On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, the state of Florida sent us back 50 years into the past (well maybe 10 or 20) by passing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This ridiculous bill prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity”.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
Does this idiot not understand what this is going to do to our youth?
To their mental health?
To their suicide rate?
A time in a child’s life where they are questioning EVERYTHING, they need some place safe to talk about things. For many, school is that place (huge, shoutout to all of the teachers out there).
As an LGBTQ+ Mama, I am so so thankful we don’t live there. I cannot imagine the fear these kids are living in right now.
Oh wait, it gets worse…
On February 22, 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state officials to start investigating parents who seek gender-affirming care for their transgender children as a form of child abuse. Well you know what, buddy, BRING IT ON!! I will always support my kids and the kids of the LGBTQ+ community in who they are and what they stand for! It is NOT child abuse – it’s parenting!
I will always support my kids and the kids of the LGBTQ+ community in who they are and what they stand for!
I will never forget hearing about Jen Hatmaker’s daughter Sydney talk about sitting in her youth group at church from age 11-17 struggling with who they were. How many kids are sitting in our youth groups; how many kids are sitting in our schools; questioning and AFRAID!!
Florida, do you not understand what it would do to a child’s mental health if they were “outted” to their parents? I know too many kids whose parents do not support them (I have struggled myself – I am not gonna lie) or they say “we support you but it will be difficult”. I used those words myself and am now realizing how harmful they can be to kids.
My heart HURTS! It hurts for these kids and what they are going through. For the ones who were about to have the courage to come out as who they truly are and are now thrown back into the closet, into the dark, into the scary.
Parents, please, please make your home a safe place for your kids. Please, please allow them to be who they are and who they want to be.
Teachers, please, please make your classrooms a safe place for kids to talk – to talk about all things – sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health.
People who pray. Pray for these kids – pray that they will be safe to be who they are; that they will have the courage to be who they are; and to know that God loves them no matter what.
February 13th, 2021 marked my 13th year of being a Mom. My oldest child turned 12.
At 3:13am on Friday, February 13th, 2009, my hubby and I were blessed with our gorgeous girl, Hannah Grace, at 6lbs 1oz and 19″ long. Those first few minutes were “interesting”. I knew something was not right. Finally the respiratory therapist said that her lungs had some fluid on them so they need to take her to the NICU. They let me hold her then she and Daddy went away…
Our first 5 days were spent in the NICU for 12 hours a day… bonding and loving our baby while their lungs strengthened and she had jaundice… pretty simple compared to other stories I know.
What a kid she was… well still is but I will get into that. 😀
Fast forward to grade 3… Hannah is 7 and things are starting to change. I am noticing things are starting to change. She is leaning more toward “boy toys”, not wanting to wear dresses and “girlie” colours. I start thinking “what if my child is gay?”
To understand the gravity of this question, you need to understand I am a born again Christian who believes Jesus Christ is my Saviour. Now, the church has had a bad reputation in regards to the LGBTQ+ community and I will admit, I was right along there with it for a long, long time. God placed many people in my life over my years who helped me to see that His love is the most important thing to remember in all of that.
As I contemplated the possibility of my child being gay, all I could think about was “what will people think of me? will they think I am a failure as a Mom? as a Christian? What will they think?” Looking at it now, it is incredibly selfish but it is exactly how I felt. That fear was so deep in me and I had no idea what do to about it. I wrestled with “what would the church say? Would they be supportive? Would we still be loved and accepted? Would we be kicked out? What would we do then?” Again, substitute all of the “we’s” for I because really all of my thinking was about me.
These questions went on in my head for 2 years on and off… I had no idea who I could talk to about it. Because, let me tell you, it’s not something that is talked about at all in the church, unless it is in the negative. I am sorry if that offends some of my religious friends but it’s the truth!
In grade 5, Hannah’s class had their sex talk in school. I told Hannah that they will probably talk about a lot of things that we have already talked about and that’s ok. That evening they came home and I am asked what they learned about. Hannah told me there is a difference between your gender and your identity – yellow flags went up in my head. I got the courage to ask her the question if she felt more like a boy than a girl. She though about it for a second and said NO. I told her if she did have that feeling that she could come and talk to us.
