Listen to Your Heart

I heard this song, Listen to your Heart, by Roxette today and it keeps reverberating in my head.

And I realized it rings a bit true today.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I used to talk about my mental health a lot but over the last few years it has gotten better for the most part, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the pandemic hasn’t ripped at it. And a toxic political situation of liars trying to destroy our democracy by claiming the election was fraudalant.

Yeah, my mental health, along with all of ours, has taken a beating. I am using my tools–medications, running, surrounding myself with people who support me.

But lately, it doesn’t seem to be working so well.

And today has involved a number of panic attacks. My heart is racing, my ears are ringing, it’s a mess.

Put that with a mixed episode–depression and hypomania together–that seems to be ongoing…it is so hard. And I am tired but sleep is not my friend.

I watched my friend make mahmoul today. You take the dough and fill it with nuts or coconut and then put it in a pretty wooden mold with a long handle. Once it is pressed in there you wack the edge of the mold on the table so the cookie pops out.

We joked how it was a great way to get out frustrations. It sure did look soothing, the whole process. Maybe I should have tried my hand at it. I did get to taste test her new recipe. Her family is all fasting for Ramadan (no food or liquid from sunup to sundown) so they made me the taste tester of the new dough recipe. I normally flat refuse to eat or drink in front of them while they are fasting but they twisted my arm. I couldn’t refuse to help them test the flavor, now could I?

In case you were wondering, she attested to the fact that it is a good way to get out your frustrations and I can tell you the new dough is AMAZING!! I love Mahmoul always, but this was another level of amazing.

And for those couple of hours, the panic was pushed away. But now it is trying to destroy me. The Anxiety and the depression. They use any good times and tear them apart later. Did I say or do that wrong? Did I talk too much? Did I laugh too much? Did they really want me to visit? Were they just being nice?

It is exhausting.

Get help if you are worried about your mental health.

Get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Not Giving Up My Shot

My husband and I are fully vaccinated. He was vaccinated + 2 weeks on the 23rd. I will be on May 3.

We are looking forward to having more protection going forward. I am bummed to still have to wear my mask most of the time, but it is a step in the right direction.

But that step will still leave us stuck if others are unwilling to be vaccinated.

I am not speaking to you if you are unable to be vaccinated due to medical issues. You are not the problem. You are a big part of why we need to be getting vaccinated if we are able. I am not speaking to you if you are under 16. Though, once they approve for younger ages, get yourself vaccinated.

The rest of you–yeah, I am speaking to you.

We’ve spent a year+ hating the restrictions covid19 has put on our lives.

  • Not giving family hugs
  • Not having funerals for family members
  • Not celebraing milestones together
  • Not knowing if kids can go to school in-person (yes we homeschool but we know many impacted with this)
  • Not having the girls’ theater group meeting
  • Not being able to go to church
  • Having my kids isolated from friends and angry with friends who refuse to mask
  • Having to overthink every decision and still not know if it is right
  • Feeling left out when others start meeting in-person and stop having things virtually
  • Having to justify following the rules on masks and social distancing

I hate it.

I hate it all.

But we can’t wish it away.

We must step up and do our part. We must find our chance to be vaccinated and take it. My fear now is that people will quit. That politics will persist in people deciding not to get vaccinated. That as laypeople, we will decide we know more than doctors and scientists. This worries me,

I can’t change a lot of minds, or maybe any, but I can make sure people have information. If you follow me on Facebook you see me sharing vaccine information for Michigan. If you are in Michigan, look up @kenhaddad on Twitter for daily updates on where to find vaccination opportunities.

Today, Governor Whitmer announced the plan to get this state reopened. It comes down to vaccination levels. Do your part.

Look here for details about vaccinations and opening up again:

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan/2021/04/29/here-are-the-michigan-covid-restrictions-that-will-be-lifted-when-we-reach-4-vaccine-goals/?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=cod

We have spent a year plus feeling helpless as people died and people got sick by the thousands. Now, we can finally do something. And it is not hard. It is free and it is available. Yes, there is typically a mild reaction as your immune system gets to work protecting you but it lasts hours to just a couple of days at most. Conversely, it has been at least 413 days since Covid laid siege to our state and our country.

Choose which one you want to live with or keep living with.

This was actually my hubby’s sticker but I can’t find my picture anywhere. He says he gave me the sticker, but it was more like, “here, do something with these papers” and his sticker was in there…

You are Canceled!

