Drowning and Swimming for the Surface. Maybe.

July 18, 2016 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

Dearest Friends,

I’m drowning.

Optimistic.

And drowning.

Swimming for the surface.

And drowning.

Swimming in circles, maybe, actually, truthfully, since I can’t quite see the surface from here. But I believe in the surface, is what I’m saying. I believe it’s still there. Like I believe the dawn is coming. Always on the way, even in the darkest part of the night. And I’m swimming for it; the surface, the dawn. Whether I’m pointed in the right direction is almost superfluous, right? Almost? Just keep swimming. And swimming. And swimming. Except when I lie still here, under the water, in a dead man’s float where it’s quiet and cold and sort of peaceful in its own drowny way. I’ll swim again in a minute. For now I’ll rest.

I’m in no danger, I think, this time, while drowning. I’ve been in danger before, but not right now. I have lifelines. I’ve grown them, like tentacles, over time, and collected the lines I’ve been thrown. I have a few tied off, even now, and will climb some soon to see which lead to the surface this time. Those lifelines, though; they’re a labyrinth. Like the stairways at Hogwarts, always shifting. Still stairs. Still lifelines that lead somewhere; just not always where I necessarily need to go, and so I have to seek out different routes to the surface sometimes.

Depression lies. But for now I’m drowning. I’ll swim for the surface soon.

Waving in the dark,

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P.S. Sorry this post is a little weird and dark. I’m OK. I swear it. It’s just that I decided a long time ago to not hide from you — or myself — when I’m “middling dark” instead of very, very happy or very, very depressed. The middle is a weird place to be. Sort of undefinable except in strange metaphors about water and nighttime and believing in the surface and the dawn which are easier for me to cling to sometimes than hope, which is too big and slippery to grab with my tentacles.

P.P.S. My parents and brother and husband have sent me away for a few days with my sister-in-law for respite. It’s a lifeline. GOD BLESS THEM. I’ll be writing more this week. That’s one of the respite goals to unclog my mind and heart and soul. And to rest. Life is challenging right now. And relentless always. I know you get it, friends. That’s why we need each other.

P.P.P.S. This…

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I love you with all my butt. I would say heart, but my butt is bigger.

On Christianity and Depression… and Why Matt Walsh Is Wrong

August 13, 2014 in But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I swear I’ll get back to sharing poor parenting techniques soon. That is, after all, what I do best. Like this week, while we’re camping, and my greatest and most profound discipline strategy has been to withhold Doritos. (Just FYI – terrible strategy. It’s worked out exactly as well as you’d expect, which is to say, not at all.) On the bright side, though, my kids have rallied the other kids at the camp ground to form a vandalism ring for the purpose of drawing chalk butts underneath every available picnic table. Ours and others’. So, you know, my parenting isn’t a total loss if you’re willing to consider rampant chalk vandalism a good way to make friends.

Unfortunately, my heart has been relentless these past three days, thinking about depression, suicide, what drives people to it, and how we might help each other. And I’m about to do something I’ve rarely done, which is contradict another writer by name, because I believe Matt Walsh’s post, titled “Robin Williams didn’t die from his disease, he died from his choice,” is misleading to the point of causing harm and endangering the most vulnerable among us.

In the interest of full disclosure and so you can see and evaluate my bias up front, I will tell you this: Matt is an excellent writer with often brilliant word craft, and I’ve blocked his content from my feed. It’s not because he doesn’t make good points sometimes. He, like the rest of us who are human, is right and wrong with striking regularity, and though I emphatically disagree with many of his positions,  I do agree with some.

No; it’s not his positions on issues that bothers me the most. It’s the fact that he writes with disdain for anyone who disagrees with him. With disregard for people whose experiences differ from his own. With simplistic straw man arguments which he valiantly breaks down. It makes me angry and sad because he’s taking part in the destruction of civil dialogue as though there’s no room for any opinions but his own. Which is great for page views and terrible for people.

Still, I wouldn’t write a piece opposing Matt did I not believe his words may cause people in desperate need of help for depression to decline to seek treatment. To think that “making a choice” is enough to combat mental illness. To minimize symptoms. To reinforce the patently false idea that depression is a spiritual ailment.