Gay, lesbian, and transgender were the limit of my vocabulary, at the time, when it came to the LGBTQ+ community. I knew about men loving men, women loving women, and people want to changed their sex that was it. So on my limited knowledge I continued my journey.
I started a habit a few months ago that has changed so many things for me. I started writing a gratitude journal.
Every morning, I make my cup of bulletproof coffee (go to The Diet Doctor to learn what that is), sit down at my kitchen table and write in my journal.
I had NO idea where to start. I remember Rachel Hollis talking about her Start Today Journal so I thought I would start from there. Her journal talks about writing down 3 different sections:
Gratitude: write down 5 things (I thought she said 10 so I just go with that LOL) from the day before that you are grateful for. She says not to look at things too big, like breathing – although I am really grateful to be breathing. She says to look at the little things – like my morning coffee. As you look at the little things, you develop an attitude of gratitude. You will see the good things in your life, no matter how hard things are.
Dreams: next, you write down 10 dreams but write them as if they have already happened. She talks about writing the same dream down over 1000 times before it came true. You are believing that this is what is going to happen. What is going to make your best life? What dream are going to do that? One of mine is that I am running a successful virtual assistance business. I have finally made it official with Borealis Productivity Solutions. Am I taking it off my list? Not yet but as the dream becomes more real, so will that line in my journal.
Goal: the final piece is writing down one goal that will make your dreams come true. She talks about how a person can really only focus on one goal per day. I have a health goal so mine usually revolves around that but sometimes it’s a business goal too.
When I told my counsellor about doing this and how much it has helped me, she decided to have me add a 4th part to the journal… Affirmations (ugh :D) I have struggled with negative self-talk my entire life. The crap that goes through my head… oy vey! She knows that so she suggested I do that as well. I actually had to look up affirmation statements on Pinterest to know where to start… seriously! Then each day, I think about what brought me down the previous day. What was that negative self-talk I had… I won’t be successful, I won’t find new clients for my business, I am not going to lose the weight I want to… the list goes can go on. The I change those around into affirmation statements. I will be successful, I will find new clients, I will lose the weight, etc.
People talk about putting pen to paper. I have thought about doing this on my computer as I find that easier a lot of the time but I know myself well enough that I would just copy and paste. When I put pen to paper I can’t do that. Yes, I copy the same dreams over but I am repeating them in my head each time I write them down.
So I now I am asking you… how do you start your day? Do you write in a journal? Do you have a habit like this? If not, I would encourage you to try it for a month. See how it changes your perspective on the world.
We all gotta eat! Some days it’s easier to figure out what to eat than others. There are so many days when you come home from work, school, or other activities and you have no hot clue what to do for dinner.
Enter meal planning! For many years now, my husband and I have been doing this. We sit down on Friday or Saturday and plan out our supper menu for the week. We have a calendar on our Apple devices just for meal planning. As you can see, I share it with him so that when we are separated on different trips, we can still work together to get it done. Then we build our grocery list around our meal plan and off we go – we’ll chat about groceries and different services later. 😀
One of the things we also started is our “T” Tuesdays… we have a different meal on a 4-week schedule that begins with the letter T – well kinda – that we eat:
week 1: Tacos; week 2: Tuna casserole; week 3: Tubular (some sort of tubular meat LOL: hot dogs, sausage, etc); week 4: Tomato (tomato soup and grilled cheese).
We do not do this with every day of the week but it was something fun we developed with our kids.
Do you have picky eaters? Get them involved! I am thankful that my kids are not very picky. So we started to get them involved as well. I will ask them “tell me one thing you would like to eat this week”. They will provide me with their ideas and we will add it in. Now, they tend to be quite repetitive sometimes so sometimes we need to have them give us alternatives.
For example, this next week in Calgary, Alberta, it’s going to get COLD (-20 to -30 C OR -4-22 F) so we are in need of some warm comfort foods. Our girls have also discovered having leftovers in their thermoses as well. This week we are having soup, chilli, and stew in our menu. They are warm and comforting and very easy to put in a thermos for school the next day.
