1000 Bloggers Writing About Compassion – #1000Speak

On February 20, 2015 One Thousand Voices will be simultaneously blogging for compassion – in an effort called #1000Speak.

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I’m very excited and proud to be participating in this virtuous effort.

While Extreme Mom is for the most part a humor based forum, I often use my voice to advocate in the areas of mental illness and special needs: Two variables that have influenced my life profoundly and have prompted me to view life with an open mind, in what I often refer to as Fifty Bazillion Shades of Grey.

Herein lies the serious, truthful root to my madness which incidentally keeps me focused and driven.

So no, I’m not giving up chocolate or Facebook for lent – I’m doing THIS.

The intent is to flood the Internet with positive energy through inspirational stories. ❤️

My favorite compassionate links and heart-felt postings from the Extreme Mom archives.

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Compassion and Depression-
https://extrememom.net/2014/08/13/the-nature-of-depression-my-uniquely-honest-first-hand-perspective/

Compassion and Special Needs –
https://extrememom.net/2013/11/08/marching-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer/

https://extrememom.net/2013/07/07/attack-of-the-clothing-tags-sensory-integration-dysfunction/

Compassion and Body Image/Teens-
https://extrememom.net/2014/08/01/i-met-a-girl-with-anorexia-and-she-stole-my-heart/

Compassion and Diversity –
https://extrememom.net/2014/08/14/people-are-like-snowflakes-no-two-are-exactly-alike-dont-be-judgy/

https://extrememom.net/2013/11/27/maria-kang-part-2-oh-no-she-didnt/

 

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People are like Snowflakes- No Two are Exactly The Same: Don’t be Judgy

 

I’m going to shimmy out on a flimsy unfashionable limb and state that I don’t believe suicide is necessarily a selfish act.

Think objectively for a moment.

Sure, some people have overcome depression, but we are not them. Even if we think we’ve been in the exact same situation, there is no accurate method of measuring this.

Fact- Depression is a spectrum disorder meaning people suffer in varying degrees. Some mildly and occasionally and others to the point of hospitalization where they’re completely dysfunctional.

I call it a bazillion shades of grey.

To speculate that your particular shade of grey is exactly the same hue as someone who unfortunately ended their life- is to make a huge assumption.

Depression does not look or feel the same to any two people.

It’s likely that the person who willfully choses to end their life has in fact reached an entirely different higher level of despair and/or was simply not equipped with adequate coping mechanisms.

There is no precise measure for inner turmoil.

There are however, many documented accounts from people who have come close to this point and went on record to universally declare that they saw no other way to end their intense suffering.

Their pain was that unbearable.

There are probably very few people who can actually identify with that particular level of complete disparity.

It’s safe to speculate that it’s entirely possible that any given suicide victim may have already ‘reached out’, trialed a variety of medications, and/or undergone consistent intense treatment, all while being supported by a loving family.

Every single incident is different. The variables can never be exactly the same.

What made a difference for the young woman suffering in silvery-slate grey may not necessarily put a dent in the symptoms of the older gentlemen afflicted by dark-charcoal grey.

Not every ailment is curable.

Absorb that.

Respect that.

Learn to recognize that many situations in life undoubtedly occur on a very wide spectrum in which there are variables present in a bazillion shades of grey.

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***To claim to possess precise knowledge that can be effected and therefore changed by infinite variables… is to be recklessly ignorant.***

 

 

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The Nature of Depression- My Uniquely Honest First-Hand Perspective

Based on the hodgepodge of public reactions to the recent passing of manic comedic-genius Robin Williams, it’s apparent at least to me that somewhere around the ball park of most of the population does not entirely understand the nature of depression.

This makes perfect sense, as it’s unlikely for a person to possess this bundle of wisdom if they’re not an expert in the field of psychology or haven’t been personally effected by it to some degree.

I make the above statement confidently, as I’ve wrestled the dark depressive demon my entire life — early childhood included.  And no, there were no precipitating factors or events that contributed to it’s onset. Sometimes people are just born hard-wired a certain way. Genetics are funny like that. So, yes it’s relatively easy for me to weed through the hoards of comments and cite misconceptions.

