Depression, Suicide, and You

Another celebrity had killed themselves, causing everyone to debate about suicide. Some went off about the selfishness of his act while others point out that this is evidence that the mental health system in America needs to be better. Some discuss this in anger, “He’s rich and famous, what did he have to be depressed about.” Others fight back: “Money doesn’t solve everything and make you happy.” Then there is the “What about the kids?” I won’t engage in these arguments because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Another person lost their battle with depression and made a deliberate choice to end their life. Depression doesn’t care if you’re rich and famous or poor or a parent.

Mental illness is such a difficult battle that people struggle with. Even the most put together person you know may struggle with this in silence. Your best friend could be struggling with it in silence. The problem is that they struggle in silence. Even today with all of the PSAs and media dedicated to helping people, there is still such a stigma about struggling with any mental illness, whether it’s an anxiety disorder or depression. People who struggle with these things are led to believe that this somehow makes them weak. You’re not weak. In fact, I would argue that every day that you survive with these struggles actually makes you stronger than most. This does not mean that I view suicide as a weakness. I think it’s an end result of a battle that just could not be won.

I have witnessed the effects of suicide twice in my life. I have grappled with my feelings on it, personally feeling the ripples these types of events cause. When I was in high school, my cousin committed suicide. I remember how that event shook me. He had stopped by before it happened under circumstances that later should have occurred didn’t make sense. He used to pick up the soda cans and turn them in for some extra cash. He asked if we had any when I answered the door. I yelled down to my brother, asking if there were any. No. There were none. I wanted to get back to my art project I was working on and I was a dumb teenage girl. He stayed for a moment talking to me, hugged me, and left. Sometimes I remember this moment and he said he loved me. Other times I just remember that unique smile and wave as he left. I stood there waving goodbye. Sometime I think this death broke me. I never cried at a funeral since that one. There, I sobbed uncontrollably. My older brother put his arm around me when I did, trying to console me. There was no consolation. Years later, this is all so fresh in my head. He was an innocent. He was a kind soul and the world is worse off without him in it. He was arguably one of the nicest and coolest people I had ever known. Years later, I stood by as my husband’s family had to handle this same struggle.

You would think that I would believe there’s a heaven where they would be watching down on us. I was raised in CCD classes, in a religion that used to insist that this was a sin. If there were a heaven, sinners would not be in it. Though if there were a God, these two incredible people would still be with us. They should be with us. Our lives are significantly richer life knowing these two men.

I struggled with writing this, I admit. Are these things that I should talk about? What will people think? Do they think I am glorifying suicide? The reality is that my concern about writing this is really the problem. We should talk about it. Raising awareness for an illness like depression is just as important as it is for any other disease. It would be disingenuous to not talk about it, especially when it is something that admittedly haunts me. Simply telling a person who is depressed to get over it or it will get better is a meaningless attempt to fix someone. Spoiler alert: you can’t fix a person with anxiety or depression or any other mental illness. All of the medication and psych visits in the world can’t fix them. You can merely support them, accept them, and do whatever you can to make them feel loved and needed. Be there when they are sad as much as when they are happy. Make sure that they know you are here for them. Do everything in your power, even try to get help for them. However, just remember: Even then, it may not be enough. It is not your fault. Sometimes they just suffer in silence and it just happens. It is not your fault.

Advertisements

Loyalty is a Funny Word

What is loyalty? The definition of loyalty is as follows (from dictionary.com):

noun, plural loyalties.
1. the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
2. faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.
3. an example or instance of faithfulness, adherence, or the like:

a man with fierce loyalties.

The concept of loyalty is pretty simple to understand. If you are loyal to someone, you dedicate time and energy to be there for that person. You consider things based on the best interest of the person you are loyal to. A person really is only as good as their loyalty.

What inspired this? President Trump’s Twitter, of course. He tweeted out in one of his latest Twitter fits about Republican loyalty, saying “Some Republicans were loyal”. What is that supposed to mean? It means being loyal to the party, of course. This is the big problem here. Politicians do tend to be loyal to the party, on both sides of the aisle. However, should a politician be loyal to a party or the constituents that put them into office?

They need to be loyal to the American people. They need to not just be loyal to the people that voted them in; they need to consider the needs and wants of all of their constituents. They (We) are your bosses. We determine if you get another term in office. We are the ones that you should be concerned with, not your pockets or your party. So when a Republican stands up against a bill, maybe it’s a terrible bill. Maybe they realize that they are going to hurt more of their constituents than the current option. But by doing what’s best for their people is not being disloyal, they are doing their jobs.

The Republican party really had around 7 years to come up with something great. If they worked together for 7 years to create something amazing, this would not be happening right now. They would pass a bill because they wouldn’t be rushing it. This seems like when you are sitting in class and the teacher says “Don’t forget, you have your 10 page report due in 3 weeks” and you ignore it until they remind you “Don’t forget, your paper is due tomorrow”. Sometimes you get lucky and turn in something passable. Other times, you get the dreaded “See me after class”.

