Melly Was Here

wife, mother, teacher, runner, writer, lover, fighter

April Again.

April has come and gone.  It’s a weird month for me, try as I do to make that not so.

We said goodbye to my big brother 13 years ago in April. And then, two years ago, my dad.

It’s also Autism Awareness Month.  As someone who has stepped out of the Autism Wars, it brings up a lot of old stuff of when Sundance was first diagnosed. Sad stuff.

And, I turned 41 this month.  I love my birthday.  And so far, my  forties are my favorite.

April has been bittersweet.  And I find myself going back and forth from sadness to happiness, from remembering really shitty days to being thankful those days are in the past and we are all doing so much better.

And now it’s May.  The school year is wrapping up.  I have a mountain of paperwork and a classroom to close up. Field trips and Special Olympics, class parties and school concerts.

Life goes on.

We miss those we loved and said goodbye to.  Miss them so much.  We know that they would be happy for us.  They would be proud of what we have overcome and what we are looking forward to.

They wouldn’t want us to stop dreaming, they wouldn’t want us to stop fighting for health and happiness. Because they loved us as much as we loved them.

So, here goes: Summer is coming.  And it is going to be a good one.

Because life goes on.

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At Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg, Texas. My new happy place.

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My loves, being rebels. That sign is not the boss of them.

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The Path Ahead

Running is a head game. That’s one of the reasons I think it is so good for me. Why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I don’t think when I run. I just let my body do the work.  The sound of my music and my feet hitting the pavement is all I need some days.

Sometimes, I think.

I’ll start running and pick a point on the road up ahead. I’ll visualize something that I want to accomplish up on the path, impeding my way. For example, when Lance and I were trying to get out of debt, I would visualize the logo of a creditor. It would be a big glass block right in the middle of the path. I would look at it as I ran towards it. Then, when I reached it, I would crash through it, breaking it all to bits. Then, I would keep running, stomping on the pieces until they were gone. Then, I’d do it again. I’d choose the word, “depression,” and smash that all to bits. I’d choose, “anxiety,” or “sadness.” And I’d smash those too. You know what? Lance and I are out of debt and I am managing my depression and anxiety.

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These days, I don’t do so much smashing. These days, I do more lifting. I visualize running with people in my life who may be struggling. And, I visualize whatever it is they are dealing with – a word or a symbol – and we run toward that together. Then, I give them a boost so they can jump over it. Or, if it’s something that I am struggling with or wanting to accomplish, I jump over it.

I do still do some smashing. I picture a huge, “AU,” in my path.  “AU,” stands for, “autism.” It’s big and it’s thick and it’s in my way. Often my baby boy, Sundance, is running with me.  AU is in our damn way. And we run and we smash that son of a bitch all to pieces. It doesn’t go down easy, but we run and we stomp and we destroy it.

So, needless to say,  I cry when I run. Or I smile and laugh or yell and curse.  And, when I get home I always feel better than I did before.   Always.

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I Swear I’ve Been Taking My Meds…

…but I still feel so overwhelmed and stressed!  I hate that.

There are just so many things I want to learn about.   Things that I think would improve our lives.  All these ideas swirling around in my head.

For example, one of my favorite shows is Extreme Couponing.   I don’t think it is possible to extreme coupon here in San Antonio (those  people are always shopping at Piggly Wiggly and Winn Dixie and have to have subtitles on the screen when they speak, so I’m pretty sure they are in the deep south), but I’m sure that I could do some Less Extreme Couponing.  But, I need to take the time to learn how to do it.  Time, my old foe.

I also want to learn about essential oils.  There is a kid in my class that comes to school and smells so good.  Seriously, smelling his little head calms me.  I also put a lavender air freshener in the nap room and the kids have been sleeping so well.  I know there is something to all of this, but when I do a Google search and get a million and one results, I get overwhelmed and end up eating chocolate.  Google, we have a love/hate relationship.

I’ve been researching grad schools.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.  It scares me to death.

The boys’ rooms are a mess.  Sundance needs to be taught to stay organized (and, first I need to learn how to do that myself), Butch’s room needs a coat of paint and we need to seriously toss and donate some toys.

My classroom needs revamping and reorganizing.  I have a crapload of paperwork to do.  The garage looks like a garbage dump (and I want to have a stockpile in there one day).

