I kind of hate this stupid oxygen mask

We have reached the part of our program where people who love me place a gentle hand on my arm and say things like, “What are you doing for you?” This always makes me want to laugh (inappropriately). Oh, I’m just eating bonbons and kicking back, you know. Because why not? It feels like the sky is falling, sure, but I’M WORTH IT.

Generally I stammer something about how OH I am managing, you know, and Otto always makes sure we have some ice cream in the freezer, and not to worry, I’m just fine. Or, you know, not fine at all, but it’s okay.

There’s a twisted part of my brain that feels like if my kid is suffering, it’s my job to suffer along with her. I know this. I also know that it makes no sense. But that’s one of my dysfunctional coping mechanisms that feels more comforting than the realization that there’s really nothing more I can do at this point.

Nonetheless, the next person who tells me to “put on my own oxygen mask first” is getting a zucchini to the temple. I get it. And I’m working on it.

While Monkey was off with his dad I had two weeks to wallow and indulge my inner Chicken Little, but now that he’s home I have to resume pretending that I’m comfortably in charge and confident in some semblance of order in the world. I’m not gonna lie—the last few days before he came home I was overcome with both dread and guilt. I missed him, of course, and wanted him home, but I was also worried I wasn’t going to be able to pull my mess of a self together and get off the couch and actually make dinner and such.

[Sidebar: It is not my fault, or anyone’s “fault,” that Chickadee is sick. That’s the party line and it’s true and I believe it 100%, intellectually. Emotionally, my belief in my fitness as a mother has been shaken. Do not feel compelled to assure me otherwise—I know this is an emotional, irrational reaction—but the reality is that this is a normal response to realizing that something you though you controlled (good parenting = happy kid) is actually completely out of your control. Just another bonus prize of the suckage.]

I was working on finding that loathsome metaphorical oxygen mask the entire time Monkey was gone, mind you. I have a new therapist and I like her a lot, though she’s the pragmatic sort who periodically says things like, “The reality is that your daughter might never get better” and then I fantasize about punching her in the face. But I appreciate her honesty even though it doesn’t always help me feel less hopeless. Anyway, we talk. I use a lot of tissues in her office. I trust that eventually this will be productive rather than simply gut-wrenching.

I’m back on antidepressants, because for a while there I couldn’t sleep, and also because of the aforementioned leakiness. Once insomnia and crying at the drop of the hat lay claim to me on a regular basis, I know it’s time for a little chemical assistance. And it helps—I’m sleeping a little better, and I still cry a lot, but I do not cry all the time, and this is an important distinction.

Otto and I located a support group for family members dealing with mental illness in a loved one, and I had high hopes. The good news is that the people we met at the meeting we attended were very kind. The bad news is that there were only two other people there, both of whom had never dealt with a child being the afflicted person. So we talked and they nodded sympathetically and said things like “Teenagers! My kids were hard at that age, too!” So… that was not as useful as I’d hoped it would be.

Monkey came home, and I clung to my bootstraps for dear life, and then something bizarre happened: I started to feel better.

I don’t know if I could really explain it well enough to do it justice even if I tried, but I don’t really even want to attempt to paint the picture of our household over the last six months or so. It’s… too much. All I can tell you is that when someone you love is behaving in such an irrational manner, everyone else in the family begins to warp as well, to stretch and reform in ways you don’t even realize, attempting to buffer and protect and deflect the mayhem that’s going on. And while it’s happening it seems perfectly normal, even though it so isn’t.

So Monkey came home, and things were… calm. Loving. We three smile at each other and enjoy one another’s company and share hugs and kisses and giggles and it’s just… normal.

I think I had forgotten what that was like. I think maybe we all did.

I’m still sad and worried and stressed out, but I’m also deeply appreciative of moments in time that are right and good. Monkey is an inch taller than when he left, but ever the sunny goofball he’s always been in good times. He reminds me that this can be a good time—with him, with just the three of us—even though my brain tries to insist that this is the worst of times. Chickadee is where she needs to be right now, and seeing how happy Monkey is reminds me that he, too, has suffered through this storm and deserves some peace and contentment wherever it may be found.

