Something awful happened yesterday.
Suddenly looking through my Facebook and Twitter feeds I found out that there had been several explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Explosions. Injuries. Fatalities.
Unfathomable situations to consider.
Social media is incredibly informative. We learn news in the blink of an eye, but just as quickly we can receive misinformation and find ourselves giving out incorrect details because we want to share and we want to help.
Social media can also be terribly triggering when it comes to disasters such as these. Sometimes we cannot handle what is happening in the world. Stories such as this horrible tragedy in Boston trigger dark thoughts for many of us. We get stuck in that mindset and can't push it down.
These are perfectly normal reactions to a tragedy such as this one.
But it's also totally okay to WALK AWAY.
We want to remind you that it is perfectly acceptable and often REQUIRED to walk away from the news stories. YOU are most important here. Yes, it's a horrible thing. Terrible. Emotional. Anxiety-provoking. But you need to know that if you are overwhelmed with the news you do not need to watch it, read it or listen to it.
Don't look for it. You'll hear it all eventually. It's not critical for you to know immediately what is happening.
Nobody will judge you for not participating. Nobody will ask you if you watched the Anderson Cooper show or read the latest AP News information. There will be no quiz here.
Social media IS amazing. But sometimes people just jump feet first without actually thinking or researching. And pictures that do not need to be seen get tossed about. Horrible. What for? Nobody needs to see that. Especially you.
If you are a parent, you are probably protecting your child(ren) from these things. There's no harm in protecting yourself, as well. I would recommend you do it.
I remind you, because I know that in times like these we often forget, that taking care of you is most important here. Avoid triggers. Close the laptop. Take a walk. Play with your kids. Eat something chocolatey. Dance around your living room. Sing your favorite song. Buy yourself a fancy coffee. Cry if you think it will help. But don't hole yourself up with the footage. It's not healthy and it's not necessary. Because we want you to take care of you. We want you to remain safe. And we want to help keep you that way.
If you find yourself looking for answers or resources, please consider reviewing some of these Band Back Together resource pages. And if you need to, reach out. We're here.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Resources
Emotional Shock Resources
We, The Band, keep the people of Boston in our hearts today and in the coming days as they face the aftermath of these horrible events.
Okay, maybe not.
The fact that I love my husband deeply might cause problems.
And I noticed you already had a wedding band (don't ask me why I noticed, I just did. I was single for a long time, sheesh). But there must be some way to show the world how deeply I esteem you. How deeply I appreciate you. You have made our family so happy. You are one great doctor.
Are you all wondering whether I've had liposuction? Or maybe if my colitis has been cured? Or that I've grown five inches? No. Dr. Adler is neither a plastic surgeon nor a gastroenterologist. Dr. Adler is a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Last month when we brought Lovebug in for his 12 month check up, his pediatrician was worried about his head shape. Specifically, that the plates might have fused too early. Unfortunately, we were moving less than a week after the appointment so we had to get it checked out in New Jersey.
The pediatrician here was also concerned. He wanted us to see a neurosurgeon - to skip the in-between step of the neurologist altogether. Naturally, our insurance is not accepted by most doctors in Bergen County. The ones that did accept our insurance could see us in October.
By that point, I had done some research. While Lovebug's head did not resemble any of the misshapen heads of babies with craniosynostosis, I was still worried. If they did not fix it soon, there could be pressure on his brain. The pediatricians had barely talked to me about anything else, like his behavior and whatnot, so worried were they about his head.
So between my mother talking to her doctor, a doctor he knew (and his kind appointment maker) and me talking to my insurance company, we found a pediatric neurologist. I made the regular pediatrician give us a referral to the pediatric neurologist.
Yesterday we went to our first appointment. Dr. Adler came out to the waiting room and brought us back to the exam room himself. He was warm, kind and clear.
He chatted with Lovebug and felt his head.
Dr. Adler explained everything in layman's terms and even offered to show us pictures of babies with real problems on his computer. We declined, having already seen them. The bottom line was that while the space between Lovebug's skull plates may have fused early, this had not affected his head size (which is very large, to tell the truth), his head shape, or his behavior (since he walks, talks a bit and does not have seizures).
Dr. Adler declared him perfectly fine.
After imagining MRIs and CT scans, rounds with specialists and surgery, yesterday's appointment could not have gone better. But if something had been wrong, you can bet for damn sure that I would want Dr. Adler to fix it.
