Friday, November 20, 2015

Therapy and Brene Brown

Anxiety and depression are two things that I have battled with since I was young. I didn't know that was what was going on at the time but looking back it made complete sense about some of the phases I went through as a pre-teen and teenager.

When I went to College I was no longer one of the smartest kids in my class and that was a huge wake up call for me. I also had no idea what gorgeous women would be at Carolina....all 70%+ of them. I felt unattractive, unintelligent and unspecial.

I was struggling with some of my classes and went to see a Psychiatrist thinking that I could just get some ritalin. Well after some testing it came back that I had Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). WHAT?! Yep. And with that, I was in a "Major Depressive Episode". I tried Prozac, Wellbutrin and ended up just going off of them when I left school. Most recently I have been on a very low dose of Zoloft to keep my no wire hangers tendencies at bay. That was prescribed by my favorite Dr. here in Charlotte. I came back from a Cruise and told her about my anxiety attacks and she couldn't stop laughing and said "So you wanted to be the Cruise Director and thought you would have done a better job?" Well yes. So zoloft it was.
A few months ago a friend asked if I wanted to go see Brene Brown at an event our Church was hosting. I didn't know who Brene was but she said it was sold out so I figured it must be worth getting dressed up on a school night. To say I was blown away is a total understatement. I cried, I laughed and as cheesy as it sounds I was moved. Moved to do something about what is going on inside my brain.

She immediately won me over with her sarcasm and potty mouth. She admits marriage is hard. She admits kids are hard, that mothering is hard, that being a woman is hard. She says we all tell ourselves a shitty first draft (Our SFD) which is basically a story we make up in our heads about all the things we hate about ourselves and feel others hate about us as well. Via Steve Safigan:

First, Dr. Brown recommends that we identify the story we make up by writing out what she calls a “sh***y first draft” (SFD). She cites research by Dr. James Pennebaker about the value of writing down our thoughts and feelings in order to organize the experience. It’s important that we don’t filter the experience or worry about how our story makes us look. We search for the hidden story we’re telling ourselves about our emotions.
“What do I know objectively?”After we identify the story we’re making up with our SFD, it’s time to probe our assumptions, which are usually self-defeating. Dr. Brown recommends asking ourselves other questions:
  • “What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?”
  • “What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?”
Then we can look for the difference—the delta—between the story we make up and a more objective truth.
She says that if you write about your trauma for 25 minutes a week it helps. You are externalizing it. I am going to force myself to do this. I have mentioned before blogging is therapeutic and even if I don't post it I can save it as a draft. 

Brene also said this and this is where I started crying. She said we are least likely to ask for help when we are drowning. I have been drowning. This blog and my Instagram/Facebook posts about my mother are my cry for help. To me I feel like asking for help is a cry for attention, but in my heart that isn't what it is. I work from home, alone, and this can be incredibly isolating. This past year has put us through the ringer. I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted. And when I get a breather someone gets sick, or we have a setback with Mom and I have been relying on friends to help pick me up. And my friends have come in to help full force. Sarah, you called our hairdresser and had her show up at my house b/c I wouldn't take the time to go get a haircut. Katherine, Cory, Lauren, Sarah, you all dropped off meals. Kathryn, Elisabeth, Elie, you sent cards and flowers. Betsy, Abby, Olivia, Margaret, Holly you all came to walk with me. Mary Katherine you were determined to make little Amelie a birthday cake. Emily, Ashley, Nina, Alicia you have brought me to tears from your comments and messages. BS, Kristen, Allison, Katie and Ashley, your care package basically made me cry for an hour. 

When family has failed me this year (and no not mine) friends have taken the baton and run their hearts out for me. I feel guilty for this. Guilty for needing help and attention and love. Repeating my SFD to myself, Oh that needy Katharine, whining again on social media. What does she want now? Which is where the topic of this post comes in.

Brene says that therapy is life changing. We all need an hour to cry, scream, yell about everything in our lives. I remember the first appointment I ever had at UNC. I felt a huge weight was lifted. So after asking the Mom group here in Charlotte for recs off to Therapy I went. 

After only two appointments (I missed one...completely forgot....begin Alzheimer's paranoia) we have come to one conclusion. I have crippling perfectionism. I want everything to be perfect and wonderful and beat myself up when things aren't. I have an obsession with pictures. I worry too much. My SFD is a book worth of things I hate about myself. And I'm in there laughing and crying and able to look at this and say what in the hell?! 

