Freshening up and a Note of Thanks in the New Year

As we begin a new year, I want to say thank you to my Stacy’s Flutterings followers! I truly am thankful for each one of you. And I look forward to visiting with you this year!

And I have to be honest! I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in over a year! Wow! Time is flying. But I’m back! And to get back into the groove of things, I thought I’d share with you my latest project. And a little side note, it feels good to be back home on the Web!

So what have I been doing the last couple of days? Well…I’ve been updating my surroundings at home. Well…not really. And my family can attest to that. But I have been cleaning! Honest, I have! I’ve been freshening up the blog, and I’ve updated the book cover to Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping. And I hope you check it out! Let me know what you think! My hope is that the newest cover represents the hope that resides within.

Now that I’ve shared, let me know what you are doing! I enjoy hearing from you! Until then…I’ve got a house to clean and a project waiting for me. That my family would agree with! See you again soon!

P.S. I’m already writing the next post. And it’s about a special, and important, moment I had with my son. Now back to cleaning!

Stacy (1 Mom)

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A Broken Understanding

Last weekend, our little family among millions accomplished something grand.

It’s actually so monumental to us as a family that I imagine that the universe celebrated along with us at the very moment that it happened maybe even with the creation of a new star out there somewhere in the galaxy. The residue from broken egos gathered like magnetized dust particles and came together in agreement. At that moment, a new and positive energy was created, and it’s unfolding with great purpose. While our accomplishment may seem like no feat at all to others, it’s life changing for us individually and as a family.

Simply put…

Bill and Kim have learned how to work together, not just as a father and daughter, but as musicians. I want to say that they put their egos aside, but that’s not actually what happened. What really happened is that their egos chronically, like a long-term illness, collided day after day and year after year, and it wasn’t a pretty father-daughter dance. In fact, as in many parent–child relationships, it isn’t pretty. And that’s okay because from our experience, imperfection can result in something even greater than we had imagined. Bill and Kim didn’t put their egos aside. Instead, with broken egos front and center, they decided to finally, and truly, work together.

Getting to that moment wasn’t easy…

Last summer, Bill and Kim had talked about working together as musicians, and at one point in time it appeared that they had come to an agreement regarding the direction that they were headed with Kim’s music career. It seemed that they had teamed up and were well on their way to forming a working band. However, for us, it couldn’t be that easy. And in all reality, they were not practicing together. They’d talk about it, but they just didn’t seem to be able to sit down and practice together for very long before getting into some disagreement. Last week, Bill learned that Kim was not in agreement with him regarding the creation of music, lyrics and copyright. They were at a crossroad. It looked like the time had come that Bill would no longer be a part of Kim’s musical journey, and we sadly thought that maybe he never was a part of her journey. Bill and I talked about the possibility that maybe the accumulation of music gear, guitar lessons, healed blisters and melted ice-packs were a false reality that we had created for ourselves as parents, and if so, how unfair to Kim.

Had We been lying to ourselves?

After careful deliberation, we got to the point that we told Kim, “It’s your career. You are in charge of it. You do what is right for you. You know what you are doing. We will still support you, but we can’t move forward with mom and dad as direct partners. You’ll figure it out.” And then this awful dark feeling enveloped our little family, and our smiles dissipated as if they never existed before. Sadness filled my heart, and emptiness. I wondered if I was desperately clinging to Kim all these years later after her last suicide attempt by way of music, and I wondered if Bill was doing the same. The following day, we didn’t talk to one another. Rather, we existed together.

And then…

that same day, moment by moment lapsed…and without really thinking about it…and somehow with all the motherly confidence that I had ever gathered before, particle by particle, I walked outside to the patio where Bill and Kim were. Bill was standing there playing guitar, and Kim was seated at the patio table. I looked at each of them and said, “We have to make this work for you Kim, and for you Bill, and for Jaden, and for me.” I then walked back inside the house. That was it. That was all I had, and I like to believe that it was enough.

