Saturday, July 13, 2013

A broken system.

Today, the judicial system failed Trayvon Martin.  Today, the laws failed Travyon.  Today, a child's killer will walk free because of words like "stand your ground" and "beyond a reasonable doubt."

I watch people laud and stand proudly in amazement of the way our legal system works and functions.

I am not impressed.

You see, on May 24, 2002 at 3:08 pm, the system failed me.  The laws and the verbage of the eighth circuit courts in the state of Iowa failed ME.  The jury, eager to return to their lives, especially on a Friday afternoon with a 3-day weekend that would surely be interrupted by further deliberations, were acting according to the law, the instructions of the judge, words-powerful words...

I do not feel the system worked.  I have been on the other side.  The all those forming their opinions, perhaps the "greatness" of our system and laws would be less than great if you had the displeasure of taking a walk on the "other side."

The 4 fingers of my left hand were severely burned by a freezer in a grocery store at the age of 12.  July 8, 1996.  I have suffered the consequences for 17 years.  The corporations, the grocery store, the freezer manufacturer, have had no consequences...no accountability. Me, my family The reason?  The law.  Words.  Jury instructions.  "Burden of proof, exercise of reasonable care, negligence."

I, unlike Trayvon Martin, did not lose my life, but that muggy July Monday night, my life-and the lives of my entire family-changed forever.

When my case went to trial, 6 years into the throes of the neurological chronic pain disease caused by my injuries, I was victimized by the system.  I was questioned, drilled, interrogated in depositions.  Every action, every movement, every choice and mistake I made was brought into a case that had nothing to do with those things. My family, too, had to be questioned, sometimes for hours.  Their character was attacked in any way that could be found.

I was an accomplished violinist.  I had a scholarship to an incredible university.  I made great grades and was in the gifted program.  I was never sick.  I was a big sister to my annoying brother (all little brothers are annoying when you're 12) and my adorable toddler sister.  I had a life.  The night I was injured while grabbing root beer and banana popsicles, a normal thing for a 12-year-old shopping with her mom.  That night, I entered a world of unfathomable pain and suffering, all because of the negligence of a grocery store and the poor design of a spot-merchandise freezer.

I sat in court for a week, hyper aware of what I wore, how I looked, if I smiled or dare move too fast.  You see, I looked "normal."  I didn't "look" sick.  If I had simply lost a finger or two that day, it would have been better.  The damage done wouldn't have been invisible.  To top it off, my life might have gone on much more normally, much more pain free.  But that wasn't in the cards for me.  I kept my fingers and took a broken central nervous system instead.

Do you know what was brought up in court?  The intensity of the pain I endured, considered to be greater than that of cancer, unprepared childbirth, and amputation of a finger.  The pain I lived with every day, pain so great that I could not even handle a fan blowing or a family member hugging me.  That was brought up.  The long term impacts of RSD on my health.  My violin teachers got up and talked about my potential and great talent.  My family members and teachers talked of my character and the impacts of my illness on both me and my family. The financial burden on my family-HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars, spent to find an answer that would save my life.  Future financial burdens for me to face.  Lack of insurability with a pre-existing condition.

Do you know what I remember, more than anything?  My former friends getting up on the stand and talking about how I drank alcohol at high school parties.  Was that important or necessary? 

Yes, I made mistakes.  Big mistakes, small mistakes.  And somehow, by bringing that into court, it diminished my character, as though I must also be a liar or maybe just deserving of the torture I endured. 

I did not deserve what happened to me.  My family did not deserve what happened to me.  My family did not deserve what happened to them either, with all their great losses and major life changes because that is what it took to save my life.

Trayvon Martin made mistakes, but he did not deserve to die.  The system did not do him justice.  He was failed today, and his family, left with an empty place where he should be, was failed today.  Just because we follow laws put in place does not mean the laws are not abused.  Just because we follow the directions of the judge does not mean the judicial system is not flawed.

I know.  I have been there.  The system, the laws, the words and technicalities failed me 11 years ago.

I will not laud our justice system.

I am not proud.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

5k

Yesterday, after a summer full of training, I completed my first ever 5k.  My training was a long road, with a couple of bumps.  At one point, I thought the training was exacerbating my migraines, so I stopped training.  Then, I realized that tons of people had migraines the week I was struggling, so I think it was more about the weather/barometric pressure than it was the running.  So I got back on board.  With my sister's wedding and back to work, I found myself exhausted and only got to train 1-2 times a week (on a good week) in the 3 weeks leading up to the 5k.