So I follow his lead as often as I can, and I find it, too. I find it when I push back from the computer mid-morning and tell him it’s time to go swimming. (“Just like that?” he asks, incredulous. “Right now?” “Just like that! Right now!” He laughs and runs off to change, and I realize as he pounds up the stairs that I’m laughing, too.) I find it when Otto and I are sitting out on the porch at the end of the day, marveling at what a difference a year makes, at how comfortable Monkey is in his own skin these days. I find it when he grabs Otto and me and declares “GROUP HUG!” and I breathe in my two favorite guys and know that I am still lucky, even though I ache for us to be four again.

I buy groceries and do work and make phone calls and love on the ones who let me and pray for the one who won’t. I find pockets of joy I’d forgotten about. I still cry a lot, but less than I used to.

It feels like I got my mask on, but now I can’t find hers. I’m fumbling around for it, trying not to panic. I’m breathing, which means I can keep going, no matter how scared I am or how many times I think I would happily give my mask to her if only she would take it. I hate this. But I’m still breathing.


  1. Alison C

    I hope things improve for Chickie soon and I am so glad that some things are getting easier for you too.

    Love to you all

  2. brigitte

    I had been wondering about the disruption in Monkey’s world, thanks for letting us know he’s sounding good. And I know all parents will empathize with the guilt-even-though-it’s-not-logical feelings. (((hugs)))

  3. Rebecca

    Finding your breath is step one.

    I don’t know what step two is. But I’ll let you know if anything comes to me.

    For now, still sending prayers and positive thoughts to you and yours.

  4. The Other Laura

    You are all, each and every one of you, in my prayers.

  5. Heather

    I’m so glad to know that you are getting some of the help you (and Otto and Monkey) need. Not that there was any doubt (because you are a good mom ;)), but it’s still nice to read. You all deserve it. And you know what? So does Chickadee and this is a good thing for her, too, that there is a loving family that is waiting to have her back when she is ready.

  6. Sue-dragon

    When I was a younger, less experienced mother, I truly believed that no mother on the planet anywhere ever would put on her oxygen mask first, before her child’s.

    Then my children forced me to grow up.

    Glad to see your mask in place, sweetie. Chickie’s mask is right there for the taking, whenever she’s ready for it. Pretty soon she’s going to realize she needs it, and not long after she starts using it, she’s going to realize she wants it to never go away. Hang in there, hon. (((hugs)))

  7. Ruth

    My brother went to sleep away camp every summer, and it was during those two months that the rest of us were able to exhale and release the tension we didn’t even know we were carrying.

    I am glad you and your guys are able to enjoy your time together, even in the midst of the storm.

  8. Lara

    What a beautifully written post. I am so glad to hear that things are improving for you in the general day-to-day living at least. I recommend looking for an online support group! I totally get your sidebar on the guilt, I think all moms do that even while knowing its not rational thinking ;) Thinking of you all often and hoping for the best.

  9. Karen

    I know all too well that search for the oxygen mask.. for both of you…and the letting go of the guilt when you actually find five minutes of “normal”.. when you actually let yourself LIVE it. I remember the first time I really laughed, a geniune – not-forced so someone else will think I’m doing better- laugh. There was guilt for a split second… then there was relief. And a realization that OMG… there will be life again… we will LIVE again. Maybe the living will be different… but there will still be these good moments… hopefully more of them as you allow.. as time heals and life settles into what it will be.

    Waiting to exhale… yeah.. that. Do it often and let yourself feel the relief of it. You can’t carry the weight of the world.. you can’t fix all the problems.. you didn’t create them. Do what you can, and let others do what they are supposed to. Chick is also going to have to find it within to help herself.. you just can’t do it for her. You’ve been an AMAZING mother through these difficult years for BOTH of your children. I’ll shut up now… but please know in your heart of hearts that this . is .. TRUE.

    Enjoy this time with your boys… they are amazing and worthy and SO ARE YOU.

