meandering

Meandering Along the Road Less Travelled

meandering
Images.com/Corbis

“Taking the road less travelled”. I’ve been thinking about this saying a lot lately. For some reason it has sparked my interest after a conversation during the week about Jessie. The person said that they often found those who had taken the road less travelled to be the most amazing people. The saying made me step back and have a look at us. Jessie’s been meandering along the road less travelled for a while now. And after stepping back, from that distanced view I could see her story forming. I had a glimpse of her retelling the tale of how she became a nurse. I wonder of the future hurdles she’ll have overcome, and how beautifully multi-layered all these experiences will make her.

I’ve been staying in the day to day, not allowing myself to daydream too much about the future in any context. However there’s been a basal shift in Jessie that’s enabling her to push through her nerves and negative thoughts and get back into life. She has goals she wants to achieve, which is giving her direction and real purpose.

With Jessie at TAFE this year I’d been thinking that our lives are becoming more normal again. From our perspective they are – Jessie’s back to attending classes in a couple of weeks. To most I realise it still isn’t normal – kids Jessie’s age are studying Years 11 & 12; mine is in adult education. It’s funny how we perceive things differently depending on our own experiences. And I’ve spent way too much time worrying about not living a normal life. But what is normal anyway?? And who gets to judge?! Humans don’t generally welcome those who are ‘different’. Sadly mental illness remains judged without being understood. But that will be part of her story, and a part I don’t doubt she will continue to grow resilient against.

Jessie’s meandering road has taken her to some pretty dark places. They’ve broken her, but she’s rebuilding with an amazing capacity for compassion. The last two years in her room has been spent putting herself back together. Being determined and strong willed by nature, she’s worked so hard to be at a place where she’s really excited about the acting training, studying away from home, and making a future for herself. Being very self aware, she’s learned to manage her symptoms so much better. She’s developing a sense of self, which I’m enjoying see happen. I’d so love to see that general confidence she used to have, back as well. Give it time…having purpose does wonders for so many things.

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations” – auther unknown

meandering

 

 


 

mental

Jessie vs Mental Illness – To the Victor Go the Spoils

mentalMental illness has been such a destructive force for Jessie, that has seen her life stripped back to its bare bones. She became unable to cope with human contact and attending school became altogether too much for her. Living in the dark of her bedroom, she only came out only for food or the bathroom. She shut right down and pretty much closed herself off to the world for close on 12 months.

Her re-emergence has been a slow and gradual process, but she’s been able to do it in her own time. Because of this, she’s been able to create strong foundations for herself. No-one has built them for her, she’s put in all the hard work, making them pretty sturdy. Her time’s been well spent researching all about bipolar and anxiety as well as positive coping techniques. Jessie’s level of insight into herself and others is amazing and is continuing to grow.

♥ After refusing professional help for many years, appointments are now requested, willingly attended and well utilised.

♥ After being fired from a job at 14 because she was too quiet and shy, she’s now making new friends where she works in customer service. She has to deal with all types of pesky people, some of them quite rude. Just the other night we we’re talking about how resilient it’s helping her become.

♥ After missing probably half of her education since Year 4, being educated at home has allowed Jessie to get back into her studies. She plodded along for the most part but I’ve spoken with 2 teachers who have both said how much things have changed over the last 6 months.

mentalI’d been contacted a few weeks ago as Jessie had won a Principal’s award for her mockumentary she made for English. I was also told that her gothic poem has been printed in the Year Book! That was a good day, made even better seeing Jessie really happy as well. I haven’t seen her outwardly care about her results like that for a long time.

Last week I had a call and a letter to say Jessie was getting another award and could we attend Presentation Day so she can “be presented with her ‘portfolio’ of awards”, whatever that means. It sounds impressive but we joked it could be a plastic sleeve folder with one award. …’To be added to’!

The icing on the cake for Jessie was being accepted into a talent academy. It’s such an awesome opportunity for her and who knows what doors it could open. This will give her training and exposure to agents, and she’s really excited but keeping her feet firmly on the ground. I’ve been receiving emails from Star Now for a few years. The interest’s been there, just not the self esteem.