Once upon a time, I tried to get into running, but it never "stuck."  This time, I got into it in desperation to lose weight.  The frustrations I've experienced over the last 1-2 years on and off with counting calories, working out, and trying everything I know how to do (short of starving myself) have been exhausting.  I've watched those around me do just what I am doing and lose lots of weight.  Truth be told, it has made me even more frustrated and want to give up.  In spite of all the factors I mentioned, I really didn't give up.  Along the way, I've had some great cheerleaders, especially my gym buddies Mom and Jessica.  My friends and coworkers, sister Alexis, and Brandon have all been behind me 110%, which I am so grateful for.


Yesterday, I got up at 5:50 to get dressed and ready to head beachside for the 5k.  I left, forgot my heart rate monitor as I pulled out of my driveway, and ran back inside to get it.  I grabbed an egg & cheese bagel at Dunkin, and I choked most of it down even though it wasn't very good.  When I arrived, I had a bit of trouble finding parking, but that issue resolved quickly when I parked at the surf shop.  

I debated whether or not to run with my sunglasses, and I had to shove my car key in my sports bra since my family & friends weren't there until a bit after the race started.  Let me say, I made the right choice by wearing my shades.  The sun would have killed my eyes.  Although, maybe that would have made me run faster?

I saw my buddies Indica and Tori before the race started, and that helped calm my nerves  little.  Since I'm a nervous pee-er (what a ridiculous predicament), I found one of the 14 porta-pottys available.  We lined up for the race, listened to the star spangled banner, and listened to the starting signal: "Runners, on your marks, get set, go!"  I had total goosebumps in that moment.  I don't think I will ever forget it.

Since official time is calculated using the chip we had on our shoes from starting mat to finishing mat, I walked to the starting mat.  As soon as I hit that mat, I hit the ground running.  With 1,579 participants, it was really hard not to get caught up in the herd mentality.  So many people passed me by in a swarm, but I remembered everything I'd read-run your pace.  Though I've done outside interval running before, I didn't do my training for this 5k on the treadmill, which allowed me to monitor my pace since I had to adjust the treadmill speed accordingly.  I am so glad I dusted off my ipod for the race because the mental aspect of the run would have been worse without it.  Reminding myself to keep MY pace (the best I could), I soaked up the view of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean in the initial stretch of the run.  

The energy of the run was spectacular.  There were so many people-young and old, every ethnicity, every body type, every interesting running getup you could think of.  It was truly a joy to run among so many, even though the number of paid registrants (1800) made me very nervous.

When I hit the flag for mile 1, I felt encouraged and discouraged all at once.  The first mile was definitely hard for me mentally because it felt like it was going on forever, and I was questioning my pace.  Am I going too fast?  Am I going to burn myself out?  Am I going to slow?  Will I be able to meet or beat my best treadmill time?  My best time on the treadmill was 37:35, which I did the Thursday before the 5k.  

The volunteers that were there to wave, shout words of encouragement, give high fives and thumbs up were awesome!  At one point, a volunteer was holding out her hand, and I ran past her, giving her 5.  Her hand was covered in the sweat of all who give her a high five along the way.  Kind of gross if you think about it too much, but kind of cool to imagine how many people she got to encourage that morning.

Mile 2 was my best mile, for the most part.  I felt like I was in the groove of things, and I stopped questioning my pace so much.  The end of mile 2 was very sunny and hot without much shade to dart in and out of.  As I made the turn down the straightaway to the finish, I got tears in my eyes.  There were a lot of people clapping and cheering as we rounded the corner for the last .5-.6 miles of the race.  Appropriately, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" came on my ipod.  Thankfully my old causeway walk/run playlist was still on my ipod.  That really jazzed me up, which I needed.  

My legs never gave up, but the breathing got hard at times.  My legs are never the problem!  The worst part is the mental aspect.  There were a handful of times I wanted so badly to walk.  I even bargained with myself.  "Run to that mailbox, then you can walk from the mailbox to the stop sign."  When I made it to the mailbox, I refused to walk.  My stubbornness served me well in those moments.

Back to the finish.  I had to restart Don't Stop Believing along that final stretch.  I knew I wanted and needed it to make it through to the end.  I heard my mother-in-law yell my name and point to the rest of my supporters: Mom, Alexis, Brandon, Ayla, and Jessica.  They were holding up a hot pink sign that said, "Go Amber!  We're proud of you!"
 