  10. amy


  11. Molly

    God bless you, Mir. You’re doing this. You’re doing it right now. The hardest thing I hope you will ever have to do: You’re doing it. And you’re finding some joy and laughter and gratitude in its midst. I know you feel like you are just surviving, but you’re also inspiring. Take every bit of joy you find and savor it.

  12. Navhelowife

    I’m glad you were able to breathe in the love that flows through that mask. Chickadee’s mask will be found. That’s what i’m praying for and that is what I believe will happen.
    I’m glad Monkey is doing well, and I’m glad you are in a good place where you can offer him some solace and some joy.
    Chikadee’s battle is ultimately hers, and Monkey’s is ultimately his, but I have no doubt in their mind that they are blessed beyond measure to have you, Otto, and all their other family in their lives.

  13. liv

    thanks for the update, mir — i’m still praying for you all.

  14. Jen

    Keep breathing. In. Out. Inhale spit. Choke. Hack. Cough. In. Out. Take the Mega Zucchini to your next therapy appointment as backup. Ice cream for brekkie, skinny dipping at midnight, a massage because they help so much.
    And love for all of you.

  15. parodie

    So glad there are patches of blue sky. Also very glad there are people who love you enough to ask if you’re caring for yourself, and to help you do it. Sharing your story like this is powerful witness. I just wish I could find the perfect words to say exactly the right thing to you… prayers and love for your family.

  16. Arnebya

    Although I’ve never suffered at this level, I do get that one point about feeling like we should be hurting along with our loved one in pain, that if we laugh or enjoy something it’s a slap in the face to the person who is hurting. It’s crap, of course, but our minds are tricky little bastards who like too much pie. I’m thinking of you, Mir, and Chickie of course, glad that you have Otto and happy that Monkey is showing resilience amid the changes as well.

  17. Joan Allison

    Ditto to what Karen said about Chickie finding having to find it within to help herself. When it comes to mental health, nobody else can put your oxygen mask on for you, especially if you don’t want it on. And since she’s young and has her own brain chemistry making it harder for her, she needs the help of trained professionals.

    Keep looking for the right support group. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has Parents & Caregivers of Youth Consumers Discussion Groups. Try looking that up on NAMI’s website. Maybe there’s one close enough to you that you could attend. If not, maybe NAMI could suggest other options. But don’t give up on it; mental illness just isn’t that rare at any age, and puberty is a pretty common age for it to show up. So your support group is out there; it just might take a little searching to find it.

  18. elizabeth

    a Monkey shaped oxygen mask, who knew?
    glad you are getting some moments of joy.
    been thinking of you and yours, sending good thoughts/magic mojo your way.

  19. Nancy R

    Thinking of and praying for you.

  20. MomQueenBee

    I can’t say anything original that hasn’t already been said in these comments (so glad to hear from you, thankful for your Monkeyshines) but if tallying the number of readers who pray for you daily means anything to you, count me among them.

  21. Katrina

    I completely understand about knowing how your chronic child’s issue is not your fault, but still feels like your fault. It was a year after my daughter’s diagnosis before I finally stopped reviewing the sequence of events for “what did I do wrong?” It was hard to accept. I hope your peace comes sooner.

  22. Mom24@4evermom

    1. Good for you. I hope you can keep the mask on.
    2. Thank you for updating.
    3. Praying and wishing good thoughts for all of you.

    4. Most of all, I’m so glad you’re where you’re at. My brother was mentally ill and a drug addict to boot. My parents were never capable of focusing on the rest of us. It definitely shaped all of us, it warped all of us. I so wish they had been able to get him help thereby helping all of us. I’m sorry for Chickie, I hope things get better for her soon, but I’m so glad Monkey has this time with you, Otto and his dad, to unbend.

  23. Schmutzie

    I’m so glad you’ve found some footing, and your therapist’s pragmatism sounds kind of refreshing, in a way, if hard to take.

    Keep breathing.

  24. Julie

    Mir – sometimes God sends us an angel right when we need it and it sounds like Monkey is your angel right now. Enjoy his childlike nature – his sunny attitude sounds like it’s infectious and I hope you catch a terminal case of it ;) *HUGS* We all love you and we’re praying for you and your family.

