Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Face behind the many masks. The true face of Depression

Nothing snaps you back to reality, making you realize you have a problem than sitting in your doctor's office as he gives you the result of a questionnaire you just did on how bad your depression is and you score in the moderately to severely depressed category. After the "Are you suicidal question?" it felt like a snap back to reality. One that made me look deep inside myself to answer, but in the process woke me up. Woke me up from this haze of pretending everything was ok, when it was not. Now I am a smart enough person to recognize when I need help or that my routine isn't working for me, thus me sitting in a doctor's office doing a questionnaire about how depressed I am. I am not stupid enough to think I have never had a problem with depression. In fact, it has been a constant struggle all my life. It has been a struggle trying to find the right cocktail that works for me, so when I hit my lows, I have something that works for me. Its when I hit my lows, its the one surprising think about me. I can put on a mask and pretend I am not dying inside.

I try to be open, as I am willing, about my struggle, as most people don't often see that side of me. The mask I wear most days, is a happy, easy going person. A person who always has a smile on their face and hopefully a demeanor that puts people at ease. A person who is there when you need something of her and doesn't expect anything in return, except for a smile back. For me, there are days where it is just a struggle just to put that mask upon my face and pretend that all my worries and anxieties aren't bringing me down. There are the days where I slip and I am vulnerable. I hate that. I hate when people can see your weakness, because as we all know there are people that will take that to torment you with. There are the few that will help you back up when you stumble and fall, but in the harshness of this world, those people are very few in numbers. To person who is struggling to stay afloat, the harsh outside world is not the ideal place as it plays on our weakness, thus put in motion our anxieties.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed. Started seeing a therapist and was put on medication to help me function. I knew at the time, that this was the first time in my life where I didn't see myself as a person who had the occasional highs and lows.  I knew that everyone in their life time gets depressed, but most bounce back. Thanks to a little therapy, maybe medication and a good support network. Clinical Depression echoed in my head like a swiss yodeler as it was made very clear by my therapist at the time, that this was something I was going to have to work with for the rest of my life. Now I get that I don't have some life threatening disease, I do have something that effects the way I function and feel. Where at times I can't help my brain from running amuck. I can't help those times where I feel so low, I can't see the fading light above me. That asking for help sometimes isn't an option for me, as I don't think people will understand or will label me crazy or unstable.

For people who are battling depression, it isn't as simple as trying to think happy thoughts and pushing the bad ones out. It's more than that. Most of us don't sleep well, we lose interest in stuff that normally we care about. There is very little motivation to care.

I am not going to post a selfie with my medications with a big happy smile on my face nor am I going pretend that everything is ok with my life. In truth, depression for me, is the face behind that mask. Yes I am medicated and yes I go to therapy, but I am not a happy person inside behind the mask I wear. I am a sad, angry person, that wears her emotions on her sleeve,  who wishes she wasn't like that. Wishes she didn't have this pain inside. A person that wishes that some days her smile was genuine and not plastered on.

With everything that has gone on in my life in the past two years. Deployments, diagnoses, going back to work, it has taken a toll on my mental health. Some days are good, but some days are bad. When its good, the sun is shinning brightly, but when it's bad, the thunder and lightening are very present, its on those days where I need someone standing there with an umbrella.

I know this going to blow people's minds who know me, as most see me as a bubbly, happy person 90% of the time. Know that writing this, opens me up to vulnerability in my own mind. Some might see it as me being silly and not in touch, some might see it as a ridiculous ploy but some might see it as something they identify with. Regardless on how you see it, it this is my story to tell, whether or not you agree.

My hope is that one day with the right cocktail, I will be back to being that happy, jovial person, but in the meantime, I will put my mask back on, while I continue to work on myself to be a better person for myself and those around me. Pardon the mess.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dear Rosie..

Hi! Hello!

I know you don't know me, which is ok. Being a celebrity, everyone knows who you are, but for us who aren't, we are nobody really, to you. But that is going to change. A lot of us have followed you since you got your career started. We were there when you had your talk show. Laughed with you when you proclaimed your obsession with Tom Cruise and many of us thought your performance in League of Their Own was pretty awesome. Most of us supported you when you came out and we didn't care that you were gay. We supported you when you adopted your children, as there are so many children who need of loving homes, both neurotypical and special needs. So when you made the comment that you would have rather deal with "Autistic Triplets, than having to deal with your children, that you adopted, I could see how the special needs community would have issue with that. For many reasons. It was when you were confronted about your statement by a parent who's child is autistic, you made a cold statement about how autism wasn't the punch line, you were. Now I get that you being a celebrity, most of the opinions of us nobodies, doesn't mean much to you. But in reality it does. Here is why.