I’m so rapt that she finally has the confidence to be moving out of her comfort zone. It shows that mental illness no longer holds the monopoly. It hasn’t gone away, but Jessie knows her triggers and symptoms and has a good grasp of her emotions. She’s learning to control the symptoms of her mental illness, instead of them controlling her. And she so deserves these outcomes.

She’s said to me that she’s waiting for it all to fall apart because things don’t go this well for her. Luck has had nothing to do with her academic achievements I reassured her  – they have come from her decision to put the effort in. Her acceptance into the talent academy was due to her creativity and the immediate impression she made at the audition. Jessie has her own green screen and has starred in her own short movies for years. She has earned loads of merit awards throughout  her school years for her stories and poetry. Writing is something she has always enjoyed, even when not engaged in school.

I’m so proud of the person she is becoming. I’m feeling more and more confident that she’s not only going to be okay, she’s going to be awesome. Even during her last full on manic episode where she didn’t sleep for two days, she decided to use it to her benefit. She washed all her bedding, did a big clear out of her wardrobe and drawers, tidied and cleaned her room and did a week’s worth of schoolwork. She was so productive which I think helped her keep it together. By having tasks to focus on, her energy was directed instead of being scattered.

It takes great courage, determination and inner strength to overcome the challenges Jessie has faced in her young life. Like an iceberg, people only see what’s above the surface. However what’s unseen is the largest part of the equation. People like to make judgement on what they see, presuming they understand and are therefore entitled to do so. Jessie’s learning to recognise her worth and not allow others to undermine her achievements. Unlike her mum, others opinions no longer affect her so negatively and this is going to help her immensely in life.

The harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.

mental

 
 


 
 


 
 

formal

Year 10 Formal, Meet Anxiety and PTSD

formalYear 10 Formal. What was hoped to be a special night for Jessie, ended up being memorable for all the wrong reasons sadly. She looked absolutely gorgeous and had been so excited. My heart sank when I got the first text an hour in, and I knew where it was going. I hadn’t been home an hour after already doing the 2 hour round trip to drop them off before I was doing it over again…

For $90 per head to attend formal, we knew there was a three course sit down dinner, DJ, photographer and photo booth. What we didn’t know was that the girls hadn’t put their table request in so wouldn’t all be seated together. Or that the DJ would be playing so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, from the start of the night. I felt for the teachers, but that’s how I loved my music many years ago, and all the girls had fantastic night. But for Jessie, her anxiety and PTSD were triggered, she lost her confidence and it was all over red rover.

I was angry. Screw you universe for allowing this to happen to Jessie. Fuck you for giving her this shitty plot in life that stops her from being a normal teen. I was angry that I had all the driving, when I’d been SO needing time out. I was angry that neither of our nights were what we’d hoped for. Jessie had been looking forward to the formal for so long. She’d paid off her own dress with weekly payments. It was a big deal for her, I wanted it to be a night with her friends she’d always remember. For me – I wanted to feel like I assume most parents feel thinking of their teen out having an awesome time. I don’t know what that’s like, Jessie’s been unwell since age 8.

formalJessie’s aware her mental illness isn’t taken seriously, and formal night really cemented that for her. She’d obviously gotten the feeling from friends on the night that she needed to say sorry, and did so the next day. I think she needed reassurance, but instead was thanked by her best friend for apologising. For what I don’t know. She didn’t create a big scene, she managed herself really well, just sat and waited for me. But as we talked about with Jessie’s counsellor, mental illness is invisible, and people don’t understand. If she’d had a physical illness, no doubt her friends would have instead looked after her. And certainly wouldn’t have expected an apology.

Sadly people don’t understand mental illness. The notion is thoughtlessly thrown out there that sufferers should be able to control their symptoms. Yet you’d be a real a-hole to expect someone to control their asthma symptoms, or to walk on a broken leg. But the reality is that I think many mental illnesses are seen as a choice, and can therefore be controlled. If not controlled, the mind must be weak. Weak is definitely not a word I’d use to describe my Jessie, in any way, shape or form!

