an issue. The lack of providers and other team members that are involved in managing your childs care is lacking across the nation. The Utah State Hospital has approximately 350 beds to serve the entire state population of just over 3 million people. That serves less than 1% of the population. At Utah State University the wait to see a mental health care professional is 4-6 weeks.

Yet, at the end of the day, you keep pushing on. You continually pray for good days, small victories, and achieving the balance your family needs. You pray your marriage will withstand the challenges and that your other children grow up with a deeper  compassion for people. Outside of being able to cure your child or loved one, there is nothing you would change. You know deep down that you’re the only person who can care for them the way they need to be cared for. I will sacrifice and give, seek knowledge and guidance, and show love.

I don’t view my daughters disorders as something that makes her “beautiful”, “special”, or any of the other sentiments some people use to make their situation seem better or easier. I hate everything about her disorders. This isn’t because of the effect it has on me or my family but because it’s something that can’t be cured. She will always have to work 10 times harder than her peers to be successful. She will always have to cognitively deal with her emotions and manage her well-being. It’s a heavy load to carry and it’s my job to give her all the tools she needs while I can still make her take them.

Granted I have a strong faith base and fully acknowledge that God is helping us get through the ups and downs. Without Him, out life would surely be in shambles right now. Things aren’t perfect and on some days things aren’t even good. Despite this I know that, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5, ESV).

I take my role as a mother/caregiver seriously. Even though there were so many things nobody told me about mental illness, I have become more aware & educated in my goal to provide for my family as a WHOLE. To meet the needs of my daughter with a mental illness, to show my other children that they are equally important and loved, and to hold my marriage together to the best of my ability. And when I fail, which I do, I know I can “Let go, and let God”.

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Asking for Help When You’re the “Strong One”

If you’re like me you have been described as “so strong”, tough, or capable of overcoming anything that comes your way. These descriptions wouldn’t be wrong, either. For a long time, I prided myself on my strength and ability to remain resilient during life’s hard times. I found my way to calm waters or a safe harbor in many of the turbulent tides life often surrounds us with. In most of these situations I didn’t have to ask for help because the need was obvious. Divorce, illness, unemployment – these are all situations that people recognize and offer to help in some way, small or large.

But what do you do when you could really use some help but just don’t know how to ask for it? Humans often take their friendships and support systems for granted. For the most part they are always just “there” and often do what they’re supposed to do, in their respective roles, without having to be prompted. Sometimes the things we need help with prevent our help from coming to us, rendering most of us “strong” people in a conundrum. We don’t know how to ask for help or reach out. It’s a blow to our self-esteem and makes us feel weak. I don’t know about you but I am not particularly fond of feeling weak or vulnerable, but I also dislike not getting feedback or advice when it’s needed most.

Overcoming this fear, yes, fear of asking for help is anything but easy. It actually takes practice, rehearsing in your head, and making a plan of execution. Before any of that can even happen we have to recognize and accept that we need help; which is exhausting all on its own. I know to some this may sound like a lot of work for something that most people do without too much thought. Oh how I wish asking for help was more automatic or kicked in with auto-pilot type features when necessary.

Over the last 18 months I have had to learn to recognize, admit, and accept help from others. This ranges from my parents, friends, people at church, and at times God. Luckily, God knows our hearts and needs without words needing to be spoken. Psalm 34:18 (ESV) assures us that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” We don’t even have to speak a word but when we do take that time to pray, to speak to God one-on-one, we can be even more assured “And this is the confidence we toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).

Family and friends are great when the problem is familiar and tangible, but when problems take  on less noticeable attributes there is One that knows our needs before we do. This is probably why our friends and family are so keen at just being there when we need them. However, we it feels like we’ve been forgotten maybe that’s God’s way of letting us know that we just need to take that time to turn our heads to heaven an make that direct connection with the One who connects us all.

Daily Prompt: Cheat

Cheat

I suppose this is a good way to get a little more creative with my writing. So here it goes…

According to Merriam-Webster cheat is a verb meaning:

  • to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
  • to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
  • to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get

In life we can all think of some situation where this word would be an apt description of how things played out or how we felt about the end result. Often times this word can have a negative connotation to it but I can see it in a much more positive light when put in the right context.

The third definition could also be used in a situation where grace is being extended.

  • b :  a virtue coming from God
  • c :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
  • d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
  • e :  a temporary exemption
  • unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

When you look at this definition, especially “a temporary exemption” is being made, cheat can become a pretty positive thing. Speaking in terms of faith and religion, God cheats people all the time. He withholds what people deserve & expect. Instead being cheated though, God offers grace to all who seek Him.

People are born into a state of sin and without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ all people on this earth would get exactly what they deserve and what most would expect: punishment and condemnation. However, through grace people are not given these things. Even better, grace from God is not a temporary exemption but rather eternal and whole. In terms of salvation, I’m glad we are cheated out of what we deserve and should expect as a result of living sinfully.