Now, with meal planning, there are days when you have something planned and you are just not in the mood for it… well then change it. We call it “audibling” – we usually have pasta on hand or sometimes we just order pizza. It’s not a perfect science but it definitely gives us a framework for the week… and a plan.
Now why would I talk about this on a virtual assistant blog. Well, I want to give you everyday solutions for your life. Not just administrative but other things that can help make your world a little bit easier. Even if you are not in a place where you want, or need, a virtual assistant, everyone can use some ideas on how to become more productive!
Let me ask you… do you have a meal plan? What recipes do you use? Please share in the comments what your favourite meal ideas are!
As I sit in my car listening to a Very Maverick Christmas album I am reminded of what Christmas really is about. Now I am all about listening to Jingle Bells and Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer to bring the joy, the fun, and the childlikeness to Christmas.
But as a Christian, I tend to forget the true meeting of the season.
No matter how much I go to church, no matter how much I listen to Scripture I do tend to forget. The one beautiful thing about this album I’m discovering is that they are combining traditional Christmas carols with worship songs. It is reminding me of what it’s about. Christmas is about worshipping the One who came. Christmas is about worshipping the one who chose to leave heaven to come down to earth as a human and going to save us all. Think about that for a bit…
Christmas is not just about remembering Jesus’ birth. It’s also about remembering that He is our risen Saviour – that He alone deserves praise and honour and glory. As we sing Christmas songs both the fun ones and direct worship ones remember who you’re singing to and what the seasons truly all about
When my child “came out” to my husband and me, I was scared and confused – and completely at peace. You can read about that journey here.
I remember feeling the tightness in my chest which I equate with grief (and that’s a whole different post) one day and it confused me. Why was I grieving? No one died… did they?
I called one of my best friends that day to talk through it. When I asked her if it was right that I was grieving, she said absolutely.
What I discovered was that I was not grieving for my child (as I know many LGBTQ+ parents do) but I was grieving for what I THOUGHT was going to be my life with my daughter.
When my daughter was born, I had no idea what to do with little girl. I had 5 nephews at the time and was much more comfortable with them. I mean, I liked to get dressed up and put on make-up as much as the next person but a GIRL??
As this precious gift grew, I started to dream. Having my sister help with her make-up (cause it wasn’t gonna be me. LOL), buying dresses, and any other “girlie” things I could think of. I don’t know that I did it consciously but it was definitely there.
When my child came out as transgender, those dreams went up in smoke. My child does not identify with either gender; they are not using the name their Dad and I gave them at birth. Wow, no wonder I was grieving.
As much as I write this from a calm, rational perspective (or at least I try to), pockets of grief still come up. Questions will come up as I continue to learn and try to be empathetic with what they are going through.
I also have to acknowledge my own challenges and pain, as I don’t know that I fully have… or it will come in waves as grief does.
I am writing this for two major reasons:
Parents, it’s OK to grieve. Give yourself the space to do that. Let the fear, the anger, or whatever you are feeling out because it’s not good to keep it inside.
LGBTQ+ peeps, let your parents grieve. They are grieving for what they THOUGHT was going to happen – not grieving what you are (and if they are, I am sorry!)
Let those emotions flow so you can be the parent you are meant to be for the child who is fully who they are.
Anyone who knows me, knows I HATE the word process… at least in my personal life. LOL
For business, it’s what I do – it’s how I think.
December 2021 was a big month for our family. We sold the townhouse that we bought 2 weeks before we got married and bought our forever home. What a process that was: I’ll just sum it up to say a good realtor is worth EVERY PENNY!!
As I was standing in our backyard at our townhouse, I was thinking about beginnings, endings and everything we have learned and done in the last 15 years in this home. So many changes: brought both of our babies home here. Started, and ended businesses here. Loved here, laughed here, cried here, mourned here.
I remember standing on the door of this home on May 1, 2007 with my fiancée so excited about our new home. Thinking about the journey we were about to embark on.