  25. Mandy

    Love you, Mir and Mir’s family. Keep the chemical assistance and zukes near.

  26. liz

    Sending you love and hugs and prayers.

  27. CJ

    Inhale…exhale…right foot…left foot. My biggest hope for all of you is that it stops becoming a conscious effort, making yourselves breathe and move forward. One day in the near future, I hope it again becomes effortless on a regular basis.

  28. Katie in MA

    Glad you keep finding those goofy moments full of laughter when you need them most. Keeping Chickie and all of you in my prayers. Meanwhile, breathing and baking goddamn baked goods = good; braining therapists = bad. (Well, mostly bad. Though if it would *really* make you feel better….)

  29. Stacy

    I’m glad you’re able to enjoy Monkey and appreciate him. I’m glad you can still laugh. I’m glad you have such a wonderful husband. I’ve been praying for you all and will continue to do so. And, you are a wonderful mother and you are doing what your daughter needs, even though it is painful.

  30. BI

    I needed to read this today. As a mom dealing with a daughter leaving an abusive husband (with two under the age of three), and always questioning my mothering skills and how she ended up where she is and what sort of relationship role model I was with her dad blah blah blah…

    I just wanted you to know your post gave me a bit of balance in a very unbalanced time. Thanks.

  31. Jamie

    I’d prefer a zucchini bread to the temple, if you must. :)

    Hugs to you all. This is a sucky place in life to be, but we all have super-hero-high-hopes that it’s all a distant memory very soon.

    And because you are a baker, I’ve been told this is divine – http://nancycreative.com/2012/03/25/lemon-zucchini-loaf-with-lemon-glaze/

  32. Megan

    Zing – right on target. I totally get that need to suffer and be AWARE of it too. Maybe it’s because it’s something we can do, something that is at least within our experience so there’s an irrational sense of control? I don’t know, but I know it’s flippin’ insidious and I still to this day struggle with guilt for doing things for myself.

    I am so glad you have magical, happy, loving Monkey and the wonderful Otto when you need them so much!

  33. RuthWells

    You are such a wise mom. Group hugs for everyone.

  34. Kim

    Here’s to incremental improvements, Mir. Hope they keep coming.

  35. cheyenna


  36. Aimee

    Sometimes it really is the little things, isn’t it? Although, truly, what you describe, Monkey’s sense of peace, is not little at all.

  37. Karen R.

    Here’s hoping for a future filled with group hugs.

  38. Jenn

    Ugh. Who came up with that oxygen mask thing? What an awful analogy in a crappy situation. I’d totally hit someone with a zucchini or any other vegetable I had handy. I’m glad to hear you’re able to find some room in your brain for something other than sadness. We’re all pulling for you and the family.

  39. My Kids Mom

    Yes, breathing is good.

    It takes getting past the crisis to see that the trite phrases everyone tells us were, in fact, true.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel.
    These things pass.
    Live in the present.
    Put on your own oxygen mask first.

    They feel like a lot of bullsh*t when we’re in the muck, so being able to see them as helpful is a good step out.

  40. Annie

    Thanks for taking the time to let us know how things are going. You write about it so well. Thinking of you and wishing I were part of the village…..I want baked goods. And tomatos.

  41. Andrea

    Wish I could say with more of your eloquence how awesome you are.
    Sending so many prayers and thoughts up for the four of you.

  42. bj

    I started reading blogs when I had a newborn and desperately needed other examples of how people were feeling. I know it’s difficult to make the decision to be open about our deepest troubles and would never expect anyone to do it unless they were ready. But, I also think that the openness changes the world, that cancer, autism, depression, gender issues, mental illness, . . . . have been changed by neighbors, friends, family writing about their feelings.

    Remember the days when cancer was a dark deep secret? They weren’t so long ago. Now we see them as a physical illness and expect a community of support in coping.

    Thank you.

