Reunited and it feels so goooooood

I want to say stuff about how it’s going with Chickadee, because I am so happy, every minute, and still whispering to Otto, “Is this real?” and surreptitiously pinching myself because it’s so much better than I’d dared to hope for, having her back home.

I don’t want to say anything about how it’s going with Chickadee, because if I’ve learned anything over the last 18 months or so, it’s that the things you think you can control or anticipate as a parent can change in an instant, in terrible ways, in ways you never considered, in ways that make people judge your family for things which truly fall under the “there but for the grace of God go I” umbrella (though no one wants to believe it could happen to them), and I am afraid if I shout “IT’S AWESOME!” from the rooftops, the good will end.

But mostly I want to say stuff because it gets better. It got better. And for a long time, I didn’t know if it would. I don’t want to not celebrate out of fear of the unknown. This isn’t the end of the story, but it’s a damn fine middle and worthy of celebration.

You want to know how it’s going? IT IS FUCKING FANTASTIC. I assured my girl over and over that even while she was living at her dad’s, we would talk all the time—phone, texting, messaging, email—and we did. We really did. But it’s not the same. It’s not the same as threatening to step outside in my polka-dotted bathrobe when the bus rolls up in the morning, it’s not the same as all of us being around the kitchen table for dinner while sibling one-upmanship turns raucous, it’s not the same as that bedtime hug every night. It’s just not. And you know, she was at her dad’s for four+ months, and in the hospital for four months before that, and it has been a really long time since our family was whole. It went on for so long, I think I started to forget what I was missing. I mean, not consciously, but it was too hard, everything I missed. I tamped it down, stomped on those pangs to quell them before they could eat me from the inside out. And so now every day something ordinary happens where I do a double-take because I’m teary over the mundane because for too long, it wasn’t like this.

I’m also just so proud of my kid I could just burst. I am used to being proud of her for academic achievements or participation in stuff, of course, but this is different. I know grown-ass adults who can’t get on top of their issues. We all know people who spend their entire lives never confronting their demons, and have seen the wreckage that can be found in their wakes as a result. Chickadee is 14. Only 14. (MAH BAYBEE!) And this past year she has had to work harder than seems fair, deal with stuff a lot of adults could never handle, and it sucked, and some of it will continue to suck, and yet… she does the hard work. She pushes through.

I feel tongue-tied when faced with the “correct” language to discuss mental illness. On the one hand, it enrages me when people stigmatize this stuff, as if greater moral fortitude could prevent someone’s genetics from producing a bona fide ailment. Obviously I am all for greater acceptance of these issues being recognized as real health matters and de-stigmatized. On the other hand, just as addiction is an illness, an addict can still be expected? encouraged? to choose and FIGHT FOR sobriety. And the same thing applies for many other forms of mental illness. This is where the language gets tricky. There’s a wide swath of awkward communication between “this is an illness” and “take personal responsibility” where the language is clunky and feelings get hurt, and that goes double for a minor—how much responsibility can you expect a young teen to take when in the grips of something awful, with a brain that isn’t finished forming?

I feel like all we can do, as parents, is try to get our kid to the right places, for the best treatment, and build a supportive, encouraging home structure, and pray a lot. And even then, it might not be enough. There are plenty of amazing kids with loving and dedicated parents who don’t make it out of this kind of hell intact. It’s nobody’s fault. Sometimes the illness wins. It’s not fair.

God knows we tried to make the right choices, and I’m sure some of them were wrong. I’m sure we’ll make more mistakes, too. We’re human. And a lot of the choices you have to make when your family is in crisis are impossible. I would love to be able to wave around a medal (yes, there should be a medal) and say “Yes, this is how you save your child, let me show you the way.” But even some of the best choices WE made were ones born of dumb luck, and MOST of what worked here was Chickadee finding her way to better choices, sometimes also via dumb luck, sometimes intentionally.