December 1, 2021, I “ended” my personal business and “started” a new business to include my husband Stephen. In reality he has been part of my business from day 1 but now it’s official.
I have had my business for a little over 2 years now. The beginning was terrifying but hopeful. I just wanted to help some of my fellow direct sales sisters with parties and groups. My, how it has grown.
The middle has been a period of growth. Now what have I learned? Here are a few things:
Be true to yourself – if something does not feel right for your business then there is a good chance it’s not a good idea. Take it under advisement (I will speak to that in a minute) with a trusted friend because that challenge could very well be an area of growth for you.
Have a sounding board – this does not have to be a large amount of people but definitely a few of them. People from different walks of life and perspective to help you balance things out.
Have fun – wait… what? Work is supposed to be fun? Damn skippy!! If you are doing what you love and are confident with it, then do it!!
Continue to learn – you don’t know everything – there I said it! 😀 Do you need to learn a new project management system? A new email campaign system? A way to set systems up (insert shameless plug – we can help with that!!). Then find some place to learn it (I am going to unselfishly plug The Virtual Savvy Vault for this. It’s my personal go to).
Be confident – don’t let anyone tell you your worth! If you think your business is worth a certain amount, then set that amount. If you only have certain times of the day and week to serve your business, then keep that. Don’t let anyone tell you what you are worth!
What’s the end going to look like? I don’t know and I pray I don’t find out for a long time to come!
I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I did some research and found it’s origin…
“The admonition to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes means before judging someone, you must understand his experiences, challenges, thought processes, etc. The full idiom is: Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. In effect, it is a reminder to practice empathy. While long credited as a Native American aphorism, replacing the word shoes with moccasins, the saying almost certainly is derived from a Mary T. Lathrap poem published in 1895. The original title of the poem was Judge Softly, later titled Walk a Mile in His Moccasins. There are many variations on the phrase such as walk a mile in his, her or my shoes. A plea for empathy is phrased put yourself in my shoes, as well as put yourself in his or her shoes.” From Grammarist.com
I will admit that I judge people by what I see – I am working on that. I assume I know what is going on by just seeing someone and what they is happening around them. It is not something that I am proud of but it is definitely something that has changed in me.
Why can that Mom controlled their child? They are just misbehaving.
That Mom needs to put those kids to bed. It’s too late for them to be out.
A man loving a man is just wrong and unnatural.
As hard as it is to admit it, I have thought all of those things… and many others. I consider myself a compassionate person but let me tell you, I have been shown otherwise – lovingly but been shown.
For example, someone I know had a major tragedy happen to them and they did not want to be hugged when I saw them. Being a very huggy person, I could not understand that and was a bit offended. I just could not understand why…
Then my Mom was killed in a car accident….
A tragedy like that (and the one the other people were I am sure feeling) leaves you so raw that you have no idea what to do or feel.
I did not understand why they felt the way they did until I walked in their shoes. I will not say that I fully understand because I don’t but I do have a better understanding.
Why am I saying this? Why am I putting this out into public? I am asking YOU to be considerate and compassionate before you judge.
Perhaps that Mom is single and she can only go to the grocery store at 9pm because she just got off of work. Her kids have been with a sitter all day and she wants to spend time with them. Instead of judging her, give her a smile; distract her kids in the checkout line so she can concentrate on what she is doing.
Perhaps that child who is “misbehaving” has had to change his medications and it’s rough on him (and their mama or daddy). Or all the lights and the noise are too much so they just lie down and hope it will go away.
**note: I have permission from my child to share the content**
June 2020 was a big month for my family – not only did I turn 50 (best party ever – thank you Marion & Galen Enns) but my brave girl was able to tell us their truth.
After tucking my youngest in one night, I noticed a beautiful picture that my oldest had left for us in our room. I did not think anything of it but just carried on.