But that’s life. And as disappointing as it can be, if Jessie can learn how to get on regardless now, she’ll have strong foundations for life.

She loves her friends. And her need for friends is the same as everyone else’s.

They’re all learning – they’re teenagers, all trying to work out how and where they fit in this world.

formal

 
 

imperfections

Catastrophic Imperfections – Or So I Thought

imperfectionsI’m not one to make excuses for myself nor one to blow my own trumpet. This post could be seen as doing both those things. However my purpose for writing is to help me to be less judgemental of my imperfections. I’m hoping it will also help keep things in perspective for me.

In my previous post I was really upset with myself and worried about the repercussions of not being on top of things. After walking out of Jessie’s previous session I’d been asked to come back in to talk with her counsellor. I was convinced of a catastrophic outcome after previous experiences. Before Jessie was diagnosed I was told by a DoCs worker that her issues were due to my bad parenting. Despite that not being the case, that judgement has always stuck with me.

So after chatting about Jessie and things she had brought up, it turns out that ultimately she’s worried about me. I’ve been getting angry and my patience levels aren’t what they had been. The counsellor was concerned too, as I’ve never walked out of a session before, and we’ve dealt with some pretty full-on things over the 6 years we’ve known her. The expectation of hearing if I didn’t do xyz Jessie would be taken, was getting to me. I had to ask if there was any threat of me losing Jessie. The counsellors reaction was something I want to record as a reminder to my critical self.

She gently told me that if I was waiting to hear those words I would’ve been waiting forever as they were never going to be spoken. I was told the only time she’s ever rung DoCs was when I was sitting in her office many years ago, desperate for help. I burst into tears and she told me how sorry she was I’d had that fear hanging over me. She said she’s never had a concern for the safety or wellbeing of Jessie with me, ever. With Jessie having been sectioned so many times we became well known by the ER staff and the CYMHS team. I was reassured that there has never been a imperfectionsconcern by anyone, at any time.

We talked a little about me not coping. I told her I’m angry with myself because I know the parenting stuff yet I’m struggling to get it right lately. I was also upset because I’ve had so much counselling over my lifetime, yet I can still get to this low point. Counselling was supposed to ‘fix’ you I’d believed. So wtf was wrong with me? Again the counsellor’s reaction was not what I’d expected! I thought she’d remind of what I needed to work on. Instead she talked about the effects of trauma and why I’m feeling so overwhelmed. Instead of my imperfections being highlighted, I was heard and validated. What was highlighted were the positive changes in Jessie over the years which she put down to my parenting and love. Thankfully it’s allowed me to stop judging myself so harshly.

Apparently I’m doing really well, even when I feel I’m not. The counsellor told me that there are families there who aren’t coping with things quite small in regards to what I deal with and on my own. She reminded me that our lot is very far from the norm – we’re dealing with some very difficult and stressful realities. There are things about it which are triggering for me, bringing me to ‘why aren’t I fixed?’

The explanation was so rational it could’ve only been blocked out by my delusions of a tune up and off you go, good as new. All of our experiences stay with us. They go towards making up who we are. Counselling helps us process emotions and thoughts in the hope we can move on. But it doesn’t erase the experience, dammit, and the side effects can be triggered by any number of things, at any time.

imperfectionsJessie’s educated via distance ed and doesn’t have a social life unless friends come here. As the counsellor said, we live in a small space where there’s nowhere to get away, no yard to escape to. It’s not normal to live in such close confines with someone 24/7. Being mum, I’m on call 24/7 as well, no respite. What’s normal in that situation is to become frustrated and less tolerant with each other. I do have a tough egg here, and Jessie’s been home consistently for 2 years now. Having regained perspective, we’ve done pretty okay really! She drives me crazy but I love her to absolute bits! It’s gotta be that bond that gets us through, imperfections and all…

Solution?

A solution…that’s a bit like ‘being fixed’ isn’t it?! We’ll see.

I’d had an idea about creating a roster type thing that would give me uninterrupted time to study, write and do my volunteering stuff. The counsellor thought it was a fantastic idea so I’ve written up a trial timetable. The hours might change, it needs to be practical, but Jessie’s on board which is a positive start.