Later that evening, Kim shared with Bill and I that she had received an email from a potential client who wanted to know if she could perform at an upcoming event. Bill and I hesitated to get involved with her decision making process and told her that it was up to her to decide how to respond and move forward with this new and exciting opportunity. She then asked Bill for his help. She said, “Dad, I need help with equipment and sound checks. And I need a guitarist.” Nothing more needed to be said. Bill and Kim started to talk to one another again, and they started to truly practice together, and they’ve been working together ever since. We move forward with renewed respect for one another, and we continue to support one another’s definition of self: Kim – singer/songwriter, Bill – guitarist, Stacy – writer, and Jaden – busy being three…1 little family among millions doing it differently…

You can find Kim here: https://www.kimking.us/

~ Stacy (1 Mom)

Hushing the Sounds of Social Stigma | A Quiet Book Reveal

Today is a great day. The weather is beautiful here in Florida. The sun, outside my office window, is shining. The sky is blue and riddled with cottony white, fluffy clouds, and yet I sit feeling nervous, and I ponder what to do. What is it that is making me so nervous, and what is holding me back? Sadly, the answer is simple. My fear of social stigma is making me feel nervous, and it’s holding me back from sharing good news. To help me move forward today, past this fear, I’m hushing the sounds of social stigma by blogging about it.

The sounds of social stigma have been taunting me lately, especially since the release of my first book Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness. To help me hush the sounds of stigma, I’ve noted below a few of my top fears that pertain to writing and publishing the book:

My top 4 Fears that are Laden with stigma

  • How could a mother write about the illness of her child, especially mental illness?
  • Why must you share your dirty laundry with the world?
  • You don’t know anything about what it’s like to live with a mental illness so why write about it?
  • You are not a real author. Your book won’t matter.

My response to my stigma laden fears…

First, in response to my fear, “How could a mother write about the illness of her child?” Why would I be any different from other authors who have written about their children who happen to live with a physical and/or mental illness? I think it’s important for parents to share how they cope as parents when faced with the physical and/or mental illness of a child, if they feel inclined to, because their knowledge may help another parent. Parental advice, based on experience, can be priceless. Also, by opening up and talking about my experience, other parent’s learn that they are not alone. Again, this can be priceless for parent’s who may feel that they are battling life alone.

Second, in response to my fear, “Why must you share your dirty laundry with the world?” To me, the concept of airing dirty laundry is blatant stigma at its best. Because of stigma, many of us want to hide our thoughts and feelings from the world. When we talk about our experience(s), we learn that we are not alone, and we can begin the process of learning what others have done to cope. I believe that opening up and sharing our stories helps us garner support that can help carry us through some of life’s toughest challenges.

Third, in response to my fear, “You don’t know what it’s like to live with a mental illness so why write about it?” This is just incorrect. In fact, I do know what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’ve experienced depression, OCD, PTSD, and I live with anxiety. Therefore, I can relate.

Fourth, in response to my fear, “You are not a real author. Your book won’t matter.” Again, this is just incorrect. I am an indie author, and I am proud of this fact. It takes a lot of determination, hard work and perseverance to write, edit, publish and market a book. I’ve done just that, and as a woman, a mother, a wife, and as a friend, I’m proud of my accomplishment. And this isn’t the last book that I’ll be writing. I’m proud to share with you that this first book, Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness, is part of a series titled Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About…and it’s currently available on Amazon. My book does matter because my family matters as well as families across the globe.

I notice, as I’m typing these very words, that the sun is shining brighter than it was earlier. Maybe it’s because I finally hushed the sounds of stigma in its tracks as I’ve quietly revealed that I’ve published my first book. I feel a weight has been lifted. I hope you will join me in this celebration and even consider checking it out! Any likes and shares on Facebook helps me. For now, I have to get back to writing the second book in the series. Oh! And did I tell you, I’m also writing a third book that pertains to travel that I’m excited to share with you in the year 2016!