Grace or being cheated can be extended to life circumstances as well. Maybe a person doesn’t get the promotion they were hoping or expecting, perhaps accolades are withheld when they are truly deserved, or maybe you were expecting to make your flight. At the initial occurrence of being cheated out of these things, it would be easy to feel upset or let down and disappointed. But what if these instances of being cheated turned out to be acts of grace?

The person who got the promotion got caught up in bad inside business with the company and lost their job, or went to jail. By not receiving the accolades someone works harder and pushes themselves beyond what they previously had done to achieve results that are one hundred times better than before, leading to a lifetime of change in society in someway. Because that person missed that flight they also avoided a disastrous plane crash and went on to live a full, and happy life.

Being cheated or a cheat in some way doesn’t necessarily mean that life is altered for the worse. Hindsight would say to see it as grace and being spared some sort of result. Grace says withholds things that may be deserved out of love and spares people from pain that may not have been expected.

Perspective is everything. Cheated, grace- no matter how you call it, there are times it’s exactly what we need.

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Trying New Things & Worry, Worry, Worry…

Audrey’s first week of school went well, and I couldn’t be more thankful. She appears to be starting out on the right foot with organization, a good attitude, and loosening up a little more every day. This week is volleyball tryout’s. She wants to try-out and I am going to let her. If any of you know Audrey’s history with athletics, ankle issues, and basic issues with gravity then you can understand my concerns there. Then there’s the whole aspect of whether or not she makes the team. I know how failure and rejection can affect her. I just hope and pray she knows how to handle it if she doesn’t make the team, but also enjoys the experience and gains confidence from it.

She’s a little more uptight at home and we’re struggling with sibling relationships and communication overall. Respect for our parents and knowing how to act appropriately for a 14 y.o. has become a bit of an issue. Not unexpected given her age but compounded with all the other things makes every emotional event amplified. Some days I feel like the Great Wall of Siblings needs to be built to keep them from invading each others territories. I’m also starting to think that a total non-interference stance (at least with the older two) might not be the worst parenting idea. They are old enough to communicate, they have been taught general manners, Audrey has skills to use, and Laila for the most part (MOST part) will do what’s necessary to get the argument over with. Tessa is so young she’ll just go with what her siblings want…rainbows will come out…unicorns will walk the backyard…and I’ll wake up to a closet full of my favorite clothes with a week of perfect make-up…

Wow. That brief trip to La La Land was amazing.

Anyway, something has to give at some point. Whether they figure out how to function together or we instate Marshal Law at the homestead. Luckily, I have Shane to help me & calm me, my parents to give me a break, and the good Lord to turn to in any situation.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

And Then There Are The Days Where I Just Can’t Win

Today I was pretty sure a cage match was going to break out between my oldest girls. Hormones weren’t even involved. We were all doing a little cleaning and organizing, and I was trying to catch up on some school work (did I mention I am in college full time, online of course). Basically everything Laila did set off Audrey; either crying, yelling, accusatory, or suddenly dragging me into it demanding I correct my parenting skills. We hadn’t had a day like this is a long time.

girl fight

Audrey couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me what was causing her irritability. Things ranged from “I hate you!” to “I can’t stand being near her, it makes my blood boil” to “I hope you move to California!” (this is where their biological dad is). Anger and deflection is a key trait and defense mechanism of someone with DMDD and BPD. Intentionally saying things to hurt, demean, and otherwise be unbearable to put it simply. Laila is very sensitive, she’s not always innocent and is a typical younger sibling, but gets very hurt by her sisters words and actions. So I also had to manage the emotional 13 year old in the midst of what was becoming Mt. St. Audrey. When I step in to try and get them to communicate I’m either taking sides, or didn’t witness everything so I have to do my best with what information I have (and can see as plausible, possible, or probable). Stuck in the middle.

Audrey can’t take Benzo’s (Xanax, etc) as it causes a severe allergic reaction in her nervous system. We have to rely on her using her DBT #DBT skills, us using our family skills, and a homeopathic route called Bach Flower Therapy. It works great and has no interference with any other meds or side effects.

She had a few “collect yourself” moments, a phone call to Gramma to get everything off her chest. She eventually calmed down and apologized (still don’t know the root cause of it all).

I had a few “I’m a terrible parent” & “I’m not equipped for this” & “Why can’t she see I want to help?” moments. I may have shed a tear or two as well. There are days I want to quit. Not leave permanently but go on holiday, call in a sub, tap out for a round…you get the idea. I love my kids. I love my kids. (repeat, repeat, repeat)

Since that’s not an option I usually get my husband to make a run to Fiiz (a soda joint with fabulous recipes) and to pick me up something sweet because I love all things sugary.

Today was a rough day, tomorrow will be better (?).

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What is Trapped Amazingness?

“I wish I was dead so I could stop feeling like this!”- Audrey, 8 years old

Yes, before life was ever complicated or hormones or boys or the angst of the teenage years started, my sweet child wished for death. She didn’t understand the anger, the confusion, the pain, or how to reconcile knowing she was different but not knowing HOW she was different. She had just begun to experience all the wonderful things life had to offer in the microcosm that was her world in our small town in Northern Utah.