I sprinted to the finish, seeing that I was going to finish in under 36:00!!  I searched out my group, and I burst into tears, hugging everyone and leaning on Brandon.  My buddy Tori was there at the end, and I was excited to know she'd finished with a great personal time as well!  The emotion of that moment was unreal.


In that moment, I was not consumed with the thoughts of the weight I can't seem to lose.
In that moment, I was unstoppable.  I was fierce.  I was strong.
In that moment, I was not defined by the disability and disease (RSD) that has been a constant in my life since July 8, 1996.  
In that moment, those 16 years of illness were silenced.
In that moment, I proved to myself that I can overcome any obstacle that I face.
In that moment, I felt so alive.


Happily, I got to cheer and encourage my buddy, Indica, who also beat her best time!  We then all hung out, got to see some awesome owls in person, and eat and drink.  

I found out that my start to finish time was 35:27.  I finished 57th out of 104 in my age group and 850th out of the 1,579 runners.  I was SO close to the time of the person who won the "middle of the nest" award, and for me, that feels pretty awesome for my first ever race.

I am so proud to say I didn't quit.  I didn't walk, even when my thoughts worked out a way for it to be possible.  

Here's to a remarkable experience that impacted my life in a huge way, and here's to what is still to come!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For the Moms...

I am surrounded by moms that inspire me beyond words.  Moms who encourage me, who push me, and who are there for me through everything.  Here's to the moms...

To my grandma Kathleen, who I never got to meet.  You and Grandpa Denny have left a legacy behind and were able to instill love and values in your children,  in my very own mom, in the short years you got to be with them. I've been blessed to have my mom 20 years longer than she had you, and I hope for 20 more and 20 after those too. When I look at your pictures with your two different colored eyes and my same crooked smile, I feel like I know you.  I feel like you are a part of me.  My own mom made sure you were alive to us, that we always knew about you. 

To my Mama Jennifer.  You have always talked to me like your daughter AND friend.  You've given me honesty and openness that most mothers don't afford their daughters.  When doctors didn't believe in me, y0u did.  When doctors wanted to butcher me, you said no.  There are a million things I could say, but I know I don't have to.  

To my mother-in-law, Gaby.  You have raised a fine son who is the best father and husband a family could as for.  You are an awesome Oma to our Ayla, and you are a kind heart we are all thankful to be surrounded by.

To my aunt Kari.  You are an awesome mom who has always supported and loved your children through the ups and downs of life.  Like my own mom, you have stood by a child with health issues and always championed for her.  You are kind and thoughtful beyond measure.  I am lucky my mom got the bestest sister because I got the bestest aunt.

To my aunt Julie.  You have always been there for me, and I am so proud to see how far you have come over the years.  You are happy and experiencing such great joys and life, and I am so happy because you deserve them all.  Now, you are not only a great mom and aunt, but you are a grandma (bet that makes you feel old!) to your babies' babies.   

To my sister, Alexis.  You aren't a mother yet, but someday you will be.  You are a great sister, daughter, and Ti-Ti (aunt).  You were brave enough to hold a camera and a leg while I gave birth, and I hope to do the same for you someday.  Even as a little girl, you had the loving, patient qualities of an amazing mom.  I will never forget hearing your 3-year-old voice comfort me as I was being inundated by spinal injections, saying, "You can squeeze my hand as hard as you want." 

To my sister-in-law Jessica, who is brave enough to follow her heart.  She has been a breastfeeding champion, home schooler, and upon the birth of her 3rd child, a VBAC homebirther.  I have seen the transformation motherhood has done in her life, and I am so proud of her.

To my dear friend Amanda.  You taught me about the importance of extended rear-facing, which allowed me to teach so many of my own mama friends in turn.  You cheered me on my whole pregnancy and never judged me.  You wished Ayla a happy monthaversary every month of her life until she was 2!  You've been my crunchy mama mentor, teaching me about healthier ways of living, transforming how I look at food and the products I use on a daily basis.

To my amazing friend Kimberly.  You know all about what it's like to be welcomed to Holland rather than Italy.  Heck,  you know what it is like to have dual citizenship!  Your strength, bravery, kind heart, and relentless courage inspire me and make me so proud to know you and call you friend.  Never underestimate what you do, you are fulfilling a calling every day!

