Meet Paisley

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Well, here is our newest edition. This is Paisley, our Goldendoodle puppy that we will be training to be Audrey’s service dog. The wait list for organizations that train service animals were ranging anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, and right now that type of wait wasn’t something that was not feasible. Audrey needed her dog even if it we had to train it ourselves or find a local trainer to do the specialized training.

So that is what we will be doing. Paisley is only 11 weeks old so we will have the ability to start her training at home with the basics of housebreaking and other common training commands. As she progresses and gets older we will take her to a local trainer that can give her the specialized training to help Audrey and fit her specific needs.

Paisley is full of energy, playful, loving, and super smart. In the almost week we have had her she  has learned to sit, lay down, and to come. She loves to snuggle and irritate our German Shepherd, Shadow. She has truly filled our hearts with joy & filled an empty space in Audrey’s heart.

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Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

I suppose there is no such thing as being able to have your Cake and eat it too. Actually now that I think about it, what does that phrase actually mean? If you have cake, you’re going to eat it. Really, think about it. The  whole point of having your cake is to eat it. What is there preventing you from eating this cake? Nothing. Clearly this cake was intended for you to partake in, eat, & enjoy. Typically cake is present at celebrations, this is usually indicative of achieving an accomplishment, reaching a milestone, or in some cases ending something- retiring from a job or moving on to a new home or state.

In reality, if you’re getting cake then you had best eat it. You worked for it, you earned it, and in the grand scheme of things you deserve it. Cake represents victory, triumph, success, accolades, and perseverance. Cake is a sweet treat. It isn’t something (most of us) have everyday, so when the opportunity arises that cake is served we need to indulge and be in the moment.

Some of the ideals of today are intended to make people feel as though cake should just be  given to everybody regardless of their work ethic, contributions, or patience. There are those that would argue that cake should be shared with people who had no bearing on one’s success, lent no support, or is far removed from the situations surrounding the cake. This is an ideal I disagree with. Not everyone gets cake. Not everyone accomplishes something that is worthy of a cake filled event. There are people, sadly, who will never know the satisfaction of getting a cake they strived for and overcame challenges to receive. Some proponents would say that it isn’t fair for some people to not get cake. The only way I agree with this statement is when somebody has worked for their cake, yet they go unrecognized and not properly celebrated. They don’t get the cake they so rightfully earned.

For all of you out there working, sacrificing, and studying in order to have your cake and eat it too, more power to you. Keep moving forward, keep pressing on, and never let anyone make you feel guilty when that cake is finally yours. In fact, have two pieces if you can because you never know when you’ll be able to savor another cake worthy occasion again.

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It Really Does Take a Village

School starts on Wednesday. I can remember being bummed that summer was over but I always enjoyed school and enjoyed going back for a variety of reasons. My 2nd daughter Laila is the same way, and I think my youngest Tessa will be as well (fingers crossed).

Audrey is NOT excited. She has been a nervous wreck for a week. The mere mention of school brings a look of terror and dread to her face. I am already imagining how Wednesday morning is going to go, feel like, what is going to be said, how long tears will be shed, how much anxious irritation I will face down, and how understanding and patient I will have to be. I will literally have to pull off being the Super Mom of emotional compassion and control. Luckily, I’ve been reading a book called “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me” by Dr. Jerold J. Kreisman & Hal Strauss, and it has given me a lot of insight on how the mind of someone with BPD works. I’ve also been reading up on DMDD, & Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and anxious about the first day of school myself.

I spoke to Audrey recently, after registering her for 9th grade, about school and reminded her about her options if she is having a “moment” or needs to “take a walk” through the halls. That conversation reminded me of the many wonderful people God has placed in our life in order to help Audrey succeed.