Growing stronger…

Infantry Blue 57’

On Sunday July 31st, 2011, Bill and I began an incredible volunteer journey alongside the Karla Smith Foundation, BringChange2Mind and ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and thousands of other volunteers helping build a new home for an amazing wounded warrior and his family.  After that incredible experience we had no idea that within seven months we would return to the build site but this time with a special project for the Hill’s.

After the build, Bill and Allen met and discovered they have a similar passion for older Chevy pickups.  Allen lit up when he described the perfect pickup to Bill; a 1957 Chevy, 3100, short-bed, step-side with the wrap-around back window option.  So what does a friend do for a friend?  He goes on a journey to find a project pickup!  And with that Bill set out on a journey to find Allen a restorable 57’ Chevy pickup.

Bill contacted anyone he knew that might be able to help.  Our journey took Bill and I across the country looking at pickups in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.  It was quite the adventure looking for the project pickup.  In our travels we met many characters along the way and learned a lot about finding a good pickup.  At one point, we found what we thought was the perfect candidate and even made an offer.  However, as the owner went to retrieve the title, Bill went back to the pickup to look for the VIN number.  Much to Bill’s surprise, the VIN plate was missing, and he then discovered that the hidden VIN plate had also been removed.  We had such disappointment as we were so close and really liked that pickup.  Other pickups that we looked at had extensive rust, extreme mechanical issues, damage, or missing titles and VINs.  And other pickups listed online that looked promising would sell almost as soon as they were listed.  However, each time Bill found another pickup to look at, he had renewed energy, and off we would go to another state with hopes high!

The journey continued and we had hopes of finding a pickup locally and definitely wanted to locate the project before Bill’s next work trip to China.  As Bill planned for another weekend of looking at pickups, Bill found a promising ad for a 57’ in Oklahoma.  This pickup was very distant from us and had no pictures so Bill and I were not very positive about it.  Interestingly enough though, it was very near to where my Mom and Dad live!  Since it was hundreds of miles from where we live they went and checked the truck out and took pictures for us as well.  After Bill saw the pictures a deal was made and just like that we had a truck!  By Friday Bill and I were on the road and headed to my Mom’s.  I hadn’t seen my Mom for a few years so it was a blessing that the truck was where it was.  Like a whirlwind we blew into Oklahoma!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Mom and Dad and then the following morning made our trek out to the seller’s home.  Once at the house we walked to the back to see the truck.  There it was in all its glory sitting pretty and just waiting for us to take it home to Allen and on to its new journey.

After visiting with the seller we finalized the deal and loaded the truck up.  That was an experience!  I had the privilege of getting to ride the truck up onto the U-Haul trailer as Bill, the seller and the seller’s daughter all pushed.  It was so awesome!  With the truck loaded we headed out toward Ottawa.  I followed Bill in my Jeep.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to be taking the truck to its new home!  I noticed, as I followed along, that the faded colors were red, white and blue.  The original color of the truck appears to be blue.  However, the paint is all but gone at this point and time, even so it looks cool!

Along the way Bill and I made few pit stops because we were excited to get it home to Allen.  We didn’t want to mess around.  When we stopped for gas I shared with Bill that I felt happy.  This is unusual lately since I have had so much arthritis pain.  But I felt truly happy.  Bill said the same thing, and we finished fueling up and got back on the road.

As I followed behind I felt so proud of our find.  I also felt great love, respect and appreciation for my parents for assisting us with the search.  I took several pictures on our way because I wanted to share with Gina and Allen the trucks journey to their home.  The picture above was from one of our coffee breaks.

What is really exciting is that the truck is on a new journey!  We had one tiny part in that journey, and now Allen and the boys will restore it.  Allen has told us that he wants to get it back to its original glory!  I especially like the picture of the truck traveling along on the last road to the Hill’s home.  It’s like the dust that was kicked up behind it was a grand curtain.  As we pulled into the driveway the dust settled.  The curtains pulled back so to speak, and there we sat.  During the moments we waited for the Hill’s to come outside I remember feeling happy and also curious.  Bill and I were hoping it was what Allen wanted.  And it was!  Gina, Allen, Makale and Dreyson walked outside and with that Allen smiled a smile so big that I knew he loved it.  As we started looking over the pickup with Allen, Gina’s Dad came by to help us unload it.  Bill had worked with Gina’s Dad in Joplin and was glad to see him!

I know why this project was so important to Bill but many of you reading this may not.  It just happens that Bill’s first car was a 57’ pickup, exactly what Allen described as his dream pickup.  Bill’s Dad bought the pickup for Bill’s 13th Birthday, and he will never forget how special a gift it was.  Bill gave up his pickup so he would have a better work car.  That didn’t work out so well, but such is life.  And there was always a special place in Bill’s heart and mine for these pickups.  So when Allen and Bill met and started talking pickups the spark was lit, and Bill knew what he had to do.  Bill’s hope was and is that Allen will continue to heal and improve and that having a project to do will somehow assist in that.  It is also healing for Bill and is finally giving him the opportunity to do what he really wanted to do with his pickup, which was share it with someone who really loves these pickups and wants to restore it to its original condition.  Allen is an amazing man and is a hero to Bill.  Just that Allen was able to serve his country and has overcome so many of his internal and external injuries is an inspiration and makes Bill and I want to be better people and give back in ways that we never dreamed of.

We have been blessed to be a small part of incredible experiences over the past couple of years, and we are inspired to continue volunteering and doing whatever we can.  Our incredible journey now links to so many other incredible journeys, and now the Hill’s and an Infantry Blue 1957 Chevrolet pickup are on a new and amazing journey!

Growing stronger…

Guest Speaker Kim Talks About Strength…

Today, I have a special guest speaker!  Her name is Kim.  She will be sharing her thoughts about what it means to her to be strong, especially during some of the most challenging of times.  Thank you Kim for your insight!  I admire your strength and courage!  It is healthily contagious and to be commended!

“A thought came to my mind today…be strong.  Even though you may be down you can still overcome and pick yourself back up.  The ups and downs may seem like they take over your life, but in reality they don’t if you choose to be strong and move forward.

I have come face to face with my bipolar, depression and anxiety.  I have faced my demons.  And I have looked both God and the devil in the eyes.  Even though I feared both, I chose to be strong and stand up for myself.  My soul is strength.  My mind may contain racing thoughts, but it is strength.  When you choose, you choose either to face down those you fear or back down and let them control your mind, body and soul.  Be strong and live on.  Be strong for you.  For you are worth only what you believe you are worth.”

~ Kim

Embedded Reporter A.K.A. Mom Reveals Truths from the Battlefield of Mental Illness

There is no research behind this blog post.  What you are about to read are just simply thoughts from a mom.

I haven’t blogged as frequently as I would like to because we have been tending to the home-front.  We are experiencing turbulence with our loved one, and that has naturally affected my desire to write.  My hope for the blog is that it is a resourceful, pleasant and inspirational place to visit so I refrain from writing when things get rocky.  Not today…I want to be honest and  maybe a little inspiration and hope will manage to shine through.

I…Stacy…wife…mother…daughter…sister…friend…writer…am the embedded reporter of course.  I am revealing today, from the battlefield that we know at our home as mental illness, the truth.

It appears that I hide behind a mask to avoid coping with the bipolar disorder of our loved one.  I seem pain free and unaffected.  However, I simply write about what inspires me, and I have become more creative and active than ever before regarding the world of mental illness.  I’m not hiding behind a mask.  It is with great purpose that I choose to cast a positive light on one of the most challenging times in my life.  I’ll attempt to explain.

Yes…

I am in deep and immense pain.  My family is in pain.  It is palpable.  It is heartbreaking and devastating.  We have lost our loved one for awhile to the grips of bipolar disorder.  Our family unit is like a walking wound.  We have been wounded by watching our loved one veer off the track of mental wellness…only to be derailed..we fight to locate her…we know she is here…we don’t relent…we fight…the years pass…we weaken by the throws of the emotional roller coaster.  But pure love picks us up.

Bipolar disorder, as if it were super human, pushes us…pulls us…attempts to discard us…

And yet here we are…scarred…eyes blurry from weeping…hearts heavy and aching…we see her!  We wipe the tears away.  We stand up.  We shake off the grit from the battle…

Mania…back off!  Alcoholism…back off!  Depression…back off!  Suicidal ideation…back off!

She is ours!  That beautiful girl…worn from lack of sleep, worn from torturous thoughts, worn from the bipolar pendulum…is ours!

We fight back with love.  Creativity in turn is sparked by the depths of our despair.  We turn a negative into a positive!  Who’s winning now bipolar disorder?

Mom…embedded reporter…casting a positive light with great purpose…

15 Ways I Ran At Bipolar Disorder

I just want to share a thought I’ve had recently about facing the challenges of mental illness.  Instead of running away from bipolar disorder, when it made it’s grand entrance into our lives a few years ago, I decided to run at it!

How does someone run at something as severe as bipolar disorder?  It almost seems it would be easier to hide rather than face it.  Well…I ran at it in many ways.  The day we brought Kim home from the hospital, after her second suicide attempt, I found myself withering physically as well as mentally.  And then…as a mother would do…I stood up and made the decision to do something.

1).    I took graduate clinical counseling classes to fulfill a lifelong dream of  helping others.                                                                                                                                2).    I read the Karla Smith Foundation brochure I was given at the hospital.
3).    I checked out their website: http://www.karlasmithfoundation.org/
4).    I purchased their book: The Tattered Tapestry.
5).    I read the Smith’s story and discovered I was not alone.
6).    I started attending KSF mental illness family support group meetings.
7).    I connected with KSF and signed up to be a volunteer.
8).    Along side KSF I went with Bill for seven days to Ottawa, Kansas to help build a home for the beautiful Hill Family.
9).    I made new friendships that I can tell will be lifelong and will help carry us along throughout our journey.
10).  I started blogging about our volunteer experiences as well as our experiences with a loved one with a severe mood disorder and the amazing people we are meeting along the way!
11).  I volunteered at the 5th annual KSF Dinner Auction in November.
12).  I spoke publicly alongside my husband at the KSF dinner auction to over 300 people about our experience with the bipolar disorder and suicide attempts of our daughter.
13).  I began volunteering with The Balanced Mind Foundation.
14).  I accepted an invitation to be interviewed in December by three students who attend MICDS in St. Louis for a documentary about mental illness.
15).  I continue to take care of myself by pursuing things I love to do such as writing!

That is how I ran at bipolar disorder in 2011, and I plan to run at it with just as much passion in 2012 in hopes of continuing to raise awareness, to let others know that they are not alone, to advocate, to help erase the stigma, and to provide support to anyone facing a similar challenge…and for my beautiful family.

Looking forward…

Scene 1, Take 2…Medication

It seems that with the bipolar disorder of our loved one we deal with one challenge, and then with the snap of the fingers like a movie director clapboard clapping shut another challenge presents itself.  It’s like a movie director saying, “Okay…cut… cut…scene 1…take 2!”  We scurry around and make adjustments.   We get into place by facing the newest challenge and readjust.  The stage appears calm and all clear.  Then just like that the movie director yells, “Okay…cut…for the next scene you are faced with medication adjustment.  Okay folks…listen up…scene 1…take 3!  Take your places please!”

Here I sit spinning and twisting my words as if I was at a spinning wheel.  Somehow as I spin, twist and draw out each word I find that I cope with something that is not easy to talk about.  This time I’m talking about the challenges of medication.

I like using a movie scene analogy because it seems as if things come up with little or no warning.  It’s like the director saying, “Okay…we got what we wanted for that scene so we are moving on people!”  However, unlike actors we are not awarded the luxury of time to prepare for the next scene.  I do try though.  I educate myself.  I research. I peruse articles, I read books about bipolar disorder, and I talk to others going through similar experiences.  And yet…I find that I am not all that prepared for the challenges as they pop up.

I feel so naïve.  By now I should know that there will be times that Kim’s meds will need adjusted.  I wasn’t prepared for the next adjustment though.  As Kim works at finding a balance I got used to the routine.  Due to circumstances I still dispense her meds so weekly she brings it to my attention that it’s time for a refill.  We do this week after week and month after month.  Then a negative side effect decided to rear its ugly head.  This time it was severe tremors.  And with that the medications had to be adjusted.  Thank goodness many side effects can be reversed!  With a deep sigh of relief I have hope that the newest side effect will fully reverse.  I also have trepidation regarding the newest medication.  With the newest medication addition and the deletion of the other many factors come into play such as changes in sleep patterns.  The one medication helped with sleep.  With that one gone sleep now seems out of reach for her.  Now…a new medication is added to help with sleep.  It’s a constant balancing act.

I find a new air of alertness as I realize that I must keep myself attuned to the fact that things could change and probably will.  I have such a hard time with change, but I understand I must be open to it.  I am learning that change is good even in regards to medication!  We must be persistent in finding the right balance and stay attuned to the possibility that things can change.  It’s interesting that it is through medication adjustments that I am learning that change can  actually be good!

Hope

November, 12th, 2011 Bill and I spent the day at the Four Points by Sheraton in Fairview Heights helping with preparations for the 5th annual Karla Smith Foundation dinner auctionWhat a warm and special time we had.

It was incredible to see and feel the energy as the event unfolded and came alive!  We worked alongside incredible people.  We reconnected with amazing new friends that we made in Ottawa and had the privilege and joy of getting to see and visit with the Hill Family as well as the Middlebusher’s!  How lucky can we be?!

In the midst of everything there was an air of hope.  Hope, as graceful as a ribbon, was woven through and touched everything from the beautiful Smith Family, the volunteers, attendees, friends, acquaintances, support group members, the Alton Youth Symphony Chamber, the wonderful emcee Andy Banker from Fox 2 News, the Tree of Hope to the auction items, the display pieces, the lighting…you name it…hope flourished.  It elegantly made its presence as it gently unfolded, intertwined and ever so touched us…

Bill and I for the first time publicly spoke about our story…hope lifted us as we found ourselves wanting to recoil into the depths of our sadness.  Hope prevailed.

At the end of the evening I had the pleasure of meeting the special new owner of the memory hutch Bill designed and built.  As the new owner spoke to me I knew that all along the memory hutch was being built just for her, and we didn’t even know it!  I just get goose bumps thinking about it.  Hope lives!  Hope thrives!

Swimming in Paperwork

Life had become rather muddled as bipolar disorder descended on our loved one and family several years ago.  It was after Kim’s second attempt that I realized that this was real.  Denial was no longer a welcome guest in our home. It was time we rose to the occasion and faced our reality, but how?  I was not sure what to do.  No one said, “Stacy, here is book that details out what you need to do next.”  I did what I know how to do, and that was to start using a binder for all the paperwork that I found myself surrounded by.  As a non-traditional student I am used to using binders to organize my college papers.  That is just what I did with Kim’s information.  It sounds rather simple, but it has become an important tool in our toolbox.  I had a lot of paperwork: medical records, hospital discharge papers, physician and counselor contact information, referrals, medical insurance paperwork, medication guides, resources and anecdotal notes.  What better place to safely keep her paperwork.  It is easy for us to refer back to and easy to store.  It also has an air of confidentiality to it.  All documentation is handy if we find we need it.  It is one less thing that we have to be concerned about.  Life is a little less cluttered.  We have time to focus on what is really important.  Just a thought…