Now, Matt makes two good points in his piece:

  1. That we should consider whether our comments that Robin Williams is now “free” or “happy” or “in a better place” (all of which I believe) might drive those already considering suicide closer to the brink, seeking that relief themselves… food for thought… and,
  2. “…we are all meant for joy. We are all meant for love. We are all meant for life. And as long as we can still draw breath, there is joy and love to be found here.” TRUE!

But the broader implication of what he writes – his thesis statement that Robin Williams’ death is due to choice, not disease – is disturbing because it’s only half true.

“It’s a tragic choice, truly,” Matt writes, “but it is a choice, and we have to remember that. Your suicide doesn’t happen to you; it doesn’t attack you like cancer or descend upon you like a tornado. It is a decision made by an individual. A bad decision. Always a bad decision.”

Of course suicide is a choice. Of course it is. And a bad decision. Always. But it does attack just like a cancer and descend like a tornado. It comes out nowhere, without storm warnings or news bulletins or a shelter in which to hide until it’s passed. We must learn to recognize the stealthy and secretive ways depression comes upon us if we have a hope of combating it. Unfortunately, for the person with scrambled brain chemistry, suicide can be a choice that is so deceiving as to make sense. THAT IS THE DISEASE OF CLINICAL DEPRESSION. THAT’S WHAT IT IS. That’s what it does. Depresssion lies and lies and lies. Believably. Convincingly. Compellingly. So that when the person who commits suicide does it, he or she often does so thinking it’s a favor to their family, to their friends, and that the world will be better off without them. Are they wrong? OF COURSE THEY ARE. Did they choose to die? OF COURSE THEY DID. But they did so because the disease destroyed their ability to make the best choice.

This is the first place in that blog post that Matt is off base. Robin Williams died of a choice AND a disease. To discount the disease does terrible, horrific harm to others who need treatment.

Matt writes, “Depression will not appear on the autopsy report, because it can’t kill you on its own.” In fact, depression does appear on autopsy reports. Cause of death can be listed as suicide (example: Don Cornelius’s autopsy report) with depression listed in the synopsis. 

The next place Matt’s argument falls apart is in his contention that depression is a spiritual ailment. “Depression is a mental affliction, yes, but also spiritual,” he says. But no. No, it’s not. Let’s be very clear on this point. Clinical Depression is a medical diagnosis

Can one be in spiritual distress? Absolutely. Spiritual crisis? Certainly. Does depression affect our spirit? You bet. In the same way other chronic illnesses do. It is trying to our faith and to our understanding of a loving God. 

But a spiritual crisis is not the same as clinical depression, not a component of it, nor should it be equated with such. Just like we wouldn’t say cancer has a spiritual cause, we must not say it about clinical depression. To do so is to buy into faith-healing extremism. 

Instead, clinical depression is, literally, a diagnosable, treatable, medical condition. One that alters brain chemistry and the ability to make logical, lifesaving decisions. Depression, quite simply, “depresses” or pushes down the brain’s ability to function normally. To say otherwise is irresponsible, reinforces the stigma of mental illness, and will undoubtedly make those of his readers who suffer from depression less likely to seek the medical treatment they need. They will think, based on Matt’s statement that depression is both medical and spiritual, and his final point, “in the end, joy is the only thing that defeats depression,” that they must simply try to be more joyful. More spiritual. More Godly. Which will almost always fail. Because MEDICAL CONDITION.

Consider my friend Samantha’s* story, shared on Facebook yesterday, before Matt’s blog post was released:  

[My depression] started with general discontentment. I thought if I focused on things I was thankful for, and actively pursued gratitude, and prayed for a heart open to God, all would be better.

Sadly to say, I just felt the pressure to be happy and like I was constantly failing with no reason; my life was great, I felt my unhappiness was selfishness, so I tried serving others and family, trying hard to choose Joy in the darkness. It didn’t help.

I was praying for God’s help, but I just felt people judging me and rejecting me and putting more pressure on my life to enjoy it, to see that I am blessed, which led to guilt for not feeling that way. I didn’t want life to be this way nor did I want to be this angry, raging woman but there I was.

I was in survival mode, trying not to drown.

This disease came at me from nowhere and I didn’t recognize it for over a year, until it became a beast and took me over…

Listen, friends. Treatment for depression is not about “getting right with God.” It’s not about replacing depression with joy. Such simplifications are misleading, misinformed, and patently false.

