I’d Pick The Speculum, Every Time!

Anyone who is reading this blog for the first time, let me start by saying “Welcome”. Also, you should start at the beginning. It explains a lot. But, if you plan to start here, this may be one of the most important posts you will read. In recent years I have become very familiar with my body and it’s parts. The parts that cause migraines. The parts that cause anxiety. They parts that carry babies. The parts that needed surgery. 
I had a lump removed from a breast at 21 years old. It came back negative for cancer. What a relief. I wasn’t too worried though because twenty-something year olds don’t get cancer. Except that they do. I did. 
At 25 years old I got a strain of HPV that caused cervical cancer. I thought I’d been careful. I hadn’t had unprotected sex. I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Cervical cancer was something nobody really gets. Well, they do. 
Over the years of dealing with this, and with my upcoming hysterectomoy, the topic of cancer and lady-gardens comes up a lot with me. I openly talk about it, hoping that getting it out there will stop some of the stigma of talking about perfectly natural body parts, and convince some people to get screening and take care of themselves. That said, it amazes me how many people I know who don’t go for regular pap tests, or do regular breast self-exams. These things save lives! 
So here are some things I know from having cancer, and some reasons you should be trying harder to save your own life:

1. It CAN happen to you. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are white, black, purple, green, whatever. It doesn’t care how much money you make or how good of a person you are. Cancer is an equal opportunity attacker, and like a sociopath- it doesn’t give a shit how you feel about it.

2. Early detection saves lives! Having regular pap testing saved my life. I truly believe that. My cancer was right on the edge of my cervix, in the area ripe for spreading into the lymph nodes. My doctors caught it early and removed it before it could spread.

3. Cancer does more than just kill you. It changes your body. My cancer didn’t spread enough to kill me, or even to make me sick. I didn’t need chemotherapy, and I didn’t lose my hair. But sex was painful, and impossible. It has never been the same. I don’t know if I will ever have the sex life I once had, but I do know that for the past few years it is hit or miss because it is either a good night, and the sex works, or it feels like daggers ripping through my flesh and it’s over before it has even begun.

4. I would pick the speculum, every time. Feeling up your breasts every month or so is a pain, and speculums are uncomfortable. Nobody wants doctors poking around at their private areas. Cancer is more of a pain, and more uncomfortable than anything. Cancer interrupts your life far more and for far longer than a simple breast exam or pap test. 

5. Ignorance is not bliss. Some people are scared to go to the doctor because they don’t want to be told they have cancer. Well, if you find out early, you can fight it. You can win. You have a chance. If you won’t go because you are scared, that cancer might show up anyway, and you won’t stand a chance. What you don’t know can literally kill you.

6. Cancer infects your brain. It infects your emotions. Once you have had it, you worry you will get it again. I worry about every mole, every bump, every  strange tinge of pain anywhere. Could it be cancer? Did I feel a lump? Is that a new mole? I didn’t even have it for very long, nor did I have to go through radiation, chemotherapy, or real sickness. I cannot imagine how much worse I would feel, how much more afraid I would be, and how much more it would infect my life had I not found it early.

What I am getting at here is simple. GET TESTED! GET TESTED! GET TESTED! I cannot stress this enough. Get regular pap tests. Do breast self-exams. As you get older, get mammograms if your doctor thinks you need to. Send in any samples, and get any tests your health care provider asks for in order to ensure you are cancer free. Worst case scenario is that you aren’t cancer free. But you CAN catch it early and you CAN beat it. This isn’t just for the women either. Men, get regular exams. Check your testicles for any changes. 
Do not sit there and wait for cancer to get you. Be proactive and protect yourself. Fight for your life.

Why My non-religious partner and I sent our kids to Catholic school.

When it comes time to pick a school for your kids, there are so many things to consider. Where is it located? What’s the morning commute like? Does it bus? Does it offer other languages? Does it offer extra help? What are the teachers like? What values does the school uphold? Catholic or public? Policies on bullying? Etc.