I want to work on my writing.  I haven’t even looked at my children’s stories in months.

This really isn’t a case of trying to be Supermom.  That ship sailed long, long ago.  It’s not me comparing myself to other women, either. I stopped doing that in my 20’s.   I think it is just that I have so many interests and so many things I want to do, I find it hard to prioritize.  Time management has never been one of my strengths.   I know I do this to myself.

Ack!

If you need me, I’ll be under the bed.  Wait, no I won’t, I need to vacuum under there first.

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Setting My Goals by the Way I Define Myself – Fighter

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Seven years ago, my baby boy was diagnosed with autism.  I cried for three weeks.  And, then my husband -my smart kick ass husband sent me an article about autism being treated with biomedical interventions (diet and supplements). I read it and then threw away all the dairy in the house.  A week later, my three-year old son who had never spoken a sentence said to me, “You’re beautiful.”  It was the beginning of my amazing  little boy growing and learning and turning into the 10-year-old that he is now.  Of course, we still have a long way to go – but we have the fight in us.  I do.  My man does.  My boys do.  Autism can kiss my ass.

I manage anxiety and depression.  I think it started with the birth of my first son.  Post partum depression that was never treated.   Then, it was event after event – some that I didn’t choose or have control over – that just added onto the load I was carrying on my back.  A few years ago, I fell apart.  Of course, I worked with a few people at the time that kicked me when I was down and that didn’t help either.

I honestly don’t know how I got out of bed and went to work in the morning.

I started therapy and am now on anti anxiety meds.  But, there are times I can feel those old feelings bubbling up, right below the surface.  Times I get anxious about raising my boys right or times I get sad missing my brother or my dad.  Times I get overwhelmed or angry at the people I mentioned before.

But, I fight it.  With the help of my family and friends – and Lexapro – I fight it.

Those are my big two: Autism and Anxiety.  They are what I fight.  I will never stop fighting to  help  Sundance overcome his disability.  I don’t want to start a big debate, but I believe very strongly that autism can be treated.  It isn’t easy, but that’s what I believe.

I will never stop fighting my anxiety, because I cannot go back to how I lived back then.  I cannot put my family through that again.  Ever.

One of my goals that I think falls under this category is to be more informed about the world around me.  For a long time, I didn’t read or watch the news.  I just couldn’t handle other people’s bad news.  I was too sad.  But, now, I’m ok.  I can handle it.  I need to be more informed.  Because I am a fighter and some people need help with their fights.

There are good fights out there. There are things that are worth fighting for.  Health, beauty, goodness, justice.  And good fights need good people.

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April

April is a strange month for me.

First off, I was born in April. I love my birthday. I have not ever expected a lot of gifts or anyone to make a big deal out of it, although they always have. First my mom, then my girl friends and now Lance and my coworkers. I can’t count the number of surprise parties I’ve had. A lot. I had to tell Lance that I was good for surprise parties for the rest of my life. This year, I am turning forty. It is the first birthday since 21 that I am really excited about. My friends and I are doing a mud run and then we are having a party at the house. It should be a pretty cool weekend.

My birthday has always been a time, even when I was a kid, to reflect on my life and my goals. And, this year, I feel good. I feel like I am at a good place. I don’t necessarily *feel* forty – however that is supposed to feel (most days, I still feel 15) – but I feel good. I am in pretty good shape, I love my job, I love my house and my family and I are all doing well. Of course, I have a few regrets, but nothing that keeps me up at night.

But, then, on the 14th, we mark the death of my big brother, Jimmy. I think about him everyday. I miss him everyday. The day takes me back, 12 years ago, to the day we lost him. And, it makes me sad. Because he was my brother and there is so much that only he knew – that only he would understand and remember about me. Saturday mornings watching cartoons while our parents slept, video games on the Atari, nights that our mom worked and our dad drank. He was a good guy who struggled much of his life with what I now think was Asperger’s Syndrome. He loved me, even though I was the typical bratty little sister. I loved him. He was taken too soon.