Which, by the way is not at all intended to sound boastful – that particular tidbit of innate knowledge comes at a very high price.

This post is predominantly for clarification.

The generous gift that Robin Williams death bestows upon us is an attentive audience with a desperate thirst for answers.

Gracious, sir.

Not only are we talking about depression, we’re opening up to new information and for many of us, it’s become personal… it now has a face.

One thing is evident – Not everyone can or will be sparred, as depression knows no barriers and cannot necessarily be controlled.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always the presence of external factors such as access to medication, therapy and/or a strong support system that inadvertently makes or breaks a person.

Meaning, for some people the sheer magnitude of this disabling disease is enough in itself to send it’s victims spiraling into the desolate dark caverns of despair to the point of no return.

If you’ve lost someone to depression it is absolutely not your fault.

Depression can be like a tornado that takes absolutely everything in it’s path, despite our most vigilant efforts to contain it, and can abruptly bubble to the surface without a moments warning.

I’m well aware that I’m thinking outside-the-box in relation to the mainstream train of thought when I speculate that traditional interventions like meds, family support and therapy are not always enough.

Unfortunately, for many people, even the most modern and innovative treatment available today is still not enough to dissolve or even lessen their suffering.

And no, I’m absolutely not discouraging people from reaching out or encouraging others to do the same, I’m simply stating the fact that it’s not always enough.

At this particular moment in time, the severe depressive disease state is far from curable.

Houston, we have a ginormous problem.

The intrinsic problem with depression is that it can pack a punch so crippling that it renders it’s victims completely dysfunctional and unable to perform necessary tasks in their daily lives.

It can shut you down.

Much like a deer caught in headlights.

Meaning, one can become so completely disabled that they are unable to initiate that vital conversation or merely pick up the phone and ask for help.

It’s a vicious unrelenting cycle of absolute dread.

An extremely heavy burden for any person to carry for an extended length of time.

People who suffer from depression are survivors. Every single day can feel like the equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest, because to them… it is.

Life can be an ongoing battle.

It’s also no surprise then to comprehend that many depressed and/or mentally ill people are noncompliant. They habitually skip medical appointments, therapy sessions and allow their medications run out, because they’ve reached their saturation point; the point of complete debilitation.

Oftentimes, they’re in turn released by their mental health providers – their only lifeline – for the same infractions.

It’s the ironic nature of the beast.

Again, a vicious unrelenting cycle repeats itself

My opinion-

We as a society need to do so much more in terms of funding, research and rallying public support to get this ball-of-discovery rolling.

In the big scheme of things, our society has yet to make mental health a priority.

We’ve only begun to examine the tip this colossal iceberg.

Together, people can make a difference.

Increased media attention and public awareness can be potential game changers.

Rewind a decade or two when we knew very little about conditions like AIDS, Breast Cancer, Autism and ADHD in relation to what we know today.

It is high time the public put depression in the spotlight.

Robin Williams was an extremely intelligent man. He knew the nature of the beast and undoubtedly carefully weighed his every option. To speculate that he could have been saved by simply reaching out is an absolute insult to his genius.

Depression is just not that simple.

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FAST FACTS and common MISCONCEPTIONS-

Depression is not a transient mood, reaction or a simple state of mind.

Sadness is the reaction to an event, depression is an entirely different animal.

**Depression has a chemical-neurological basis and is therefore a true medical illness or disease. **

A positive attitude will not necessarily cure depression. It’s an integral component to therapy, but certainly not a sure-fire fix for everyone.

**A person with diabetes does not have the mental resources to control or change their blood sugar levels any more than a depressed person can alter their gut-wrenching mindset through positive thinking. That particular mentality is ignorant.

Depression is a spectrum disorder, meaning it effects people to varying degrees. It is not necessarily the same or even similar for any two people. Some may only be slightly effected thus helped by simple treatment modalities, (therapy or meds alone) while others may require diligent daily medication management and inpatient therapy… and may still not be capable of lifting their head above water.

Depression is not mental weakness or a flaw in character.

