This I can’t forgive you for…

This past Monday, My Fave having had a long day and not ever thrilled with the 5 day a week 5:30 a.m. alarm…

C at 5 p.m.: “Can _______ spend the night?”

Us: “Sure.”

C at 9 p.m.: “We’re going to walk to UDF to get snacks.”

Us: “Okay.”

J at 9:30 p.m. & out with friends already: “Can I have friends over tonight?”

Us: “Sure. But please remember Dad has to be up at 5:30 tomorrow morning and you all can’t be your normal loud selves.”

J: “We’ll be quiet, I promise.”

Us: “Okay; we’ll give you guys a chance. Please be here by 10:30 so we’re not up late waiting on you all.”

Me to My Fave at 10 p.m.: “We both have to be up early, but this time in 2 yrs, we will be working through the checklist of moving J to college and begging for a return to the night that we didn’t sleep great because we had a house full of teenagers.”

We ended up waking up to 6 teenage boys in our house. Two of them are J’s friends since kindergarten, one of them he just met this year, via the two kindergarten friends, and one C met during our school district’s annual 5th grade trip to 3 day camp where kids from other schools in our district room together; they reconnected during the last two years of middle school and have become really good friends. And let me not forget to mention that two of these kids drove here & had cars parked in front of our house.

I would run through walls for all six of these kids and a bunch of others who weren’t here but our boys do life with; some of them know that, others might not have figured it out quite yet. I laughed so hard when I walked by C’s room, saw the light on, was informed he and the friend stayed up all night and proudly showed me their bag of teenage diet food and the fridge in my office full of Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper. I was more than happy to drive up the street at 6:30 a.m. to get a ton of donuts and juice for all of them. After inhaling 3 donuts and taking 2 more for the long trip up the stairs, C asked, “Do we have anything we need to do today because I think I’m going to have to sleep.” Yep, sweets. No worries – sleep away.

They will be gone soon. Like, we’re going to blink and J will be gone and, if he has his way, he will spend his lifetime in the Carolinas; C isn’t far behind and talks a big game about a fancy apartment in the center of downtown Cincy, but he loves the beach a bit too much to stick around here.

IMG_6583Gone. Over. And we can’t get it back. So yes, have the friends over. Lots of them. Eat crappy food. Stay up all night. Turn our home into the home all your friends consider their second home. Let them walk in, raid our fridge and leave notes about us being out of something. Tell them that, like you, we’d come rescue them any time/where/place and worry about the lecture or lesson in the mess later. Push us to the brink. Do stupid stuff we’ll want to kill you for and will likely laugh about later. Cause us sleepless nights. Roll your eyes when you walk out of the house and we remind you to “Rep Miller well.”

Please do all that. All of it.

We know it ends soon. It felt like miles upon miles away in 2003 and 2004; 14 and 16 years later we can see it in the distance – the Launch is coming and we can’t stop it. We’ll beg for the moments when you drove us crazy as teenagers and want to take back all the times we said, “I can’t wait until ______.” that referred to you growing up and being gone. So much will be forgiven and forgotten and become stories that make us laugh when we are together. So be teenagers; there’s nothing your going to do that makes us love you less. Nothing.

Well, except for the grey hair I just found last week. I’m still deciding if I can forgive you for that.

Don’t you dare…

On the day after I turned 47, my psychiatrist listened as I described for the 2nd time in three weeks struggling under the weight of “too big” emotions. If your gifting is empathy, you have a fair grasp on what that feels like; couple it with bipolar, depression, and anxiety and it’s utterly exhausting – completely consuming and totally exhausting.

The month of May is already a lot for me. On top of Mother’s Day, my birthday and the unreal amount of stuff we cram into the last month of the school year, it’s also Mental Health Month. I spend the month trying to be a consummate advocate and about two-thirds into the month, I move toward being a rather ineffective advocate simply because it begins to eat at my soul. I start having the recurring dream where your legs are a million pounds and you are screaming but no sound comes out. Sometimes, I have more than one a night. I have a crazy, short fuse. My Fave, J and C bear the brunt of the most of it, which feeds the lie in my head of “your illness makes suck as a Mama and wife”.