We have no medals here. That’s okay. But in case you’re interested, here’s what’s different, now:

She’s on the right medications. I don’t see any reason to equivocate about that or be embarrassed about it. She has a condition which tends to respond favorably to psychotropic drug treatment; after seeing a LOT of doctors and trying a lot of different things, she is currently doing really well on a cocktail which seems to be perfect. I hope it continues to work forever or until she doesn’t need it anymore. The reality is that psychotropic drugs are bitches and sometimes your body’s chemistry changes and/or sometimes the drugs just stop working. Right now she’s doing great. The reality is that this may change and we may have to head back to the drawing board. We’ll see.

Not all therapy works and not all therapists are good fits, but we kept trying. Chickadee’s had a lot of ineffective therapy over the last couple of years, but despite her sometimes-assurances that therapy was stupid and dumb and did she mention stupid, we kept trying to get her with folks who could help her. And while we missed her like crazy while she was up north, that afforded her the opportunity to participate in a group therapy situation unlike anything we had locally here, and it’s obvious to me that she got a lot out of that. Also before she came home I called 30 different doctors, armed with all of our past failures and successes, to find her the right team to keep helping her move forward. It’s easy to get knocked down by the stuff that doesn’t work, but you have to remember to keep getting up again.

I took control and I learned to let go. For a control freak like me, having a complicated sick kid was just… the absolute worst. I want to fix it and I can’t fix it and then my brain oozes out my ears. I went and got myself an extremely pragmatic therapist who basically does two things with me: She teaches me how to accept and let go of things I cannot control, and she has taught me how to change MY behavior to better support my child. It is not an exaggeration to say that I parent very differently now than I did before all of this happened. Not that I was a terrible mom before or I’m perfect now, but the lesson of “you cannot control your child but you can change how you conduct yourself to best support and guide her towards productive choices” is a humbling one. It’s hard work and I didn’t waaaaant to, but whoa, what a difference it has made. For his part, Otto has been a unflagging cheerleader throughout this process, and even now every time I handle something the “new” way, he’ll drop a quiet, “Nice work” or “well handled” to let me know I’m on track and he’s there with me.

There is strength and gratitude in survivorship. I can’t speak for Chickie, I suppose, but I can tell you that FOR ME there is a huge undercurrent of “let’s not go back to that” coursing through my life. I suspect it’s something similar for her. The scary stuff has already happened. Knowing we got through everything that came before makes even the hard moments now seem more bearable. Oh, this? This isn’t nearly so bad as that was. We can handle this.

Life offers no guarantees. We’re (sometimes painfully) aware. But our family is working hard to stay happy and healthy, and I, for one, am grateful for every bit of it.

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77 Responses to “Reunited and it feels so goooooood”

  1. 1
    deva at deva by definition March 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    I want to hug you so much right now. I have a post queued up on my blog (it’s set to post next week) about my own struggles with my mental illnesses. I think there is a lot of stigma around it, around being on medication, and around trusting those with mental illness to effectively manage their own conditions. I think Chickadee has a great support system around her, with you, Otto, her dad, Monkey, and everyone else, and I hope that as she continues to grow up into the awesome Grown-Up Chickadee she will be, that she continues to learn from your awesomeness, your support, and your strength. I think as she continues to grow she will learn how to manage herself all by herself, but also when to ask those around her outside of her medical support staff (such as you! and otto! and maybe her future loving spouse!) for help.

    All to say: you’re a great mom. chickadee and monkey sound like great kids. I think you’re doing great, and I am exuberantly waving pompoms in your direction.

  2. 2
    zchamu March 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    “There’s a wide swath of awkward communication between “this is an illness” and “take personal responsibility” where the language is clunky and feelings get hurt”

    You know… this made me think. Because there’s a lot of personal responsibility in NON mental illness too. And a lot of that is stigmatized. Smoking or obesity related illnesses are big examples of illnesses where people get a lot of personal blame. But I can also think of things like type 1 diabetes that still take a lot of personal work and effort to manage properly.