• We’re also going to see the counsellor each fortnight for a while, plus I can see her on my own whenever I need.

• I’ll also read this if ever I have any doubts about my parenting. I won’t doubt a counsellor who’s known us for 6 years. I also need to listen to those who love me instead of those who don’t.

 

imperfections

 

 

future

The Future is Starting to Glimmer and Shine

futureDuring the week Jessie came with me to TAFE to return and borrow library books. I’ve finally completed my Cert IV in Bookkeeping and onto my second cluster of subjects in a Cert IV in Mental Health. The Diploma in Mental Health is next, as my future plan is to find paid work in the field. Currently I’m volunteering which I really love. I’ve also been recommended to be on the Board for Kathleen York House, a drug and alcohol treatment centre run by the Alcohol Drug Foundation NSW. Hopefully I’ll be meeting up with them this coming week. All great experience and good for my resume!

But l’m already off track. This post was intended to be about Jessie, and the epiphany she had as we were leaving TAFE. So diverting back – this visit unexpectedly sparked a shift and an excited buzz in Jessie around her future studies. She started reminiscing about school and talking about the things she missed. In general these were the learning environment, friends and being part of something. Music to my ears.

I suggested she should find out what courses are run at our local tafe. She was pumped and did just that the minute we got home. There are times a rocket can’t shift this kid, but when she’s motivated, don’t get in her way. Either she’ll take you out in her haste, or I’ll take you out for stopping her (I write in humour, having a little chuckle to myself – before realising there may just be a little truth in it!). I don’t care what she choses to futuredo or in which direction she goes. I just want her to find her direction and kick its arse. Or just follow it. Or anything in between!

With a uni application already under her belt, she’s now favouring the pathway through TAFE. Personally I think she’s made the right decision for herself, if for nothing more than the fact it’s going to be a big change from what she’s doing now. So the wait now is for her to finish Year 10 so she can apply for her chosen course, and hope to god she gets in.

After all these years of worrying about what Jessie’s future might look like, this excitement in her passed through to me. I allowed myself to feel the relief and imagine seeing Jessie grow up to have a happy life. What a luxury!! And something I’d always taken for granted before things went haywire. She may very well have just taken an alternate route to get to where she was always going. Fingers crossed…

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”

future

 


 
 

fears

Facing Fears and Moving Forward

fearFacing my fears can seem really daunting sometimes. That cautious inner voice, the sweaty palms and the flood of adrenaline once had a role in keeping me safe. However these reactions have now become a hindrance to a smooth transition forward. The inner voice is the most annoying culprit these days. I’m hoping if I keep burning its soapbox and cutting off its audience, it’ll go back to where ever it came from.

Fears are the creation of our thoughts. So surely if we are strong of mind, we can live without fear? Logically that sounds more than reasonable, does it not? I think so, and I consider myself a pretty logical kinda person. Thoughts can be pretty powerful though. They seem to permeate the body, setting adrenaline flowing and the heart to beat faster. Shaking hands, nausea, cold sweats, and a dry mouth quickly follow. Now the body’s freaking out, the fearful thoughts amp up, in absolute drama heaven! At this point one of two things will happen:

• my Virgo side will come out and I’ll retreat, crying, or

• my Leo side will come out and I’ll get this shit sorted.

Naturally the second course of action feels so much more proactive, but they both have purpose.

Raising Jessie over the last seven years has spiked my interest in psychology and what makes us tick. I’ve found I have a much greater capacity for acceptance and tolerance of myself when I understand why I work the way I do. It doesn’t ever justify anything, but I can only change what I comprehend. I was first diagnosed with depression and PTSD in 1995. I didn’t take prescribed medication until I was diagnosed again in early 2003, and then again in fear2015. I’d written the words on forms and things, said the words many times no doubt, and seen various counsellors over the years, but didn’t ever actually look into depression or PTSD in regards to myself.