Historically speaking, many or most of the worlds most well known creative geniuses – artists, authors, musicians etc suffered from depression or mental illness. These outstanding people did not march to the beat of societies common drummer simply because they were different.

The extra creative spark of genius may come at a very high price.

Depression is fifty-bazillion shade of grey… maybe more.

Please respect that.

***Disclaimer- the above was written in an honest attempt to promote inquisitive thinking and raise awareness — to foster understanding and bring light to a serious illness. To lift the weight of blame for those who’ve lost a loved one to this horrid disease. It’s my personal open, honest account… dotted with a few indisputable facts in my personal hue of cloudy grey. ***

Thank you for reading.

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“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 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.”

For information on how to participate in Blog for Mental Health 2015 click here –
http://blogformentalhealth.com

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I Met a Girl with Anorexia and she Stole my Heart

I met a girl with Anorexia Nervosa and she stole my heart.

A definite benefit to working in a service profession like health care is the abundance of life-learning opportunities that present themselves regularly.

I’m specifically referring to the “been there, done that” phenomena, where wisdom is gained as a result of a persons constant, often unintentional, but necessary involvement in the lives and struggles of others.

Social workers, health care professionals, teachers and law enforcement officers are a few vocations profoundly effected by this phenomena… for better or for worse.

We’re presented with the sometimes vivid and painful reality that unconsciously prompts us to assign a human face to many situations and events.

Gifted a diverse perspective that can’t be learned, as it’s the exclusive byproduct of experience.

We’re humbled.

Constantly reminded not to take anything for granted.

I honestly covet the reality of it all.

Life is predictably unpredictable.

So, no I’m absolutely not a person who fusses over superficial things like hair, make-up and nails or desires to carry the latest designer purse, and it’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because I don’t think it matters a lick in the big scheme of things.

It’s incredibly unimportant to me, thanks to my own menagerie of past experiences.

I will never swim or even wade in the particular shallow puddle of superficial vanity.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been disconcerted by the thought of women manipulating their appearances in the quest to attain a certain holy grail body image.

The most obvious example is predictably– elective breast augmentation– done exclusively for vanities sake.

I find it superficial and flippant as a result of having associated with countless victims of breast cancer.  Women who’ve willfully surrendered their bodily parts as a means of survival.

Women filled with gratitude to have been given a second lease on LIVING.

So yes, I’m inherently guilty of forming  judgmental comparisons when it comes to the frivolous primping of ones outer shell.

Everything is relative, unto itself and as to where it happens to fall in the big scheme of things.

My biggest objection to the glorification of the perfect physical image is the simple fact that beauty is not an earned trait, it’s merely the result of the incredibly random genetic lottery.

Case in point- pretty people are born with an advantage… and that sucks.

It’s unacceptable that our culture continues to worship a random variable that has the indisputable power to make or break the lives of so many beautiful spirits.

The $64,000 question is— what role do YOU play in all this?

Have you ever really taken a moment to analyze your own thoughts and actions?

Actions absolutely speak louder than words.

When you take part in certain activities or portray a certain attitude, you condone the behavior, thus encouraging the end result…  to a certain degree.

I’m not pointing a finger at the newest dieting or exercise craze, it’s more about the expedited evolution of plastic surgery, tanning, hair removal, teeth whitening, hair extensions, the explosion of the day spa concept and the mere notion that some women indulge in weekly mani’s, pedi’s and facials as if they’re necessary medical treatments.

What was once considered to be an extravagance is slowly edging toward what we now consider to be the norm.

In fact, it’s not at all unusual for professionally manicured and polished fingers to reach out and hand you say, their public assistance card.

I said it. No disrespect intended.

And, I’m not saying that women of lower incomes do not deserve these things. My point is that when a certain standard of living becomes commonplace, people make sacrifices to acquire what society deems the norm.

I’m a nurse who keeps her fingernails trimmed-right-down-to-the-nubs and never ever wears polish. My hands may not be a pretty sight, but my soul swells with pride over the regular accomplishments realized by these extensions of myself.

For me it’s not about the visual image at all. I simply feel satiated because of who I am.

And, no it’s not my intention to shame, nor am I suggesting that you stop having your nails did.