Is Obamacare perfect? Not even close, but name some bill that is. In some places, rates have risen and that’s a fact. In some places, they may not get access to some of the best choices as far as insurance plans go. The idea of mandating insurance seems logical, especially if that money goes back into helping to sustain programs like Medicaid and Medicare. The idea that insurance companies need to offer pediatric dental care in addition to medical care is great because not everyone can afford dental insurance for their kids. Not having to pay co-pays for yearly checkups encourages people to go to the doctor because they don’t have to worry about where the money is coming from. As much as there is that is good about the bill, there are a lot of things that could be a lot better. America deserves better. And this bill is not it.

Politicians really need to learn their place and where their loyalties should be. Democrats are not only creating laws and bills for Democrats and the same goes the other way around. There needs to be compromise and there needs to be collaboration. Without either, this country is only going to continue on this path of divisiveness that is only going to break us.

When Racism Attacks

This was not the post that should have happened today. You will get that one tomorrow. In fact, this was the post that I hoped I would never have to write. Sadly, it turns out that hoping was not enough to avoid this. The hope that the world is in a better place is full of disappointment.

On days when my oldest has baseball practice, we all pile in the car to go. We take this opportunity to let our youngest blow off all of that energy. It usually doesn’t work, but at least he has fun? Normally this is uneventful. Yesterday, it was not. To preface this story, this playground is a very diverse one. Off all places, I certainly would not have thought my youngest son’s first brush with racism would be here. I was actually hoping it never would happen, but deep down I knew it was going to happen eventually. But I definitely did not expect it to happen here, at 4 years old, at the hands of a little girl a few years older.

This little girl was playing Frisbee, so naturally Georgie wanted to join in. George is a very sweet and friendly child, everyone who meets him seems to just love him. So being 4 at a park, he tried to join in. Then it happened. “No! I’m not playing with you, Chinese boy.” George was hurt by this and started to cry. We were appalled and very pissed by this. However, George thankfully didn’t realize the true scope of what just happened. He was sad because the girl didn’t let him play. We didn’t expect it because the girl (who was white) was playing with another girl (who was not). But alas, here we are. While calming George down, it was made very clear and loudly that some kids were not raised to have manners and he was immediately removed from the park.

I am not sure if my husband was more mad about the situation itself or the fact that she got the wrong Asian country. Either way, it’s bad but apparently it stings all the more when it isn’t even the right nationality. It seems that being called the wrong nationality is offensive across the board. I couldn’t relate to the situation; I’m a white girl who grew up and currently lives in a middle class neighborhood. I have never experienced racism nor have I ever participated.  I was raised better than that. My husband, on the other hand, is half-Korean. He grew up with this. Even today, he has to deal with racial slurs being tossed his way. I am offended about this for my son’s sake; my husband is offended and completely understands the situation. Thankfully, George didn’t understand this time. But what happens next time?

I don’t blame the little girl. This is something that she would’ve learned from her parents. I blame them entirely for somehow, whether purposefully or inadvertently, teaching her that this type of behavior was perfectly acceptable. I knew this was going to happen to him eventually as we still live in a culture where racism is somehow deemed acceptable. Too many people think that racism is eradicated or that now only white people are victims of racism. No one is safe and this problem is only going to get worse.

I spent a lot of time looking at my son after this. I never really saw him as an “Asian” boy. We make sure that he knows he is Korean, bringing up on the culture and food, but that this is not what defines who he is. He may be Korean, but ultimately he is just my little Georgie. I didn’t notice the unique pale of his skin or the adorable semi-almond shape of his eyed, these little subtleties that I just thought made him absolutely adorable are the things that this world is going to focus on whenever they see him. I hugged my baby so long yesterday, apologizing to him for the harsh realities of his future.

I was not prepared for this. I hoped I’d never have to be ready for this, but here we are. I may not be able to understand the pain of being picked on for my race, but I certainly know that I have to start educating myself on how to handle this when he can understand. I hope this is a one time thing, but I have this sick feeling in my stomach that this is not the last time. It will probably happen when I’m not around to protect him or he’s too old for me to cuddle this away. Our culture needs to change. We need to be better. Our children are depending on us.

When It Comes to Your Children

Children are unique beings. You can even look at your children and pick out some of their differences from their siblings. You may even find that your children are complete opposites of one another. This is the exact place that my boys are in. For instance, my oldest is this sweet and patient child. He was always curious, but very timid. He was calm and rarely found himself in trouble. Even now, he is a child that is well-regarded by every adult who meets him. And how can they not? He is very polite around them and speaks articulately to them as if he is a little adult. In fact, he may very well be an adult stuck in a very small teenager’s body. (I still cannot believe that I have to refer to him as a teenager.)

My youngest, on the other hand, makes other people tired just watching him. He is the definition of “trouble”. He’s curious, adventurous, and very, very willful. He is definitely not calm and he is nowhere near patient. Still, much like his brother, every adult that meets him falls instantly in love with him. He’s not a bad kid. He just requires a little bit more love and attention than other kids. In his 4 years on this planet, I have gone through situations I had never been through before. He needed surgery at 9 months old to remedy a birth defect. He was the first child to require special services at home, with a speech pathologist and a developmental specialist. I have to deal with IEP meetings and teacher conferences. This is the important point to this post.