We chose a Catholic school, which does not bus as we live outside the bussing zone, and is not at all close to our house. It started out as a convenience thing for my partners oldest, as their daycare is across the street. When I picked it for my preschooler, it was because that school had the same preschool teacher for the older boys, and she had a great reputation. But over the couple years we have had opportunities to move the kids to new schools opening closer to home, schools that bus, public schools, etc. 
We are not at all religious, and people ask us why we chose a Catholic school, and why we don’t just send them to the neighboring public school. Well, there’s a lot more that has gone into our decision than proximity and convenience at this point. 

1. We do not want to limit our children’s futures. Just because we are not religious doesn’t mean that religion doesn’t work for some people. It fits well into some people’s lives, and we want our children to feel like if it is right for them, they have the opportunity to welcome religion into their lives.

2. We want them to learn about other people. Not only do we want our children to be able to choose for themselves whether or not religion is right for them, we want them to understand that there are many other religions and lifestyles in the world, and that you can live yours while respecting and acknowledging others.

3. We want them to make informed decisions about religion. We want our children to be able to learn about religion, and what better source than a Catholic school that lives and teaches by it’s religion? I know very little about Christianity and Catholicism, but I want my kids to have at least a basic knowledge. We don’t want them to choose to accept or reject a lifestyle based on anything other than knowledge.

4. The school has an amazing reputation. Regardless of whether it is Catholic or public, our kids’ school is amazing. The teachers are amazing, the curriculum is great, and we have had no issues with bullying. 

5. We want to spark our children’s curiosity about other lifestyles. Hopefully in learning about one religion, and seeing that we live without religion, it will peak their interest into how other people live their lives all over the world. The best possible outcome would be a curiosity about other religions and cultures, because the best way to foster respect for others is to seek understanding via a curious mind.

All that said, we love our school. Our kids love the school. And when my daughter is old enough, she will go there, too. It has become a community to us. It’s also nice that our kids can come home and teach us!

Throwback Thursday #2: Lack Of Appropriate Healthcare for LGBTQ… (Original Post On My First Blog Which Is No Longer Active)

Queer Health: Cultural Intervention Project

Kelly Klebaum, Alana Rabby, Kelsey Smart & Paige Stewart

Rachel L. Walker

University of Saskatchewan

WGST 220: Queering the Terrain

March 21st, 2013

The Canadian health care system offers a multitude of benefits such as subsidized prescriptions, free access to emergency services, and social resources. We have become increasingly aware through personal and scholastic experience that the queer community faces major prejudices when accessing our health care system. For our cultural intervention project, we have chosen to focus on these discrepancies as they directly relate to the queer community. We hope to gain insight and understanding of the health care system as it pertains to the queer community in Saskatoon, from the perspectives of both those providing health care and those receiving it. Our research was conducted in the form of anonymous surveys, identifying subjects only by age and self declared gender identification. Our questionnaires for health care providers focused on issues of their own feelings of comfort working with queer clients and the training or education they received regarding the treatment of the queer population. We asked health care recipients about the ease of access to health care services, their personal experiences within the health care system, and what they see as major issues relating to queer health. Our goal within this project was to: examine the quality of health care being provided to the queer community; the competency and comfort levels of the doctors, nurses and other health care providers working within the queer community; and to identify issues faced in the assessment and treatment of the queer community. We hope to provide viable solutions and avenues of discussion regarding the future of health care within this community.

The World Health Organization (2007) defines mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”. Through our research, both academic and interpersonal, we have seen first-hand, the inextricable link between physical health care and mental health. One of the main concerns our research highlighted is the generally heteronormative framework that exists within the health care system. Due to this bias, many times questions pertaining specifically to queer health issues are simply not asked. In essence, “Heterosexist biases, assumptions and policies contribute to feelings of invisibility and marginalization, and ultimately, can lead to reluctance on behalf of LGBQITT persons to utilize health care services” (Arnold & de Peuter, 2007, pg 29). We know that the queer population is at an increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as the physical concerns of STI’s, HIV/AIDS, HPV, sexual assault and violence, harassment and assault, and discrimination. (“Rho fact sheet:,” 2012)Throughout our research, we have become aware of the many barriers which exist between the queer community and the health care system. One of the most significant barriers we identified is the general lack of education and/or training health care providers had received. Exclusionary language and assumptive misconceptions about the queer community only exacerbate issues of mistrust between health care providers and the queer community. We recognize that the willingness of health care providers to utilize more neutral and inclusive language could create a more open environment conducive to patient honesty and comfort.