It’s not the act as much as it is the shallow attitude carried and spread by some people, even if it is unknowingly.

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Recently, I had a personal encounter with two vaguely familiar dirty-rotten-lying-thieves by the name of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.

Sure, I’ve known about them for pretty much ever, but I didn’t really know about them on such a personal level: a level bearing an innocent face and sweet fragile personality.

The common denominator in both of these debilitating and potentially life-threatening illnesses is the constant assault to a persons self esteem— by overwhelming societal influence.

Society sets the bar for what’s normal, expected and rewarded, so when the end-result is unrealistic and often unattainable, problems naturally ensue and people are broken.

Oftentimes destroyed.

The sometimes subliminal or hidden messages which promote the glorified Barbie image are everywhere and they’re inescapable.

As long as society continues to covet and idolize physical beauty, the decorative physical shell which contains us, will forever and always define us.

How we act and respond to any situation determines whether we’re contributing-  hence fueling the Barbie charade.

The purpose of this post is to prompt you to do a self examination of not only your own values and ideals, but more importantly… your actions.

Most of us are guilty, at least to a certain degree.

For example, gentlemen, actions like lifting an eyebrow, winking, casting an approving look, nod, whistling, or making a flirty comment or gesture to the opposite sex is absolutely an infraction.

You’re guilty.

These seemingly harmless playful messages are etched in (especially girl) children’s brains from the day they start interpreting social cues.

A (girl) child’s self-worth is partially formed as a result of societal osmosis.

Your actions are subconsciously being recorded and measured by your daughter and by society every. single. day.

Every instance cancels out whatever positive message you may have intended to portray.

**I know a young girl who claimed that her friends and/or siblings were consistently given compliments and positive attention regarding their appearance, where she was given very few to none. In turn, she was made to perpetually feel like the ugly step sister or homely friend. When it was brought to my attention, I evaluated the behavior, and sure enough, she was dead on. Although, unintentional it happened and unfortunately this young lady was left to reap the consequences of well-intended compliments meant for everyone-who-wasn’t-her.

Not only does exclusion hurt, it chips away at the very fragile foundation of our self worth, sometimes causing profound irreversible damage.

On the same token, a dad can jump through fiery hoops to convince his plus-size teen that she’s beautiful, loved and valued, but his efforts are null and void the instant his eyes widen at the sight of a shapely lady in the tight sweater or when he likes a sexy photo or makes a flirty comment to someone on Facebook or Instagram.

Your girls, nieces and granddaughters are absolutely paying attention to everything you do.

Every single tidbit of external data flowing into a persons consciousness is measured, ultimately resulting in the final appraisal of their own self worth.

The Wonder Women image below is AWESOME, sensitive and realistic.

While a woman may whole-heartedly intend to support this positive image, she nullifies her intention the moment she takes a selfie in a bikini or slinky evening dress and flaunts it on social media in a blatant quest for likes.

Sure, most people have had their event photos inadvertently turn up on social media sites. It’s a product of the times…. our every move is being recorded.

The differentiating factor is your own deliberate calculation to sell portray yourself as a super-model mom, sex goddess or the new menopausal Miss America

Don’t let your own self-esteem issues victimize the next generation.

 

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Young fragile egos thrive on attention, so it’s easy to understand how attaining the coveted look can be so consuming and self-destructive.

Beauty is the key to attention, love, popularity, respect, overall success and happiness… because society continues to inadvertently say so.

What we do and how we act absolutely affects the next generation.

So…. Middle-aged Mommy’s,

We all appreciate and respect the overwhelming pride you feel that you’ve met the challenge of reclaiming a trimmer version of yourself, after a decade of walking around like a pregnant jello sloth.

Kudos, moms are people too.

You look fabulous and it’s been duly noted. 

It’s your choice how you chose to showboat your own accomplishments.

If you’re older than 30, you may consider becoming more mindful to the fact that your actions create a ripple that touches, and invariably effects everything in it’s wake.

Lead by example.

Whether actions are intended to deliberately cause harm is often secondary and inconsequential.

It’s water under the bridge.

