Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Mental Health, And Helping Children.

The past few months have been really difficult for me with the Covid-19 pandemic and being super high risk. It has made me struggle with dealing with my own trauma, trying to do what is right and safe regarding the trauma of having a mother who can’t give me what I need, but still wanting her and my other biological family to remain safe. I have felt isolated and anxious and depressed. Being so high risk due to my asthma and severe Cerebral Palsy (CP) has made me angry when I finally realized how serious this virus is for many and seeing how people just don’t want to do what we need to do to be safe!

Life with CP is limiting and even though we find a way to do stuff that I want to do, it’s not easy like typical people who are able to just jump in the car and go. My state is in Phase 3 of reopening and I got my first non-essential, non-medical outing this week to my tattoo artists and chosen family to finish my Samoset kitty tattoo that was started before the outbreak and lockdown started. I was only able to do it because they locked the door and my husband and I were the only ones in there besides the artists. Masks were worn and sanitizer was used even more.

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Samoset tattoo by Todd Bass at Triphammer Carbondale.

Throughout this pandemic, I have been aware of all the different aspects of it. My mental health as well as others have suffered due to isolation, people are losing everything, suicide is up. There’s so much to this pandemic and it is so sad that some elected officials are not doing everything they can to prevent this from being so out of control.

I know children and parents are struggling. I think the best thing to do for children is to create routines that are flexible and, if they are old enough, allow them to have a say in the routines. And as I’m sure you have already heard, answer questions honestly but briefly depending on their age and development.

This is scary for the children too. They have lost a lot and they may not be able to understand why. So I have heard a lot of regression in children’s behaviors have been happening from parents. This is so hard because I know parents are stressed out too. I recommend reassuring the children and finding an activity such as meditation or reading or yoga to help calm stress and fear. This is not an easy time for anyone.

Now we have a horrible murder of a black man, George Floyd, that has set off protests and riots in the midst of a pandemic. It is so scary and sad. Racism has got to stop!

I used to say “all lives matter” and even wrote a blog post in which I used “All Lives Matter” for the title of the post that covered every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and, of course, children mattering.

Having a severe physical disability made me question, “what about other minorities?” I was a Republican slowly making my way towards Libertarianism at the time. I am now a Libertarian and while I still love Jesus, I’m no longer into mainstream Christianity anymore due to the legalism, bad church doctrine, and abuse, and hate.

I now understand the Black Lives Matter movement and right now this group of people desperately need our support, validation, and LOVE! Saying “all lives matter” doesn’t do this for black people who are hurting badly. Jesus immediately went to the people in desperate need no matter who they are. Jews didn’t hang around Samaritan people but Jesus did.

I know many Christians and conservatives won’t hear me because I was the same way about this topic and I had to figure it out for myself. But I am embarrassed by my ignorance even though I was trying to be fair and supportive and was trying to validate everyone but I was wrong. I support Black Lives Matter and peaceful protests except for the Coronavirus concern. I hope my story helps someone moving away from ignorance to validation and love over being “right.”

Our children are watching everything and need to be taught kindness and acceptance for all. There has also got to be a major change because most black families experience so much pain and violence in their lifetimes and parents of black children are even more likely to spank/hit and harshly punished because they fear that if they don’t teach strict obedience to authority that it could be their child that is murdered by a bad cop. But this spanking and hardship make the children more likely to act out and get into crime.

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And while police lives also matter, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many good cops of all races and they don’t deserve to suffer. On the other hand, white cops need to remember that at the end of the shift, they are like everyone else. But black people still have to deal with the racism and can’t hide from it.

Please be safe and get tested for Covid-19 if you participate in the peaceful protests and quarantine yourself because we can’t make change can’t happen if we’re sick and in the hospital or dead.

May we strive for kindness and love and create this in our children. May peace, love, and light reign in our world!

Cancer Free And Trauma…Plus Some Potty Training Tips

I haven’t been up to really writing this post even though as of January 2nd, our beliefs were finally confirmed after a biopsy, that I am indeed cancer free.

You see, except for mild pneumonia, from which I was able to recover at home, this was my first medical scare that required a hospitalization, a MRI under anesthesia, and a procedure in the OR all within 3 months.  Going to an oncologist also isn’t fun even though nobody ever really threw around the “C-word.”

This is unusual for people with severe cerebral palsy.  I’m very blessed to not have needed surgeries to fix joints and other things that can come with having severe or even mild cerebral palsy.

But after over 2.5 years of trauma due to the three major losses in our family, this pretty much sent us over the edge. I felt guilty at first for not being as happy that I was cancer free like everyone else because, for me (and my husband since he has to care and comfort me), it isn’t over.

Plus, because I’m unable to walk around like typical people and I have spasms, it takes me longer to physically heal.

As one of my good friends says, it’s actually satan-induced anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that I have.  They are not mine to own.  Going to the bathroom can still be scary for me.  Sometimes certain things that happen in the bathroom or in my body send me into a panic attack or PTSD episode.