In conducting our research we received thirteen surveys; five from health care recipients and eight from health care providers. Given that our survey was qualitative, we felt that this was a satisfying number of surveys to review for data collection and analysis.  One main theme that became clear as we analysed our data was that a majority of health care provider’s competence regarding issues related to gender and sexual diversity arose from personal experience. Their ability to draw on resources was made available through interdisciplinary action and communication. There were also notable differences in the data we received between licensed health care professionals and what we gathered from social outreach workers. We received a greater number of responses and interest in completing the survey from social outreach workers than licensed professionals. For example, none of the licensed professionals from the Sexual Health Centre (SHC) completed our survey and various other nurses within the health care region who were asked to participate either did not respond or declined. One nurse we spoke to verbalized his feelings of incompetence on the issues; he admitted that he did not know what queer health specifically entailed, and he did not complete the survey. We think this gap in participation is complicit with the range of knowledge held by our interview participants on the subject. Many of the health care providers responded as feeling capable of addressing queer issues. However, when social outreach workers responded, they submitted longer responses addressing more of the relevant queer health issues, as evidenced by our research. Licensed professionals spoke to ‘a lack of queer health problems’ or felt that there simply was no difference in regards to care between heterosexual and queer people. We feel that this ignorance stems from both a lack of knowledge on the subject of queer-centric health concerns as well as a general lack of awareness of the queer population. Both providers and recipients commented that an increase in education and training about queer health issues was needed, and health care providers felt the area was largely ignored in their career training. Licensed providers also expressed minimal experience actually working with queer people, and at times gave assumptive and stereotypical responses. Social outreach workers recognized more of the evidenced queer health issues such as mental health problems, the need for social support, and a greater need for access to community health resources.

Health care recipients responded to our survey with general enthusiasm and an optimistic attitude towards the health care they are receiving. They reported less negative experiences than positive ones. Often the recipients reported accessing the health care system for reasons not directly related to their sexuality. They expressed some concerns, and took issue especially with the discourse employed in direct relation to their sexual identity. Health care providers made heteronormative assumptions and sexuality was not always addressed. Some of the health care recipients we interviewed shared what they feel are barriers to good health service in Saskatoon. One individual identified as Metis and felt subject to racism when accessing services. They also admitted self-doubt about particular health practices relating to uncertainty about accurate information and a definite lack of relevant and offered information. Their hope was that, at the very least, health care professionals could address patient’s health care issues on a patient to patient basis and in an objective and dignified manner.

Throughout the course of our research, we were struck by the common theme of a lack of education, illustrated by both our interviews with health care providers as well as our personal experiences within the education system. Sexual health education is an often overlooked subject within the context of Saskatoon’s school system, particularly in regards to alternative sexualities. We feel that “cultural competence in health care environments increases access, but also enhances practitioner-client communication and rapport” (Arnold & de Peuter, 2007, pg 43), and the ramifications of cultural competence would only serve to bolster confidence in health care providers. We also feel that increased awareness of community resources should be made a priority by health care providers working within the queer community. The relationship between medical practitioners and community outreach centers should be fostered and strengthened with raised awareness and communication between all branches of health care service, including knowledge of resources available within the community to provide appropriate and timely referrals. We feel that the dismantling of the restrictive and often times judgemental discourse associated with the health care system’s heteronormative biases would be one of the most positive changes that could occur within the health care system. One of the comments that stuck out in our research regarded the importance of inquiry about self-identification of gender and sexual-orientation during clinical assessment. Self-identification would improve individualized care, rather than expecting all people to identify within a heteronormative binary. Continuing education in all aspects of health care is vital for providing current and topical patient care. In an area as evolving as queer health, this becomes especially important. The de-stigmatization of mental health issues within the queer community is an area that we see as supremely important for the furthering of positive health care provisions. By addressing mental health issues more openly, raising awareness with fact based discussion of mental health, and using inclusionary language we feel that this stigma could be greatly reduced. The advocation and creation of equal treatment policies within the health care system is another avenue that we see as pertinent to issues of queer health.