I want to write more about this but this post has already lost 98% of the 6 readers perusing it today. What I will end with is Therapy is not taboo. It isn't silly or something to be ashamed of. If you have thought about it before go for it. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I Didn't Want to be a Nut Mom

I have several friends whose kids have the anaphylactic nut allergy and when they posted about their kids diagnoses I felt horrible for them. It isn't just an "avoid nuts if you can" issue, it is a "a cookie could kill my child issue". It uproots your lifestyle and forces you to stop your busy world and learn about the specific allergy your kid has. Whenever Huff Post or some other news outlet posts articles about Kids passing away from food allergies I read them. I am a worrisome person and I can't fathom what this fear must be like. Another article here. And here. And here. And here.  

Amelie had horrible eczema last winter and several friends commented on my Instagram picture that maybe she has food allergies. Other friends messaged me separately saying not to worry, it is probably just the winter weather.


Amelie attended a birthday party at Ben and Jerry's where they make homemade Ice Cream. Raw eggs are included in the recipe. Max gave her a tiny tiny bite and she broke into hives. We dosed her with Benadryl and she was fine. My pediatrician referred me to an allergist to do a full panel of tests just to make sure.

It was the Thursday before the Alzheimer's Walk in Charlotte. I had just taken care of my Mom for a few days and was emotionally wiped out from being her caregiver. (Which is pathetic because my Dad takes care of her EVERY DAY). But that is another topic. We also had a very (for lack of a better word) messy summer regarding some of our other family (which I will never elaborate on and am only mentioning it so I don't seem like such a woe-as-me type) so I walked into this appointment with a heavy heart and fried mind.

Amelie handled it like a trooper as they stuck her arm. First Eggs then Walnuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts...etc all started turning red. The peanut spot was down near her wrist so they retested that one on the other arm. For 15 minutes I stared at her arm. Please don't do this to me Lord. I cannot handle anymore. I am already at my breaking point. 

And then peanuts started turning red....

By the time the friendly allergist came in and confirmed that Amelie was indeed allergic to Eggs, Peanuts and Tree Nuts I was sobbing. I had to explain myself (and my emotional baggage) and she said crying is a very common reaction. She walked me through all the information (Asian restaurants are a no-no, buffets are bad, pasta has eggs) and taught me how to use the Auvi-q. I pretty much got a Dr's note to be a Helicopter Mom. 

I got in my car and first called my Dad and lost it. I know it isn't cancer, and I pray that she will live a long and wonderful life, but a peanut allergy is scary. It is a huge learning curve for us and one I'm still way behind on. We will be doing a baked egg challenge in December where we sit in the Allergist's office for 3 hours (oh boy) and slowly feed her a muffin with a baked egg in it. I am praying we pass this as somehow eggs are in EVERYTHING! 

My friend Julia at Pawleys Island Posh just happened to publish a post the exact moment I was at the doctor of egg, dairy and nut-free snacks. This has been my go-to list when I am at the store. I have become very close of a friend of a friend whose son has a peanut allergy (that's you Kathryn V) and one of my sorority sisters is an expert on this field. Ford's best friend (who has a rockstar Mom) at School has a nut allergy. His "girl-friend" Avery (who also has a rockstar Mom) had the egg allergy but grew out of it. Our babysitter's boyfriend has a nut allergy. I am not alone.

I just didn't want to be a nut Mom. I'm already an obnoxious Alzheimer's advocate, I didn't want to have a multi-tiered medical worry podium. 

This Halloween please consider leaving out a non-candy treat or one that does not have allergy implications. We will have a bowl of Spider rings as part of the Teal Pumpkin project. The Teal Pumpkin project aims to have allergy friendly items at each house so kids, such as Amelie, don't feel left out on Halloween.

Take part in FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project™:
  • Join 100,000 households pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™. Take the Pledge>
  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and paint a pumpkin teal to place in front of your home, along with a free printable sign from FARE, to indicate you have non-food treats available. Download a Sign>
  • Make a gift to FARE to support research, education, advocacy and awareness programs that make a difference for the 15 million Americans living with food allergies. Make a Gift>

Thursday, October 15, 2015

First Birthday Party Dress

Me, 1981, New Orleans

There are so many options for little girl's clothes that I get overwhelmed!! Here is a picture of me from my first birthday party. Even though it will be November I think a sweet embroidered dress is the way to go right? Since we can't find mine I will make sure to preserve hers!

I'm guessing my dress was Feltman Brothers or Auraluz so let's start with those.

Possibly add a fancy monogram?