I realize that I’m likely to get hoards of hate mail from women who enjoy fitness and/or engage in healthy dietary practices, so let me reiterate that this is not about you.

Healthy living and cosmetic vanity are two entirely different animals.

To view everything that crosses your path from only your own self-serving perspective is to be an egotistical pompous ass.

The world is a BIG place.

It’s not always about you, so get over thyself.

If this post inadvertently offends any of my middle-aged friends, family or acquaintances, then so. be. it.

I’m a person who says exactly what I mean and stands firmly by my convictions no. matter. what.

Even if it means standing alone.

This is about (mostly) young ladies whose self esteem continues to be assaulted every single day of their lives thanks to societies continual validation and high appraisal of physical beauty.

My loyalty absolutely belongs to the next generation.

C’est la vie.

 

Lastly, for you my young friend to whom I dedicate this, she who looks in the mirror and fails to see the intrinsic beauty in herself

You are important.

You are valued simply for being you.

You are smart, funny, artistic, talented, considerate, genuine and truthful.

You are one of a kind.

You are tall, short, round, lanky, graceful and sometimes even awkward,

You are 100% YOU… which in itself is absolutely enough.

You’re a coveted and valued child of the universe.

Barbie dolls are made of plastic and filled with nothingness, you on the other hand…. are an amazingly combination of over a zillion uniquely charged particles that create a priceless gift to the world that is you… much like the twinkling stars in the sky make up complex constellations.

You emit a unique brightness that is unlike any other star…. simply because it’s YOU… and that will always be enough.

 

 

**ADDENDUM- The following is a petition started by a daddy blogger, Pete Wilgoren demanding that ridiculous zero sizes like 0 – 00 – 000 be eradicated by large corporations like Old Navy and J Crew.

Check it out here-

http://dadmissions.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/dadmissions-take-your-super-skinny-size-triple-zeros-and-shove-em/

Sign the petition here-

http://www.change.org/petitions/old-navy-j-crew-and-the-nation-s-top-clothing-retailers-take-a-pledge-of-responsibility-in-clothing-sizing

 

Maria Kang- Part 2… Oh NO, She Didn’t!!!

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I am angry. She did it again. Maria Kang that is, the fitness guru mom who posed hovering over her three young sons clad in short shorts and a sports bra, and captioned the photo WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

While the photo was most likely intended for her fitness conscious audience, it was posted publicly on her Facebook page and went over with the grace of an elephant in lead pointe shoes.

All hell broke lose in the media.

I personally thought it was a brassy move on her part and wrote kind of a spoof post about it here.

I got a lot of hate mail and responded here.

Now that you’re caught up, she’s back in the news, this time she was temporarily banned from Facebook for hate content.

Apparently, Mrs. Kang wasn’t supportive, open minded or caring in the statements she made in response to an article  in the Daily Mail featuring proud plus-sized women in lingerie.

Maria Kang wrote “The popular and unrelenting support received to those who are borderline obese (not just 30-40lbs overweight) frustrates me as a fitness advocate who intimately understands how poor health negatively effects a family, a community and a nation,” Kang said.

“While I think it’s important to love and accept your body, I was a little peeved because I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society,” Kang said.

Dear Maria Kang,

You are an insensitive cold-hearted bitch. I’m shocked that you have the audacity to make such a profoundly negative statement. It leads me to believe that you are in fact so narrow minded that you actually BELIEVE women choose to be obese, because they’re simply too lazy to exercise and eat right.

Do you seriously think that?

Perhaps your tunnel vision goes no further than the small demographic of healthy fit women you interact with at the gym.

Since I’ve been an RN for over 20 years, let me enlighten YOU as to what I’ve seen in this vast world of ours that’s a bazillion shades of grey.

Some women happen to have perfectly good EXCUSES, which by the way is a bullshit term, as it implies laziness and blame. I prefer the word circumstances.

You obviously chose the word EXCUSES for it’s shock effect.

The thing is- you perfectly proportioned exercise Barbie doll that happened to win the genetic lottery, the world isn’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. There are a lot of VARIABLES in other women’s lives preventing them from looking like you and that’s OKAY.