    I know a man who woke up one day and was paralyzed from basically the eyeballs down. He has had to fight to get his body back. Every single move he makes now is hard fought, hard won. It’s no different than fighting with mental illness. The beast is just in a different place. We all need to take responsibility for our bodies, our minds, our lives. I guess the difference is that nobody tells the diabetic that if they just practice positive thinking their pancreas will suddenly heal – but that diabetic still needs to watch their diet and take their insulin and do hard work to make sure their body operates properly.

    God, life is hard work. I need a nap now.

    (YAY FOR ALL OF YOU. xoxoxo)

  3. 3
    KarenP March 1, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    So glad things are going well for all of you! And Chickie keep up the flute! We used to always tell Greg to Rip a Lip…instead of break a leg.

  4. 4
    deva at deva by definition March 1, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    I’m double posting to say, I think posts like yours help lessen the stigma, which really shouldn’t exist. Because I didn’t type that in the first post.

  5. 5
    Chris March 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    It’s ok to cry while reading this, right? Really grateful.

  6. 6
    Karen R March 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    WooHoo! May any dips be small, and may your heights be great. Wonderful news!

  7. 7
    TC March 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    You wouldn’t, you know, be willing to tell us a little more about the you-changes part of things? Like, with a hypothetical before-and-after example? (Yes. Yes I did just ask you to compress everything you learned AND PAID FOR AND WORKED HARD FOR into a blog post. Because I’m lazy and cheap, but I also think you are amazing and have a lot to teach me. So, um, yeah. I did.)

    And mazel tov, too. To all of you. This is the update we’ve all hoped for, even moreso than the one saying Chickie was coming home.

  8. 8
    Amy March 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    So glad things are going well for everyone! I am just past emerging (successfully!) from nearly crippling post-partum depression/bi-polar relapse and although I am on so many drugs that I need a weekly (AM/PM) pill carrier to keep them all straight, I also credit my determination in getting me through. AND, I am an adult. With a child to care for and motivate me. Doing the same thing at 14 is nothing short of heroic.

    Your daughter is a bona fide superhero. Congratulations.

  9. 9
    Michelle March 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Goose bumps and some tears. I’m so happy for you, and for Chickie, and pray continued healing and warm fuzziness for you all. Thanks for writing about this so honestly.

  10. 10
    becky March 1, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    This makes me cry with relief for you & the family. xoxo

  11. 11
    Jenn March 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    So proud of all of you.

  12. 12
    Aimee March 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m so…what? Happy, yes, for all of you. And moved, deeply, because I too know what it’s like to watch a loved one struggle with mental illness, and unlike Chickadee, my husband lost his battle. My own therapist is helping me to work toward understanding what you said here: “On the other hand, just as addiction is an illness, an addict can still be expected? encouraged? to choose and FIGHT FOR sobriety. And the same thing applies for many other forms of mental illness. This is where the language gets tricky. There’s a wide swath of awkward communication between “this is an illness” and “take personal responsibility” where the language is clunky and feelings get hurt” and really accepting that this was true of Tony, too. That I couldn’t have helped him if he didn’t want to be helped, and tragically, he did not want to be.

    I have so much admiration for you, my friend, and for your lovely daughter. xo

  13. 13
    Laura March 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    I cannot tell you how happy all of this makes me. Good for EVERYONE!!

  14. 14
    LizD March 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Weeping. Thank you so much for this post! I plan to re-read several times to look for lessons with my nephew.

    ooxx

  15. 15
    Niki March 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    So well said. I am thrilled for all of you!

  16. 16
    Katherine March 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Yay! Just yay all around – for Chickee and you, and for Otto and Chickee’s dad too, and Monkey and Licorice as well.

  17. 17
    mar March 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Damn, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all day!!! ;-)

    (Also, so happy for you, and here’s to hoping that road will be smoother as you travel down it together as one big happy family!)

  18. 18
    Jamie March 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Bravo!!!! I read this a bit differently, too, for myself taking anti-depressants to deal with my marriage blowing up in my face. I was scared to take them at first, but they have helped me cope and live productively in the face of sadness, anger, disbelief, etc.