I don’t recover well from hurtful or unjust words or situations. Buddha’s story about the angry man is in my mind now, but its theory isn’t always easy to practise! That saying “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, hasn’t applied to me as yet. I interpret that line to mean that we gain resilience after going through tough or traumatic situations. Am I wrong in my interpretation? Instead fear can set in, disguised by various emotions and reactions. When the stressors feel to be dominating or numerous, my resilience drops dramatically. If the situation involves broken trust, my brain becomes the most frantic as secure boundaries are demolished in an instant.

Some days I’m better off keeping to myself, but the time always comes when we all must make a choice – succumb to fear which gives it more and more power, or push through and empower ourselves. I think moving forward requires permission to self to forgive our shortcomings and be kind to our multi-faceted selves. I need to work on these things! Labelling ourselves as one thing is so short sighted, especially when that label isn’t flattering.

As a beautiful friend said to me yesterday, “even while depressed or negative we are 100 other things – most of them fucking wonderful.”

fear

extreme

An Exasperatingly Extreme Exhausting Existence

teenagersI’m exhausted.  The cause – me and my extreme existence.  I should stop there because that sounds as if my life is full of adventure and excitement!  It has moments of both, but it feels more extreme in it’s stresses.  I’m hoping by writing what’s in my head, I’ll become untangled from it.

There is so much going on that I feel trapped with.  The feeling throughout my body is ‘I hate my life’.  I hate my life.  But that’s a secret.  One I wish had been kept from me too.  But no, everything’s got to be laid out on the table and psycho-fucking-analysed.  Not much is allowed slip by.  No-one is perfect but how many live under such extreme self scrutiny?  Surely it’s not meant to be so intense?

 

It’s the very basic things that I’m fed up with.  Combined with all the little things playing ‘pile on’, I get to feeling like I might explode into a billion pieces.  And I see little peace from life in the near future.

I love Jessie, my family, and all the people in my life, and I enjoy my volunteering and study.  These things give me temporary relief, but as I said, it’s the basic things I’m hating.  Like where I live and the attitude from our community housing provider I have to live with.  I have to suck it up that we live in a place that is not maintained, or cleaned properly.  I reported the extreme stench of our bins, and the fact that the garbage rooms are never cleaned.  The place is only mopped about once a month, leaving the floors smelling worse than the bins.  But I’m told it’s all of an ‘acceptable’ standard.  I wish I could get paid enough to buy a brand new BMW by doing an ‘acceptable’ job.  Or work in the office of Link Housing – they don’t even reach that standard!!

I can never get hold of our housing manager, and she has returned my calls on extremeone occasion only.  Emails I’ve been sending in about a car parked in our driveway adding to the safety hazard – ignored for the last two months.  The last time I was on holidays up north, I’d rung after a leak in the roof had damaged my wall making the paint bubble and peel and the carpet discolour. My request to have it repaired had gone ignored and I was chasing it up.  How dare I!  I was asked by the staff member in a holier than thou tone, “Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have electricity? Do you have water?”!  I made a formal complaint about her.  Didn’t ever hear back.

We have dead gardens and the grassy areas are nothing but weeds.  I told them the gardeners rarely come, and all they do is mow when they do come.  But I’m told we have the same gardeners as another block where the gardens are beautiful, and that they come every two weeks to tend our gardens.  I was the second tenant to move in here, but hey, what do I know?!  I only live here!  We are the newest block in the street, and the most dishevelled after only six years. It’s embarrassing.  But the attitude is that we’re all shitkickers, not entitled to anything better than acceptable, or entitled to a voice – the very thing I can’t stand!!

What amazes and angers me is that it’s so often those claiming to be caring and advocating for those in need, that treat those they advocate for with such disdain and discrimination.  And because I do have a voice, I’ve earned myself a bad extremename at Link.  I could easily write a book with all the stories from living here over the years!  But in keeping with the integrity of Link Housing, when I asked the CEO who their governing body was, he told me the it was their ‘skills based Board’ and provided me the Chairpersons email.  My query as to how they can be governed by themselves has gone unanswered.  I would’ve thought that if a tenant asks, they’d be obliged to give a truthful answer.  I really can’t stand being treated like an idiot, but it comes with living in my world unfortunately.