I remember back in 9th-grade Economics class learning my dollar was my vote. I spent it as I desired. If I did not like a product or agree with the choices the manufacturer made then I could choose not to give them my money thus taking away my vote.

This is the basis of a boycott.

If I remember correctly, it was also about this same time in my life that the Christian groups, which came to be known as the Chrstian right or the moral majority, started promoting boycotts against many companies. One I remember is Proctor and Gamble for having a logo that they deemed was Satanic.

I joined that one for a while. I know–as my daughter would say–cringy. And then explain to me how awful that word is but sometimes it is the only one that works.

Years have passed since my first lesson by Mr. Anderson about what a boycott is. I have since given them up but they sure haven’t disappeared. Now, it seems, every group across the spectrum uses them. Both sides of our government is constantly accusing the other side of canceling someone. To be honest, it is happening on both sides. And that Christian right? Oh man they complain about being canceled now. All the time!!!

It has reached epic, ridiculous proportions. But if you ask me, the canceling that matters is when someone is no longer listens to you. It’s scary and it is frustrating.

There is a way around it.

Listen first, care first.

I do not agree with anyone I know on everything. There is something that is different between me and any other person in my life. This also means I can be blocked out about at least one thing with everyone I know.

A big one is how to get to heaven. I am a Christian. I believe there is only one way to heaven. You must believe in God. Believe that Jesus is both man and God and that he died on a cross but rose again to save us from hell and make a way for us to go to heaven and we must ask him to forgive our sins in order to go to heaven.

So here’s the thing. Most people do not agree with me. And the passion I have about this belief can be a real turn off.

But…

I believe that. I know it to be true.

But…

I love the people in my life. And I do my best to make sure they know that.

They might agree with me. They might not.

That is not what decides if we can have a relationship.

We can have a relationship not because we agree but because we invest in each other. You get canceled when you treat people like objects or projects. No one wants to be told what to think or believe and they definitely don’t want to hear it if we aren’t hearing them.

Cancel culture is about so much more than children’s books or laundry soap. It is about people. It is about how we treat each other. It is about respecting each other. It is about the love we have and show each other.

Next time you don’t feel heard ask yourself if you have loved and cared about the people in your life. Have you earned the right to be heard?

What Is Bravery

Have you ever learned a second or third language or more? Have you ever thought about it? What were your reasons? What was your motivation?

I love language. I always have–whether it is English grammar (my daughters are not nearly as thrilled with that passion right now), learning American Sign Language in my teens, or my current endeavor of learning Arabic.

Learning ASL and working on Arabic now are valuable to me and bring me joy, but I don’t have to…I speak the language of the country I am in, the country of my birth. I could blithely go along never learning a word of any other language. I have that option. It’s not a good option, but it is a valid one–for me.

That is not always the case.

Life often moves people around, forcing them to add a second or third language to their vocabulary. And that task is rarely easy.

Imagine you have to move to another country. With just a suitcase of belongings and facing the fact you will likely never return to the place you are leaving. Imagine also this country you are going to does not speak your mother tongue. Take that further and imagine the new country will not give you any time to learn the new country, you must get a full-time job immediately, regardless of the language barrier.

This, my friends, is the experience of refugees, some immigrants, and asylum seekers in America. Other countries provide financial support for these immigrant people groups and families, for years if necessary, so they can spend some time learning the local language but America, in true pull yourself up by your boot straps fashion, offers no support or time for language learning beyond giving a list of local English classes that are hopefully near their home or apartment.

I can tell you language is hard to learn. And that isn’t helped by age. I watch kids pick up English within months when young, like 5; ASL was quite easy to learn at 15 but now, oh my word, now Arabic is just not penetrating my brain.

Now imagine doing that while supporting a family, adjusting to a new culture, and mourning the loss of what you have left behind.

As well as learning a language faster, young kids may find themselves shedding more and more of their accent while for older kids and adults, the accent may lighten but many sounds will continue to be different than a native speaker. It is normal, natural, and to be expected. But sometimes people forget that and just cop an attitude because it takes more effort to understand some of the words.

People do not typically struggle with language or an accent because they are lazy or stupid–they struggle because it is hard, the process of learning and using a new language is demoralizing. I am a college educated woman, Arabic is my third langauge and yet, at best I sound like a 2 year old after three years of studying with native speakers.

Please take just a moment to consider this next time you are talking to someone who counts English as their second (or more!!) language. A little patience will go a long way to making communication easier and enjoyable. Trust me, the effort is worth it.

