Pretending It Doesn’t Exist

Note:  This comes out of recent events we are aware of but not personally involved in and a conversation I had with someone.  The person I talked to is one of the sweetest people I have ever known and was receptive to my perspective as we talked.  She did not know about my mental health journey.  I am by no means upset with her; I just wanted to share my thoughts after this conversation.

A young man known by many in our circle of friends died by suicide earlier this week.  This lead many parents to have to consider how and what to discuss with their children.  In a conversation this week, a lady said to me, “I don’t talk to my kids about it.  I don’t want them to even know it [suicide] exists.”

I was floored.  Her kids are all in their teens and 2os.  Without meaning to, I jumped on her.

“But it does exist.  Kids need to know that.  I live with bipolar disorder and while it is not right now, there are times suicidal ideations (thoughts) are part of the illness.  They are a symptom of bipolar and other mental health issues.  Kids need to know that.  They need to know what it is and to seek  help whether it is a one-time thing or part of ongoing their mental health concerns.”

She knew nothing of my history, my journey or my battles.  To be honest, I share less and less of it openly.  But today, I was reminded why I sometimes have to speak up.

Mental illness almost killed me.  It almost tore apart my family, as it did this family earlier this week.  I do not know this young man’s story, but I do know suicidal ideations.  I know what it is to fight that battle with every breath in my body.  I know what it is to fight alone and with others.  I know what it is to have beat back the thoughts for now.  I know what it is to dread their return.

There are many causes of suicidal thoughts and none of them are because someone knew suicide existed.  We can not protect our children by never mentioning suicide or mental illness.  We can not wish or deny it away.  We can not cause our children to deal with suicidal thoughts by saying the word any more than we can make it disappear by never talking about it.

I am not telling you to spill out everything you know about suicide and every scary detail to every child–different ages call for different types and amounts of information.  Choose wisely, but please don’t choose nothing.

 

 

Clowning Around

Today found us heading out for a field trip to The Parade Company in Detroit.

We saw where they build floats and big heads for America’s Thanksgiving Parade; it is the third biggest Parade in America–behind the Rose Parade on January 1st and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

It started in 1924 as the JL Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Employees from Hudson’s were in the parade–but only men–they pulled the floats.  A couple of years later women were allowed to be in it and all were paid for doing so.  The parade was not held in 1943 and 1944 as the parade supplies were donated for the war effort.

The Parade Company employs artists and has 4,500 volunteers that put on the parade each year.  People 14-years-old and up can walk in the parade.  Wearing a Big Head or being a clown is an option for those making a donation of various sizes.

We saw a styrofoam culture being crafted, floats from previous years that will be reused, and a float being dismantled that is being taken out of service.

Can you find the first ethnic float character or the handpainted Petoskey stone?

 

If You Give a Girl…

My husband is a custom carpenter who can make amazing things and fix anything.  Our girls are used to tools and hands-on projects…we recently found out how used to it!!

Our house does not have a door directly into the backyard so we either put the dog on a tie out in the front yard or we walk him around to the side of house to get him into fenced in yard.

This has always irritated my husband and I a bit but we just realized it has been bothering the girls too.  When they found a piece of pallet my husband had used in a project and made a ladder for the dog so they could let him in and out of the house through the youngest daughter’s bedroom window.

They got the screw gun and even found screws to refurbish the pallet piece to make it more sturdy for the dog.

It’s not a bad system and only required supervision from me.

Yesterday, the 9-year-old decided the “ladder” needed some more work…I got a little more involved this time!!

Falling Into…

If you want something done, ask the busiest person?  No, just ask the person who can’t say no.

Last year, I was asked to run for a position on our co-op board.  I won.  I ran unopposed.  Now, don’t even think I am doing this on my own…the other board members do so dang much.  And my committee members.  They do so much.  And I am so thankful.

People think I do everything last minute because I am so busy—nope, it is because a lot of times my anxiety keeps me from doing any of the things, so I have to wait until my brain gives me a bit of slack.

I’ve been fighting a hypomania phase with the bipolar for what feels like months and I finally found out why–I have been.  I was doubting that fact because then it would feel different…turns out, according to the doctor, I am in a mixed episode.

Yeah, that right there would explain it.

The yo-yo.  The back and forth.

Right now I feel like I am collapsing into it.

A family emergency last week pulled me out of my routine that helps protect me.

Some other struggles have me thinking too much.

My pride has me smarting over an e-mail where I want to scream, hey, I did the work, I laid the groundwork…why are they getting credit?

That one hurts and exacerbates the other issues.

I have spent a lot of time thinking the bipolar was no longer an issue.

I was wrong.