Then, on the 15th of last year, my dad died of lung cancer. I can’t believe it’s been a year. He went so quickly. He was not the perfect father – there are days I would even had said he wasn’t a very good father. He was a good person, though, he really was. He did not have an ounce of malice in his bones. But, I believe he was broken. I believe he loved us the best he could and was never even was self-aware enough to realize that he was an alcoholic. He missed out on so much life. A life that *could have* been so special. I miss him too, but the truth is, he wasn’t a huge part of my life for many years. He literally phoned it in. He called, which is more than a lot of fathers, I know. He sent cards around the boys’ birthdays. He was interested in them, but he was a stranger to them. And, that is sad to me, because I think they would have loved him very much. I don’t know if it was laziness or something else – some character flaw or product of a childhood trauma I think he may have lived through. And now, he’s gone, so I will never know.

And, lastly, it is Autism Awareness Month. I hate autism. It pisses me off. Honestly, that’s all I can say about that right now because I do not want to go down that road. I don’t have the energy.

Then, the tragedies in Boston and West. Such a sad week for our country. It has just taken the wind right out of my sails. I’m just tired. And sad.

Don’t feel sorry for me, that’s not what I want. I’m writing this here to get it out there in the universe, so it’s not just inside my head, bouncing around. I need to recognize these feelings, I need to name them – own them so I can get through them. I’m almost through this week and then I can spend two solid days with my guys. I need to rest. That should get me over this hump. I have a lot to look forward to. I’ll be alright.

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Back at it and Feeling Good

One of the things I love about being a teacher is that I get some awesome time off. I report to work 187 days out of the year. I know a lot of people believe that we have it so good because we only really work half the year, but for a teacher, the days you do work- if you are good at your job- you invest 200% of your energy, your life and your being into those days. I work half the year, but when I am at school with my students, I am ON the entire time. To be a good teacher, there is no half assing it. At school, I give it my all and then come home and give my all to my own children and husband. So, it evens out and we work the same amount as regular people (that’s what I call people who don’t teach). I am sure there are other professions who can say this too, but I have only ever been a cashier and a teacher, so I don’t know about them.

Today we all went back to school after being off for two weeks. Two glorious weeks of staying in our pajamas, playing video games, having the time to clean the house and cook dinner. Two wonderful weeks of wonderful workouts, walking the dogs and talking on the phone to friends that live far away. The boys were not happy to be going back. I had to dress Sundance because he could not muster the energy or desire to put his underwear on at 6:15 this morning. Butch was a little better about it, which surprised me because he is the biggest homebody of us all. That kid would be happy to stay in his pajamas and never leave the house.

But me, I was thrilled. I missed my little students and I knew I would be greeted with hugs and love and stories of Santa visiting and staying up late on New Year’s Eve. Of course, by 3:00, I was ready to get out of there, but the day went well. I also knew that my own children would be spending their days with some pretty awesome teachers too.

I love being a working mom. I love juggling it all and doing it well. No, my house is not perfect, I didn’t wash my hair this morning and I today I emailed Sundance’s teacher about cutting down on the homework. But, you know, I’m kind of kicking ass. My students love school, my own kids are happy and doing well. My marriage of 19 years is rock solid. I have friends who make me laugh and who always have my back. I’m training for my first marathon.

I’m happy. I put in the work and feel good about my life. As someone who manages her anxiety and depression, I can tell you it hasn’t always been that way.

There were days that I couldn’t get out of bed. Days that I did not want to be around anyone, even my own family. Days that I just wanted to hide. During that time, I had to create a new username for some website I was joining and I named myself, “Sadgurl.” Sad Girl. I could not think of one other word to describe myself but, “sad.” Not, “Smartgurl,” not, “Inlovegirl,” not, “likescheesegurl.” I could not think of ONE OTHER WORD but sad.

No one deserves to feel that way. Depression is not something that you can just snap out of. If you are reading this and you feel sad all the time or that you just wish you would come down with some horrible sickness so you could lay in a hospital bed and not have to deal with life…if you feel like you deserve to be treated badly by co workers or family members…if you feel like your kids would be better off without you….you may be suffering depression.

The best thing I did for myself was go to my doctor and fall apart. She gave me the name of a awesome therapist. I was able to talk it all out without feeling guilty. I was able to decide that starting on anti anxiety meds was something I had to try. I was able to get help and learn to manage it all.

If this is you, the first step is asking for help. Ask. Reach out. You won’t be sorry. I promise.

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