The chief assets manager did call me yesterday and she’s coming out to meet with me on Thursday with the assets manager and the CEO.  She tells me that it is their responsibility to keep on top of everything here, and they plan to improve their processes, but I’ve heard the second part of that sentence before. We’ll see…

I’m also struggling with accepting events of the past.  The position Jessie’s in is a extremeconsequence of my choice in men. I know all the positive thinking tools. And I know I need to be compassionate and forgiving towards myself to be able to move forward.  However I feel like I’ve gone full circle, and am back at the point of knowing my choices are the reason Jessie has so many problems.  In reality, how can anyone really forgive themselves for their child being sexually assaulted by an ex?  If I was healthier in my mind, she wouldn’t have been assaulted because I wouldn’t have chosen him.

Seeing Jessie so happy after her social get togethers last week, did create a spark in my heart and did give me some relief.  Unfortunately the day to day picture quickly put that spark out.  Our normal is so far off most people’s and I’m finding myself wishing for a different existence.  I feel like I’ve lived in some kind of dysfunction for most of my life.  Things were supposed to settle as I got older, but that hasn’t been the case.

Jessie’s a very intelligent girl, but today she dropped her electives, so is only doing core subjects in middle school.  This leaves her ineligible to go on to Yrs 11 & 12, although she plans on going to TAFE next year.  I’m really worried she’ll struggle with a full workload, as she’s not used to it.  My fear is if she doesn’t want to put the effort in she’ll give it up, and then we’re in trouble.  I know there’s no point worrying about the future, but it’s much easier said than done.

I’ve brought a child into the world who is constantly telling and showing me how much she hates herself.  She doesn’t have much care about her cleanliness or appearance.  Her room is disgusting. She’s blamed me, having shouted at me that I shouldn’t have fucked her father.  What do you say to that?!

As her mum I’ve failed to keep her safe and I know I’ll only be able to forgive myself if she has a contented life.

Then there are the ‘pile ons’

I’m owed over $27 000 in child support arrears, and this financial year owed a paltry $8 per week to contribute to Jessie’s upbringing.  It’s insulting. I’d rather not get anything.

extremeI want out of city living, but I know I’ll never be able to afford to move to the country.  That has to remain just a dream.  I want out of Link Housing, but I can’t afford full rents.

People are not my favourite species.  I’m sick of most people.  So many are arrogant, self centred, unkind, cruel and rude.

It’s been two and a half months since I quit smoking but I’m still having the vivid, extreme dreams.  I wake up feeling like I’m ready for bed.

I could go on but it’s all just whingeing.  So many things are aggravating me that I’m deep breathing so much I’m making myself dizzy.  I fear my head’s likely to explode.  Or I could quite possibly go mad…that sounds more fun.

extreme

 

teenagers

Teenagers, Parties and Alcohol

teenagersDay Before the Party:  I was unexpectedly asked the dreaded question this afternoon – “Mum am I allowed to have a drink at the party?”.  I was a little taken aback.  This all seems to be happening so quickly.  For me anyway! Teenagers and drinking – it doesn’t bring pretty pictures to mind.  But I must remember that my teenager’s not me at the same age.  That’s a massive consolation, and I’d love for it to stay that way.

Today Jessie met up with her old friends from school which was a lovely surprise.  She was anticipating only knowing one friend in the group that was going, and was super excited about, so having them all made her day.  They went into the city to play laser tag, and she was gone for the entire day.  I’d started getting worried by the afternoon.  She normally texts me regularly and sends me photos on the occasions she does go somewhere without me.  But nothing…until she needed me, haha.  She was too busy enjoying herself thankfully, and didn’t need the contact with me.  I’m so happy for her!  They’re responsible, really lovely girls who I trust, and trust with Jessie.

teenagersAfter leaving the house at 9:20 this morning, she rang at 4:30 asking could she go with the girls to a party tomorrow night.  Omg this is awesome!!!  Socialising with her old gang!!  Having a life outside of her bedroom!!  Seeing Jessie so genuinely happy and feeling like she really belongs is elating for me.  Even a couple of months ago I doubt she would’ve wanted to go out today, let alone go to a party.