To my friend Tonia.  You are such an awesome Mama!  You manage to create such an awesome, adventure-filled life for your 3 kids.  You constantly encourage them and help them follow their dreams and their hearts, and I hope that as a mother, I am able to do the same.  You even mother me when I need it; you always have my back.

To my friend Tori.  You are a mother hen to everyone you meet with a heart of gold!  Also, you're the busiest person I know, and I know that you are filling the chapters of your daughter's life with memories upon memories!

To all the other mothers in my life, you know who you are.  I know awesome single mamas who don't get a break, yet manage to fill their homes with love and laughter.  I know mamas who are raising children with special health needs, who accept and love their children exactly as they are and will defend and support their children endlessly.  I know mamas of the heart who have waited patiently for their time to become a mama, and I can't wait to be by their side as they get to embark on the greatest journey ever.  I know mamas who have been in the dark emptiness of post-partum depression, post-partum anxiety, or post-partum OCD (just as I have been) who have fought a battle every day, a battle which has made them no less of a mom, but instead has made motherhood triumphant and joyful while dealing with such a struggle that no one would choose.  Thank you mothers.  Thank you for mothering me in all your many ways, and thank you for helping shape and grow me as a mother.

I love you Moms!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Words, thoughts, and pets

It has been quite some time since I last blogged.  I felt like I had run out of things to say.  I worried so much about how what I was saying would be received.  I feared I'd fall too much to one side or another of the fine line I was toting between insightful and fact-sharing with being "too much."  For those who know and love me, they get that I am often "too much" and love me for it anyway.  For those who know me and hate me, they'll get over it.

My ultrasound of my ovaries revealed a complex benign cyst on my right ovary, which is strange considering that my left ovary was causing me so many problems.  Eventually, I may have to go back for a repeat ultrasound, but for now I have been feeling much better.
Indulging at Mrs. Wilkes Kitchen

In other news, I went gluten-free for about a month.  I experienced far fewer migraines, and I became accustomed to living a GF lifestyle.  Then, Brandon and I went on our honeymoon to Savannah, GA (along with a 1 day visit to St. Augustine), where we indulged in every possible type of glutenous food we could.  I felt fine all that week, so when we came home after a near week of honeymoon bliss, I decided I could go back to a gluten-filled lifestyle.  Now, a month later, I feel like crap.  I've also been under a tremendous deal of stress with work, financial woes (work can be to blame for that as well), and household woes (which would be easier to handle with more money).  Recently, we've become a 1 car household until we can deal with the transmission issue hubby's car is having.  Joy!  (Actually, it isn't as bad as I thought it would be...but its only been 3 days).

Throughout my life, I've been blessed to have many wonderful and loving pets.  I am an animal lover at heart.  I could never be a vet, though.  Too sad.  With pet ownership, comes loss.  No matter how much my heart breaks at losing a beloved pet, I can't imagine life without them.  The first major loss I remember was of our cat Tigger when I was 10.  He had kidney problems.  He was the same age as me, 10.  I will never forget when he could no longer walk, so we had to make the difficult decision to put him to sleep.  I believe it is the right thing to do, the humane thing to do.  I won't get into how I feel about compassionate euthanasia for humans, but let me say one thing, I do not want my loved ones to allow me to suffer needlessly in my old age.  Back to Tigger.  We put him to sleep the day before my cousin Deanna's birthday.  It was heartbreaking and tragic.  I cried and cried.  Four years later, we lost our beloved Juner.  

When my mom and dad got Juner, they were told he was a girl.  Not too long after that, they discovered that was not the case.  A beautiful rescue, siamese chocolate lynx point, he lived a long happy life.  Tigger was Juner's brother, not by blood, but throughout life.  They were inside/outside cats, enjoying some freedom outside, but mainly staying inside.  Juner contracted Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) from a fight he got into with another neighborhood cat.  We never had outdoor cats after that.  I can still hear my mom calling for the cats out our backdoor.  

Juner and I were sick at the same time.  When I got injured at age 12, Juner had FIV too.  He was so compassionate and loving.  When I was sick, he was by my side.  When he was sick, he came to me, too.  I guess we had an unspoken connection.  The connect continued with Tazzy and Salem, the cats that came into our lives later.  Tazzy came about 6 months after Tigger died.  Tazzy was with Juner till the end.  Then, we saved Salem, a poor sickly city cat who became a brother to Tazzy too.  Tazzy, amazingly, outlived Salem.   I guess the problems Salem had from his early life were just too much on his body in the end.  Tazzy is a very sick boy these days at the age of 17, yet he almost always has a sly smile on his face.