  43. Jennifer

    I will not say those things that you don’t want said because if I were you I would feel the exact same way. I can’t imagine a mother that would not feel that way. Whether it be something as small as “I’ve got a splinter in my finger” or something as huge as “my life is splintering.” Just keep hangin’ in there. You’ll get it.

  44. TC

    Sometimes those support groups aren’t physically sitting in a room near you. I don’t have any real “special needs” friends nearby, but the women/hairy-backed-prison-inmates-pretending-to-be-special-needs-mamas (whatever, it works) in my computer–including YOU my dear–have saved me more times than I like to think. Don’t stop reaching out.


  45. hollygee

    Here’s a question that you may have addressed and I didn’t see it: Chickie’s health problems, still an issue or part of her mental/emotional health pathology?

    Thanking the universe for a sense of normalcy that gives you some relief from the pain.

  46. victoria

    Maybe….the summer of 2012 won’t be the best summer ever, but I believe winter 2012 will be better. (the time yet to come, will be easier, than the present)
    (sorry- hard to compose a great thought while translating from French, and with my little Aspie shaking my arm)

  47. Fabs

    Glad Monkey is back and making you smile and laugh. Sending happy thoughts your way and hoping for things to get better for you.

  48. Lisa

    I am sorry your support group experience was not what you hoped. My cousin started undergoing changes similar to what you describe for Chickadee. The last few years have been very hard on my Aunt and Uncle – making the same kind of decisions about residential care and protecting her from harming herself or others. It is not the same has having a rebellious teenager – I am sorry that they minimized your experience to that.

  49. Leah

    Thank you for updating. I am sorry for what you are going thru but glad you found your mask. You have an amazing strength and I know you already have her mask in your pocket as well. Praying for all.

  50. Jan

    We’re supposed to focus on attraction rather than promotion, so I hope this doesn’t cross a line, but I can personally recommend CoDA (CoDependents Anonymous) as a really awesome support for anybody dealing with difficult stuff. These organizations grew out of a need for the people in any kind of relationship with an addict to have a space to get the support they needed, but it’s really for anyone struggling with that line between supporting and caretaking/enabling. (Which, honestly, I think is virtually everyone when it comes right down to it.) My husband’s PTSD was overwhelming me and our family (and him, though he had ZERO interest in admitting it) and it saved my sanity. These are my people that really get how very hard and very necessary it is sometimes to leave the solution that makes a loved one happier at the time in favor of the one that allows him to be responsible for his own life. I don’t pretend to know enough about your particular situation to be sure, but I do know that many of the feelings you express seem familiar to me from the hardest times we had coping with his troubles. At any rate, CoDA is a national organization, possibly worth checking into as you look for ways to connect with other folks working through some of the same junk you are. I’m glad life with your Monkey and your Otto at home is a source of relief and joy. You all deserve it.

  51. Tami

    Emerging from Lurkville to say I noticed that even a zucchini can teach us i.e. with a minimum of care it grew big and developed a thicker skin ON ITS OWN to an amazing degree-granted we have to move it from that location and say”Enough” and um redirect it to other purposes where it can bring joy to the village.(that screechy sound is a metaphor being tortured) Anywhoo, I can empathize with your family to a certain degree as my child has OCD-tho mild the diagnosis still is agonizing and the changes in our family’s behavior disconcerting. I found solace in a quote from another parent in a book about OCD that said:

    “When you’re pregnant and looking at your child’s future it’s like you’re planning a trip to France…you arm yourself with maps and guidebooks…dreaming of the great museums you’ll go to, eating at sidewalk bistros, seeing the sights of Paris etc. You feel so much joy and anticipation about the places you’ll see and the things you’ll do together. And then when your child is diagnosed with OCD you feel like your trip has been cancelled -you realize that your maps and guidebooks are useless and you feel so sad that your plans were for nothing. But when you suddenly find yourself on an unplanned trip to …Holland you eventually find out that by asking the people that live there for help you and yours can see a place that you may have never thought about visiting but that can be just as great.”

    Granted your trip derailment has some very scary sidetrips, but I fervently pray that you have a good,long journey….together. Shalom(peace and wholeness), Tami

  52. Laura

    While I loved your post, I have to highlight a quote from Arnebya:

    “our minds are tricky little bastards who like too much pie.”