A Bump in the Road

Back in May, I was a good girl.  I got my annual mammogram.  Dang, those things hurt.  I figured I would check that off my list and move on with life.

Nope.

They needed more views and an ultrasound…and there was a lump.

Next came a needle biopsy and another mammogram (those jerks hurt).

And finally a lumpectomy last week.  Thankfully the lump was not cancer, but it was high risk so the journey is not quite over.  Next month we discuss the risks and consider next steps.

None of this was supposed to happen and I am not handling it well.

I am not afraid of dying from cancer.  At all.

I am afraid of the disruption in my life.

I am afraid of not being a good witness for Jesus.

But I was not afraid of the bipolar getting its two cents in.

And yet, here I am.

I came through the surgery last week with flying colors.  No pain, light bruising.  I expected to rejoin my life no problem–instead I find myself wanting to hide out.  I literally wanted to do nothing last week.  I just went to my friend’s house and hid.

Saturday I decided it was time to rejoin my life no matter how I felt.  And I have.

But oh how I would rather still be on my friend’s couch.  Where I feel protected with no expectations.

I’m here, but I am missing from my life.

School Year

Where did this year go?  I swear it started yesterday but here we are…starting our last week on Monday!!

I am ready.

The girls are ready.

Frazier is probably even ready.

I am sure the turtle is ready.

Did we get it all done?  Heck no!!!

But Sue did an amazing job with reading.  She read so many books!  She read things like Bridge to Terabethia, Paddington Bear, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Refugee, some Dork Diaries books, some Who Was biographies, Anne of Green Gables, Across Five Aprils.  A lot.

Ukranian eggs were decorated.

Ice skating was discovered.

Dissections were done (grasshopper and squid).

Syrian foods were eaten.

Math was done–each of the girls completed a level and started the next!!

Random schoolwork was done.

A good year was had…

 

 

Low FODMAP Part 2

A couple of years ago I embarked on a Low FODMAP diet to deal with some stomach issues.  In this process, I discovered I can’t tolerate peanuts, cashews, apples (like EVER), and ice cream.  It has helped.  But I have gotten lazy and I think it is time to be kind to my digestive system again.

The FODMAP theory holds that consuming foods high in “FODMAPs”—short for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in many common foods—results in increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, contributing to symptoms such as abdominal paingas, and bloating, and the motility problems of diarrhea and constipation. The theory proposes that following a low-FODMAP diet should result in a decrease in these symptoms.

(https://www.verywellhealth.com/foods-on-the-low-fodmap-diet-1944679)

It is a daunting process.  The first 2 weeks are very strict.  But at least this time I will only be two weeks at that level.  Back when I originally did it, I spent months and months at the strictest level to get my stomach healed.  But I am pretty confident this time two weeks will be enough.

The following foods have been identified as being high in FODMAPs:

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums and prunes
  • Pomegranates
  • Watermelon
  • High concentration of fructose from canned fruit, dried fruit or fruit juice

Grains

  • Barley
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Wheat

Lactose-Containing Foods

  • Buttermilk
  • Cream
  • Custard
  • Ice cream
  • Margarine
  • Milk (cow, goat, sheep)
  • Soft cheese, including cottage cheese and ricotta
  • Yogurt (regular and Greek)

Dairy Substitutes

  • Oat milk (although a 1/8 serving is considered low-FODMAP)
  • Soy milk (U.S.)

Legumes

  • Baked beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Butter beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Soybeans
  • Split peas

Sweeteners

  • Agave
  • Fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Molasses
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol

Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Scallions (white parts)
  • Shallots
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas

Low-FODMAP Food List

grilled chicken over vegetables
Cristina Cassinelli/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The following foods have been identified as being low in FODMAPs:

Fruits

  • Avocado (limit 1/8 of whole)
  • Banana
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Olives
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Plantain
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberry
  • Tangelo

Sweeteners

  • Artificial sweeteners that do not end in -ol
  • Brown sugar
  • Glucose
  • Maple syrup
  • Powdered sugar
  • Sugar (sucrose)

Dairy and Alternatives

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk (limit 1/2 cup)
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk
  • Butter
  • Certain cheeses, such as  brie, camembert, mozzarella, Parmesan
  • Lactose-free products, such as lactose-free milk, ice cream, and yogurt

Vegetables

  • Arugula (rocket lettuce)
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Collard greens
  • Common Cabbage
  • Corn (half a cob)
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Radicchio
  • Scallions (green parts only)
  • Spinach, baby
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Water chestnut
  • Zucchini

Grains

  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur wheat (limit to 1/4 cup cooked)
  • Oats
  • Gluten-free products
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt products

Nuts

  • Almonds (limit 10)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts (limit 10)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecan
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts

Seeds

  • Caraway
  • Chia
  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower

Protein Sources

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Turkey

(https://www.verywellhealth.com/foods-on-the-low-fodmap-diet-1944679)

For in depth, I mean in depth, information about FODMAP eating, check out The Gut Balance Revolution by Gerard E Mullin, MD.  I am not going to lie, it took me about 2 years to trudge through it, but it is incredibly well researched, so there’s that.