I was led to think of this today when I laid in bed with a migraine.  Boo is our "lab mix" (lab and boxer or lab and beagle or lab and some pit...most likely a couple of mutts mixed), she is our first baby.  We've had her about 4 years, almost the entire duration of our relationship, minus about 6 months.  She is a wonderful dog, great with Ayla.  She was a rescue, and she has overcome a very difficult past, this we can tell by many anxious behaviors she has exhibited through her life.  Boo is also my compassionate protector.  When I am sick, she doesn't leave me.  She lays at my feet or curls up next to me.  The intuition and heart of a pet is something that goes beyond words.  I am so grateful to have these loving companions to go through life with.  I am glad we can give them a life they may not have ever had.
Boo, Christmas 2010


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Update

I did it.  I scheduled my appointment.  I have the CPT codes they are using for billing, so this week my mission is to call my insurance and find out how much this ultrasound is going to set me back.  That...and I need to keep my fingers crossed that my monthly "friend" doesn't come around because I'm not having the kind of ultrasound I have to have with that going on.

Anyway, I'm doing it.  I don't want to.  I've just gotten to the point where the pain it is causing me is causing me more fear of the unknown than finding out just what is going on.

I know that what I'm about to say is extreme, but maybe that's because I am a little extreme.  I don't know.  I'm so afraid they will find me riddled with cancerous tumors, perhaps so far out of control, 4 months later, to be able to anything.  

When you've had health problems that have ROBBED you of so much of your life, it is hard not to think of when you're facing another medical worry.   I've experience physical pain due to my neurological problem, and thanks to my neurological problem, I have also experienced the anguish of mental illness.  Of course if you are mentally ill, you aren't functional, right?  You're just "crazy" because face it, that's the stigma mental illness carries, to this day.  I am thankful for friends and family that know me, the real me, not letting the sick parts of me define who I am.  I am thankful that I have friends who have known the experienced both words of physical and mental anguish, and it makes life easier to know you can talk to someone who "gets it."


January 24th. I did it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Neglecting Mama

I am all about being pro-active about one's health.  I read all kinds of news articles, I watch documentaries, and I am trying to make conscious efforts to improve the quality of my family's life by the things we eat, the things we clean our homes and bodies with, and how we store our food.  We avoid HFCS, cellulose, and now canola oil.  We have slowly transitioned from our old plastic storage containers for leftovers to only using pyrex glass containers.  Ayla doesn't drink juice anymore because of arsenic and all the other garbage in juice, even the organic brand that we'd switched to after deciding to no longer purchase Juicy Juice due to our Nestle boycott.


But I must admit I am neglecting to take care of an issue that has been going on for over 4 months.


In August, I made an appointment with a new doctor.  I don't have a primary care physician, and I needed one.  To be honest, if I hadn't been at my wits end in need of a possible migraine medication (which was worthless, I should medicate with tic tacs next time) and a refill of Zoloft for all my scary/anxious/obsessive thoughts, I wouldn't have gone.  Another perk of going was that this lovely doctor could also do my well-woman (read: gyno) appointment for me.


When she did my pelvic exam, I felt extreme pain on my left side.  A few seconds later, she asked if I had a history of cysts in my family.  We do, however they are cysts in the ta-tas, not in the ovaries.  The painful spot she hit was my left ovary (who knew??), and she said it was inflamed.  She gave me orders for an ultrasound, saying she'd like me to get it checked out.


Sure...an ultrasound, potential hundreds of dollars (that I don't have), and for what?  For a problem, that at the time, didn't seem like much of a problem.


I know way more about insurance than any 28-year-old should, and I can tell you that it is always a battle.  90% of the time, it is never simple.  Its not just my insurance-its any insurance I've ever dealt with.


I have insurance, and I cannot afford to go to the doctor.  I'm still paying $25 at a time for the birth of my daughter.  Who was born in 2009.  Yeah...