The next night, my oldest girl said to me “Mom, did you see my note?” When I asked what note, they said they left it on my table. I went into my room to look at it and said it was a beautiful picture. They said, “Mom, turn it over”. This is what I saw…
I went back to Hannah and said, “What does that mean?” Cause I had no hot clue. Hannah explained to me that being non-binary means she did not identify as male or female and pansexual means she loves the person for who they are not how they identify. Of course this happens at 8:30pm so that was a lot to process. I look at my husband and said “Now what?” Then I sent a text to my therapist to get an appointment with her as soon as I could cause I needed to talk stuff out. The second text was to our youth pastor because as I have said in my previous blog the church has not been very open when it comes to members of the LGBTQ+ community and I wanted Hannah to be safe.
The next afternoon, I was chatting with my therapist and working through some of the emotional turmoil (and there was a lot) going on inside me (I will get into a bit more of that in a bit) but yet there was so also much peace. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone in this world. Reflecting back, I saw my beautiful girl struggling with something big but they kept it inside and could not put it into words (just like their Dad). I saw them struggle and struggle on the verge of tears but was helpless to know how to help them.
Steve and I sat down with Hannah the next day and had an open, honest communication with her. She explained, with much more wisdom than a lot of 11 year olds I know, about who they are and how they identify and what that means. She also informed us that she would like to go by the pronouns they/them. Steve and I approached it and said to Hannah that this is their truth now and we love her and support her. We also recognized and told her that this could change – they are only 11 – and we will continue to love and support them no matter what. For those of you who understand countenance, my girl had a grey/black countenance on them for MONTHS. During that conversation, I watched, literally/spiritually however you want to put it, it roll back and the light from the inside… how beautiful it is.
• • •
During that conversation, I watched, literally/spiritually however you want to put it,
it roll back and the light from the inside… how beautiful it is.
• • •
As we navigated this “new normal” with our family, I had a number of sessions with my counsellor over FaceTime and with our youth pastor in person. All of my Christian life, I have been told “this is wrong”, “it’s not what God created”. Now I have it right in my face in my own child. How do I deal with that? For me, it was digging into sermons, blog posts, podcasts, books and lots and lots of praying.
Shortly after Hannah came out to us, I was listening to a sermon that Steven Furtick from Elevation Church preached – don’t ask what it was called because I can’t remember – I just remember him talking about not putting God into boxes and looking at context when you are reading Scripture. I learned that in my young adult life. I heard someone say “don’t just read just the black and red writing but the white spaces too”. That has always stuck with me. Scripture is truth – I believe that 100% – but just reading the words without understanding to whom it was written and when is only getting part of the picture. There is so much more to learn… that is a whole different blog post. LOL
The same day I heard that sermon, I opened my Instagram and saw Jen Hatmaker‘s post about her beautiful daughter Sydney and their journey together – listen to that podcast here. In the podcast, Sydney talks about knowing she was lesbian when she was 11 (the same age as my child) but not being able to tell anyone until she was 17. She talks about sitting in her room with her Bible and her journal struggling; sitting in youth group with this “secret” and not knowing what to do. Can you imagine that? Sitting for 6 YEARS in a place that you are supposed to be the most comfortable – your church – and not knowing if you could speak your truth! My heart BROKE. How many more youth are sitting in our youth groups with those same feelings?
Many, many young people go through a stage in their growing up and start feeling attraction to the same sex – talk about freaking out. They don’t know what to do with the feelings, they don’t have anyone to talk to, they don’t know… they just don’t know. I have walked many, many junior and senior high kids through this. You don’t always have the words but sometimes the easiest thing to do is just listen and let them talk.
For some, it is a “phase” and they come out on the other side. For others, it is their TRUTH but they still don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know who to talk to, who to turn to, who is safe. That BREAKS my heart! Parents, no matter what we may FEEL, we need to make safe places for our kids, we need to make it OK for them to come to us no matter what. I did not experience that as a kid and it is so vitally important for me to create that in my home.
Pronouns – WOW! Those are still so hard. When for 11 years, you have said she/her to your child and now they want you to use they/them (singular form), that is a difficult switch. When my husband chose Hannah’s middle name as Grace, it was a divine inspiration. Hannah is the most gracious person I know. We struggled with the pronouns (we also told them we would and they understood) but they did not (and still don’t) freak out when we screw it up. It was our 9 year old, Emma, who corrected us more than Hannah. Emma would call us out on it all the time – those of you who know Emma will not be surprised at all with that.