Our initial interest in queer health issues was only strengthened as we researched and experienced first-hand the clear discrepancies within the health care system. We have touched on many of the inequalities we discovered in our research, as well as attempted to create viable solutions and avenues of discussion pertinent to major issues in the area of queer health. As we created our questionnaires, we focused on the heteronormative framework that structures the current medical model; exclusionary discourse, the stigma still related to queerness, and the general lack of knowledge and awareness of queer health concerns. While there has been some academic research conducted on the subject, it will take interdisciplinary activism to create effective change in the health care system. The next generation of health care professionals have the ability and obligation to raise public awareness and make a positive difference in queer health outcomes. The future of queer health care is ripe for change with the visibility of queer issues rising, as we work towards decreasing the stigma associated with the queer community.

 

References

Arnold , S., & de Peuter, J. Calgary health region , (2007). Gender and sexual diversity: healthy                diverse populations. Retrieved from website: http://www.calgaryhealthregion.ca             /programs/diversity/diversity_resources/health_div_pops/GLBQITT_report.pdf

Rainbow health ontario , (2012). Rho fact sheet: lgbt mental health. Retrieved from website:             http://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/admin/contentengine/contentdocuments/lgbt_mental _health.pdf

Who: What is mental health?. (2007, 09, 03) Retrieved from http://www.who.int/features /qa/62/en/index.html 

Bibliography

Brennan, A., Barnsteiner, J., Siantz, M., & Everett, J. (2012). Lesbian, gay, bisexual,         transgendered, or intersexed content for nursing curricula. Journal of professional       nursing, 28(2), 96-104. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.cyber.usask.ca/           science/article/pii/S8755722311001888

Sullivan , N. (2007). A critical introduction to queer theory. New York, NY: New York     University Press

Because Being Poor Doesn’t Make You A Bad Person

This story is brought to you by ignorance. A lot of people are really ignorant about poverty and what it is to be poor. I was. I am not anymore, but I was.

In my Social Work class we had a presentation on poverty. What it is, who the face of poverty is, stereotypes. Man it hit me hard. I was so thankful the lights were off cause the tears just came. I told one of my friends it really hit a hard note with me because I related to everything they were saying (check out the anti-poverty coalition at :
http://saskatoonantipovertycoalition.blogspot.ca/ and really get some info on what it is to be living in poverty) and my friend says to me “Alana… I don’t think you are living in poverty”. I felt like I had been hit in the face. This was my friend, and I know he didn’t mean it the way it came across. He wasn’t intending to hurt me, but yeah, I am in that poverty category. I am in a low income family, and we are LUCKY to have what we do, we work our asses off to stay in a decent area of the city, and to eat, and go to school so we can one day be financially comfortable. 
It’s hard to sympathize when you don’t know what you are sympathizing with though, so here is how I KNOW that I am LUCKY and how I KNOW what poor feels like…

My poverty journey personally began when I was a single mother, who had no income, no place of my own, realistically I had nothing. I am thankful to friends and family to let me stay with them, and helped me provide for my infant. 

I had to go on social assistance. On freaking welfare! It was humiliating! I felt like I was being judged every time I walked into the Social Services building. But I needed it to keep my baby alive. I didn’t live on the street, but I sure as shit didn’t have extra money or fancy things. 
Do you know how people look at you when you are a single mom (and it was worse cause I looked like a 15 year old) especially when you are on social assistance? Even the workers treat you like dirt. They make you feel like the biggest piece of crap for asking for money to LIVE.

Now I am not couch surfing, or getting welfare cheques, but holy crap is it a struggle sometimes. It is stressful on the first, the fifteenth, the 31st and every day in between trying to stick to our very tight budget. We have kids with other parents, and they need to be in hockey or gymnastics or whatever (yeah, we want them in this stuff but jesus! How are we supposed to pay for this crap? Don’t they need food?)
So we save up for those things, sometimes have no idea how we are going to pay our rent, and after we pay our rent, well eating sure sucks. Oh wait, now we have to plan a birthday party, or Christmas, or  oh crap there is a book fair or a field trip and the kids need money for this or that.. and we try very hard so that they don’t feel left out, get bullied, or worry about money. They need to worry about being kids.