I drove by a church reader board several years ago that read “we’re too blessed to be depressed.” And this sums up the church’s historic problem dealing well with mental health.  In Christian circles, there’s often much internal and external pressure to think this very real medical issue is a spiritual battle or a matter of faith. The truth is, we can seek God continuously, and long for Joy, and know God is with us in the mess, and still depression can consume us.

We seek medical help for our kids when they have strep throat. We seek medical help for our kids when they have asthma. We must learn to take our own medical needs as seriously. Including mental health.

In short (too late!), yesterday’s blog post by Matt about Robin Williams reinforces the stigma about mental illness, contains a significant element of spiritual shaming, and will undoubtedly make those of his readers who suffer from depression less likely to seek the medical treatment they need. Which is dangerous to people’s health and may, in the end, prove deadly. 

We are all meant for joy. We are all meant for love. We are all meant for life. So, if you are depressed; if you are inexplicably and constantly irritable or angry or tired or numb; if you feel like you are drowning slowly; if you suspect your brain is lying to you; SEEK TREATMENT. See a doctor. See a therapist. Tell your best friend. Come up with a safety plan. Get help. 

Help is out there. You are not spiritually weak to seek it. Your choices alone cannot overcome the Darkness. You are not failing spiritually. You may be ill. And you can recover. There is hope. Hope in God, yes. Hope for your spirit and soul. AND hope for your body and brain. 

……….

*Samantha’s story is shared here with permission. I’ve changed her name to protect her anonymity.

What is Clinical Depression?
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Signs of Clinical Depression
Warning Signs of Mental Illness

If You See Depression in Others:

  1. Educate yourself. The links above are good places to start.
  2. Name your concern – say, bluntly, “I think you may be depressed.” Tell them why. Ask them to seek medical help.
  3. Keep naming it. It took my friends more than a year to convince me to seek help. I needed every encouragement and their relentless pursuit of health on my behalf. Remember: the depressed person’s brain isn’t working well. He or she may not be able to see that they need help.
  4. Create a safety plan
  5. Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Robin Williams Was Sick, Not Selfish: On Suicide and Mental Illness

August 11, 2014 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

Suicide has hit our small Oregon community hard in the last few weeks. Jennifer Huston disappeared at the end of July. She was found days later, after a several-state search, dead by suicide, leaving behind a bewildered and grieving family, including her young kids who will grow up now without their mama. 

Our community is left mourning and confused, which is natural, I think. Normal. Important, even, as we come together and work to love each other well. To reach out. To provide comfort. And in the midst of our bafflement, I hear people saying over and over they wish Jennifer had known she had a community. They wish she’d known she had friends. They wish she’d known she wasn’t alone. And yet, from everything I gather, she had those people in her life. People who loved her. People whom she loved. People who would’ve fought to try to save her had they but known her struggle. 

And now Robin Williams is gone. By all accounts, due to probable suicide.

I’ve suffered from depression. It’s my constant companion still. And I’ve found it difficult to forgive myself for the losses my illness and I inflicted on my family. For the ways I couldn’t find out of the Darkness. For the day I sat in the bathroom, staring at the anti-depressant pills that weren’t working and wondering if there was another way I could be free from the relentless sensation of drowning. Dead already, I thought. Lost to myself utterly.

And although the wondering is the closest I came to suicide, walking instead the long, slow road back to hope, I learned some things in that bathroom, and some things since, in my research on depression. 

I’ve often heard it said that suicide is the most selfish of acts. It’s popular to think so, as though being more selfless is a cure for depression. A cure for brain chemistry gone wrong. But that’s simply, totally, completely untrue. 

If, in fact, Robin Williams did die due to suicide, he did not die because he was mortally selfish.

Nor did Jennifer die because she lacked community.

And although an extraordinarily simplistic case can be made for it, neither of them died because they gave up or gave in. Or from lack of strength. Or from lack of willpower. 

No; Robin Williams and Jennifer Huston died from illness. Mental illness. Which is illness. Which is illness. Which is illness. Which is illness. They died from being very, very sick, a symptom of which is having a brain that is utterly incapable of making the logical, lifesaving choice to live any longer. 

My friend Marie wrote, “From the outside, it is difficult to see, and impossible to feel, the crushing weight of Darkness. We wouldn’t judge someone who was being crushed by a bus and isn’t able to extricate himself from the situation.” And she’s right, absolutely.