    That is so true for me today!

  53. Issa

    I’m glad that you’ve found (at least at times) your mask. Hopefully soon she will find hers. I think that’s the hardest sounding thing ever, that she needs to find her own mask. But somehow I believe it’s true.

  54. Crista

    Beautifully written; I feel a calmness in your words :). I’m glad you have found yourself again. Keeping you all in my prayers. And yay for ice cream!!

  55. Heather


  56. EG

    I snickered out loud at, “Teenagers! My kids were hard at that age, too!” (New acronymn: SOL. Oh wait, that one’s taken.)

  57. suburbancorrespondent

    I totally get it. All of it. But that therapist should be whacked upside the head with that zucchini. She should know that NOW is not the time to deal with any long-range prognosis type of discussion. Later – there’s plenty of time for that later, if need be. IF.

    One person described the household situation to me as a tilted picture in the living room. Everyone in the family starts walking around with his/her head tilted to the side, so the picture looks right, rather than someone reaching out and straightening the picture. Congratulations! You are now straightening the picture and untilting your heads.

  58. Gaylin

    Hugs from Canada.

  59. Marsh

    Thinking of you often. Hugs.

  60. Carrie

    That? Well, that’s just beautiful, that’s what that is.

  61. Tracy

    One day at a time…some days are minutes at a time and others are seconds. Just know you are being lifted up and their are many prayers being said for Chickie. {{{{hugs}}}}

  62. Sheila

    The spiral of “I feel this way, though I know I shouldn’t, but still I feel it” or, as you put it: Bonus Suckage, must be one of the more aggravating parts of this whole Suckage Fest. You’ve got enough to deal with and I wish there were a way to lift even a small part of it from your shoulders. Thank God for modern chemistry and Monkeys.

    Keep swimming, keep breathing, keep the faith. Thanks for updating.

  63. Natasha

    I read through some of the comments you’ve left me over time, and this one stood out,

    “The only way out is through, and sometimes through sucks.”

    It was true then and it’s true now. Just like it’s always been true that you are a wonderful mother.

  64. addy

    No ass-vice. Just love. Pure and simple …. Enjoy the moments.

  65. Kim

    Praying for more days of love and laughter and fewer of tears and despair.


    and lots of love ~ ~ ~

  66. Brigid

    I was on a plane last weekend and before the flight attendant even got to my seat I nodded and said “My mask first, then his.” The whole time I was saying it I was thinking, never in a million years. It’ll always be his first, then mine. But that rule has to be there for a reason, doesn’t it? I don’t know. And I’m not sure what I would do because it goes against every instinct in my body. I’m sorry that you are having to go through this painful and agonizing time. Maybe Monkey is there to help you get your mask on so you can be ready when Chickadee is ready.

  67. Stephanie Stenner

    I’m still so sorry for everything you all are going through. I’m glad you have Monkey and Otto to help make it just the tiniest bit easier and give you some moments of happiness. I hope those moments help you find the strength to deal with what I know is a nightmare from which you wish you could wake but can’t. Please know I’m thinking of you and hoping for a miracle for Chickadee.

  68. Sharon

    As moms, sometimes we know what we need to do, and we know it’s right when we find we can breathe again. Where I’m from when another mother sees that we nailed it, we make a note with, “You did good, mom.” Mir, you did good.

  69. Deanna

    Hugs and love Mir! Being able to admit or heck, even SEE that the rest of the family struggled not only with her but because if her is half the battle. It will prepare you for the days ahead and help you see when things change later. Believe it or not, you ate ahead of the game. Keep on keeping on mom! You are doing exactly right!

  70. kgp

    Still praying for you up here in Otto country (aka Syracuse, NY).

  71. c

    i dyed a purple streak in my hair to remind me to look for the joy… you can see it under my stupid oxygen mask.

  72. Stimey

    I’m really glad that you’re finding some happy in this nightmare. You and your family deserve it. I hope your girl can find her way with all of the help you are trying to give her. I think about you a lot. Much love and the best of wishes to all four of you.