It sucks. Plain and simple. For anyone who has ever been here, I feel you. I am not homeless, I am better off than a lot of people, and I am thankful, but I am also surprised my hair hasn’t started to fall out from the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. 

There, now you know someone who is in that big lump of POOR FOLK. I am not dirty, I am not wasting money, I am responsible and I am just trying to provide for my kids. Think about that when you look at a person living in poverty and judge them. How do you know what their circumstance is? Most of us are only a paycheck or two from being that poor.. then what?

The Between-ness of Growing Up

There is a common misconception of growing up, that once you reach adulthood you are at a definite location in your life. As a teenager you think that being an adult means you have things figured out. You have a working definition of who you are. Your life makes sense, and you have “it all” figured out. 
In my experience as an “adult”, I have found that it is more of a general “in between-ness” rather than a definite place. You don’t really have anything figured out, much less “it all”, and rather than a definition of who you are, you are a continuous work-in-progress. Being an adult is less about knowing where  you are, and more about knowing where you have been and where you want to be. You end up in the middle. Stuck, right there, in between everything. 

Here are a few examples of “adulthood”

1. Wanting to go out drinking with friends but not wanting the three-day-you-aren’t-nineteen-anymore hangover.

2. Wanting to be done University but not really wanting to join the real world.

3. Wanting to save for a house but wanting to go on that awesome vacation

4. Disneyland or Tropical Beach?

5. Wanting to save for retirement but wanting to spend money doing fun things- right now.

6. Wanting to have kids and not wanting to give up Saturday sleep-ins and spontaneous sex

7. Planning a spa weekend or planning a wedding?

8. Wanting your kids to need you and cuddle you forever but wanting them to grow up and do things for themselves.

9. Wanting a “real job” but not wanting more responsibilities

10. Waking up wondering how you ended up in this nightmare but never wanting this wonderful dream to end.

So, adulthood is not so much an endpoint, as a constant starting point. You keep starting over in the middle of something new. It stays that way, I assume, until you enter old age (I’ll let you know when I get there) –Stuck right in the middle of all your plans and “reality”. Whatever that means.

Throwback Thursday: Identity? (Original Post from my First Blog which no longer is active)

Part of why I am doing this blogging thing is to be brutally honest with myself about myself.
I recently went back to school because I want to be a counsellor. Not just any counsellor, one specializing in sexuality. (Seems funny if you read my rant about “the talk” with my son but it is less awkward with other people!)

Why do I want to do this? I want to help people who are having problems in their lives sexually. People who, for whatever reason, aren’t performing well, or are struggling with their sexuality. I want to help them come to terms with their sexual struggle and what this means for their identity. 

A lot of who we are is tied to our sexuality, in fact, probably too much. Women are told they need to be sexy to get a man and they need a man to have a family and they need a family to avoid ending up alone with a million cats and a rocking chair on some falling apart porch in the country. Men constantly hear how women don’t stay with “minute men” or how we are so often unsatisfied, creating a fear that no woman will stay if you aren’t the best lover in the world. (I think we can all figure out how struggling with homosexuality, bisexuality,etc causes fear and anxiety.. if not, google that shit. It is EVERYWHERE.)

What we don’t do is offer a safe world to learn and change in sexually.
Still not sure what I mean? Let me take you on a hard journey of mine..(You are lucky, even some of my closest friends are hearing this for the first time..)

A few years ago I met a wonderful man who loves me and respects me and who is great with his kids and mine. He is a one of a kind man, and we had a firey romance from the start. Our sex life was great (SORRY MOM) and even if our finances sucked, or we had a hard parenting day, I could look forward to snuggling up and knowing if I wanted sex, not only could I have it, I was GOOD AT IT.