I wrote this post nearly 6 years ago. It was the first time I shared something that really worried me publicly on the internet. I will always appreciate the kindness that my few readers showed me back then. Even though I can barely remember the worry and anxiety I felt back then, I still remember the kindness. I hope that anyone contributing their stories to Band Back Together gets to feel what I feel about this post: grateful for the kindness and barely able to remember the pain.
A diagnosis of cancer affects the entire family.
This is her story.
Two years ago, my sister was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
She was 35 at the time, had a twelve year old son, ten year old daughter, and a three year old daughter. She underwent months of radiation, a double mastectomy and then months of chemotherapy. Six lymph nodes were also affected.
Just a few of months ago she got the all clear from her oncologist that he didn't need to see her anymore, that she was cancer free.
She has been having a lot of pain in her hip the last few weeks and finally had a CT scan on Friday.
At this point we don't know if it's on the bone or in the bone, if it's metastasized, or if it's a whole new cancer. We know the odds are it has metastasized. We have been hoping and praying that it's a misdiagnosis or just a new cancer that can be treated. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, I guess.
My sister lives about 3500km away from our family. We do have some family where she is, but no one that is close to her. Her husband's mom died in September and she was really the only family they had. Our mom and our brother live where I do.
I want so badly to be there, but I just can't right now. We were planning a visit in June but it seems so far away. I want to be there with her right now. She's scared, her husband and kids are scared, I'm scared. She doesn't deserve this. I know that no one deserves cancer, but she really, really doesn't deserve it. She has already been though enough.
And I'm terrified.
And I'm so frustrated I can't be there.
The day has come.
I am going to be 30 in April.
I wasn't going to be one of those people who freaked out about turning the big 3-0. I was going to take the bull by the horns as it were and ride...or so I thought.
When I turned 20 I freaked because I knew I wasn't a teenager anymore. That meant I had to be responsible. Okay, so you're not a "real" adult until you're 21 (so you can drink) or 25 (when you can rent a car), but for some reason I went through sort of a mid-life crisis then. I know it's funny now; I can laugh my ass off and say "what an idiot."
But now? Turning 30? I'm freaking terrified. Here's why:
1. I am still single - not married, no kids. Most of the people my age already have one, the other, or both.
2. I am STILL NOT in the career I went to school for. I have a degree in Graphic Design and haven't had ANY experience at all in the field. I've been turned down for countless jobs because of that problem.
3. Thanks to said schooling, I am knee deep in student loan hell. Most the time I'm broke, just barely keeping my head above water.
4. I'm in a dead-end job. Honestly. I'm not going to sugar coat it - I really don't like it. Before this I worked nine years at a job that was just as bad, and ended up getting fired.
5. Oh and my awesome 30th birthday plans? They may not happen due to my car having a major flat and costing quite a bit for repairs.
I feel like I haven't accomplished anything great. The only thing I've done that's worth mentioning is that I graduated from college. I lived on my own for three years after the "roommate experience," and I lost 56 pounds in a year and so far have managed to keep it off. Wooo right on track!!
When I look back at my 20's I see a lot of hurt. Losing my last grandparent, breaking up with my then-boyfriend for the final time, putting my cat to sleep, Dad having cancer, moving out of my childhood home, then moving my parents out of it, putting Mom in the nursing home, losing my job and being unemployed for six months, losing my best friend, and most recently the death of my sister...
Right now my life seems to be at a total standstill. I've always stayed in Nebraska because I felt "needed." I never wanted to be too far away in case something were to happen - then I could be right here without needing to spend money I don't have on a flight home or gas money to drive.
When asked, "Why don't you move?" the anwser was always the same: my family needs me. It's what a good daughter does. Dad just has me now. Mom sure as hell can't help and my brother doesn't understand so the decision making is on my shoulders just as much as it is on Dad.
Most women my age are picking out white dresses, china patterns, or colors for the nursery. Me? I picked out what my sister was going to be buried in, casket flowers, what was going to played at the funeral, and what kind of vase she was going to have on her headstone. There is no preparing for that.
Since my sister has passed I find myself wondering what I am supposed to do. Where would I go, and what would I do if I left? I feel like I don't have a reason to stay close anymore. I no longer feel needed.
I have always felt I have put my own life on hold because of what was going on with my family. My motto has always been "family first;" however, I can't keep doing that anymore. I'll never get anywhere.
Yet I have a low threshold for guilt.