In the wake of Jennifer’s and Robin’s deaths, the best thing we can do in their memory is educate ourselves on the many signs of depression. The many signs of mental illness. And to bravely butt in when we suspect our people are suffering.

Listen. Depression does not always look like sadness. Depression does not always look like numbness. And depression often comes in disguise. Disguised as anger. Disguised as physical pain. Disguised as an inability to function. Disguised as isolation. Be on the lookout, friends. For yourself and for each other.

There is treatment. There is hope.

At the same time, we also must acknowledge we cannot save everyone. And we must not blame ourselves for those we couldn’t save. Which is, perhaps, the hardest job of all.

……….

Good Places to Begin Learning about Suicide Prevention and Treatment for Mental Illness:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Signs of Clinical Depression
Warning Signs of Mental Illness

50 Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch This Summer

July 25, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

On Wednesday, my 16-year-old had her second foot surgery of the summer and began the subsequent 6-8 week recovery phase.

photo 3 (52)In addition to the tasteless selfies I’ll take with her latest Frankenstein foot, an activity so obvious it practically goes without saying, this means a whole lot of “Mom” and “MOM” and “MOM!” and “HEY, BETH!” from Abby when I don’t jump quickly enough to get her pillow, her blanket, her socks, her shower started, her snacks, her meds, her hairbrush, her phone, her make-up, and, and, and, and, and, and, and.

I am, in short, 48 hours into being Abby’s Beck-and-Call Girl again, and I’m desperately missing my usual Get-It-Yourself, Your-Legs-Aren’t-Broken defense. As such, I’m more than happy – thrilled, in fact – to plug my impressionable kid into as much mind-numbing, brain-rotting, soul-smothering television as possible. The problem, of course, is I end up hearing most of the shows Abby watches, and, as happened during the June/July surgery recovery, I’m prone to be sucked into them. All the way in. Which is how I watched 5 seasons of Gossip Girl, loved it, and lost any hope of getting into Heaven. 

That’s why I turned to you yesterday on Facebook. To ask what my kid and I should binge-watch next. Because there are more than 500 awake-hours in 6 weeks of recovery, and THIS IS IMPORTANT.

As always, due to y’all being extra rad, you came through. And, also as always, due to being a giant nerd, I tabulated the results of your advice.

Here we have it. From most to least recommended…

50 Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch This Summer With Your Teen