About a year after we moved in together, though, shit got shitty. It started to really hurt when we had sex, and I mean REALLY hurt. To the point I was crying and he couldn’t even look in my direction or it hurt. (Okay, I may be overreacting, but it felt like someone lit my girl parts on FIRE.. can you imagine it? Don’t. It hurts to imagine too!)

I found out that I had HPV. (Yeah, that was a bloody shock. I had always been careful, knew the history of those I slept with, used condoms, etc.. yeah but uh, it’s pretty damn easy to catch. F*ck)
So.. okay.. go to the doctor, treat the HPV, go back to the doctor, treat it again.. it sucks, it is embarrassing, and you feel like absolute SHIT but the doctor says “It’s really common. It’s super easy to treat. You will be better before you know it”.. so you have a pretty good outlook.(It still sucks, GET YOUR DAUGHTERS VACCINATED!!!)

All that treatment, however, causes irritation, which, wouldn’t you know it, makes sex painful (wasn’t that my problem in the first place?) I mean, obviously, not always, but in me it sure did. So treatment is done, and hey, I still can’t get down.

My doctor doesn’t know what is going on so let’s go to doctor number two..tests, abnormal PAP..more tests.. biopsy..more tests.. LEEP procedure..(Through all of this I would like to note I got NO information..completely in the dark) WHAM! “You had cancer but we THINK we got it all with the LEEP”
(GET REGULAR PAP TESTS! IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!)

Woah woah woah! (I know, you are thinking, what? Where the hell did that come from? Me too)

All THAT poking and prodding and crap continued to make it PAINFUL to have sex.. so hmm 2 years..no sex. As if that isn’t bad enough in itself but now we enter THE EMOTIONS.
This is the part that fuels my career ambitions.

I started to fall apart. I got really depressed, I cried all the time. If my hubby got flirty I was frustrated and angry cause he knew I couldn’t have sex, and if he didn’t I felt unwanted, and like he would leave. I felt like a failure as a woman, and I mean FAILURE. I couldn’t have sex, I didn’t feel sexy, if I could never have sex I couldn’t have any more babies, I had completely lost my identity. I felt like nothing. I kept asking my husband “what could you possibly want to stay with me for? I’m useless” and tell him to go find someone who could give him what he wanted.

It took months of him telling me I was smart, and funny, and kind, and all these other things that I even started to realize he wasn’t leaving. It took even longer, journalling, finding hobbies, etc to feel like I had some worth outside of my sexual ability. 

I still struggle at times with feelings of worthlessness because we still have troubles sometimes. All that trauma down there left my lady bits a bit sensitive, and it does get frustrating still.. but together we are getting through it. 

I want to help people through those types of feelings, I want to be someone who helps get people on the path to finding a new identity when any part of their sexual identity gets taken away. To see their trouble as a new way to live, instead of a loss or a flaw, and to be there for people in the way my husband was there for me. ❤

What’s missing…

Since we stopped talking, I have found myself occasionally evaluating my life without you. It’s sad, but it doesn’t seem strange not to talk to you, and I don’t feel like my life is much different. What a statement about the lack of relationship we had to begin with. There are some things I am missing, though:

1. Disappointment. I am missing the all too familiar feeling that came when you didn’t call, remember my birthday, and finally, when you didn’t want to get to know me.
2.Anger. I have plenty of anger in my life at times, but since we stopped talking, I find myself without a reason to be angry with you. I don’t spend the days leading up to my birthday waiting to be pissed off. I am not angry that you don’t want to talk to me. I am not angry that you can go months without even seeing me.
3. Responsibility/Guilt. I no longer have to rearrange my plans at the last minute when you text to say you are visiting in 24hours. Nor do I have to feel guilty if I can’t make sure the kids are all there to see you. I don’t feel bad if I don’t know you well enough to pick out a meaningful Christmas gift. 
4. My siblings. Unfortunately, the only time I ever see or talk to any of my siblings is when we are all with you. Since I am no longer there, they seemingly no longer have time for me. I miss them. All four of them. 
5. Hope. I don’t have the hope that things will change. I don’t sit there every time you message me on facebook, telling myself you will start talking to me regularly. I don’t hope that one of these days you will wake up and be sad that you have a stranger for a daughter. 