    And for the record, I’d like a medal in the end, too. Once I’ve made it through this nightmare!

  19. 19
    bj March 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Thank you, thank you for writing about you chick and mental illness. You wrote “On the other hand, just as addiction is an illness, an addict can still be expected? encouraged? to choose and FIGHT FOR sobriety. And the same thing applies for many other forms of mental illness.”

    But, that’s also true for many forms of “physical” disease. Someone with heart disease or diabetes can be expected to exercise, and eat healthier and do things that someone without heart disease doesn’t have to do. Someone with cancer has to comply with their medication and bear the pain. The fact that in a mental illness some of the parts of your body aren’t working right and you have to make all the rest of it work harder to survive might indeed be clunky to talk about but we need to talk about it.

    (I say this as someone who studies the brain — it is a part of your body and sometimes it malfunctions. That one can still function with malfunction doesn’t mean that we have to chose the dichotomy of “your fault” “biology’s fault”).

  20. 20
    Anna March 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Yay, yay, yay!!!

  21. 21
    Leslie March 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    So happy for you and your family that Chickie is back in the nest! You deserve to be happy and proud!

  22. 22
    bj March 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Really more people need to read this article. Is there some way to make that happen? The NY Times recently published an op-ed by a law professor who is a functioning schizophrenic. Would you have believed that was possible? And yes, her story included medications, effort, therapy, “exercise”. I think we’re starting to talk more sensibly about mental illness and stories like these need to be told.

  23. 23
    Megan March 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Amen and amen.

    I am so glad you are in a place of GOOD again. And (from experience) you will never take it for granted. Ever. Which is also good!

  24. 24
    Stacy March 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m so happy. I happy that she’s back, that she has good meds, that you’ve all learned a lot, that you know you can survive and that things do get better (and even that they can get bad again, but then you’ll just handle it again).

  25. 25
    ben March 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I am so damn happy for y’all. All y’all. (I have a permit to say that sort of thing, living here in the lone star state and all)

    Giant hugs all around!

  26. 26
    jodie March 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    These last few posts have made me immensely happy and also made me cry. Hooray and medals for both (scratch that, ALL) of you. Thank you for having the courage to share this story. For helping us all figure out how to face our demons. Chickie – good on ya. It took me a lot longer than 14 to start dealing with my demons. You inspire the heck out of me. And Mir, thank you for showing me the motherhood will always be a process and it’s OK when you don’t get it right the first time (or second…or third…).

  27. 27
    Sarahd March 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    What TC said above about that “before” and “after” example? I would LOVE to hear that as well! Congrats to you all for making it through!!!

  28. 28
    Lucinda March 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    There have been studies to show that what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. You and Chickie and your whole family are a walking testament to that. I’m so glad it’s getting better and I’m so grateful for your honesty about it all. A million hugs to all of you.

  29. 29
    liv March 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    doing a rocky victory dance for you! in my head. cuz it wouldn’t be pretty in real life. ;) i hope it stays “better!”

  30. 30
    Brigid March 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    “Go Mir! It’s your birthday! Go Mir! It’s your birthday!” (Well, OK, it’s not really your birthday, but I’m over here singing for you and Chickadee and the whole family.) WHOLE family, I like the way that sounds.

  31. 31
    liz March 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    I was gonna say what zchamu said, that people do have to take responsibility for the treatment of their physical illnesses. I keep thinking about Lyme, which is epidemic in my county, and things like your own gluten issues. Once you find out what the underlying issue is, staying on top of prevention and treatment and dealing with doctors is still a patient’s job.

  32. 32
    Melissa March 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    All I keep commenting is “Yay!” but I’m not eloquent enough to say more. Hopefully you’re feeling all that the “yay!” is supposed to communicate.

  33. 33
    Stimey March 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    This post makes me so happy. Your girl is tough, that is for sure. She has worked so hard. You have worked so hard. I am thrilled to read happy, happy, happy from you.