So my psych shut me down. No writing, blogging, advocate-type activities. I was permitted social media but it was monitored by someone who loves and would hold me accountable. I loved and hated her all at the same time.

At our last visit, she thought it was okay to tiptoe back in. I knew I’d jump back into blogging when the time was right. I’ve spent the last month figuring out how to process my emotions so I can own them rather than them owning me, which also lets me be effective in my speaking and writing about the stuff I identify as my mountains (aka, the hills I’m willing to die on). This morning gave rise to “It’s time.”

I, as a general practice, try to steer clear of getting political on my blog and on social media. I simply don’t believe that we’re helping the landscape of our country by acting as keyboard warriors. So please don’t read this as a political, picking sides statement. It’s anything but because this crap is happening on both sides of the aisle and by celebrities and people across the world. And I’m sick of it. These words won’t reach far and wide but I’ll feel better for writing them; this blog post isn’t likely to change the minds of those that really need to hear it anyway.

To Whom It May Concern:

I’ve wanted to speak out against you all using mental illness in your attacks on each other for quite some time. Fear stopped me. At the moment, fear is losing so don’t read that I’m taking sides one way or the other. You all suck. All of you. I just happened to come across a statement that made me finally say “Enough!”.

Mental illness should never, ever, ever be used in any way to insult someone you despise politically. Ever. Stop it. We’re literally dying and yet, there you are, using the very illnesses killing us to slam your political enemies. I’m from Ohio and advocates failed in our efforts to beg the Ohio State Senate to reinstate $36M in funding for suicide prevention and mental health treatment.  We’re begging for treatment/support/resources so “I need help.” doesn’t get a response of “You’re so brave to speak up. We can see you in 10 weeks.”

How, when this is the reality of mental healthcare in our country, do we have “leaders”, both elected and self-appointed, using mental illness diagnoses as insults? I’m not talking about calling someone “crazy” or “nuts”. I’m talking using bipolar, schizophrenia and “joking” about someone being “off their meds” as insults, all of which, and more, claim the lives of more than 120 Americans each day – more than 45,000 per year.

So don’t you dare. Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare use the illnesses millions of Americans battle daily as a way to score political points, to spread contempt for your political enemies and to drum up support for your base. Don’t you dare. Don’t you freakin’ dare. I’m really blessed to be able to afford the twice a month visits at a $180 out of pocket cost per visit to a psychiatrist that doesn’t take insurance. So many aren’t as fortunate.

This morning, I came across a Tweet from Saturday honoring Anthony Bourdain on the anniversary of his suicide. It was kind and thoughtful and, for me, screamed inauthentic. See, earlier last week, this same person used a Tweet to share a poem about included using a mental illness diagnosis to describe a political enemy and, within the same 240 characters, joked about a woman eluding sexual advances. (FYI, as you can imagine, sexual assault ravages a woman’s mental health long after the attack; for some a lifetime.)

So don’t you dare. Don’t you dare. Don’t advocate for us and yet use the illnesses that try to kill us as insults. Language experts vary in their answer to “How many words are in the English language?” so let’s just leave it at “A lot.” You’re intelligent people who’ve accomplished so very much in this life. Find another word. Seriously, find another word. You garner the ears of millions of people. Imagine if you used your reach to do good; if you used less energy and spotlight sowing hatred for each other, instead putting thoughtful energy into causes you feel a passion for.

You all claim to want to improve our country; your methods differ but you claim to want the same thing. Let me assure you that you are actually destroying the country for millions of Americans. We need less of your brand of “help”. I might even go so far as saying, “Just stop ‘helping’!” Just stop. We don’t need it. Each time you use our illnesses to attack each other, you might as well bury another Warrior. Sit for a moment with the truth that said Warriors you might be burying are under 10 years old. Yes, under 10. They are also gay, bi, straight, trans, married, single, divorced, abused, loved, rich, poor, homeless, hungry, Veterans, conservative, liberal, independent, socialists, capitalists, unemployed, employed, executives, low-wage earners, women, men, young, old, disabled, fully-abled, single parents, dads, moms, sons, daughters, refugees, citizens, immigrants, etc. Quite literally every group you claim to support, and claim your enemies don’t support, are struggling under a war their own brain wages on them daily.