  1. Gilmore Girls (comedy, drama)  – “Drama centering around the relationship between a thirty-something single mother and her teen daughter living in Stars Hollow, Connecticut” 
  2. VeronicaMarsVeronica Mars (crime, drama, mystery) – “After her best friend is murdered and her father is removed as county sheriff, Veronica Mars dedicates her life to cracking the toughest mysteries in the affluent town of Neptune”
  3. My So-Called Life (drama) – “15-year-old girl and her trials and tribulations of being a teenager and dealing with friends, guys, parents and school” 
  4. Psych (comedy, crime, mystery) – “A novice sleuth is hired by the police after he cons them into thinking he has psychic powers that help solve crimes. With this assistance of his reluctant best friend the duo take on a series of complicated cases” 
  5. Gossip Girl (drama, romance) – I hate that I loved this show! “Privileged teens living on the Upper Eastside of New York City”
  6. Once Upon a Time (adventure, fantasy, romance) – “A woman with a troubled past is drawn to a New England town where fairy tales are to be believed”
  7. Doctor Who (adventure, drama, sci fi, family) – “The further adventures of the time traveling alien adventurer and his companions”
  8. One Tree Hill (drama, sport) – “This series follows the eventful lives of some high-school kids in Tree Hill, a small but not too quiet town in North Carolina, where the greatest source of pride is the high school basketball team, the Ravens” 
  9. Switched at Birth (drama, family) – “The story of two teen girls who discover that they were accidentally switched at birth”
  10. buffyBuffy the Vampire Slayer (action, drama, fantasy) – “A young girl, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends” 
  11. Alias (action, drama, mystery) – “Sydney Bristow is an international spy recruited out of college and trained for espionage and self-defense”
  12. Sherlock (BBC) (crime, drama, mystery) – “A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London” 
  13. Chuck (action, comedy, drama) – “When a twenty-something computer geek inadvertently downloads critical government secrets into his brain, CIA and NSA assign two agents to protect him and exploit such knowledge, turning his life upside down”
  14. Friday Night Lights (drama, sport) – “The trials and tribulations of small town Texas football players, their friends, family, and coaching staff”
  15. Big Bang Theory (comedy) – “A woman who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory”
  16. Friends (comedy, romance) – “When Monica’s high school friend (Rachel) re-enters her life, she sets off on a series of humorous and entertaining events involving Monica’s brother (Ross), her ex-roommate (Phoebe), and her next door neighbors (Chandler & Joey)”
  17. Dawson’s Creek (drama) – “Four friends in a small coastal town help each other cope with adolescence”
  18. Leverage (action, crime, mystery, comedy) – “A crew of high-tech crooks attempt to steal from wealthy criminals and corrupt businessmen”
  19. Call the Midwife (drama) – “The lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late 1950s”
  20. FireflyFirefly (adventure, drama, sci fi) – “Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them”
  21. Orphan Black (action, drama, sci fi) – “A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her”
  22. Ugly Betty (comedy, drama) – “Betty Suarez is smart, sweet and hard working. The only problem is that she’s not thin and beautiful like all her coworkers at Mode, the high-fashion magazine where she works” 
  23. Pretty Little Liars (drama, mystery, thriller) – “Four friends band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets, while unraveling the mystery of the murder of their best friend”
  24. Heartland (drama, family) – “A multi-generational saga set in Alberta, Canada and centered on a family getting through life together in both happy and trying times” 
  25. Downton Abbey (drama) – “Beginning in the years leading up to World War I, the drama centers on the Crawley family and their servants”
  26. Felicity (drama) – “A young fresh out of high school girl, follows her high school crush to college to be near him”
  27. White Collar (comedy, crime, drama) – “A white collar criminal agrees to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals using his expertise as an art and securities thief, counterfeiter, and conman” 
  28. CastleCastle (comedy, crime, drama) – “After a serial killer imitates the plots of his novels, successful mystery novelist Richard “Rick” Castle gets permission from the Mayor of New York City to tag along with an NYPD homicide investigation team for research purposes”
  29. Charmed (drama, fantasy mystery) – “Three sisters discover their destiny – to battle against the forces of evil, using their witchcraft. They are the Charmed Ones” 
  30. Angel (action, drama, fantasy) – “The vampire Angel, cursed with a soul, moves to Los Angeles and aids people with supernatural-related problems while questing for his own redemption”
  31. Heart of Dixie (drama) – “Three young sorority women try to find love with potential men, while worrying about changes in their way of life when integration begins at their college in 1957 segregated Alabama” 
  32. Lark Rise to Candleford (drama) – “An adaptation of Flora Thompson’s autobiographical novel set in 19 century Oxfordshire in which a young girl moves to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress”
  33. Lost (adventure, drama, fantasy) – “The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island”
  34. BonesBones (comedy, crime, drama) – “A forensic anthropologist and a cocky FBI agent build a team to investigate death causes. And quite often, there isn’t more to examine than rotten flesh or mere bones” 
  35. West Wing (drama) – “Inside the lives of staffers in the west wing of the White House” 
  36. The Good Wife (crime, drama, mystery) – “Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm” 
  37. 24 (action, drama, mystery) – “Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster”
  38. Burn Notice (action, crime, drama, mystery) – “A spy recently disavowed by the U.S. government uses his Special Ops training to help others in trouble”
  39. Scrubs (comedy, drama) – “In the unreal world of Sacred Heart Hospital, intern John “J.D” Dorian learns the ways of medicine, friendship and life”
  40. Heroes (drama, sci fi, thriller) – “They thought they were like everyone else… until they woke with incredible abilities”
  41. Eureka (comedy, drama, sci fi) – “The best minds in the US are tucked away in a remote town where they build futuristic inventions for the government’s benefit”
  42. Warehouse 13 (drama, mystery, sci fi) – “After saving the life of the President in Washington D.C., a pair of U.S Secret Service agents are whisked away to a covert location in South Dakota that houses supernatural objects” 
  43. DropDeadDivaDrop Dead Diva (comedy, drama) – “A vapid aspiring model killed in a car crash gets brought back to life as an intelligent, overweight lawyer, hoping to find the meaning of inner beauty”
  44. Supernatural (drama, fantasy, horror) – “Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth”
  45. Smallville (adventure, drama, romance) – “A young Clark Kent struggles to find his place in the world as he learns to harness his alien powers for good and deals with the typical troubles of teenage life in Smallville”
  46. House M.D. (drama, mystery) – “An antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way using his crack team of doctors and his wits”
  47. Battlestar Gallactica (action, adventure, drama, sci fi) – “When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurfaces and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protects a small civilian fleet – the last of humanity – as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony of Earth”
  48. Monarch of the Glen (comedy, drama, romance) – “Archie MacDonald, a young restaurateur is called back to his childhood home of Glenbogle where he is told he is the new Laird of Glenbogle”
  49. McLeod’s Daughters (drama) – “Five women run a cattle station, “Drover’s Run”, in the outback of South Australia” 
  50. Winners & Losers (comedy, drama) – “The lives of four best friends bound together by their shared experience of being “the losers” in high school. Now ten years later the women are about to become winners, but at what cost?” 