  34. 34
    js March 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    I’m very happy for you and your family. It’s about freaking time. The middle is a brilliant place to be. Much less scary than the beginning and not quite The End. YAY!

  35. 35
    {sue} March 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    My heart is doing pitter patters for all of you.

  36. 36
    Leslie March 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Mir. I’d like to request a post about how you’ve changed what you do as well….joining TC up there. AND I’d like to hug all the commenters, and give you a hug and, yes, a medal, because THERE SHOULD BE A MEDAL for this.

    A little over a year ago, my then 13-year-old son told me he wanted to live with his dad and stepmom, because he wasn’t happy at my house. It was a blow. Obviously. But, if that is what was best for him at the time, and we decided mutually that it was, it had to be how things went, and so it was. I saw him every other weekend and every Wednesday. I was heartbroken, to be quite honest, but I kept the faith. I changed some things about how I parented, too, and some other things. And now, we’re back to shared parenting.

    So I know a little of how you must have felt, because I had my own taste of it. I am thrilled that Chickadee is back with you. Just thrilled. Hugs!

  37. 37
    Brenda March 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    So glad you’re on the other side of this storm. I’ve been through my own hellish storm of mental illness, and while I do sometimes fear another one, the fact that I made it through as well as I did has given me great courage. I also now have the deep, visceral knowledge that no matter how bad sucks, it can’t suck forever. It will eventually get better, and if all I can do is hang on for dear life in the meantime, that’s OK. Sometimes I think about how I’m a different person, much stronger, and even if depression reared its ugly head and hung in there, I am better equipped. I have better tools, I can head things off at the pass because I know a lot of depression’s tricks now. One of the best lessons I ever learned was to just take a nap or go to bed early when I feel overwhelmed. 95% of the time I feel so much better, where I used to just dwell on how overwhelmed I was and made it so much worse. I’m really proud of you for doing the hard part of working on your reactions to all of this. Your whole family worked really hard, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the payoff. :)

  38. 38
    Holly Gault March 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    I’m so happy for all of you. Good job.

  39. 39
    Angela March 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Woohoo!!!!! I’m so happy to hear it, it’s great to get good news :-)

  40. 40
    Jeanie March 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    I’m so happy to hear how well Chickie’s doing! How well you are all doing, actually. I hope it gets better and better.

  41. 41
    My Kids Mom March 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Someday– and I really mean that with a capital S- like not for a while, but Someday down the road– you will be able to go back and read the posts from the beginning of the Difficult Traumatic Time and you won’t remember that it had ever been that bad. Blogging saves us from teflon memories.

    When Bug was 3 or 4 and at the worst of his hitting, biting meltdowns, I pulled out the video camera. Most of the video is of a screaming child yelling at me to turn off the camera, which is painful to remember. But I didn’t turn it off and I let him melt down and try to hurt me. And I have a record of something terrible, but something that has Gotten Better. I wouldn’t remember how bad it once was if I hadn’t recorded that terrible episode. Which means I wouldn’t appreciate how good it is now either.

    That make sense?

  42. 42
    Genevieve March 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Could not be happier for you!!!! big big happy grin here. Contemplating what your invisible medal looks like and what the invisible engraving says.
    WOOOOOTTTT for you, for Chickadee the Amazing, for Otto and for Monkey!!!!

  43. 43
    Alicia March 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    You deserve 3 million medals. Mir, I don’t know how you did it. But I am so glad all of you did. Go enjoy those precious memories and have some ice cream to celebrate, dadgummit.

  44. 44
    RuthWells March 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Here’s to getting better.

  45. 45
    Mon March 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Woot-woot! And hip-hip-hooray! I luuuurve this update.

  46. 46
    addy March 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    The after it’s in sight and it’s good.