Such feelings of elation aren’t evoked by the details of this party though.  There are lots of girls from her old school going.  Which immediately told me drugs and lots of drinking, by some anyway.  That’s a concern. But again, my teenager is not me at that age.  She is way more sensible and switched on!

teenagersMy decision comes down to a choice really.  I either trust in Jessie’s sensibilities, or I not allow her to go, at a time when these friendships have a chance to bond again.  That’s how I see it anyway.  And being her only parent, that is my perogative.  Jessie’s socialisation has taken a real hit over the last couple of years, so I’ve chosen to let her go.  Intertwined with my anxieties about it was real excitement for her.  A glimmer of normality for her was so relieving for me.  It’s brought me out of a deep rut I was in about our dysfunctional reality.

My next decision was around alcohol.  Two of the parents are allowing one drink, however there are such strongly divided sides to this amongst mums and dads. My thoughts go back to my adolescence, and to things our much loved caseworker had said a few years ago.  It was time for me to now make up my own mind as a parent.

teenagersThere are two irrefutable facts:

1. alcohol is damaging to teenagers maturing brains and,

2. teenagers who want to drink are going to drink.

 

Jessie knows more about the damaging effects than I do as it turns out.  Good job school!  We discussed the possible side effects of alcohol with her medication and the concerns with her bipolar.  On this she was well researched and I was impressed with her knowledge and understanding.  She can be so mature – I see glimpses of her grown up self. She’s so funny, I was giving her a few excuses to use if she was pressured to have more to drink. She looked at me like I was mad and said “why would I have to lie? I’d tell them straight out I don’t want another drink.” And I have no doubt she would too!

My preferrence would be she didn’t drink at all, however I think it’s safest to discuss and negotiate together.  That way we’re both heard and respected. I’ve learnt that teenagers have a greater chance of sticking to an agreement they’ve had a say in putting together.  With a close relationship comes a respect and trust they really don’t want to break.  But if Jessie was to slip up or find herself in trouble, I’d rather be the first one she calls.

She and her friends are sensible girls, and Jessie acknowledged the trust I was placing in her.  Still, I hope I’ve made the right call…

*I trust in myself that I have *

teenagers

 

violent teens

Handling Aggressive or Violent Teens

violent teensParenting a teenager is a whole new life experience. Particularly for parents who face aggressive or violent teens when they are disappointed or challenged. If you are one of these parents, believe me, you are not alone. There are many mums and dads struggling, faced with the same behaviours in their teens. It’s an issue that affects families from all walks of life and economic backgrounds. Coming to know these truths prompted me to write this blog. The following paragraph from this article in the SMH explains so perfectly what often happens:

“The first act of violence, parents are so shocked and taken aback they don’t know how to respond,” Ms Howard said. “It escalates to the point where parents are too intimidated and scared to stop the behaviour.”

violent teensThe article says that psychologists and researchers have found this behaviour linked to a sense of entitlement and ‘cotton wool parenting’. While I don’t disagree with that, many other factors can play a role as well. For many, mental health issues and the inability to cope with thoughts and emotions are the cause. I’m writing from the latter angle.

In our case, my daughter, Jessie, went from being a confident, happy kid, to being volatile and unpredictable. Her friendships were becoming fractured. Her tolerance for disappointment or discipline was no longer existent. It was extremely shocking and confronting! I couldn’t understand why my violent teenparenting methods were no longer working. Neither did I understand why her reactions were so intense. I was living on eggshells, afraid to parent and at a loss. Jessie was ruling the roost with anger and violence. (No pun intended!) Things needed to change because it wasn’t any way to live for either of us. With support and learning though, homelife is way more peaceful and connected these days.

As a loving and responsible parent, safety for everyone must be paramount. Our boundaries around safety in the home need to be made clear to our teens. Consequences also need to be made clear, and we must be consistent in upholding them. Physical violence and destruction of property need a no tolerance attitude. Police should be called if your teen is acting out in a way that poses a serious risk to themselves or others. As harsh as that may sound, the fact is that violence and physical abuse isn’t acceptable behaviour, or appropriate coping mechanisms. Those are rules of life. Better our kids learn that before adult consequences come into play.