  73. joaaanna

    Many times I have passed along your posts to my SIL about struggling with typical teenage issues that you have had with Chickadee. I’m passing this one along to her too. Kid #2 can sometimes be just as difficult and just as wonderful. You express it so clearly. I wish you peace.

  74. elz

    I still got nothing. All I can say is I hope-I hope for all of you for there to be a new normal, a better normal soon.

  75. Bryan

    Walking is a process of almost falling down, but catching yourself by putting your other foot forward. The swimming pool is a great place to scream underwater.

  76. Jessica R.

    Last year when my own world imploded all my friends did that “are you taking care of you” dance and it drove me BATTY. Because damn if there’s time to take care of “you” when you have to manage a sick husband and two kids as well as a job and every other little part of your life that decides to join in the fun.

    To appease the masses I did what they suggested and I went to talk to a therapist who looked me in the eye, told me that I seemed incredibly sound of mind, and asked me why I was there.

    Seems that I’m good in a crisis. It’s the aftermath, the normal, that makes me a bit loopy. I need the therapist more now than I did then.

    I’m glad that you and I are different in that regard. I’m glad there are pockets of normal to ease your soul.

    I’ve been thinking of you and holding you and your family in my heart. I wish there were more that I could do than just that.

  77. kapgaf

    With or without oxygen mask, it’s something we do without thinking about it. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Funny how easy it is to forget how it works when someone we love is having trouble doing just that, Enjoy your happy times, it’s allowed!

  78. Liza

    I love you. I hope the pockets of ok and good get bigger and that your beautiful girl can come be part of them soon.

  79. {sue}

    Keep swimming. Literally and figuratively. I’m glad your Monkey is home and is balm for your battered soul.

  80. Jean

    Agreed, just beautiful…..

  81. Jeanie

    I’m so afraid of unintentionally saying something to offend you, so I’ll just say that I’m happy that you are able to enjoy your time with your boys and that I continue to pray for all of you.

  82. laura

    I love you.
    that is all.

  83. Glennia

    I wish that there was something I could do or say that might help. I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you and rooting for all of you. Love to you.

  84. Cindy

    good to hear. praying.

  85. Chris

    Hugs and hoping you continue to find even small moments of joy to help you through this time.

  86. Elizabeth@Table for Five

    The last paragraph, but especially this sentence – “It feels like I got my mask on, but now I can’t find hers.”- it made my heart pound and my throat catch. I’m so glad Monkey is helping you find your happy again. Hugs to all.

  87. Daisy

    Nothing to say, but I have to say it anyway. Many blessings on you for surviving. Even more shoutouts to you for having the courage to share and providing a role model (don’t you hate that phrase? Me, too) for those who also suffer, but are not articulate enough to express their needs.

    We’re all solidly in your corner. Not that it helps, because it doesn’t, but I hope you know that you have support, moral and emotional support, from hundreds. Thousands. Lots.

  88. Sharon

    “I think I would happily give my mask to her if only she would take it. I hate this. But I’m still breathing.”
    a-men. if only she would take it. i posted late to an earlier post of yours about chickee and my son. i can only repeat. try to find help with NAMI and their family program. keep with your own therapy. the hardest hardest thing is that you have to be settled somewhere before you can help your kid. they are not settled, and can’t get themselves in the right place yet – they’re babies, even at 21, they haven’t lived enough life to know where the right place is – and their right place with mental illness of any kind is NOT where everyone else’s right place is. i was in a DBT group to help me get to where i could help help my son without busting out crying when i looked at him and one of the members said to me ‘ i can feel how much you love your child, but you can’t help him walk if you can’t walk yourself’ silly platitude, but it’s true. even cancer. you can’t make a person live a healthy life. they have to be willing to accept your help. just keep loving her. don’t give up the rest of your life. my son said that was what made him the most depressed was thinking the rest of us were giving up our lives, our pleasures. he’d rather we included him in occasional joys (with schizophrenia, he can’t deal with big crowds for one) than know we were giving up all joys just because of him. it’s different since he’s 25. legally, we can’t make him do anything, but including him and encouraging and gentle prodding – god it’s so hard. you don’t want to treat them like they’re intellectually disabled, but sometimes a little of that flavor is how you have to do it. mentally disabled, emotionally disabled is not the same thing, but it’s similar…sort of. like, he simply does not think of bathing, so even though he just engaged us in an incredible discussion of palestine and israel with amazing sensitivity, we have to bribe him to shower and change clothes.
    you’ll find the balance you need with your daughter because you love her so much. just the same as you found how to know when your kids were sick as babies, even though they couldn’t talk.
    hugs hugs hugs.