On the other hand, maybe my 30's won't be as bad as I'm thinking. I am gainfully employed even if I hate my job. I am perfectly healthy, skinnier (no six-pack abs, but hey), I can wear the jean size I did in high school, and have not had a single broken bone or stitches EVER even though I am pretty damn clumsy. I have some pretty kickass friends and a super cute nine-month-old nephew. I will be getting my third tattoo soon - a memory one for my sister. I drive an awesome car and I have a roof over my head, plus my very own studio so I can create to my heart's content.
The rest is just details.
My 20's are actually the end of a very long era, and the more I think about it, the happier I am it's almost over. It's kind of like New Year's Day - a chance to start over and make things right. I'm sure it's not going to always be sunshine and lollipops but I will lace up my custom designed Converse kicks (this is what I really want for my birthday) and hold on.
I'm ready for you, bull - let's ride.
Mental illness can evolve and change throughout a person's entire life. Often, new symptoms can appear or worsen.
This is her story.
Growing up, one of my best friends struggled with her family life.
Her father is a bipolar schizophrenic who has attempted suicide several times. After the divorce her mother struggled with drugs. My friend is an bright, intelligent, driven, talented young lady, but this post isn't about her, really. I love her dearly, but one of the biggest roles she's played in my life is opening my eyes to how difficult life can be for those who love individuals with psychological health issues.
I'm bipolar with the added bonus of recovering from bulimia and anxiety. I found out when I was 19. I'm 22 now, almost 23. I managed to get my college degree and now I have my dream job. I moved to a new city. I'm living on my own, proving I "can do it."
Except, the "crazy" is changing.
Where once self-awareness and self-care were enough to keep me fairly stable through my ups and downs, I think I'm hitting that place where my disorder matures into what it will be for the rest of my adulthood. I was warned this might happen, that I might hit a groove and become "stable" for some time, but that my brain wasn't fully matured and therefore my chemical imbalances might change.
My cycle is off.
My emotions are...something.
I don't really have words for what life is like.
The objective part of my brain says, "Things are going pretty well." I have friends, in my new city and back home, and in other places, that show me often and profoundly how loved and valued I am in ways small and large. I have the job that every recent college graduate dreams of, the one that blends my passions with my skills into an amazing sort of this-is-meant-for-me thing.
I found a church that I absolutely love, full of loving, welcoming people who legitimately care about me. I have volunteer projects I adore, that help remind me how fortunate I am. I've even lost weight! Thirty pounds, actually. Five more pounds and I'll have lost all of the weight I gained during my collegiate battle with bulimia. (And, it's been lost the right way...the healthy way.)
Things are good.
Except my brain isn't good. My brain is awful, actually.
For the last two, almost three years, I've had the relief of being unmedicated. I made the choice to go the "sheer willpower and stubbornness" route of mental health because I had two years of my life go down the drain when we couldn't find the medical cocktail that worked for me. I either felt too much, was spending too much time at one end of the bipolar spectrum or the other, or I was feeling nothing at all. I even got addicted to a particular fast-acting anxiety medication that stole several months of my life.
I knew I'd eventually have to try the route of medication again someday, but knowing it might happen doesn't mentally prepare you for the day it actually comes. I'll be talking about this with my therapist at our next appointment.
While not every day is good, there's good in every day. Life unmedicated hasn't been unkind to me.
I don't think this is an option anymore, though. I'm reminded of what a lifelong diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be.
I feel fear.
Not anxiety, not stress.
Fear, legitimate FEAR. I'm 22, I'm young. I want to meet someone, get married, maybe even someday have a family. I want to move out to the country, have a ragtag pack of dogs, maybe some horses and a few cows.
I want to live my dreams and fulfill my goals.
I think back to the stories I heard about my friend's dad. He was bright, passionate, engaged, popular, a pillar of his community, until he began exhibiting symptoms. Then, over a multi-year period, he became the person I knew.
All those terms are ones that have been applied to me. Is this the start of the avalanche? Is this where a lifetime of being a burden, being someone else's inconvenient responsibility and source of heartache, begins?
Most days, I'm very, very good at finding the silver lining.
I'm an optimist by nature, even when I'm on the low end. But, these last few days, it's all replaced by the turmoil of emotions I can't control, and fear. Fear of the future and what I'll become, and fear of whether or not medications will work or if this is really the earnest start of my troubles.
Page 1 of 77