How dare you say that that’s NOT okay?

For a host of different reasons many women will never be thin or physically fit.

How dare you shame them?

The following is an excerpt from a post – The World is a Bazillion Shades of Grey Don’t be Judgy  where I cite a seemingly endless list of variables realized by many women who happen to have perfectly legitimate excuses.

I speak for the masses of women whose dreams are unachievable due to circumstances beyond their control.

I speak for single moms working two jobs to make ends meet, who barely have time to cook, clean, do laundry and read their kids a bedtime story.

I speak for those trapped in abusive or controlling relationships who don’t have choices.

I speak for those with mental health issues like depression, post traumatic stress disorder and disabling anxiety who expend every last bit of energy simply trying to muster through the day.

I speak for those with medical conditions for which they must take daily medication that causes adverse effects like nausea or extreme fatigue.

I speak for those who’ve been involved in motor vehicle accidents who have difficulty climbing stairs or getting out a chair.

I speak for those with arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other invisible medical conditions that absolutely dictate their level of activity.

I speak for those taking care of children with special needs or elderly parents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week who are physically exhausted.

I speak for those with heart, lung and skeletal problems who are forced to limit their activities.

I speak for those with metabolic and endocrine conditions that cause chronic weight gain and low energy levels.

I speak for those whose addictions have stolen their lives and who continue to wrestle invisible demons.

I speak for the masses of women afflicted by a never ending list of challenging circumstances which causes them to chose meeting their basic needs over any sort of leisure activity including fitness related activities and working out.

I’d also like to toss the don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover analogy in here, to point out that things aren’t always as they may seem.

Meaning, it is entirely possible for an athlete missing a limb to be in a better overall physical condition to engage in an exercise regime than let’s say a 30-something seemingly healthy woman suffering from depression and fibromyalgia.

Different people, different bodies, different states of health.

We must RESPECT all of these circumstances.

Like Maria Kang, the handicapped athlete has no right to point a judgmental finger at anyone else.

NOBODY has the right to point a judgmental finger in the faces of a society made up of people whose unique situations are a bazillion shades of grey.

Their story is not your story.

You haven’t lived their lives.

You have no right to point or challenge masses of people you know nothing about.

That is all.

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Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

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As a parent of four young adults- two faced with special life challenges, I’m often presented with rude comments on how I should handle certain situations.

Let me explain and hopefully open your eyes to a corner of the world that you’ve probably never visited.

An exercise in enlightenment, understanding and vast open-mindedness.

Chronological age is not the only indicator of where and what a person should be doing in regards to life’s milestones. This seems obvious, but trust me, it is not.

Many young adults are affected by invisible conditions which prevent them from reaching their full potential and may also make them appear lazy to the rest of the world, putting even more pressure on their already fragile self esteem.

Invisible condition (my definition)- a condition/disorder that is not necessarily obvious to the general public and may not even be detectable in a first hand social interaction with said individual. The person may appear completely normal. However, underlying condition(s) may be absolutely crippling thus preventing this person from being anything from marginally functional to ultimately meeting their full potential.

Examples- ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, depression, anxiety, bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder, dot. dot. dot.

I live with two excellent examples of said invisible conditions, which in their cases are (at the present time) pretty debilitating. We get through life ONE DAY AT A TIME.

I love my SPECIAL children with all my heart.

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My children, whom I happen to know are misunderstood by society, certain close friends and family members, whom I will stand up for until my last dying breath and probably continue to protect in the afterlife.

Hell yeah.

It goes something like this-

My 19 year old son has pretty profound ADHD. *Note- There’s the ADHD where you take a pill and <<poof>> life is good, functional and manageable and there’s the ADHD where every waking moment is a challenge. I mention this to make you aware that ADHD is not the same on any two people. It’s a spectrum disorder. Your nephews ADHD may be a completely different animal than my sons ADHD. On a similar note, the higher your chronological age, the higher societies expectations become of you, making coping often more challenging as time passes.

KNOW that, APPRECIATE that and most importantly, RESPECT that.

