My Frienemy For Life?

I’ve been on a journey this year and have wanted to update this blog a number of times with the amazing things I’ve been learning, especially in my counseling sessions.  I’ve seen so much progress in the understanding of and management of anxiety and depression.  I can’t believe the difference it makes when you can find a counselor that you can really connect with and learn from.

I wish I had taken the time to write about those positive things because what is driving me to write now is that I found out some information today that makes me really sad.  And angry.

I’ve found out that my friend, Paxil – the friend that, yes, has in many ways made my life so much better – is most likely going to be my “friend” for life, whether I want it that way or not.

I’ve had many reasons to be very grateful to my little pink pill.  It helped me through a dark time in my life and took away the social anxiety that had crippled me since middle school.  In fact, after trying a couple times to taper off it and experiencing excruciating symptoms, I decided I must need it and I was okay with that.  Until I found out it has been linked to dementia…

Hence my journey this year to taper off it for good and do the really hard work of exploring emotional patterns, habits, traumas, and even learned behaviors.  It truly has been amazing and helpful.

I found my first real snag today in a book by Peter R. Breggin MD titled “The Anti-Depressant Fact Book.”  In short, SSRI’s (like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft) may cause permanent damage to the seratonin systems of the brain.  This can’t be true, can it??  Google searches for healing ssri damage came up with an article by Dr. Stuart Shipko on the website “Mad In America.”  I purchased his ebook – “Informed Consent.”  A MUST read for anyone contemplating starting a drug for depression or anxiety.

It appears I was right about the symptoms I’ve had during past withdrawals.  It was unlike any anxiety I had experienced ever before, coming on unexpectedly a few months after being drug free.  So intense –  it was 24/7 adrenaline torture. Racing heart, racing mind, no sleeping, barely able to eat torture.  Both times I raised my white flag and took my little pink pill.  Although I knew intuitively it had to be some kind of reaction to withdrawing from the drug, no doctor I spoke with agreed, nor could I find anything about it online.  I resigned myself to the knowledge that I must have a mental illness and “need” this drug.

Ironically, there is no scientific evidence for the chemical imbalances in the brain we have all been taught to believe in.  BUT treatment with psychological drugs causes chemical imbalances in the brain.  Many people like me have found this out the hard way.

Today I found out my withdrawal symptoms have a name, tardive akathisia, and that as far as the research shows, there is little hope of recovery and no real treatment. It is an iatrogenic condition, the second such condition I am dealing with this year, but that is another post altogether.

I haven’t lost all hope, I did contact Dr. Shipko, and surprisingly, received an immediate response.  He did suggest I could try the taper again.  But there is a danger – if I develop the akathisia again and wait too long to resume the drug, the drug may not work.  I may be stuck in akathisia hell.  And that is truly the only way to describe it.

Now I have to decide if it is worth the risk.  What are my odds of developing dementia when I’m older if I’m on this drug the rest of my life?  (Assuming the drug hasn’t begun that damage already.)  What are the odds I can taper and not develop akathisia this time?  What are the odds I can resume the paxil if I do develop akathisia?  Hmm.  Anyone have some dice?


Please Don’t Ask

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

This is hard for me to write because I don’t like to offend people, or make people feel bad.  And if you recognize yourself in this post, please do not be offended, and don’t even apologize.  I’m just sharing this in hopes to help people do better.  I don’t think I realized how much of a problem it is until this weekend and now I can’t leave it unsaid.  I know most of it is well-intentioned and well-meant.  I know people (some) are genuinely concerned.  But honestly,  most of us are just curious nosy and we like to know the nitty-gritty details.

But here’s the problem:  I can’t tell you.  And it really is none of your business.  Okay, if you are still with me, I’ll let you know what I’m talking about.  When you see me with a child you’ve never seen before and I say “this is ____________.”  I might say “this is my friend” or “this is my daughter”  Or “We’re taking care of her for a little while” or I might even say this is my niece or nephew.  Or I might not offer any other information.  Don’t ask.

“Oh, is this a foster child?”  Yes, right in front of the child.  And then the other questions follow.  I’ve had everything from “Why was he/she taken?” to “Are you hoping to adopt?”  “Do you like the parents?”  “Do you think they will get their child back” “Do you think they can properly take care of this child?”  There are countless variations of these questions, and, unfortunately they come from all of you.  I’ve hardly met someone who hasn’t asked.  I probably used to do the same thing.  I don’t even remember anymore.

All I know now is that each story is one of pain.  Its one of brokenness.  Its one where generations of a family has struggled under the weight of abuse, addiction, poverty, unfair treatment, sometimes mental impairment.  But always a mountain of things that make it harder for this child’s family to provide a safe, loving home.  And sometimes the family is doing well but the system won’t let them have their child…  Or the requirements they have actually make it harder for the family.  Because the truth is the “system” we have in place for helping these children is just as broken and dysfunctional.

The bottom line is, the story is for the child to tell, someday, if he ever wants to.  To someone he loves and trusts.  To someone who will listen and care, and desire to help him heal.  It’s for his parents to tell, if they ever want to, to people who care about them and want to support them.

My job is to offer this child and her family unconditional love, grace, and support, and give this child back at a moment’s notice.

So next time you see me with a child and I say “this is my niece _______________”,  if I don’t offer any other explanation, please don’t ask.  Or, better yet, if you must ask me something, ask me “is there anything I can do?


Hello Again

Yes, I did return from Haiti…(in case you were wondering)  I did not intend to drop off the blog planet,  but I did so now  I am stuck wondering where to pick up and start blogging again.  I finally realized I just had to jump in and write something.