Even though it took awhile Audrey has an amazing treatment team to help with the medical aspect of her disorders. We have a wonderful psychiatrist that is honest, transparent, talks to Audrey like a person instead of a patient, and makes us feel valued as a team. He listens to my thoughts on medications and doesn’t just throw pills at us as a first line of treatment. I am so thankful for him. Since Audrey came home from the state hospital she has seen a new therapist at a new clinic. It is the same clinic that finally gave us the diagnoses I felt matched her behaviors, and put us on the path that has led us to where we are today. Her therapist is an awesome woman who doesn’t just listen to Audrey and give feedback but challenges her thinking errors, asks about how Audrey can take control of situations, and really optimizes on the opportunities that present themselves during their sessions. She gives Audrey homework and keeps me in the loop as we move along. Again, so thankful for her. Without this team, Audrey wouldn’t be able to maintain her mental stability and function as well as she is now.

I can’t say enough positive things about Audrey’s school. From students, teachers, staff, and administrators – every person who knows Audrey and her situation has been compassionate, kind, thoughtful, sympathetic but encouraging. Audrey’s favorite teacher was a pillar of strength and understanding when things first starting to “go downhill”. She will have him for 2 classes this year and is the only teacher, or person really, that she has freely smiled at since being at the school several times. The Director of Secondary Education has made it clear that she has multiple places to go if she needs to talk or to take a breather. He has seen what mental illness can do to a person and despite the goofy, sarcastic front he wears, he has shown a level of care you don’t typically see in a school setting. I get a little more relief knowing he’s there, he’s got her back, and he won’t let her self destruct at school. Then there’s the front office staff, Lori and Brie. Honestly, if anyone would be willing and able to step in when needed it would be them. School hasn’t even started and Lori has already said that if Audrey needs anything she’d take care of her and let her decompress there. Last but not least, the counseling department. The three ladies that work in there must eat their Wheaties every morning in order to deal with everything that comes their way on a daily basis. There’s a couch for people who just need to reframe and refocus, and their doors are always open (unless they’re closed for some official reason). Without all of these people, and some I may not have mentioned, Audrey may not be returning to traditional school. They give me hope for her future and genuinely care about her educational goals along with her social success at school. Couldn’t be more thankful for these people!!

Family. I’ll just say right now that if I hadn’t had my parents around since Audrey was a baby, and especially since her disorders culminated last year, I don’t know where I’d be today. I don’t know if my other kids would still like me. I don’t know if my husband would have stuck around so willingly. Seriously people, my parents offered encouragement, breaks, help with my other kids, stepped in when I needed surgery, & visited Audrey on weekends when we couldn’t make it down. More importantly, they reminded me two things: 1) Hardships make us stronger and build our character, they bring us closer to God and teach us what real hope is; this applies to me as a mother, Audrey, and anyone else who has been fortunate enough to witness the amazing healing that has taken place in her mind (although she will always have a uniqueness to her). 2) God gave me Audrey because He knew that I would be able to provide for her in her time of need, and I would never let her down. I would cry for her, be strong for her, be upset an scared for her, celebrate with her and for her, and I would never stop working for her. Nobody is more equipped than I am to care for Audrey (even on days when “I Just Can’t Win”). My parents saw a strength and drive in me that I didn’t know I had until March of 2015. I didn’t always use those attributes the right way and sometimes I was weak and weary. My parents were always there to kick me in the butt and tell me I didn’t have time to wallow in pity. I had a job to do, and they would help me do it.

My church family offered prayers, would see Audrey, and were just supportive. The spiritual and faith part of life is so important. Even if it seems like not much is being done, it is probably the most potent part of the village that has surrounded us.

Life is hard enough when you are one person trying to navigate things on your own; it’s even harder when you’re trying to care for someone with a mental health disorder and you THINK you can do it alone. It really does take a village, just remember that village when they reach out to you for help someday. I know I can never do enough to say thank you for all the loving support we have received in the last 18 months, and all the future months to come.

To my village: Thank you. We couldn’t have gotten through this or this far without you. I am beyond blessed to have you and couldn’t be more thankful for all you have done.

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