The next change came a few months later. In November of 2020, Hannah told us that they would like to change their name and be known as Ace. When we asked why they chose that name, they said they liked the name and they find it is a gender neutral name. Steve and I both told them that we found that Ace is a much more masculine name but it is the one they chose so we will respect that. Another big change but it’s their truth and we will support it. We, again, told them they are 11 and that may change so we are not going to legally change it for a long time. There are some decisions that I feel, as a parent, I need to take out of their hands.
I started to read books about families who have gone through these changes. Most of the books I have found are books about family with children who are transgender (for some reason they put transgender and non-binary as closely related – I need to understand that more), meaning they were born one sex but want to change to the other sex. I have had that conversation with Ace a few times in the last few months and they have told me they are not transgender.
As I have slowly worked my way through the books, it has brought us so many emotions in me. Damn, this is HARD! There is a grieving process that I have gone through – I doubted that for quite awhile but then had a conversation with one of my best friends, Tania, and she affirmed that it is totally a grieving process.
• • •
There is a grieving process that I have gone through…
• • •
What do you mean grief? How are you grieving? I had someone ask me that – perfectly understandable question but difficult to put into words. I am going to fall on a scene from GLEE. Kurt is trying to change who he is to please his Dad. He sings Rose’s Turn and then Kurt and his Dad have a beautiful conversation (see it here). Burt talks about when his son was put into his arms, did “he dream about taking him to baseball games and talking about girls. Yeah all fathers do”. But that changed when Kurt has the courage to come out to his Dad as gay. As a parent with a non-binary child, I understand that scene even more now.
When Hannah was put into my arms, I imagined dressing her in dresses and playing with girlie things (not that I knew what that was LOL) and for 6 years, I was able to do that but then things started to change. I did not realize the significance of that change until 5 years later. I remember driving downtown for an appointment and having a tightness in my chest – the same one I had when I lost my Mama. I recognized it as grief but did not understand why. Through my chat with Tania (thank you so much, my friend), I realized that the child I had, the child that I “planned out” in my head does not exist anymore. That’s a kick in the teeth – that’s a harsh way to put it but it’s the truth. It hurt! My little girl did not exist anymore. My plans for HER do not exist anymore. That’s hard. I remember crying in the car and feeling that grief in my chest calm – how beautiful is the peace of God.
I remember having a conversation with another friend one day and I felt like Holy Spirit dropped a truth into my heart. He said, God gave me this child, the way they are for a reason. I know God does not make mistakes so He has given them to me for a reason – I am still working through that. 😀
In one of the books I have read, the mother talks about talking to the school and having their name changed so they can be called but their preferred name. I thought, “hey, I can do that” so I did.
The other phone call I made after Ace came out to us was to the junior high they would be attending in the fall. I spoke with the Resource Teacher to get their IPP set up (Ace was diagnosed with ADD in March 2020 as well – oy, what a year) and due to COVID, we were not able to get it set up before they left elementary.
I spoke with the teacher about their identity and if that was going to be a problem. He assured me that it would not. He advised that the teachers in the school are trained to use the kids’ names rather than pronouns as there are many who choose different ones. He told me they had a strong GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at the school as well. You have no idea what a relief that was to me! To know my child would be safe at home, at school, and at church? Oh, thank you, Jesus.
• • •
What a relief that was … to know my child would
be safe at home, at school and at church.
• • •
Speaking of God’s plan, the support, the classmates Ace has in their grade 7 class is incredible. There are kids in the class that identify the same way as Ace or are in the LGBTQ+ community as well. What amazing support! God knew this when He created them and knew that this is the class they needed to be in. I love that. The main teachers that Ace was put with are big on mental health and speaking with kids openly about it.