I think about those things, and I try to think about what my kids are missing. I really don’t know you all that well, so what are they missing? A chance to get to know you, and their aunt and uncles. The opportunity to have a handful of additional people in their corner when they need support and strength. But they are also missing the chance that they will feel the pangs of disappointment, sadness, and anger.

Of all the things that are missing, I believe you are missing the most. Your pride, your stubbornness, your unwillingness to change at all, ensure that you are missing out. On alot:

1. The opportunity to know your grandchildren. You won’t know how dedicated and talented one is at sports. You won’t see how the middle child has the most creative and unique view of the world possible. You can’t laugh at the antics of our youngest boy as he tells it like it is in the most innocent way. And you won’t ooh and ahh at the beauty of our girl, the preciousness of her, and the happiness that beams from her.
2. The chance to know my partner for the strong, loving man that he is. You miss out on seeing him hold my hand through every hurdle, to see the kids beam when he is around, and to hear his ideas on life.
3. You miss out on meeting a very good person. A person who cares about helping others, who volunteers, who is kind and loving to everyone, and willing to give everyone (even you) endless chances to change, grow, and become more than they thought they could ever be.
4. The wonderful part of parenthood where you get to be your child’s rock. You have not and will not be there through illness, hardship, or even just the times that are so good they need to be shared!
5.Growth. You miss out on the opportunity to become a better parent, and to learn something from these people you shut out. You miss the opportunity to change how you connect with and relate to your family. 

All these things are really crappy. What’s worse is knowing that you don’t even know what you are missing.

Behind the wall that is my anxiety.

You may have noticed this blog hasn’t been very active recently. You can thank Gill’s puppies and my anxiety for that. Gill is busy cleaning up literal shit All. Day. Long. Put pups out. Let pups in. Clean up shit. Repeat. She’ll be back soon.

I, in similar fashion, have been trying to clean up figurative shit. I have been locked in my head, sorting through the kind of shit that anxiety creates, for weeks now. In the wake of Robin Williams’ death, it seems fitting to talk about my own struggles with a mental illness… So that is what I will attempt to do here.
What is it like to be trapped in your own head? It sucks. It is crowded. It is scary. It is hard.

My typical day consists of talking myself down from one worry after another, after another, after another, and trying to organize, clean, create, or exercise, at a level that causes many of my friends and family to wonder if I have some sort of OCD (and I probably do), to keep the level of anxiety low. Luckily, I have kids so there is ALWAYS something to clean and organize. Unfortunately, I have kids so there is always something to worry about.

Bills. Kids.Groceries. Cats. Degus. Hamster. Baby. Teething. Diapers. Dishes. Laundry. Sleep. Naptime. Schedule. Classes. Back to School. Workout. Organize. Supper. Lunch. Cleaning. Shower. Vitamins. Wedding. Money. Loans. Moles. Cancer. Surgery. Appointments. Anxiety. Blog. Migraine. Mail. Books. Textbooks. Rent. Sex. Pills. Refills. Activities. Babysitters. Dust. Reorganize. Garbage. Ligthbulb. Costco. Walmart. Crowds. People. Friends. Time. Driving. Journal. Makeup. Clothing. Smile. Custody. Support. Holidays. Christmas. Birthdays. Anniversary. Rinse. Repeat.

These things and more pop into my head all day long. It makes me feel like I can’t breathe. Like I can’t think. Like I can’t keep up. 
Then I get emotional. Then I get grumpy. Then I worry about being grumpy and how it effects other people. It is worse if I am trying to talk myself down from an anxious thought, and someone needs something at that exact moment. Then I am really grumpy, but mostly because I can’t think, and then I feel guilty, which makes the anxiety worse.

My medications aren’t working lately. I’m feeling worse. It’s exhausting. It doesn’t stop. Even when my medications work it dulls the physical symptoms, breathlessness, racing heart, migraines, sleeplessness, panic, but the thoughts keep running. 24.7; 365. That is what it is like to live with anxiety. That is my struggle. And my excuse for not blogging. 

More medications to come, followed by… more blogs? Here’s hoping!

 

By sunspot615 Posted in Blogs