As it rolled out for my guy, he did not grow out of his ADHD, nor did he learn to completely compensate. Every day is a challenge. He has chosen not to take meds, which at age 19 is his prerogative. My feeling is that he needs to manage his life in a way that feels right for HIM.

It’s a slow steady process in which there is no deadline.

I stand supportive pretty much… forever.

In addition, this same adult-child falls on the autistic spectrum. Aspergers presents an infinite number of social hurdles every single day. Add sensory integration dysfunction- another spectrum type condition and you amplify the same challenges by like ten fold.

Despite starting sensory integration therapy at the young age of five, being in sync with the outside world continues to be an every day struggle. Everybody’s brain is different. One of his major sensory challenges include a struggle with proprioception and spatial relationships- knowing how hard to press the gas/brake pedal in a car or how far to turn the steering wheel.

An example of how ordinary tasks that may almost seem second nature for most, may not in fact be simple for everyone.

This is REAL life stuff.

*For anything and everything related to sensory integration, check out the book “The Out of Sync Child” by Carol Kranowicz. Excellent read. My sister and I actually attended one of her conferences awhile back and she was lucky enough to be chosen to be part of the human sandwich exercise. I think she was the lettuce.. which figures because she’s teeny. I would’ve definitely been like the quarter pound burger.

Anyway, if you’ve absorbed the significance of the above challenges, you will most likely be able to better appreciate that things like driving a car, attending college and working are equivalent to an obstacle course within an obstacle course for some young adults.

On a completely different, but equally significant note, the oldest love of my life is afflicted by severe anxiety and panic attacks. No, we didn’t break her, nor did she ask for this or bring it on herself. She’s smart, beautiful and exceptionally talented, but doesn’t accept or acknowledge any of these things.

The current plan is to chip away at the anxiety, so that we may eventually step up the ladder rung to higher level challenges like college course work, getting a drivers license, maintaining a job and nurturing close relationships.

One step at a time.

This is not the portrait of a lazy person. This is a person who is struggling.

So, when you add your two cents that sounds something like- “You drive them to college??? They need to get jobs!! If you don’t force them to take responsibility they’ll never learn… use TOUGH LOVE or I would never tolerate THAT from adult children blah, blah, blah… ” you most likely have no idea what you’re dealing with and/or how unfitting your unsolicited advice actually is.

Let me say to you, in addition to treating those you love with much needed understanding, compassion and respect, first and foremost and even if it means simply just being there, a parental figure or caregiver must most importantly do no harm.

Let that sink in.

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Attack of the Clothing Tags- Sensory Processing Disorder

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Just a few tidbits about Sensory Processing Disorder that EVERYONE should know-

To children with Sensory Processing Disorder everyday stimuli can be an overwhelming painful attack to their hyper-acute senses.

What blends into the background for you and I, may cause undue stress and discomfort to a person with SPD.

Loud noises, bright lights, certain odors, tastes and food textures, tactile sensations such as clothing tags, or sock seams can cause extreme discomfort that can lead to an explosive reaction or meltdown in those effected by SPD.

Their nervous system is under attack.

Take a moment to review this checklist of sign and symptoms http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html 

 It’s essential to understand that the child is not deliberately misbehaving.

Discipline is NOT the answer.

Compassion and understanding are.

Being aware of your child’s individual sensitivities and knowing how to best address them is key.

The purpose of this post is to merely educate you that SPD does in fact exist.

It’s REAL and can be extremely distressful.

If your child exhibits any of these signs, your first step is to EDUCATE yourself, so that you can become a well informed advocate who can gently guide them through a world that’s a constant invasion of overwhelming ouchy prickles, deafening sounds and blinding sights.

You, the parent have an imperative role in paving the way for their happy, comfortable and well adjusted existence on this planet.

Take note that not all health care providers and educators have a basic understanding of sensory integration.

In the big scheme of things, SPD is relatively new.

It is up to YOU to be an advocate.

Educate yourself, seek appropriate treatment and pass it on… to other parents, caregivers and educators.

The children THANK YOU!

Favorite resources

http://templegrandin.com/

http://out-of-sync-child.com/

http://sensorysmarts.com/

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