  89. Heather Cook

    You are one of the bravest people I know. Er, read, you know. :)

  90. Jomama

    So sorry about the troubles. I won’t use the bad airline survival analogy on you. My youngest child has issues, which took us several years to get a handle on. Medication for him is helping, and I will admit some for me helped too.

    Intellectually, I know his issues have nothing to do with how much we love him, or anything anyone did wrong as a parent.

    Emotionally, I also know that my pregnancy with him was during the one of the most stressful times in my life (double job layoffs), and it can’t be a coincidence that all those stress hormones in me yielded a kid with emotional management issues.

    And I can’t keep trying to talk myself out of my emotional reality, any more than my emotions can convince me intellectually that it really was my fault. They are like 2 different views of the same object. Right eye. Left eye. Both together give me 3-dimensional vision. They are both real. And all I can go is try to combine them into gut feelings and move through life.

    You’re doing your best. It will get better.

  91. Susan in SF

    Continuing to hold you all in my thoughts. Thank you for this beautifully written update.

  92. Peggy

    Prayers and hugs.

  93. Genevieve

    Keeping you all in my prayers. I’m glad you’re crying less often — I know how that feels, the difference between crying all the time and crying just some of the time. It’s a big thing. So glad you have Monkey and medicine and Otto helping you access joy some of the time.

  94. Lisa

    I think about you and your Chickie often. Thank you so much for this blog entry. I’m going through a rough patch with my girl atm and it was good to be reminded that I need to put my own oxygen mask first. Tough advice but necessary. Praying things get better for Chickie soon and she will once again let you love her.

  95. Cele

    Sending you, Otto, Monkey, and Chickie love, prayers, and well wishes – as well as a mental group hug.

  96. om

    My friend fought anorexia. Fiercely, and for several years. She’s still on antidepressants and the psychosis was terrifying. I am still grateful every time I see her that she returned (mostly) whole and (mostly) healthy. The battle is horrendous. I hope it ends for you and for your daughter.

  97. Heather

    Oh Mir, this is so painstakingly bittersweet. I totally get your sidebar paragraph, and just pray that as the days go by, your heart’s confidence as a mom will align more and more with what you know to be true in your head. And I know you said you don’t need it, but you ARE a great mother, and I have faith that someday, even Chickie will see this in some way (it may be fleeting, it may be just a shallow glimpse) and provide that validation you need the most right now: hers.

    I wish I could do more, friend, to help ease the pain of this situation – and I am so, so, so, GLAD that you’re finding that mask and those pockets of joy in the daily life you now have as three.

    Love to you and all of yours.

  98. JS

    I think Otto is one of the best men I have ever not met. I Thank God that children can be so resilient to tragedy and trauma and for little men with stomping feet. I also think the love, the calm, the miracle of the normal, reminds you of why you’re going through all The Suckage in the first place, why it is worth it. The issues my child has to deal with are my fault, even when they’re not, because I am a mother. Theres no one with a chiild, I think, who doesn’t understand that. When we’re not seeing pediatric neurologists, psychologists and specialists, or even when we are, there are happy times- safe times, normal, laughing times -that make it just a little easier. I pray for everyone who’s going through something difficult that every day things get just a little easier and that there is much laughter, inappropriate or otherwise. I don’t know you, none of us do, but we feel for you and your family. You make us feel for you. It’s powerful. YOU are powerful. You have helped so many people, even if you would rather be helping the one who matters most.

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