I want to talk about PTSD for a moment especially with this recent school shooting.  As I said in my previous post, people in this society don’t take mental health issues seriously.  They worry about the physical well-being of people, and only and/or repeatedly argue about objects that hurt and murder people when they are in the wrong hands.  Keeping them out of the wrong hands is crucial but also almost impossible because if someone truly wants to do something bad, they will.

That’s the sad truth. So learning how the young mind works and about mental health issues is one of the best ways to stop some or most of these horrible tragedies.

What is PTSD?

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault” (American Psychiatric Association, 2017, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd).

This video also describes PTSD very well.

I am working very hard to overcome this. My abusive background doesn’t make it easy because there’s PTSD from that as well.  However, through medication, including medical marijuana, meditation, professional counseling, writing positive notes to remind myself of all that’s good in my life, my small support group, and spending time with the Lord, I am slowly getting better.

It’s quite a process and I have to learn to be okay with however long this takes.  I have to learn how to not berate myself every time I perceive a “setback.”  Even learning self compassion is extremely difficult for me.

Why?  Because I grew up with a dad who was abusive, and school personnel putting me down. Plus, my disability has occasionally been treated as a “burden.”  Or at least this is how I felt as a child sometimes.

Children are very sensitive to their parents.  Everything we say to them is ingrained into their brains FOREVER — even if we don’t think they are listening.

Potty training for children is one of those crucial times when parents either remain patient, compassionate, and encouraging or become angry, punitive, and sometimes even abusive.  In both cases, most parents mean well but some understand gentle parenting and the consequences of not being gentle while others do not.

Bathroom trauma is REAL.  I found this article to be very informative about bathroom trauma in children.  It’s so important that young children have positive associations with going to the bathroom.

Here’s what I tell parents regarding potty training their children:

*Wait until the child is showing interest in the bathroom to slowly introduce him/her to the potty.

*Let them lead the way.

*Read fun books about going potty.

*Let them pick out their new underwear.

*Give them plenty of choices for what potty they want to use.  Some children like the small, portable potty chairs and use them while watching tv or wherever they are most comfortable.  Other children want to use the toilet with a small seat on the toilet and a footstool to put their feet on.

*Allow them to experiment with going back and forth between diapers and underwear.

*Expect many accidents and don’t overreact.  After all, we ALL have accidents.

*Gently remind children to go potty many times as they are often so into what they’re doing that they miss the signals that they need to go until it’s too late.

*NEVER force potty training.  Don’t punish or reward them.  This shouldn’t make them feel as if their whole identity is contingent on being able to go potty. You may celebrate by doing the “potty dance,” saying, “Yay! You did it,” and giving high fives.

*Poop is the hardest for young children to master when it comes to potty training. Give them plenty of liquids to keep their stools soft. Hard, painful bowel movements often make young children (and even some adults) afraid to go to the bathroom and then they hold it too long.

*Be careful with flushing the toilet in front of the children. It could startle them. And children can view poop as “a part of them” for a while and will get very upset when it’s flushed down the toilet.  This won’t last long.

*Use correct terms for body parts.

*Make the potty routine fun.  Read books, splash and/or run water (it helps them pee), sing fun songs, have special “potty toys,” and do whatever else you can to make going potty as fun as possible.

*Finally, feel free to set limits on the type of talk and behaviors that are only for the bathroom.  Children don’t have filters and exploring new language and body parts is so fun and funny to them. Give them a safe, private place to do this.  This is an excellent time to also reiterate body consent and who may and may not touch certain body parts.

If these basic guidelines are followed by us, most children will master potty training by the age of four.  Please be gentle during the whole potty training process even if it’s really hard sometimes.

Having experience with PTSD, abuse, and trauma, I truly implore anyone reading this to place more importance on, and time into, creating healthy human beings from conception on. They are our future.

Every child and adult reacts to trauma in very different ways and that needs to be fully explored and parents should do their best to look for warning signs as should others in the community.  It still takes a village to raise children.

Mental illnesses usually are rooted in childhood trauma.  Here are two excellent books that explain how trauma can affect children:

The Boy who was Raised as a Dog by Dr. Bruce Perry.

Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley.

I truly believe that by respecting children from conception on and providing compassion to them in the worst of their moments is the way to a healthier—both physically and emotionally—society.  Compassion matters!

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Recent Horrific Child Abuse Cases

I am truly heartbroken by the recent cases of horrific child abuse. The parent of the most recent abuse case claimed that she just “spanked” and “disciplined” the children.

I’m sorry but hitting children, withholding food from children, locking and tying up children IS ABUSE!

I will NEVER stop advocating for the use of gentle parenting because even if these parents were truly trying to do their “best” with the children, there’s no way gentle parenting is ever abusive to children!

Everyone is always concerned about the physical health of these children and treat them accordingly, but people quickly forget the emotional trauma of abuse. These children will live with the emotional trauma for the rest of their lives.

I will write another blog post soon about my physical health issues and the trauma I am currently trying to work through. I have no doubt that my own history of being abused as a child has made it very difficult for me to work through other trauma, but I AM doing it and grateful for my support system.

I just had to condemn the recent abuse cases. It is NEVER okay to hurt children!

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