The main reason for the silence on my blog is that a week after the Haiti trip, we took in a 6 week old.  He was here for only 5 weeks, but he captured all of our hearts and we’ve been feeling a bit empty since he left.   The awesome part?  We got to know his parents and have been able to visit him.  If any story has a chance of turning out well, its this one, and for that we have been grateful, and humbled to have played a small part in it.

Our lives have been a bit of a whirlwind this past year, and for that reason I was really tempted to give up fostering for now and focus on my family – especially since my oldest is planning on going to college next fall.

BUT… we got an email this afternoon about an emergency placement for a 1.5 yo.  I think it was all of 4 hours between first being asked and him being dropped off.  So…here we go again.  If any of you would be willing to pray for us, that would be appreciated!

Pre-Trip Ramblings

In a little less than a day, I will be in a plane to Haiti, a little country that sits only 300 miles off our coastline, but is a world away. Every time I read the story of the rich man and Lazarus Haiti 2011 062in the Bible, I can’t help but think of America as the “rich man” and Haiti as our “Lazarus” But I’m wandering from what has really been on my heart and mind the last couple days.

I volunteered to go as the team leader, and the last few weeks I’ve been wondering what I got myself into. I forgot all the paperwork and picky details that go into bringing a group of people to a foreign country. And I’ve found myself thinking “Never again!” “I’m not doing this again.” Continue reading Pre-Trip Ramblings

5 Ways You Can Support a Foster/Adoptive Family

Pezibear / Pixabay
Pezibear / Pixabay

Most people who know us know that a few months ago we accepted our first foster placement of two beautiful little girls.  Their stay was brief, but I am forever changed.

Not many will know that this placement came about after years of prayer on my part, prayers like, “God, I’d love to adopt, but David doesn’t want to – please, if it is your will change his heart.”  That was the beginning.  Then, more recently my prayer changed to “Lord, I accept Your will, I give up my dream to adopt if it isn’t what You want for our family.”

It’s really a long story, better told in person over a cup of tea or coffee…I never really wanted to foster, too hard, too heartbreaking, too much of a roller coaster.  Adoption, on the other hand, was a warm, fuzzy thought – one more child to love and heal.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was wrong on both counts.  I’ve also learned one more humbling lesson about making a judgement call about something you’ve never done before.  Have I ever mentioned that I’m prone to that?  There  is more to this journey I may share sometime.  Some of it is another person’s story.

In the meantime, I’d like to list the top 5 ways that all of us can support those who choose to open their homes, hearts and lives to children from hard places – whether it be through adoption or fostering.  While my husband is now the one praying for God to change my heart, I’ll simply say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done..

5 Ways to support a foster/adoption family –

  1.  Bring meals – and don’t ask for permission first
  2.  Listen when they need to talk
  3.  Offer to do respite – and do whatever it takes to be certified to do so
  4.  Send notes of encouragement with a verse
  5.  Don’t judge – ever

I Left a Piece of My Heart In Upstate NY

Well, (that’s a deep subject, my Mom would always say…)  its true – in the beginning when you have those little ones and you can’t get enough sleep and you’re changing countless diapers and refereeing squabbles all day – you take each precious moment and store it up in your heart and mind.  The smell at the back of your newborn’s neck.  The chubby hand holding yours.  The fifth time through “Good Night Moon”.   The lisps, the grins, the words like “pasgetti” and “gymnasnicks”.  A lot of times you have to reach for it through the bone-tiredness, but you do recognize the joy and preciousness of it all… I used to nod and smile at the older generation every time they told me “Enjoy it…”.    I wanted to say “I AM –  as much as I can!!” The days feel endless.  But the years are fast.

Saturday we dropped off our oldest to work at a camp for 2 months – she’s 17 and eager to be independent.  I’m happy for her and so excited to see the opportunities that are opening up for her as she pursues her interests and finishes her education!  But my heart aches, too.  This summer isn’t really a big deal.  But I know it’s the beginning of the next phase.  She’ll come back a different person and soon she’ll be spreading her wings and heading out into the world for good…

I’ve enjoyed every minute as much as I can,  AND it does go fast…  photo

5 Confessions of a Homeschooler

School books

Another list today!  Not all of you homeschool, but if you do, or are considering it, I hope this is an encouragement to you.  If not, you will get a glimpse into our lives…

1. My kids are unsocialized – they get along with each other, relate to people of all ages, and don’t care that they don’t have an iPod or a cool pair of sneakers.
2. I don’t have a teaching degree, know a foreign language, and stink at algebra (in fact, I really don’t know what I am doing at all), YET my kids have two important life skills – how to learn and a love for learning. Continue reading 5 Confessions of a Homeschooler

Five Minute Friday: World

World: what a great word for today! When I think about our world now, it is no longer just my safe suburban neighborhood or the woods I grew up safely wandering – coming home dirty, bug bitten and tired.Haiti 2013-1 226

Now its the world next-door, Continue reading Five Minute Friday: World

Best Ways For Reaching Joy…

RaindropsWe had another one of those gloomy New England days here, where the clouds hang low but it doesn’t rain.  Something as simple as sunshine or the lack of it makes a big difference in my outlook!  So I thought it was a good time to post the top things Continue reading Best Ways For Reaching Joy…

Kombucha part 2

Finally, as promised, I am posting the follow-up to my kombucha post.   If you’ve followed the steps there, you should be ready to flavor and bottle your brew – and get the next batch going!

Tea for kombucha
Tea for Kombucha

First, you want to brew some tea just like you did in part 1.  (Boil 4 cups filtered water, and add 1 cup white sugar and 10 bags (or the equivalent of loose) black tea.  You can also include some green & white tea.  I have been using 4 black, and 3 each green & white.   Let this cool to room temperature. Continue reading Kombucha part 2