  47. 47
    Christine March 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Thank you for choosing to blog so openly and honestly about all of this. It would have been easier to be vague, and understandable while you were living through this hell to not risk the vulnerability of putting it all out there. Yet, by doing so you validated some in their own experiences and taught many. I know that you didn’t blog about it without Chickadee’s permission, so major kudos to her! I stand in awe of all of you!

  48. 48
    Kira March 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Love you.

  49. 49
    Another Dawn March 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    This is my favourite post ever. Hands down. So SO glad Chickadee has found the right cocktail to allow her to function. Fingers crossed for the future. That’s one strong kid you have there.

    Of course her momma ain’t no slouch, neither. Wishing your family all health and happiness in the days to come.

  50. 50
    Heather March 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Yay for you, for Chickadee, and for your family! And yay for insight and self awareness. An unfortunate component of some mental illness is the impaired ability to understand one’s own agency and personal responsibility. I cannot say how happy I am for you that this is not the case for Chickadee.

  51. 51
    suburbancorrespondent March 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    Three cheers for persistence AND dumb luck!

  52. 52
    Judy March 1, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” — Maya Angelou

    I sense a family full of butterflies. Best to you and yours.

  53. 53
    mamaspeak March 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Wow. Just wow.
    There’s a part in here about illness vs. personal responsibility combined w/what is reasonable to expect from a child that is exactly what I’ve been struggling with as of late. But my kids is SIX! Thinking about 14 w/this child scares the shit out of me. I had a conversation w/her OT& ST this week trying to figure out who can best address what she needs & if what she needs is a swift quick in the arce. I’m still not positive of the answer, but I know the answer isn’t stagnant, and I know these specific issues aren’t in their realm.
    I’m so happy for you and your family. I’m grateful that you’re so articulate & generous w/your information. I know we don’t have the whole story. I also know my family isn’t yours & your experiences aren’t indicative of anything that may or may not happen to us. But I also know, that I was brought your direction so when I’m struggling w/this stuff I will know I’m not alone. For that I’m grateful.

  54. 54
    Jessica March 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    I am so with you on the language of mental illness thing. There are times I forget the stigma associated with my mom’s mental illness, and my family language is sarcastic and a bit dark-humorish. My mom has fought hard against the stigma of her mental illness and is pretty outspoken about it now, so I have learned to be that way, too. (I’ve been dealing with it since I was 8 or 9, so it’s “old hat” for me to talk to her about it. In some ways, we are so honest that it takes people aback when they hear me tell my mom, “Are you off-meds? What, are you stupid? You know you can’t be off-meds!” because I CAN TELL when she is and others don’t get that this is our way, our MI language.) Other people can’t talk smack about my mom (although my sister and I can, but there’s that “it’s MY mom” thing), because she is fighting hard to be the person she thinks she can be (there is no “should” in our family).

    But the language of MI. Man. That’s hard. You got me on that one. I would never say the blunt things that I do to my mom to a student who goes to the school I work at. There’s the “MI is in my family, so we’re dealing with it the family way” (without enabling, hopefully, and with a helluva lot of love mixed in with the bluntness) and then there’s the “This person isn’t family, but I care about what’s going on with them and want to make sure they’re okay, but what is their MI language? Is it different than my family’s MI language?” And then add the stigma that is still around (very, very heavily where I currently live, most unfortunately), and that changes the language for MI discussions even more in some situations.

    I don’t know if any of this makes sense or not, but I really wish this topic weren’t the landmine riddled area that it can be. And I am so grateful to you for being grateful for the bright spots and for taking them as they come. That’s something that I have trouble with and I need to spend more time looking for the sun through the clouds. Thank you.

  55. 55
    Crisanne March 2, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    So thankful to hear (see?) joy in your voice again. All the best to you and your loved ones.

  56. 56
    Alice March 2, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    I’m so happy for you! Enjoy the quiet & good times now!

    I recognize where you say how proud you are of your kid learning to cope with stuff that most adults don’t even get how to deal with. I have a 10 and an 11 year old that are already further in analyzing their own behavior and controlling their tempers than many adults I see around me. And it makes me very very proud. I’m wishing they get through their teenager years without too many issues because if they can keep this up they’ll really make beautiful and successful adults.