Acceptance. Simple right? Us nobodies accepted you as a Gay person. A person who adopted children and a single mother for the most part. Now I get that there were haters along the way, but it was us nobodies who carried your celebrity status. Supported you against those haters. We accepted you. Now your comments about autistic triplets was ignorant and thoughtless. We all know that you are having issues with your eldest daughter. Whether or not she is coming to terms with her own mental health, but regardless, your issues are not the same as the ones we face everyday with our special needs children. And vice versa. The trick being, Ms. O'Donnell, is that most of us try do what ever means necessary for our children to have a better life. One that you promised all of your adopted children when you adopted them. Now I am not going to pass judgement on how you have dwelt with your issues regarding your children. That is not my place, but when you think that autism is a piece of cake rather than having to deal with the four children, again you adopted, you are very sadly mistaken.

Now I could launch into my own family, but it isn't going to matter to you. Obviously, I am a parent of special needs children. Two in fact with Autism and a genetic disorder. Go me. I don't have the luxury of having the top doctors at my disposal or nannies to take care of my children when I haven't slept in 48 hours, because one of my children has a sleeping disorder. In fact, to add to my fabulous lifestyle, I have a spouse that deploys. So while you seem to think that having to deal with autistic triplets is like winning the lottery, as a opposed to having to deal with your own children's issues, like any parent would, the rest of us are struggling. Struggling to find good healthcare, struggling to make a school see that our children need that little bit of extra help in order for them to learn better. Struggling against society's views and stereotypes that get placed on our children( one thing you should know a lot about)

So even if you didn't mean to make autism the butt of your joke, you did. That makes you part of the problem we as nobodies, have to deal with when we are up against social attitudes. You being a celebrity have that power to make a change about how the world view things, as people listen to you. I and many others like me, are just a small community who are trying to make our voices heard, as we echo our children's.

Before you blast anymore twitter posts about how you were supposed to be the butt end of your joke, take the time to listen to those who have supported you over the years, when society has reared it's ugly head in your direction. It was us the supporters, who defended you. Please be that for us.

Very Respectfully,

Just one of the nobodies

Sunday, February 7, 2016

We are still not there yet..

It shouldn't be a big shocker to know that our children still have an upward battle to again acceptance in today's society. It saddens me quite a lot when I still see how social attitudes in regards to the special needs community are still being projected. Especially towards adults who are special needs. I know that one day, my children will be adults and will be out in this world just trying to exist the best way they know how. It doesn't matter if they have the life skills to take care of themselves, they will eventually become adults, whether I like it or society likes it.

In the past couple of days, it has been quite evident to me that we are still not there yet. The language being spoken in regards to the disabled still needs some work. Even with campaigns like  Spread the Word to end the Word, words like "Retard" are still being used, whether it be in an insult or outdated terminology. For me, these past couple of days its the way in which I have seen society act or converse with those who are special needs. Just because there might be some sort of sign that someone might be cognitively, mentally or physically impaired doesn't mean that we as a society should treat them any less than you would anyone else. It comes down to respect. Yes it is evident that someone is impaired for whatever reason, but to talk to them as if they don't understand is disrespectful. Now I get that with some mental illnesses and cognitive disorders, a person might not understand, but if the person is coherent enough to acknowledge your presence as well as carry on a conversation, than treat them as you would an unimpaired person. Even so, if they are not, still don't treat them with disrespect. They are after all, still a human being, one who doesn't deserve judgement or ignorance on your part.

As I sit down to write this, I must think of the respect of the caregivers. Us, the loved ones. The people who thanklessly, provide love and support for those who need it. Now we do it because we love someone who requires a little bit of extra love and support. Most of us are relatives, parents or friends. Some of us are ones that are trained in a field to help those special persons. So when we hear disconcerning conversations or remarks about the special needs community or a person with a disability, it only makes us want to work that much harder to bring education to those who aren't immersed in our world. I am not saying that you need to start volunteering at a school that has special needs students, but gain some perspective, that for many of us this is our lifestyle. It doesn't stop at the end of the day, nor does it for the person we take care of either. So when you think its cute how I say special needs instead of mentally retarded or referring to a person who has a mental illness as some "Crazed Adult", it just proves to me and others that we are just not there yet.

There is always going to be ignorance and fear of the unknown. I don't expect everyone to understand my station in life or my children's, just as I am not expected to understand why and how some else lives their life. Yes you better believe that when I hear someone misspeak about something they have no clue about, I am going to correct them, and if that embarrasses them, not my problem. I am always willing to educate those who ask, but I do ask for respect. Respect that I am taking time to educate you on something. Respect that, that is part of my life and most days, my way of life.

Right now, we as a special needs community, we are not there yet in our battle for Acceptance. It will be there when news outlets will stop blaming our community for the reasoning behind murders and other crimes. It will be there when we are not judged on our parenting and caregiver skills. It will be there when people will stop and think about the words coming out of their mouths. It will be there when there is decent funding for our children to succeed. It will be there when special needs is seen as Human and just that, but we are still not there yet.

Hopefully in time we will be.