I actually prefer her in Blue but invitations are pink!

Whew. What is your favorite?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Update on Mom October 2015 (Lengthy Post)

SIOR Beach Function at Amelia Island

These posts are getting harder to write. I will attribute part of it to the possibility of a brewing depression on my behalf and also to the fact that I'm a working mom with two kids but the fact is there are minimal happy moments these days.

Breakfast in bed at the Omni

We started with a trip to Amelia Island for Dad's SIOR conference. I tagged along as a caregiver for Mom because she cannot be left alone, especially in a strange hotel room. Her separation anxiety from Dad is severe. When he returns she is elated and then quickly angry again for whatever reason she has come up with. I worked most of the mornings in an adjoining room and one day found her naked as a jaybird locked on her balcony because she was trying to hang up her bathing suit outside. She still knows that bathing suits are hung up (like we do at the beach) but couldn't figure out how or where. We had a good laugh about that. She now requires someone to dress her, bathe her, brush her teeth and help in the ladies room. If you leave her alone while "getting ready" she will put lipstick on her eyes and drink mouthwash.

I kept her at home after the Amelia Island trip so that my dad could have a break.(Which created a 3 hour long tirade in the car of how Dad and I were a-holes but we made her stay with me anyways) He needs a break. He needs more than I can offer at this time. She does not enjoy my house and my son is (as most four year olds are) loud and unruly in her eyes. I am thankful my job is flexible to let me take longer lunches and log off early but that is still time I have to make up later in the evening. She counted down the seconds she could go home.

In Asheville we had her Memory Care appointment. I cannot sing enough praises about this place. Our family friend (who is probably the closet thing I have to a mother right now) Alice Myer joined us to help with the medical advice and just to be a shoulder to cry on. They administer a MMSE each time and Mom's score in May was a 10, this appointment was a 5. She has low word fluency and is completely unaware about current day facts. She doesn't know most of our names anymore except when she is angry. When they told us the score was a 5 it was a sucker punch. We knew already but to have it written down is hard. They asked us if we had any questions and we had hundreds but we wanted to know what was next. And the answer was Skilled Nursing Facility.

They told us most people in our situation would have already done this. Dad and I both started crying.

Getting a blow-out  at Gorgeous Glo. These women are so patient and wonderful and there is nothing better than a fresh "Do".

This past week I kept Mom again while my Dad traveled to Chicago to be sworn in as President of the SIOR Carolinas chapter. I think it is a blessing in disguise he is so busy. Asheville is booming and it couldn't have come at a better time.

She did okay here but would shuffle down the hallway to my office and be angry Dad hadn't called (he had) and wanted to know when she was going home. (20 times a day). She fell several times and had several accidents. My daughter has a newly diagnosed peanut allergy and my mom doesn't understand that. She handed her chocolate and several other things that almost gave me a heart attack.

The biggest change is her motor skills. She cannot get in and out of the car very well and no longer walks, just shuffles. She was exhausted after several stores in the mall. She also gets angry if you don't let her buy things so I just gave up and let her spend. A few things I will secretly return for her because they are tacky chotchkies that she never would have liked as her former self.

Gel manicure at Polished b/c it is the only kind that stays on. I had to hold her hands still as she would knock over the bowl otherwise.

We went to Ruth's Chris as a thank you from Dad their last night here. Mom kept leaning to the right almost falling out of her chair and tried to eat the butter with her fingers. Ben was our waiter and has first hand experience with Alzheimer's and he and Max got Mom a desk chair from upstairs and sped up our food.

Monday night Mom fell down the stairs in Asheville. She is okay and it was nowhere near as bad as her last fall but we are concerned about her stability and what is going on motor wise. They added a muscle relaxer to stop the phantom limb movements (her right arm won't bend and shakes) and said it shouldn't be causing this so we might be going to a neurologist.

We are coming up to the stage that we dread. We will have to put our BB in a facility. We don't want to and prefer to keep her at home as long as possible but she is no longer safe there. Even if we got someone from Home Instead that leaves my Dad to do the nightly duties and I can assure you after doing it myself for 4 days you are emotionally spent. We had thought maybe next year after the beach would be our mental deadline but with her decline in the past month we might have to move up our timeline. Researching these places is daunting. The average memory care unit runs about $9,000/month. PER MONTH.

Please keep us in your prayers as we begin to plan for this next chapter. I get to practice escapism every now and then and launch myself into Amelie's first birthday party planning or work but Dad doesn't get to escape.