Audrey had always been a little “different”. I had inquired over her early years about various attributes that seemed a little off but was always told that since she was developing within the norm that I shouldn’t worry, so I tried to squash the feelings of concern and did my best to be a good mom. She was loving, active, a little quiet and reserved, but enjoyed life. She had a great imagination and in general got along well with her younger sister, Laila.

As she got a little older, her silly and playful demeanor started to give way to surprising anger and an overall feeling of being difficult for the sake of being difficult. She was had become overall unpleasant with moments of normalcy in between. Meltdowns, refusal to wear certain clothing, anxiety at new or unplanned activities, and a lack of empathy  or understanding of other people’s feeling began to appear. These emotional highs were eventually followed-up with crying, guilt, and serious feelings of worthlessness. I didn’t understand what was happening to my daughter, so I clearly couldn’t expect her to explain it me nor understand it herself.

It was at 8 years old she began outpatient therapy. It seemed to help even her mood out and gave me and me husband tools on how to deal with her in the most effective manner possible. This type of therapy went on for 4 1/2 years with adjustments being made as her symptoms changed in type and severity. Her only official diagnoses were unspecified anxiety, mild depression, ADHD inattentive type, but these didn’t explain the meltdowns and the mood related issues. Over these 4 years, we watched her slowly change from a flourishing child to an awkward, insecure, and floundering young lady. We were beginning to have explosive arguments that came out of know where and stemmed from what would be considered small issues to your regular child.

Finally, at almost 13 in March 2015, Audrey came to us (her parents) and admitted to wanting to die and having tried to do so on several occassions. This would be the first of three emergency admissions to the adolescent mental heath unit over the next 8 months. The first stay was 4 days with a one month period of recovery. Her second admission lasted 17 days due to the severity of the incident that put her in the hospital and how long it took to stabilize her. Her diagnosis was changed to anxiety, depression, and Disruptive Mood Dyregulation Disorder. After that she was in a residential facility for 2 months due to how much she had deteriorated mentally and emotionally. My husband and I had little to no resources or help in educating ourselves in this change of behavior and diagnoses. Her residential facility was not tailored to her specific needs and she came home in July of 2015. From there we put her in a day treatment program; she attended school half-day and then had theraputic  activites for the other half. She had group, one-on-one, and family therapy, and came home at night. She attended this program for 6 weeks and made some progress, and eventually went back to her regular school in the fall just 2 weeks after it started. While she had made some more improvements and showed signs of making a cognitive connection to her behavior and how it related to it effected her path in life, relationships, and future- we were guardedly optimistic. We had been able to get a full psychological examination by a highly recommended and respected clinic in our area.

Six weeks after leaving day treatment Audrey had her final admission to the inpatient unit. It was the worst night of my life, and one she actually barely remembers. Multiple police officers were involved, a physical altercation, an attempt at hitting my husband with and iron fence rod, trying to run away at 10 pm in her nightgown and barefoot, & cocking back to punch a police officer. She actually threw an item at a social worker and ended up with security posted outside her room.This stay lasted 21 days and less than a week later we got the results of her psychological testing back. She had co-occuring diagnoses of Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, anxiety, depression, and emerging traits of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The entire word stopped and everything made perfect sense but was also spinning out of contro at the same time. The hospital would not release her without a long term treatment plan due to the threat she posed to herself and others (at the time). This resulted in her admission to the state mental health hospital. She was gone for 6 months. Audrey lost out on the last 6 weeks of 7th grade, basically all of 8th grade, missed out on a couple family trips, could not come home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, and missed visiting her dad during her normal visitation time. She missed her sister’s birthday.

So, what is Trapped Amazingness? It’s the person and possibilities being suffocated by their mental illness. It’s all the abilities they poccess but cannot execute because of the strangling set of emotional and mental ties that hold a person back on every level of life. It’s the loss of friendships, the institutionalized behavior that a child develops after being hospitalized for 6 months. It’s feeling like you’re labeled as “broken” forever and not being able to do anything to change their minds. Trapped Amazingness is losing the passion you once had for things like music, art, and theatre because of not wanting people to see “YOU”. It’s making incredible, amazing, and mind-blowing progress in your therapy but ending up in the same place in your head- paralyzed with fear, filled with doubt, angry for no reason, and wishing you could avoid the whole world.

Trapped Amazingness is all the beautiful things Audrey is and able to do being wrapped tightly in her head, stuck as ideas and dreams. Trapped Amazingness trickles down to the effects it has on her sisters and family. It’s trying to explain to family and friends the situation she’s facing, and the situation your family is dealing with. Trapped Amazingness is breaking down the walls of being stigmatized. It’s knowing she may miss out on the wonderful, beautiful, and life changing places, chances, and people of this world. Even more troublesome is that Trapped Amazingness is having her light shadowed enough that the world may end up missing out on a truly amazing young lady with so much so offer.

Don’t get me wrong, we now have hope for Audrey’s future. She has a real chance to live a productive life and accomplish those goals and dreams. We have faith that since she has come this far, God will take her even further. I’ll explain the changes that took place during her treatment in another blog.

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