The upside to this is phase two can be done long term and is safe for weight loss as well as being nice to my body overall.  I am pretty excited. Or terrified.  Or consternated.  Or something.  I guess the word would be conflicted.

But, I desperately need to take care of myself and get to a better size.  For me.  Mostly for me.  And for my girls.  Our eating as a family is a disaster.  Way too many carbs and way too much processed food.  Now is the time to clean it up.   Now.

First, to shop and stock this house for wellness.

Wish me luck!

Fat Tuesday a Day Late

I used to do fun projects in our homeschool.  The last year or so I feel like I have gotten lazy–but today I am turning that around…

Fat Tuesday was yesterday, but we were at a field trip, so I am sneaking in our paczki project today.  Caitlyn made some from scratch (baked to fried) and we looked up how they are made in a bakery and about a nearby city here that is famous for these big ole jelly donuts…

She set the dough to rise twice, waited for the individual paczki’s to rise, baked them, and filled them with strawberry jams.  Her sisters decided to “help out” with the jelly part and the eating part!

Caitlyn used this recipe.

Then we checked out some YouTube to see how it is done on a larger scale.

And no lesson in this house would be complete without a study on immigration and how it grows, changes, and develops our communities.  I highly recommend this article!  Take a minute to see a bit of reality in how people leave together, grow together and learn from each other.  You’ll be glad you did–I’ll be glad you did!!

CNN–Part 2

Remember when I wrote this post and I said I would be back with more?  Well, today is the day.

Immigration has been in the news so much.  I have ruined many a night’s sleep reading the news about it.  I have studied it.  I have read about it.  I have read the news.  I have let it into my heart and soul.  It is academic and personal for me.

One book I would highly recommend is The Displaced:  Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen.  This book is a compilation of essays written by refugees (one of many classifications of immigrant under the USA code).  Every essay will make you think, some will break your heart, all will change you if you let them.  I have one, The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri that comes back to me over and over.

Dina Nayeri was born in Iran.  Her family left there when she was 6.  The returned after a short time in London, England, but left permanently when she was 9.  Her family was accepted as refugees by America when she was 10 and ended up in Oklahoma.  What followed was mockery by kids who didn’t know where Iran was, then corrected mockery when the kids found out where Iran was, and a good dose of “you must be so grateful” from local do-gooders.

She spent her life and watched many other immigrants, spending their lives proving they were worthy of the fact they were allowed into the United States of America, when so many others were not.

So many others, 1/2 of 1% of those in refugee camps ever make it to a country for permanent resettlement.  That number is staggering in how small it is.  Families that are resettled leave behind family and friends who are still living in a world of destitution.  They know how “lucky” they are–they sure as hell don’t need us to tell them to be grateful.

Would you want someone asking you, or even just implying, if you are grateful enough to be born here?  People sometimes do that.  It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it?  It puts us in an awkward position; we don’t know how to respond or act when faced with that type of communication.  It stinks.

So why do we do that to others?  Why do we infer they should do something to make America better, to improve this place we call home?

People are people.  They are not valuable because of what they do.  They are valuable because they are, plain and simple.

 

Motherhood Summed Up

Today, Caitlyn and I tried making our first Syrian food on our own.  We made sambousak.  The variation we made is Spanish cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried in zayt (olive oil).  I did some of the frying–Caitlyn did all the rest.  We realized part way through that the oil needed to be hotter…that made her nervous, actually made me nervous too, but I had to be the mom and be brave.

It brought to mind a story that pretty much encapsulates much of motherhood for me.

When I was about Caitlyn’s age, 12, I had to swallow a whole lot of fear to help someone else.

We heated our house with wood when I was growing up.  We had two wood stoves on the main floor of the house and a wood burning furnace in the basement.  Putting wood in them scared the crud out of me.  I was terrified of the flames.  Then, in the dead of winter my mom got really sick from an allergic reaction.  In my young mind, I was afraid she was going to die.  I did everything I could think of to take care of her.  I got worried she would get cold so I gathered up all my courage and learned to put wood in the furnace.  I did it time and time again.  I can’t even tell you it got easier, but I learned I could do what had to be done.

That, to me, is a lot of what motherhood is.  Seeing the fear, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

The results aren’t always pretty, but it gets done.  One fire at a time.