So breaking news: You’re not helping. I believe you want to. I really do. I know you somehow think that if you can get enough people to hate the people you hate, all the things you want for our country can happen. We simply can’t be the casualties of your brand of war. So stop. Stop “helping”. We’ll figure it out on our own or die trying. You can then mourn us for a month and claim, “We must do more.” Then forget until the anniversary of our death rolls around, providing an opportunity to honor us for a moment and then return to your agenda. We don’t have the luxury to move one, nor do our families, but why would that be your concern? You have bigger things to get back to like using the very thing killing us to sling your hate.

We’re not your political pawns. We’re not the subject of empty promises used in stump speeches. We’re most certainly not be a method you use to spread your contempt. If that’s your best form of “help”, save it. It’s anything but helpful and we’ve got our hands full battling a war within ourselves.

Keep us out of yours.

What? We only get one day…

best-funny-quotes-happy-mother-day-wishes-poem-for-mom-to-greet-her-on-mothers-day-as-she-deservesHappy Mother’s Day! Ann Jarvis, in 1868, worked to establish a Mother’s Friendship Day in support of families being reunited following the Civil War. Her daughter would continue in her mother’s footsteps and Mother’s Day was born. (Sonora Dodd would follow to establish Father’s Day, as a nod to her father, a Civil War veteran and single father of 6 children). But let’s be honest – 1 day! One day is all we get, and if some of your Mother’s Days have been like mine, our spouses and kids sometimes take Mother’s Day to mean a special day to honor you while you do what you do every single day. But hey, they gave us a card they bought at 11 pm the night before and even though they forgot to sign it before they sealed the envelope it’s the thought that counts, right? Ugh! Ladies, if I ever do write a book, I promise to include an entire chapter on “The Right Way to Celebrate the Women You Love”. Continue reading

Stop whispering…

img_0914Me at 9 or 10, while trying to hear what the adults at the “grown up” Thanksgiving table were saying: “Why are they whispering? We’re not a whispering family.” I tried to ease my way into the conversation by tucking myself in next to my Dad; the volume got lower but I managed to catch a few words: “Cancer. She’s just a little girl.” I didn’t know much about cancer except that it was bad and if the grown ups were whispering, it must be really bad. Like, terrible kind of bad. Continue reading

I think that’s our job…

download (2)I’m just a Mama, not some 30ish year-old tech-savvy executive, so my assessment of crafting strategy for how people use a social media platform is not my expertise and is really narrow minded. It’s ironic that a few days ago, my psychiatrist tasked me with subbing “I’m more than a…” for “I’m just a …” but I’m neither ready or convinced, so Imposter Syndrome is winning on this subject and we’ll pay Dr. V to call me out in a couple of weeks. However, that’s a different subject for a different day. Continue reading

Warr;or…

DemonsI had such great hopes for May 1, 2019. I was going to be a Mental Health Superhero Advocate Champion Survivor Warrior. I was going to be bold and courageous and tell my illness that it had to take a back seat for the next 31 days because I had work to do; I was going to spend the next 31 days being bigger than my illness and breaking the stigma and ending the silence and more. I was kicking butt and taking names in my head. And then I woke up; hands shaking, heart racing, legs like jello – some warrior! I felt like the demons that made me tired yesterday hadn’t bothered to sleep last night. A member of my tribe sent me this two years ago, while I was training for my first (and only) 15K. It carried me today, just as it has many, many days since. Continue reading

Yes, you can bring the Bunny…

5a314e69a6094751430d8f6e7584b3e2I love holidays. Love them. Actually, celebrations in general. Come to think of it, I put effort into the high school golf outing meetings that take place at our house once a month. It makes My Fave a little crazy because I tend to go a bit over the top. It’s not from a place of needing to impress people; I simply love being in community. Whether it’s family or friends or a meeting with volunteers, I want people to walk into our house and feel welcomed and know we believe they’re worthy of our putting in some thoughtful effort to make them feel at home. I suppose a small part is due to watching my parents and extended family put so much into card club, holidays, birthdays and more. The bigger piece of it is much more an effort to “pay it forward”. Continue reading