Ace has had the opportunity to stand up against bullying they have received with their classmates more than once this year. They have handled it with grace and patience. They have had the opportunity to educate both classmates and staff on the LGBTQ+ community and Ace’s identity. As parents, we have also had to have the conversation that some people, no matter what you say to them, will not agree with you and your choices. Those are people you just have to let go of – it’s a difficult thing to do but it needs to be done.
The other huge fear I had was what is my church going to say – yes this is totally my own fear (I discussed that more in my previous blog). Well, I am so happy to report that our church leadership has been amazing. No one has said it’s wrong, and no one has said we need to “pray for them (that’s code in Christian-ese)”. They love us and our kids and that means the world to us. Ace & I stepped through the doors for the first time in a year on Easter Sunday to help with kids’ church. My child was called by their preferred name Ace and they did their best to use their proper pronouns. I am so thankful for that.
I think that’s it for now. LOL There is so much more to this journey and I will speak to it as it comes to me to do so.
I want to wrap this out but referring back to the scene from GLEE. Burt says to his son, “Your job is to be yourself and my job is to love you, no matter what”. That says it all right there.
Bell’s Let’s Talk Day is January 28. I wanted to share my journey with you in hopes that it will help even one person.
I want to say my mental health journey started after I had my first child but I am pretty sure it was long before that.
As I have thought about this post for a few weeks now, it is challenging to put it into words. I will start with… I have depression and anxiety and I am self ADHD diagnosed.
Being a child of divorce (at age 11), I am pretty sure it started there. Puberty is kicking into high gear, my emotions are all over the place, there are boys in my world… and then my world falls apart. I learn that my Dad isn’t the hero I thought he was and that my family is being split into two.
My family has a long history of depression but as I child I did not see it. I turned to food when I was younger (and still do at times) when I am feeling down or bored or anxious or angry or… I could go on. I bite my nails, I escape into music or books or movies… anything to take the pain away. I have not gone down the road of drugs or alcohol abuse and for that I am thankful.
I remember watching my sister go through horrible post-partum depression with her kids. When I was pregnant with our first child, I asked my husband to watch for the signs because he would see it sooner than I would. And I, of course, had my sister watching out for me too.
With our first child, I went back to work when they were three months old as my husband had been laid off. I was too busy working to see if any of the post-partum depression was hitting me – looking back though – I can see if. With our second child, I was off of work for the year – it was HORRIBLE! I love my kids with everything I have but I was so ANGRY all of the time. My sister would gently talk to me about post-partum depression and each time I would look up the signs and symptoms online or an assessment and none of them talked about anger being a sign… they talk about withdrawal, not wanting to be around your child, but never about anger.
I got through the year at home and went back to work. I started to feel like myself again but something was still wrong. As a Christian, I remember thinking “I am not praying enough”, “I am not giving my problems back to God enough”. If was doing those things, I would not need medication. Well, I put God in a box and He busted through it. In a matter of 2 days, he sent 3 different people, at 3 different times, who are believers and who I trust to share their mental health stories and how medication helped them. Mental health issues are not talked about in the church enough if at all! This needs to CHANGE – but that is another topic for a later time.
Then it was the humbling visit to my doctor. My doctor is amazing! We have been through so much together. I remember going into her office and my body language was so closed off. She handed me the assessment and I said “I should be honest, right”… oh was I scared! After she came back and looked at the assessment, we started me on a low dose of an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) – these are the types of medications typically used in mental health. She told me I would probably not see the effects for 2 weeks – I took 2 DAYS… the voices in my head stopped, I could breathe again, I did not freak out over every little thing.
Fast forward a couple of months, I asked my husband if he saw a difference. He told me my moods are no longer up and down but much more steady. That was music to my ears!
After being a nurse for 30 years, you would think I would remember to take my meds… NOPE! I would forget and then the anger would come back… oy vey! I do not like what I am like when I am not taking my meds.
Fast forward again to March 2020… COVID-19 hits and the world is changed forever. Cities and countries are locked down; people have to adjust to work from home; and healthcare is changing on the daily. I was handling that OK. Adding my mother’s sudden death in July 2019 on top of that… I was doing OK as well. Then my child comes out to us as non-binary and pansexual and then I think I am doing OK still.