“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.” – Amy Chua ♥️♥️♥️

The Year of the Ox

I just went running into my daughters’ room to tell them the one phrase I know in Chinese–Happy New Year. You see, years ago I was engaged to a guy who’s maternal grandparents were originally from China. The relationship with him was a total bust (whew) but I adored his grandmother and I learned how to say Happy New Year.

Man, his family was good to me–but I digress.

Fast forward many years to 2012. Caitlyn and Sue were enrolled at the local elementary school. The school had asked families to unplug for the week. I failed miserably, but the school also sent home some activity ideas. It was this time of year and it was Chinese New Year so I made my first attempt at making Chinese food. I don’t remember the food at all but a tradition was born.

Every year we do our best to make Chinese food for the Lunar New Year.

Caitlyn chose her recipes, I bought the ingredients. She cooked for hours to make us spring rolls, dumplings, and wonton soup. I made beef broccoli (pretty sure that is not authentic but we like it…). Patrice was her assistant in this process. She used carrots and purple cabbage to make the dumplings orange and purple. Making fortune cookies failed us, per usual, but it was fun. Caitlyn wrote little fortunes. Mine was, “You will give Caitlyn money soon”, daddy got, “don’t tell anyone, but I poisoned your food” and Patrice got, “Did you thank Caitlyn for this wonderful food?” Sue also gets to give Caitlyn money…since the cookies failed, I taped everyone’s fortune to a piece of candy.

It was really good and as Caitlyn said, “well, it kept me off my phone all afternoon.” Maybe the school did accomplish something all those years ago… 😉

Inside My Head

If you have been around here for awhile…you know it can get messy in my brain…I am constantly trying to understand, explain, put my finger on what is going on in there.

If I could express my bipolar in one word I would say rage. The depression shows up as rage. The hypomania shows up as rage.

A few weeks ago I found myself in that place again. I was upset about something (a home repair) and just started SCREAMING at my husband. Thankfully, he is a saint about this and just kept saying, “Charity, where is this coming from? What is this about?” I kept saying it was about the house issue but it wasn’t and I couldn’t stop.

I finally climbed out of the rage with a sore throat and shame as my reward and we fixed the house issue.

But why was I there again? Why was the rage there again? Why?

This week I think I finally figured out why. I don’t know how to fix it, but I might know why.

In that place, I feel something wrong with me. As I rage I know there is something wrong with me. It would make sense to stop, but in that place, I know something is wrong, something is broken and I think if I just keep raging, that thing will get fixed or go away. If I can just rage long enough.

But I never can. I never ever can.

*the rage is often a sign I need a medication adjustment so I called the doc and we made that adjustment. It has helped. It really has.

**sometimes my hubby just stays quiet and that is quite wise, but sometimes he needs to speak up–this was one of those times.

What is allowed is not always wise

I totaled this post way back. I honestly don’t even know when but I am going to guess at some point during 2020 and while the world has been in crisis mode thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. And, unfortunately, the title still fits. As my daughter pointed out last night, she was 13 when this started and now she is just 7 months from being 15.

And my heart is broken at this fact. But I am excrutiatingly proud of my girls. As mentioned, Caitlyn has turned 14 during this, Sue has turned 13, and Patrice 10.

Caitlyn has thrown herself into crafts, Sue in all sorts of art, and Patrice has had playdates via zoom and continues to be her happy self.

I have fought against the politics that are burning America down around us and hubby continues to be his faithful self, working day in and day out, restoring his boat, and the like.

And it is okay but it is frustrating. We are very conservative in what we do and who we see. The girls and I see one other family and Bob sees one man he is helping learn English. We don’t attend church, Bible study or prayer meetings in person. It is virtual or we are out.

And we feel alone in this. Our kids are the only ones in their Bible studies not attending in person. Sue is so passionate about trying to explain covid and the risks to her friends, I am afraid she is going to lose friends over it. I again spent time last night reminding her not to ruin relationships.

But I understand her anger.

I understand it to my very core.

I understand having to explain myself over and over for doing what our doctors and others have said is very necessary. I understand feeling like I am screaming into the wind.

And I HATE IT!!!!

Because you know what? I want to go to church. I want to study with other people. I want to pray with others.

But what is allowed is not always wise.