An ultrasound didn't seem to be a pressing issue at the time because it wasn't bothering me.  This was in August.  Maybe it was bothering me because over the next couple weeks, I noticed a nagging pain-in my left ovary.  My threshold for pain is pretty high, which comes with the territory of having chronic pain for 15+ years


Over the next few weeks, I focused on planning our wedding, and I even made an appointment to have the ultrasound done (thanks to my friend Michelle who yelled at me) right before the wedding.  My period came, so my appointment got cancelled.  I told them I'd call to reschedule.  Sad to say, but they're still waiting on my phone call.


The pain has waxed and waned over the course of the last few months.  Sometimes, I feel like it has completely disappeared, and I feel relieved.  Sometimes, the pain radiates down my leg and into my back.  That completely freaks me out.


I want to have more babies.  At least another.  God knows if we could actually afford more than 1 more.  When I have friends or family struggling with their health, I harass them and push them until they take care of it.  Often times, I go with.  Several years ago, I was the go-to gal for anyone who needed a trip to the emergency room.  I've been with friends who have attempted suicide.  I've brought smoothies and sandwiches to friends just out of surgery.


I can't make myself go.


I need to.  I will.


Nothing is wrong with me, I'm sure.  Nothing serious, right?  It can't be serious.  Except I know that it can be serious, even though it probably isn't.  


I'm scared that my uterus is riddled with cancerous tumors.  The good news is, it is probably just a cyst...or even nothing.  When nothing is wrong, it usually doesn't seem so much like something.  The thought of being really sick is more than I can bear.  The thought of having problems that could jeopardize my fertility causes me grief. 


My distrust for the medical system runs long and deep.

I know what I need to do, but taking care of Mama is the easiest job to neglect.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Never alone

A couple nights ago, my daughter caused herself to puke since she was upset, well that was the straw on my back.  I cried my eyes out, and while my hormonal woman time is sure to be partially to blame, I know that that's not all.

It is very hard sometimes to deal with those "mommy frustrations."  

Sometimes for me, it is impossible.

While I won't totally go into it, I will admit something. My "post-partum depression" is really more like post-partum OCD.  My life, at different periods since having bitty, have been filled with overwhelming thoughts of "what if I harmed her?"  Or if I go look in on her and check on her breathing, as I still always do every single day...well, sometimes my brain signals get mixed up.  My relief at her being okay gets mixed up with my worries, such as what if she stopped breathing, and the result is I feel relieved but am attributing it to whatever fear I had coming true.  Which is torturous.  It has made me feel at times in my life totally worthless.

I don't even know how I'm saying this "out loud" because it is the most shameful part of my life.  And yet I know I am not "making" it happen, nor is it happening due to any failure on my part.  I know when I have sought out help for my anxiety/depression issues, I was told that an RSD patient's brain will react/handle things the same way as an OCD patient's brain would.

I love my daughter more than life itself.  There are times, in the past, when I was so angry and ashamed of my thoughts that I thought she'd be better off without me.  Luckily, I am surrounded by a support system and was lucky enough to stumble on the website http://postpartumprogress.com/ where I was able to read the story of a fellow redhead, Katherine Stone, and her journey with postpartum OCD.

And then I didn't feel so bad.  Then I was able, if only for a moment, to stop blaming myself.  A dear friend of mine who is studying mental health and counseling also "normalized" it for me, telling me that many women go through it.  Events in the news or a change in routine or period hormones can trigger ups and downs with it as well.

I still struggle, at times.  Some more than others.  I can tell you over the summer when all I had was time, time, time on my hands, I found myself struggling more with feelings of anxiety.  When all the Casey Anthony trial was on the news, it overwhelmed my thoughts.  All I could do was look at my precious baby and wonder how someone could do that?  Then I would worry if I were secretly a monster, too.

I can tell you this.  I'm not.  Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not.  I am a good mom.  Almost anyone who knows me would tell you the same.

At the end of the day, I am glad I've had the chance to get to "know" about wonderful moms out there with a brain that short circuits, so to speak.  Because feeling so awful and feeling as though it is you alone makes a lonely, awful place an even darker pit of despair.

For those other days, when I see a fellow mom posting that her child as a "curb alert" on Facebook or posting a stressed, frantic message about how bat shit crazy their 2 (or 3 or 5 or 15) year old is making them feel, I feel less alone.  And I laugh.

I realize...no matter what you're going through, you're never alone.  And you're not the first or last person to face the battle you're in.

Then there are the times, the times when your toddler says, "You're my best friend mama," and it makes riding out the storms you sailed through worth it.