Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Up all night

Last night around 1 am,  I was making the nightly rounds, "buttoning up the house" as we call it.   I locked the doors, turned out the lights, and peeked in on my sleeping children.  It's a habit I've had since their first night at home, ten years later I still check to see if they are breathing.   Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find AK reading by flashlight.  A stack of books next to her bed, she excitedly announced, "Mom, I just can't stop reading! These books are so good."   I kissed her forehead, set the books off to the side, and encouraged her to go to sleep.    

As I shut the door, I smiled and then cried happy tears.  Sure, there is joy in her new found ability in reading, a skill that has been hard earned.   It's that two months ago, if I found her up at 1am reading, it would have sent the house in a panic, because AK without sleep was a time bomb waiting to go off.

Mr. Boy has asthma as his kryptonite and AK has her own kryptonite.  She has a rare form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that over the years has become crippling.   Over the past few months, AK had been trying to overthrow her demons.   In a regular day, her anxiety would overwhelm her, but on a day when she had not had a good nights sleep, she would become a wreck.  She would be inconsolable, violent,  and the whole family would walk on eggshells, just trying to get through the day.   It wasn't healthy, and it wasn't for a lack of trying.   Mr. Man and I had spent hours meeting with different therapists and doctors, all of them after a few sessions would tell us, "I am so sorry, I just can't help you."   AK's condition has biological roots, which makes it tough to treat.
 All of that changed in November and December.  While everyone was celebrating the holidays, my family was spending hours in psychiatrist and psychologist offices.   We did family sessions, individual sessions, and worked with a team of doctors who were determined to help us. It was the answer to many prayers and many sleepless nights.  Things got worse before they got better, but progress was being made. AK was learning some coping skills, we were learning coping skills, and we tried a treatment that was a long shot.  To everyone's suprise, it was helping, my daughter was starting to have the inner peace that she deserved.
On Christmas Eve, I couldn't help but post the above photo on Instagram of my family with the caption, "Dear Santa, Thanks for asking, but I already have everything I want."  And I truly meant it, I was watching my daughter thrive.  My whole family had finally exhaled the breath, I didn't even know we had been collectively holding for years. 

I had been putting on a brave face and have been chronically trying to downplay the struggle to the outside world. Growing up, mental illness was kept hush hush.   My father's mental illness was a family secret and somehow I thought keeping quiet about AK's struggles was the right thing to do. I can not describe in words the feeling of desperation when a psychiatrist would say, "I'm sorry, I just don't think I can help you."  When I finally wised up and started asking everyone I knew if they had any mental health professionals they could recommend, I found the crackerjack team my daughter needed. I'm putting this out there to the world via the internet, there is no shame in asking for help, no shame in mental illness.      

While I don't love the idea of AK staying up way past her bedtime reading,  I am no longer filled with anxiety of what the next day will bring and how to help AK cope.  I know that AK might be a bit cranky, but she will be okay and that makes me cry big fat happy tears.  Can you blame me?  

Friday, February 14, 2014

St. Valentine's Day - Junior High School Edition

Happy Valentine's Day!  This is not my favorite holiday, but I have learned to embrace it by sharing my Valentine's Day humiliating stories.  You can read my other Valentines failures here.

In Jr. High, I was in love with a boy named Jamie.   My best friend and I spent hours walking in front of his house in hopes to catch a glimpse of him.  I dreamed about him and knew that if things didn't work out with Bret Michaels from the hair band Poison, that I would marry Jamie and live happily ever after.
For a school fundraiser you could send a rose and a special valentine to anyone for a couple of bucks.   I decided that it was time to make my move and let Jamie know I was interested in him. Even better my BFF had class with Jamie at the same time that the roses would be delivered.  She could be my eyes and ears and let me know his reaction, this was perfect, no... it was destiny!

I carefully wrote out my Valentine and anxiously anticipated what Valentine's Day would bring me.  According to my BFF,  Jamie received  26 roses from admirers, apparently I wasn't the only one in love with him.   As fate would have it, my card was the first that he opened.  He read my card out loud to his friend, "Happy Valentine's Day!  I like you, as more than just friends. Love, Wendy Larter" 

He looked at his friend with a puzzled look on his face and said, "Wendy Larter?  Who's that?"

Then his friend chuckled, "Wendy Larter?  Larter Farter!"  Jamie and his friend burst out in laughter and made spontaneous fart noises while high fiving each other for their poetic brillance.

At that moment I vowed to hate my parents forever for having a last name that rhymes with Farter.  Tell me I'm not the only one who had a hopeless crush who never knew you existed, until they figured out that your last name rhymes with a bodily function.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


A peek into the relationship between Mr. Man and I, here is a recent conversation we had.  

Moi:   Have you heard that there have been multiple sightings of a mountain lion behind our house?
Mr. Man:  I read about it in the newspaper, fun stuff.
Moi: It's kind of exciting, I keep peering out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of her. We have a cougar practically in our backyard!
Mr. Man:  How do you know it's a "she"? 
Moi:  I can just sense it, it's like a woman's intuition type of universal connection. I really hope she sticks around. 
Mr. Man:  You know Mountain Lions eat deer, pets, and even children, right?
Moi:  I know, but I sense she will do no harm.   In fact, do you want to know a secret? 
Mr. Man:  Always.
Moi:  I've already picked out what kind of collar I'm going to put on her when we domesticate her and make her our newest pet.
Mr. Man:  Domesticate?  A Mountain Lion?
Moi: I kind of like the idea of black leather, but can't decide if I want studs or diamonds on it.  Diamonds would be pretty glam, but a studded collar kind of sends a message to intruders to stay away.
Mr. Man: Let the record show, I am not in favor of a pet mountain lion.
Moi:  Fine then, you won't mind if I let the deer start sleeping in the house...