Although these were recommended based on what my daughter and I might like to watch, there’s such a great variety here! Something for everyone. What are your favorites from the list? Or what else would you add?

Though I’ve watched and liked several of the shows above, my top picks at the moment are Firefly (my favorite sci fi, a totally unique series with great character development, superb writing and a bizarre setting), Leverage (funny, charming heist series) and Veronica Mars, the last of which we’re watching now. Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are up next. And, although it’s not something my daughter would like, I think this list is missing Boston Legal – LOVED that series.

……….

All series descriptions, images and categorizations via IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.

How to Teach Your Kid Effective Communication

June 4, 2014 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I’ve got one kid who’s more susceptible to the stomach flu than the others. I promise you, if it’s going around, and often even if it’s not, this kid will get it at least twice. Often three times. And repeat every other month or so just so he doesn’t forget how. But the good news is, he processes it in less than 24 hours. Every time. So, silver lining!

The problem with kids, of course, is they suck at communication. I mean, it’s not their fault they suck at communication; it’s just they don’t yet have the experience or vocabulary to give us grown-ups all the information we need. For example, Stomach Flu Kid? Yeah. For the past two years, every single vomitty episode is the same.

  1. Cael goes pale.
  2. Cael complains of headache.
  3. Cael harfs buckets.

And he’s not the kid of mine who always makes it to an appropriate vomit-receptacle, either. Nope; this is the kid who ralphs without warning, but with great enthusiasm, and we never, ever – ever – get the bucket to him in time, because he never, ever – ever – tells us when it’s coming.  

So I’ve spent years with this kid – two straight years at least – trying to help him with his stomach flu communication. Trying to help him understand that the headache isn’t a headache… that’s called nausea, or, if that word’s too hard to remember when you’re sick, then it’s called “I FEEL LIKE I’M GOING TO THROW UP, MOM.” 

But no luck. Just none. Because TERRIBLE COMMUNICATION, I tell you. This kid can talk you under the table about Minecraft or insect anatomy or why 7-year-olds should be allowed to have driver’s licenses, but he cannotno matter what, identify nausea. 

And guess what?

Cael had the stomach flu three times last week. Woohoo! Twice at home and once at school. Three times lucky, friends. And every time was the same. 

Pale.

Then, “Mom, my head hurts.”

Then me, “That’s called nausea, Cael. Do you feel like you’re going to throw up?”

Then him, “I have a headache.”

Then me, “Can you say nausea? Nausea. You feel nauseated. Do you need a bucket?”

And him, “I have a heada…”…aaannd… puke cascading everywhere.

Every. Where. All of the Places. Like PlayDoh or glitter or those teeny, tiny LEGO pieces, impossible to contain once released into the wild.

And I swear I didn’t chide him for barfing. I didn’t. I wiped him up with someone’s t-shirt and undies, helpfully abandoned in the hallway near-by, and I said as I carried him to my bed to rest, “Oh, sweetie. Honey. That was nausea.” 

And he looked at me, droopy-eyed and exhausted, and said, “I had a headache.”

Which is when it occurred to me that he might be having… wait for it… headaches.

Because it also occurred to me that I get migraines.

And my mom gets migraines.