While we are standing firm on the no violence rule, we need to give another outlet. My daughter punched her pillows and screamed into them. If you’ve got violent teenspace, hang up a punching bag that your teen can take their rage out on.

As parents we can do a lot to help as well. By modelling the behaviour we want to see, we show them how it’s done, as well as demonstrating that we are strong and capable of dealing with whatever they bring our way. Teens feel safer knowing we are their rock.

Communication plays a huge role in dealing with aggressive and violent teens. Effective use of it can de-escalate the situation before things become out of control and police are required. Read my article here about communication holding the power for attaining peace. Like changing any habits, it takes practice before it comes second nature, but the pay-offs are well worth it.

What teens are throwing out to us, mirrors what is happening with them. If we can remember that they’re hurting and/or really not liking themselves, and try not to take things to heart, we can provide the best support. I think it’s important we tell them how their words or action affect us, so they learn about others emotions. However it’s most effective to stay calm and don’t react in the same ways they are.

Try and see humour whenever you can, to give you a giggle on the inside. A couple of weeks ago Jessie came home annoyed and yelling at me. When I told her it upset me when she spoke to me that way, and she replied “well I’m sorry you’re the only one here for me to take it out on!!” I burst out laughing (NOT in the good parenting book), so had to take myself off to the bathroom. I still find it amusing. The apitome of teenage thinking!

If you need help:

ReachOut.com Australia runs a FREE, flexible coaching course for parents to help us help our teens, with whatever the issues are. You need a computer and a phone, and 90 minutes for the first session. You can however make use of up to an additional three, one hour sessions. Click here for more info or to register.

ReachOut.com also runs a forum which is a supportive community of parents needing assistance or offering advice, learned from experience. If you’re feeling isolated, you will find others going through similar things, which can be therapeutic in itself. You can check out the forum here.

violent teens

mondayitis

Every Day’s Been Giving Me Mondayitis…

mondayitisMondayitis – this is really knocking me around lately. Nearly every day’s feeling like a Monday; with that strong urge to call in to life sick. I’m sliding through the days with the same amount of effort and enthusiasm as the cat on those stairs.

Time is passing in strange increments. It’s been four days since I was in the city, although it feels like a couple of weeks ago. Thirty minutes can drag on for what seems like hours. Hours can pass in mondayitisminutes. I’ve had splitting headaches and my body feels like it does after a seizure, although I’m having 4-5 aura’s a day. My muscles feel fatigued as if I’ve done a tough workout. My brain is hazy and I cannot trust that what I see is what is there. What is a dream and what is reality is not entirely clear. And no – I am not taking drugs!

Last week was spent managing nerves and anxiety before a TV interview Thursday morning. I had a couple of panicked moments over the preceding days, but was able to get it under control before it all went pear shaped. (No offence to pears. I love pears.) The first pounding headache came Thursday night. My mood took a nosedive and all I wanted was bed. The next morning I woke with that mondayitis feeling, along with an aching head that has stubbornly persisted.

mondayitisMy mind was fighting old thought patterns again. I question everything and get down on myself for whatever is happening to me. My neck and back were so sore, and I’m sure the cause of my headaches. I went to the gym on Tuesday thinking I could work it out. It wasn’t to be, although I did feel the shift of energy and faintly felt my strength scrambling to free itself from under that heavy, dark blanket. Happy hormones 🙂

By yesterday afternoon I could’ve chopped my own head off, so went and had a remedial massage. I’d say 45 out of the 55 minutes were pure agony, dished out by a tiny, softly spoken asian woman. I came home and crashed on the lounge. The soup I’d started cooking earlier would have to wait.

Today my muscles are sore from the massage but the headache is finally gone. The pain is so worth the reward. I’ve only had one aura today. I feel human again! So I know that I haven’t been well. I’m not really sure what happened, but it’s an awesome feeling having the fog clearing.

mondayitis

%d bloggers like this: