You Probably Need Therapy

I believe in therapy. I believe that there has been a mental shift in this country in how we really deal with our issues. In fact, we don’t deal with them. We walk around wearing masks like there is absolutely nothing wrong with us.

But, it is a lie.

There are things that are wrong with you.

There is something wrong with me.

There is something wrong with you.

There is something wrong with all of us.

Let’s stop pretending.

Did you know that 44% of Americans between the ages of 18-44 suffer from depression? It’s staggering, yet imaginable. The media isn’t helping. The weather isn’t helping. Life is just overwhelming some days.

The NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability.

That’s a lot of us that are depressed. Depression is common and many of us overlook it. I’ve suffered from depression and I’m pretty sure that if you think back to life’s events that have affected you…you probably have too. Was there a death of a loved one? Divorce? Job loss?

I’ve seen therapists many times as an adult. It was in therapy that I realized that I suffer from anxiety. I knew that I had a way of processing that was different, but I couldn’t put my fingers on it. When I explained to my closest friends about my anxiety. They sighed and said “Yep, that’s it.”

My anxiety may not be as severe as other people, but it is something that I recognize and realized that I’ve passed down to Munch. It’s difficult to find the words to encourage my baby to stop worrying about things and as my grandma used to say “borrow tomorrow’s troubles”. He is anxious. He’s 9. He shouldn’t worry.

But, he got it honestly. I worry A LOT. I’m just learning to let things go and not let them stress me out. Through friends and my absolutely fabulous therapist, I’m learning to process what I need too and disregard the rest of the noise. This is part of why I’ve been sharing my self-preservation and the power is within you posts.

I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m accepting that I don’t have all the answers. That I can’t figure it out all by myself. I needed help. I’m getting it.

We have to stop stigmatizing mental health issues. I know in the black community we don’t seem to believe in therapy. We believe that you can pray your way out of anything. Including mental health.

This is not true.

Prayer helps and I believe that God hears all and sees all. But, how can you hear God if you’re hearing voices because you have schizophrenia? You can’t.  It’s impossible.

Now, ya’ll know that I think all black people need three things: Jesus, wine and therapy. We have to stop labeling mental health issues as crazy and start supporting and encouraging our love ones (and ourselves) to get the help we need. It’s about time we stop promoting the strong black woman bulls*it and just promote healthy minds for a healthy you.

It’s time to take care our mental health and spirit too.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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One Day

One day you will wake up from this cold world where you feel all alone and know that I am here

One day you will listen to those whispers of love and encouragement and have them not fall on deaf ears

One day you will see the beauty that your eyes hide from

One day you will hear the beat of the drum

The drum that speaks life into you

Slow and steady

It beats for you

It beckons you to come forth

It beckons you to not stay in the dark

It beckons you that you are a fighter

Feel the rhythm my sweet princess

Dance

Dance and move enjoying the beat

Move

Let the power within take control

Be encouraged

Be faithful

Morning sits on the horizon

Your breakthrough is coming

The Mask We Wear

I sat across from my girlfriend last night telling her about my problems. She and I were friends in high school. We reconnected at our 20 year class reunion three years ago. She was the photographer for Munch’s last birthday party. Our children were two years apart.

She and I had shared values. Raising wonderful boys. The seriousness of sisterhood and the desire to see women succeed. We put our boys in similar programs and always shared information. But, this was a first for me. Sharing my pains with her. I had a stressful day. I needed to talk to someone. We had plans.

So, I poured my heart out. I slowly drank my glass of water. No wine for me. I was upset. I refused to drink my calories rather I opted to indulge in dessert. I needed one. I deserved one.

As I sat there pouring out what had been going on with me for the last few months. I was teary eyed. I told her that I couldn’t understand why my son’s father and I couldn’t get a long. I was trying. I couldn’t continue to live like this.

She asked me about my marriage. Why did my marriage fail? I looked her in the eyes and said that I wore a mask. I had a mask on every day for the majority of my marriage. He didn’t know me. He couldn’t see the mask that I wore. He liked that “fake” me. I was living a lie.

I told her that there were many reasons. I could blame him, but I shared some of the blame. I lived a lie. I thought at the time it was my truth, but with each passing year it became more and more unbearable. I was literally drowning. Slowly.

Underwater and never to be seen.

He couldn’t see it. I explained to her that I realized that all women wear masks. Especially if you are a Type A personality. You tend to be the overachiever. You know the “I’m a Woman” type? You know the lyrics from Peggy Lee’s “I’m a Woman”…

“I’m A Woman”

I can wash out 44 pairs of socks and have ’em hangin out on the line
I can starch & iron 2 dozens shirts ‘fore you can count from 1 to 9
I can scoop up a great big dipper full of lard from the drippins can
Throw it in the skillet, go out & do my shopping, be back before it melts in the pan
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

I can rub & scrub this old house til it’s shinin like a dime
Feed the baby, grease the car, & powder my face at the same time
Get all dressed up, go out and swing til 4 a.m. and then
Lay down at 5, jump up at 6, and start all over again
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

If you come to me sickly you know I’m gonna make you well
If you come to me all hexed up you know I’m gonna break the spell
If you come to me hungry you know I’m gonna fill you full of grits
If it’s lovin you’re likin, I’ll kiss you and give you the shiverin’ fits
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again

I can stretch! a green black dollar bill from here to kingdom come!
I can play the numbers pay the bills and still end up with some!
I got a twenty-dollar gold piece says there ain’t nothing I can’t do
I can make a dress out of a feed bag and I can make a man out of you
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I’ll say it again
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N, and that’s all.

I was living up to this song. Doing it all. Dying a little bit each day. Inside. I smiled on the outside and accepted the compliments when people commented on how I did it all? They would say “You make it look so easy. You work full-time, care for your child, attend every meeting, fund-raise for the school and then send out custom holiday cards or birthday cards, mother’s day cards, etc. How do you do it all?”

I was dying. I was trying to live up to the perfect woman with a smile on my face masking the real me. But, cracks showed in my marriage. He complained about the lack of sex. I was exhausted. It had nothing to do with attraction rather than exhaustion. I was too tired to perform my wifely duties.

 

 

This is a two part post. The second post will be continued tomorrow.

Graduation Advice

My niece graduated high school in June. At the tender age of 17, I still think of her as that cute little baby who loved the camera. The little one who would pose anytime you pointed a camera at her.  She is my first and only daughter. Even though I didn’t birth her, you can’t tell me she’s not mine. I’m fiercely protective of her and her spirit.

We gave her a trunk party to send her off to college last Saturday. She’s attending Frostburg State here in Maryland. We’re so super proud of the first grand child. She’s beautiful, smart and will be a cheerleader at Frostburg.

But, she has had to overcome some obstacles already.

My niece suffers from anxiety. Last year, she went through a terrible episode where we thought she was having a nervous breakdown. She seemed to be unraveling before my eyes. This beautiful little girl who I hugged and kissed and affectionately named her “Little Tikeetha” was like a fragile china doll.  I couldn’t reach her.

We banded together as a family and were strengthened in our desire to make sure that she knows that we love and support her. That we are and will always be her family. My mother, her grandmother, and her grew closer. She became grandma’s baby at that point. Her mental health was of the utmost importance. We constantly reassured her that we love her and are with her.

She is healing. She is on medication. She is better. She has the support of our family . My niece seemed to miss more school than we ever thought possible. But, she graduated. On time. With her class. She’s good. Great in fact.

You would have never known the internal struggle or challenges she suffered. She’s strong. Like her mom. Like my mom. Like my grandma. It’s in her genes.

Which is why I’m so proud that she is going away to college. Against Grandma’s advice. LOL. My mother wanted her to go to school closer, but she is going about 2 hours away and still in the state. Not too far. We’re her family so you know we will just pop up for weekend visits, love and support. That’s what we do. Support each other.

As she begins this next chapter in her life I wanted to tell her 3 things to encourage her. To motivate her and to take with her on the next part of her journey…

  1. You are more valuable than you know. You matter sweet princess. Your voice. Your spirit. Your life. All of it matters. You are an invaluable piece of the puzzle in our family. You are the best parts of us. Your weird laugh. Your gentle touch. Your sweet demeanor all remind us that we have good in us. Look at you. You are the favorite grandchild, favorite niece and the favorite cousin. There’s nothing wrong with that. My cousin, Brennan aka Boo-Bop, was that too. Never forget your value. We believe in you, but more importantly we need you to believe in yourself.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with saying no. There’s no greater strength than saying no. No to things that you don’t want to do. No to things that are suspect to you. When you go away to school remember that there is strength in saying no. You can do it. You are your own best advocate. Remember that if you don’t want to go to a party, say no. If you don’t want to drink, say no. If you don’t want to do anything, you can say no. It’s your right to say no.
  3. You are stronger than you know. I know sometimes life will seem rough and you won’t be able to make sense of the things around you. Breathe princess. Know that this trial is only temporary. You can and you will survive. Why? Because you are stronger than you know. You have the strength to make the best choices for your life. Don’t let petty arguments or situations bring you out of who you are. Speak up for yourself. If you are having issues with a friend, let them know. If you don’t understand why you received a grade on an assignment, ask the professor. There’s strength in trying to make sense of the chaos.

This journey you’re on is one that you must take alone. I know it may seem scary at times, but you must remember that we are always in your corner. You need money, call me. You need a voice to talk to. Call me. Any time. I will always be there. I will be there on your first day, homecoming weekend, parents weekend and any other time. I’m so proud Princess and I will always be your auntie.

 

Closed

That chapter in my life.

My marriage was officially dissolved.

I was an ex-wife. I had an ex-husband. I kept thinking was there something I was supposed to feel? I didn’t feel different. I felt relieved. Relieved at the fact that we could come together to support our son. No more fighting over custody.

I was exhausted. I stood whispering to him in the halls that I thought it best that our son live with me primarily. Your health. His health. His needs. We have to think about him. I’ve never denied you access to our son. He’s yours. He’s mine.

Tears were in his eyes when he said, “I feel like I’m failing our son.” Grief. Anguish. All emotions that I could see written on his face. I paused and asked “How are you failing him? By allowing me to be the primary caregiver for him? I’m his mother. I know that he needs you and you need him.” Silence.

I asked, “What is best for your son? Think seriously about it. I’m not taking away your visitation. I’m allowing you to design a schedule that we both find reasonable. One that puts the needs of our little boy above our own.” I sighed.

I told him that I will give him time to design a new schedule. Let me know. Before school ends so we can get Munch used to it. I needed him to stop hating me. For his son’s sake. For his sake.

It was always about custody. Not fighting for our marriage. It was done. We both agreed. But, he believed that I would keep his son from him. I wouldn’t. I haven’t. I won’t. However, I couldn’t continue to fight this fictitious battle. It was old. I was tired.

Munch’s needs at this moment were taking a priority over this drama. I explained, “You know what your son is going through. He worries about you constantly. Part of his issue is that his dad’s health is changing and he sees it. We can’t help that. We need to help him deal. Cope. It’s a part of life.”

He sighed and uttered, “I’m going to trust you.” “Please do” I replied. We walked silently down the long hall.

We entered the courtroom. The magistrate swore us in. Asked the questions about custody, child support and said “I’m happy you two are working it out. That’s really good.” I smiled. It was good.

We were now being adults. No more personal grievances affecting our child. No more using Munch as a crutch. We were going to be better. Our son needed us to.

We waived our rights to appeal the absolute divorce and signed the papers. Finally, it was done. A chapter closed. A chapter that had left us bruised and hating each other. A chapter of debts paid and unpaid, changes in job, declines in health and death.

Closed.

“Let’s have a party” said some of my girlfriends. Talks of celebration, cake and champagne rang out. I just smiled. In two pages, my life was finalized and that part of it closed. Two pages huh?

I want to think that we can now focus on being co-parents. Loving our son. Being there in a united front with no underlining hatred of the other. Our Munch needs us and in the end does it matter beyond that? No.

We loved each other. We hurt each other. We divorced each other.

Do I feel differently? Nope. I think I was just relieved that it was over.  It was almost 3 years of back and forth bickering. Now, it’s done. A chapter closed.

What’s next?

Now, we co-parent.

Mommy’s Monday Motivation

I just have to say…

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I received so much support and love from other bloggers, parents and people who just stumbled on my blog and left words of encouragement about my munch and therapy. You are amazing. As a mother, heck a parent, it is overwhelming to think your child is going through something and you feel helpless. You try to ease their pain and then you have the added pressure of trying to figure out what is right for your child. Who is right to help them?

The last couple of weeks have seen me crying and praying and researching. I worry which is stupid, I know, but I’m human. I trust God. So, why worry? There in lies my flaw…my desire to be in control of the situation when I know that if I just give it to God it will all work out. LOL! I’m being vulnerable here folks so don’t bash me.

But, in all honesty I can’t thank you enough for all of your kind words about my journey. I’m at the beginning and I promise you that I will keep you posted. Why? Because you are all my family and you give the greatest advice and guidance. For that I am thankful. I know that I’m not alone and it helps that some of you have seen or been there personally and have reached out to me.

So, good news on this wonderful motivating Monday. My baby performed in his first talent show and I have to tell you that although dance is not his gift, he did a wonderful job and I was super proud. This kid is amazing and I love him so much. Here’s Mommy’s Monday Motivation presenting my Munch’s first talent show performance.

 

The Assessment: Munch and Therapy

This is a continuation of my post yesterday The Therapy Session

The therapist turns to me and says “I have to tell you that your son is so adorable.” “Thank you” I replied. He says, “Okay, so from what I’m seeing your son has anxiety. He worries about a lot of different things. Most people have anxiety so it’s not unusual, but if it interferes in your daily life we want to try to help.”

He asked whether or not Munch has always been anxious. “Yes” I told him. “When he was a baby about 8 months old he started freaking out any time I got on an elevator or escalator. He would start crying and trying to get out of his stroller or holding me tighter if I was carrying him. I told his pediatrician. I thought it was weird, but I didn’t know because he was my first child and she just dismissed it. He would always worry about everything. What if the kids at school don’t like me? What if no one at church wants to be my friend? What if people laugh at me? What if people boo me?

Last month when we had that tornado warning, he freaked out and had to be next to me. He was so afraid that something was going to happen to me that he couldn’t concentrate on his upcoming program. One of the adults supervising brought him to me because he started crying and saying that he needed to check on his mommy.  He needed to make sure that I was okay because he was afraid that I would die in the tornado. Sometimes his anxious thoughts cloud his mind and make him sad or depressed. Like he will bring up the dog dying even if there are no animals around and then begin to cry. We created a memory box regarding our dog Bailey but it’s like his mind remembers the death and it upsets him” I said.

He listened and responded “His mind doesn’t seem to work in a linear fashion. It’s like his mind is all over the place, which is why I did the memory test to see if he can focus enough to retain information. He did good. Two out of three is very good.  Maybe his mind is working faster than his mouth. Is that possible?”

“Yes” I responded. “It happens to me all the time.   That’s how my mind works. I thought it was different, but I can focus when I need to so I just thought it was a  special ability I had. My mom does the same thing. Munch doing it seemed natural. However, I know it frustrates and confuses people who are close to me. They’ve just accepted it though.” “Okay” he said. “It may be fine. But, I want to tell you that I think he has anxiety. He was worried about numerous things in our short conversation.

I’m hesitant to diagnosis anything beyond that without psychological testing.  The thing about therapy is that many people can give you their professional opinions about what they believe may be the issue, but the psychological testing will give us an actual picture for present behavioral/emotional issues. It’s covered under your medical insurance and I don’t want to do it through the school. I don’t want that testing to track or follow him throughout his educational years. Plus, I’ve seen were they will try to code anxiety as ADHD and that’s not always the case.

Once we get the results back, I want you to make a follow-up so we can see what we can do to help your son. Now, keep in mind that my therapy with children is more play. We may play a board game, Jenga or go outside and toss a baseball. Anything that is play oriented that will allow him to relax and talk to me. It’s shorter than the average adult therapy session to” he said.

“Okay, I’ll get the testing” I replied. Munch opened the door at that moment and asked “Mommy, are you okay?” “Yes, baby. I’m fine” I replied. “Can we go eat now? I’m hungry.” We all laughed.

I did some research and found out more about psychological testing/assessments from Inova Fairfax where I’ll take him for testing and found out that there are four different types of assessments that they do depending on the patients.

As far as emotional/behavioral disorders, my Munch has experienced the following things:

  • Sadness/crying
  • Low frustration tolerance, difficulty coping
  • Sleep problems, sleeps too much or has difficulty sleeping (varies when he’s worried)
  • Negative thoughts, pessimistic thinking, hopelessness
  • Worrying
  • Anxiety

So, I agree with the need for testing. My concerns have been somewhat subsided. We have a plan. I’ve found a responsible adult who wants to treat my son that I find trustworthy. I called the hospital testing center and I’m waiting to hear back.

Until the testing happens I will continue to love, nurture and support the child that God gave me. Be understanding. Be encouraging. I will continue to shower him with hugs and kisses and tell him that I will always be here for him. I will wipe his tears and understand that there are things that I may not know that are worrying my baby’s mind and spirit.

I’ll keep you posted.