And my symptoms are primarily headache followed by the sudden onset of nausea / vomitting. Without, you know, a build-up of nausea as a precursor. 

Years. Years this kid has been telling me he has headaches.

Years. Years I’ve been telling him he’s wrong.

So I took Cael to the doctor yesterday to talk about his penchant for the stomach flu. And the doctor listened to his symptoms and diagnosed him with migraines. 

So… that was great.

And here’s my awesome advice on How to Teach Kids Effective Communication:

SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO THEM, Beth. Geez.

OK? OK.

I’m glad we had this chat.

P.S. Obviously, I have Parent of the Year in the bag, but if you have a similar I Rock Parenting story, I’m not opposed to having some company here on the awards stage. **ahem**

How to Take Great Selfies in 5 Easy, Teenager-Approved Steps

November 6, 2013 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

This is not today’s post, which I told you yesterday I would write. Today’s post is probably going to be tomorrow’s post. Or Friday’s post. Or whatever. I’ve been up with pukers for 5 nights in a row – SIX days of pukers with no end in sight, and I don’t even know what day it is anymore, man.

Instead, we’re going to do a Selfie Tutorial today because I have access to a thousand teenagers and those people know how selfies work. They invented the artform, after all. And then they perfected it, one awesome picture at a time. So if you’re a grown-up and you’ve been longing to know how to take better selfies, this is the post for you.

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My experiment with selfies began on Halloween night when my friend, Mindy, and I took this adorable pic, trying our hardest to mimic the wide eyes and open mouths we’ve seen from our teenaged friends.

Next, in the name of good science and even better art, I uploaded it to Facebook where I solicited advice from the teenage experts, especially our daughters and my cousin.

“How did we do?” I asked them, and “What do we need to improve?”

And their advice poured in. Such is the power of social media.

“Less forehead,” said one.

“More smiley,” said another. And “bigger mouth.” And “HUGE eyes.”

Myriad tips in seconds.

So I decided that today, after I’ve been awake for forty hundred consecutive hours with my sweet vomiters… a day when my hairstyle can most optimistically be described as Hopefully Vomit-Free… this is the day I could really use a good picture of myself. Restore some self-esteem. Feel pretty for a few minutes, you know?

And because I care about you, too, I decided to compile all the tips so we can benefit from our teens’ wisdom together. ‘Cause you know what the world needs? More selfies. Obvs.

So, without further ado, I present to you :

5 Easy Steps to GREAT Selfies
with helpful illustrations

Step 1: Minimize the Forehead

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OK. Forehead cropped. Check.

…..

Step 2: HUGE Eyes

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Huge eyes? Got it. Check.

…..

Step 3: Bigger Mouth

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Bigger mouth? One of my specialties. Check.

…..

Step 4: More Smiley

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Happier. More smiley. Mm hm. Check.

…..

And Step 5, courtesy of my 13-year-old cousin, Try to Look Less Like a Zombie.

And I…

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Well, that’s…

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I’m not sure…

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Yeah, that one’s lost on me.

I tried. I really did. But looking less like a zombie is, unfortunately, something I cannot do. I’ve been a Mombie for 15 years now, and I’m afraid this is as good as it gets.

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Which, quite honestly, is perfectly fine. And more than enough. And just right.

……….

So, Mombies… and Dads… and People Who Are Human,
what selfie tips would you add?
And how’s flu season treating you? Because SHEESH.

……….

 

See You Next Week

August 19, 2013 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I’m on vacation this week, camping with my family.

Camping with my family for 8 days.

Eight days in a row.

Of camping with my family.

So far, here are 5 Fun Facts About Our Vacations:

  1. Someone will always throw up the night before we leave.
  2. Someone will always throw up at the beginning of a long ride in the car.
  3. It will not necessarily be the same someone.
  4. No matter how prepared we are, the throw-up will never entirely make it in the ziplock bag.
  5. Certain husbands and wives who love each other very, very much should never (ever, ever) put up tents together. Like, ever.

That is all. I’ll see you on the flipside.

Back next week,
Beth

P.S. If you don’t already hang out with this community on Facebook, come on over. We have a good time, usually when I tell an embarrassing or inappropriate story and then your comments make it way more hilarious. Like here, and here, and here, and here.

P.P.S. Here are some of my favorite pictures of this trip so far. ‘Cause — hello! — MOMMY BLOG.

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