  57. 57
    CuriousCat March 2, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    This was a powerful post. It spoke to a lot of people in a lot of different ways for a lot of different reasons. This was something that needed to be told.

    It’s hard to remember Chickie is only 14. It seems like she should be older. I am so glad her meds are working for her now and I hope they continue to do so, but I am also glad you are aware they may not and will keep an eye out for any sign that an adjustment is in order. Chickie is doing great but it’s a fact her own illness may prevent her from realizing if her meds are not working, at least right away. She’s very strong and very smart (hmmm, wonder where she got those traits?) and I have high hopes she will be one of the success stories in managing her illness. Lord, please let 2013 be as GOOD as 2012 was BAD for your family.

    I don’t understand the stigma about mental illness, not in this time. By now, we’ve all dealt with it, one way or another. We either have it ourselves or someone else in our family does or maybe a friend, neighbor, co-worker. WE HAVE ALL EXPERIENCED IT IN SOME WAY. So why the stigma? Why the shame? There’s no shame in having cancer or diabetes or heart problems or arthritis. People will readily admit to these diseases; yet even people with mental illness will admit to only that: mental illness. No one ever says what it is, what particular illness it is. People say, “My son has a “condition” or “My mother has a mental illness” or “I’m having some issues right now”. I don’t think it’s privacy that’s holding them back. I think it’s the stigma, the shame that still lurks. It needs to be said. It needs to be talked about specifically. If you have breast cancer, you say you have breast cancer, not cancer. If you have a mental illness, you should be able to say “I have schizophrenia” or “My daughter is bi-polar with anxiety disorder” or “I have chronic depression” or whatever. It needs to be said, it needs to become as acceptable as discussing any other disease, any other condition. It is the only way to bring change to how we deal with and treat mental illness in this country.

    I have chronic depression. There is, in my extended family, schizophrenia, bi-polar, anxiety disorder, heart disease, lupus, diabetes and breast cancer. There is no shame in having any of them, it is what it is. Let’s work on acceptance, knowledge and treatment for all diseases.

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    AnotherJenn March 2, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    After this post I went back and re-read “In the never after”, these two posts are so beautiful and heart-wrenching and honest. Thank you so much for sharing. Your telling of your’s and Chickadee’s stories have changed the face of mental illness for me, and I imagine many of your other readers. While I have tried not to be distant or callous or respond out of fear when the topic has come up it has always been an issue that I’ve kept at a distance. You have provided an emotional touchstone that I didn’t have before and I know it has made me more conscientious and compassionate. I am rooting for Chickadee from my corner of the internet, and I hope that in some small way that helps strengthen both of you in the tough times and brighten the joyous ones.

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    Bonnie March 2, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    What a journey you have and continue to go through. You have taught me so much and I am so happy that you all are in a good place now. Your elequance has allowed us to really feel and understand how hard this has been and now allowed us to feel your joy. Congrats and thank you and hugs to you all.
    xo

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    Liz March 2, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    This? Has awesome written all over it :)

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    Brigitte March 2, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Go get a bag of shiny, craft-y materials, sit down as a family, and make each other those medals! You fully deserve them, and they’ll be the best, as they’ll be custom-taylored.
    ;-)

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    wendy March 2, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Mir – you said it. All of it. Perfectly, beautifully, truthfully. You hung on and she came back!! And stronger and more confident and wiser. And you too! We too are still on a very good path, also with the right medications, a good support system, and a good therapist (for me!). And you are absolutely right about all the mixed messages and stigma attached to mental illness. I have been involved with http://cahmsd.org/ for many years (before my daughter started having problems) so I was aware of the issues and stigmas. Even being ‘armed’ I still faced so many people (doctors, friends, family) that just couldn’t deal with what was happening. It is sad and shocking and it certainly doesn’t help…..but we all do what we can to change that. I help the at the CAHM yearly forum leading an art workshop and talk about my daughter’s journey, my journey, and hope to touch someone with our truth. Talking about it is good. I am soooooooo happy for you and your family!!!!! Congrats!!!!!!