BUT… I am starting to have pains in my chest, my shoulders and my back… hmmm, what does that make you think of? Yeah… me too. Did I do anything about it… of course not. I am a nurse and I ignore stuff (dumbass that I am at times).
I finally call my doctor’s office to get an appointment but she is full. I speak to her nurse, get in serious crap from him, and get sent to an urgent care centre for tests. 6 hours later and my heart is fine – WHEW! I followed up with my doctor and she asked me how my GUT was doing? I’m like… mmmm, fine? She diagnosed me with esophageal spasms and put me on a PPI (protein pump inhibitor) and doubled my anti-depressant. WOW, what a difference that has made.
I write this to share with you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Mental health still has such a stigma around it. People do not want to talk about it at all. Well… I do!
If you are comfortable, I would love to have you share your mental health journey with me.
Each year I choose a word, or I wait to see what God lays on my heart. For 2021, He has told me my word is
This does not surprise me at all.
2020 was HORRID… so much happened personally and professionally. I remember so many days just withdrawing into myself (or a book or video game) because I could not handle it. I remember waking up with blinding tension headaches from clenching my jaw so tight at night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. I remember my anxiety pain being so severe sometimes that it hurt to breathe.
Is it a wonder what my word for 2021 is?!?
COVID-19 made my RN world spin out of control somedays – or it felt like it. Daily, and sometimes hourly changes. Having little to do while management tried to figure out how to handle this. Then, being asked to catch up on 6 weeks worth of work in 4 weeks. Although this “new normal” is getting easier, I still miss being able to drop in to see a client when they are on my mind – yes I can still call but there is just something about face-to-face.
I have been very blessed to find clients for my virtual assistant business and have been able to keep them – thank you, Lord! It was to the point where I was feeling quite overwhelmed at times. Did I take on too much? Quite possibly. It would not be the first time or the last, I am sure.
Now saying that, one of my clients and I had to make the difficult decision to terminate our business relationship. It was not an easy decision to make but the peace I felt after it was done has been amazing. I learned a lot about myself as well as what I want for myself in my business through working with this client and for that I will always be grateful.
The challenges personally will be brought forward in later blog posts. My mind, body and spirit as a person, a parent, and a Christian have been challenged, stereotypes have been brought forward and have challenged me unlike anything else.
All I know is God is still in control and He is giving me more “…peace that passes all understanding…” (Phillipians 4:7) than I have ever known and He is asking me to remain in that peace no matter what gets thrown at me.
Do you have a word of the year? Share it with me in the comments.
Do you remember what it’s like to dream? Do you remember sitting and staring off into the distance and just letting your imagination run wild? Yeah… me neither! 😦 We really need to find that again! We need to find that place – that safe space – where we can dream.
Part of my gratitude journal is dreaming (you can read more about my gratitude journal HERE). What I love about this is you write the dream AS IF IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!! Seriously, it’s a game changer! In the past I would use language like… I will or I want to run a successful virtual assistant business. Now, I am writing… I AM running a successful virtual assistant business. I am not giving it a time limit either. I write the same thing over and over again. I have been writing the same-ish ten things for over three months. This is not one of those “name it and claim it” things (any of my Pentecostal peeps remember this?). It is sending it out and projecting it into the future.
My dreams have morphed into different categories too, which I thought was weird. I am writing about business, my life and my health. These are what are important to me right now.
I am writing this sitting at Starbucks looking at the table where it all began… sigh! LOL! I was sitting there without my laptop and just a notebook. I did look up what to write but then I let my dreams take me. The things that came into my head were very odd but powerful at the same time. I had no idea they were in there.
If you are struggling with this, I want you to sit down somewhere quiet. Think about what your life would look like when you are DELIRIOUSLY happy – like pure joy exuding from every pore of your body. What would it look like? Write down the 10 things that come to your mind but write them in present tense – like they have already happened.
If you are brave enough, I would love to see what those dreams are… or even one or two. Leave a comment below!