The Decade

My youngest, Patrice, is 10.  A whole decade.  One I never dreamed I would survive in the early days, months, years…

Her birth completed our family and just about killed me.  Baby blues came.  My midwife talked me through those days.  And then I got a week of peace.  I thought I was in the clear…then I couldn’t sleep.  My brain refused to shut off no matter what I did.  I couldn’t stop moving.  I had to be busy or I was just sure I would fall apart.  I had three girls 4 and under–and we never stopped going to the park, the library, anything I could find to do while wearing a tiny baby.  I even cleaned my house!!

The darkness was overwhelming me.  I was sure my family would be better off without me.  I would e-mail my midwife who would convince me I should go back home.  I didn’t want to leave my family–I just didn’t see how I would ever survive.

Over the years I have done hospital stays; I take medicine that makes me sick every single day.  I run for exercise and to keep my sanity.  I have people around me that love me, encourage me, challenge me, help me focus on why I continue to fight and live.

My postpartum depression and anxiety were not nice enough to resolve and leave…it made itself at home as bipolar 2 and anxiety.  I am pretty sure there is another diagnosis but eh, who has the time to remember them all?

But here we are, 10 years later.  Patrice seems pretty happy and growing in Jesus, living life in this pandemic.  Ten years later, we are all here to celebrate the decade of Patrice and how far we have come!

Walking your own journey with postpartum mood disorders and need someone to talk to or get resources?  Contact the PSI warm line (leave a message) call 1-800-944-4773 or text 503-894-9453.  Leave in your message if you would like to talk with someone with particular expertise, such as Armed Forces, Arabic speaking, Spanish speaking, dads, adoptive parents, birth mothers, postpartum psychosis.

The Thing You Forget

Bipolar is a jerk.  Even in the times you are well and stable, you’re not normal.  But you get used to that normal.  You adjust your expectations, you learn your oddities and live.

I had a blip during our shelter in place because of medications getting messed up, but I knew what it was and why it was.  That made it easier to live with.  I cried a lot and got emotional, but that was part of a collective angst.  I was not alone.  That was not necessarily even the Bipolar.

But then I got tired.  If you ask my friends how I was doing, for weeks they would tell you I was tired.  No matter how much sleep I got, I was tired.  And that hasn’t changed, but the reality of Bipolar has made itself known.

Last week it messed me up good…making it so, so, so hard to leave the house.  Even when I knew I would enjoy where I was going the dread was devastating.  And Friday knocked me for a loop.  I had to go somewhere.  I had to talk to people.  And I talked to too much.

And I remembered what I forgot…

How much I hate myself.

In Came Her

A few years back we decided to get involved with a particular group of people in a particular life circumstance and see if we could help.

And I think we have.

But not nearly as much as they have helped my family, and me, especially.

A little over 3 years ago I went to a family’s house.  I didn’t know the family.  I didn’t know what to expect.  We met that day.  I helped with something and she sent food home with me.  For the first of what has literally become thousands of times.

God has used her to carry me many times.

Three, in particular, come to mind.

The first was a year ago.  Earlier in the spring, the doctors found a lump.  It wasn’t cancer but had to come out because it has such a high likelihood of becoming cancer.  A year ago, right now, they removed the lump.  The surgery went great. I had no pain.  That was a Monday.  I expected to go right back to my life on Tuesday.  But I didn’t.  I dropped my girls off at an activity and I went to her house.  And sat there.  I just sat.  I didn’t even hold her newborn daughter.  That’s what I did for the rest of the week.  She had a newborn baby but she was the one taking care of me.  She just sat with me and sent dinner home to my family every night.

Another time was a month or so ago.  The bipolar had been playing mean.  But I was okay, just a rough evening.  And she saw it.  She messaged me on my home and used our particular code to ask if I was really okay.  She saw it.  My hubby can see it sometimes.  And I have people who I can reach out to but they are not nearby so I have to tell them when I am struggling.  But. she. saw. it.

That brings us to today.  The last two weeks have been hard. I still do the things that need to be done but I really just want to hide.  I am always exhausted no matter how much I sleep.  I have seen her a few times this week but just for accomplishing a few things, not to visit.  I love being with her when I am there but it is just hard to be anywhere.  It took me until Friday to ask if it is the Bipolar.  And today I have just not done anything and have done little to connect.  But she did the work to connect with me.  A couple of hours ago my daughter yelled, “she’s here.”  And she was.  And again she knew just the right time to be here.

Funny, a few years ago I thought I would help her when I was the one that needed her help.