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    Jennifer March 2, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Brava! This is a near-virtuoso post and God bless you for having the talent to do it justice.

    I’m so very happy for you and your family. Here’s to lots more of the same, going forward.

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    Betsy March 2, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    I’m so glad to read all of this great news! So happy for all of you.

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    Chris March 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    It is a happy day!! And i can’t say anything else but that I loved this post and seeing a bit of the other side. Go Mir!

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    Hall March 3, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    I am so glad for all of you! Your situation hurt to think about…. things DO get better… YAY!

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    Deborah (aka Tawanda Bee) March 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Reading your post has thrown me back in time… when learning to “stand up without standing against” was my key to emotional sanity. Learning to do this with my alcoholic spouse was like kindergarten, the first step in preparing me to “detach with love” as a mother. I know it’s not easy.

    Peace to you and blessings on your journey. The serenity prayer gives me a place to start when doubts creep in…

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can.
    And the wisdom to know the difference

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    Rocky Mountain Woman March 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    Bravo!

    And bravery, you are so brave!

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    Em March 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    I am so happy that now, in this moment, everything is good. My daughter has anxiety and worries and we’re always talking about THIS moment. We don’t know about the future but all of those things she worries about aren’t true right now. So I am glad for this moment for you and your family. I hope you are able to soak it all up and if some future moments aren’t as great, I hope knowing it can get back to great carries you right on through. The fact that you got to this wonderful time means that whatever decisions you made, second guessed about or worried were wrong, were right. They got you and her here. I couldn’t be happier for you!

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    Jennifer Joyner March 4, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    Right on….you deserve some fucking fantastic. And so does she. So happy for your reunited family!

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    kapgaf March 4, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    All of the above and then some!

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    NTE March 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    The honesty in the post (as always) makes me want to give you presents. And I’m so happy for you all that I’m fit to burst.

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    Navhelowife March 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    I sometimes use the analogy of a fishing tackle box (or a tool box). Medication is the box – it can help provide some structure and stability so that you can fill that tool box with all the tools you need (or fishing lures, or craft supplies :) ) to be successful. And the filling part is the therapy part. Both are vital to growth and to ajdustment and to success.

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    Valerie March 4, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    She came back to you. And she came back to a you that you are glad you have become. She came back to you because you taught her to look inside, take stock, and improve what you can. You know more about what you can control and what you can’t than you think. And you are not afraid to face what you can control.

    And that is what makes you (ya’ll) remarkable. All the best wishes for a joyous new season of life.

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    Tracy B March 5, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Being a control freak makes letting go almost unbearable. It’s a lesson I am learning. Maybe a therapist is what I need to show me the tricks. I am overwhelmed with joy for you, Mir. 2013 is starting out pretty awesome! And I have to say that, although you lined up all the doctors, treatment, group sessions, etc for Chickie, prayer was the biggest contributor in that equation. Not just the prayers you prayed but those from ALL your admirers! :)

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    Katie in MA March 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    What do you mean there are no medals?! Because I could totally make you one out of some Yoplait covers and the paper clips I have right here. Because seriously -SERIOUSLY – you *all* deserve medals for pom-pomming and parenting and supporting and loving and understanding each other and never, ever giving up on each other. Your family loves fiercely and you know how to survive and stand up for each other. There should definitely be a medal for that!

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    J from Ireland March 15, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    Oh Mir, I am crying my eyes out here. Glad you are all on the right track.
    My own 15yo daughter has been making choices lately that I find very difficult to deal with. I too am trying to change some parts of my parenting.
    The killer for me is that from the moment I became a mother I was determind to be the best mother I could be. I worked my ass off to be different than my mother and yet my daughter has similar issues as I have.
    I hope that we all come out of this.
    Best wishes to you all.

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