In 2 weeks, we will have a meeting for his IEP, transition to Kindergarten, and if he stays in the program. We will also talk about his recent evaluation which revealed George to have a sensory integration disorder, something that sounds a lot worse than it actually is, and how the schools need to adjust to his needs. We will find out if he still gets speech therapy in grade school. We will find out if he still has an IEP. These are important things to know because with things like the IDEA act in question right now (who knows what is going to happen especially with plans to get rid of the department that is responsible for enforcing this act). Will my child continue to get the help that he needs?

Without the help that he has received, which fortunately I never had to fight for, will he thrive as well as he has? He’s a bright 4 year old that may still be behind on his speech but he can read. He is exactly the type of kid that would have once been left behind by the school system because he’s different. Realistically, he is a child that would have just been tossed in a special needs classroom in the past and forgotten. Which is a shame because he is a very bright child that if they could just get him to focus and settle down, he could go on to do great things in the future.

What is the point of this whole statement? There are a lot of things that charter schools and private schools do well, but when it comes to children like mine they are not the best places for them. These are schools that are best for children that fit in a specific mold and are not different. There is a place for public schools and there are a lot of great public school districts (like mine, for instance) that are going to suffer if they start losing money. Some districts need help to change to become better schools but that should be something to focus on rather than punishing the school districts who are thriving. When you start to take money from the schools that offer services to children in need (such as IEP students), there is a strong chance that these kids will lose these services. These children will be forgotten again. This is what I’m afraid of. When it comes to our children, sometimes we are the only ones who are willing to fight so we need to be their biggest advocates and put on the gloves.

When You Don’t Agree

Things seem to only be getting worse these days. Rather than reasonable discussions, if someone doesn’t automatically agree with another person they are labeled terms like “Libtard” or some other term that really should not be in existence. Being a liberal does not make you an idiot automatically, much like being a Republican does not make you a racist. There are idiots and racists on both sides; I assure you this is a fact. There are a lot of idiots everywhere and political affiliation has nothing to do with that. There are a lot of smart and talented people who are Republican as there are Democrats and Independents.

With the weather, the blog was delayed for a week but it turns out there is nothing new. America is growing even more divided and facts are few and far between. All there is right now is speculation, conspiracy theories, and mudslinging that everyone should be ashamed of. A person thinks that if you feel that instead of cutting free lunch programs (much like my school system offers, though they also offer free breakfast), that maybe the president should take less weekend trips to his Florida estate. Another person says that person is a liberal idiot who doesn’t know anything. Who is right? One could argue that the person who spells out facts and numbers would be right and the one who automatically turns to insulting the other is wrong. But it doesn’t matter.

Maybe this is done on purpose. Maybe the political parties want us to be divided and disagree so fervently that they can more easily control us. They each have their own media that brainwashes the masses, telling them that they cannot trust any other news source. If you turn to Fox News, you’re just a dumb conservative that follows blindly. Watching MSNBC? You are nothing more than a lemming. There has to be a reason for this and I will resign to there being some grand conspiracy that is going on. Maybe that television show “Braindead” had it right.

If that is the case, we are quickly falling into the hands of the people that want to control through a level of anarchy and discord that can only be achieved by not condemning this stubbornness to have a rational discussion among adults. I was always taught that people turn to insults in arguments because they have no valid point or because they are wrong and want to distract you from that.

We are better than this. We are the country that once stood proud and tall and those days are sadly no longer. We are being ruined from within and we are just sitting idly by while it happens. Don’t let anyone take the facts away from you. We are still a free country and you should do your research to decide things for yourself. The minute you let anyone else tell you what to believe, you have given in.

All About Healthcare

There are very serious questions that we should be asking. As a resident of Massachusetts, I haven’t experienced any negative impacts on my daily life from ACA. I notice that I don’t have co-pays anymore for visits and no, I’m not on a Medicaid program. We pay for our insurance through my husband’s work. Our premiums have not skyrocketed to a point where we can’t afford it. Maybe it is because Massachusetts along with ACA that makes healthcare something that I don’t really have to worry about. But I do have questions that should be answered.

  1. Currently under Obamacare, health insurance companies are required to provide dental insurance to minors. Does this stay with Trump care? This is a question that should be answered because there are families that cannot afford separate dental insurance. I am fortunate enough because we also get dental insurance through my husband’s work but this still makes things easier on us. For instance when my oldest son needed more sealants, we were going to have to pay $200 after our dental insurance. However, that money was paid for by the dental insurance through our health insurance. That extra money matters when you are in that middle class limbo where you don’t get free things or extra tax breaks.
  2. Can we safely assume that birth control is no longer free? There are some people who actually require this for health purposes. If you are going to close down Planned Parenthood which offers affordable options and don’t have plans to make these medications more affordable, then this is a problem that needs to be addressed.
  3. What happens if you lose your job? Instead of a mandate for those who refuse to buy insurance, they are going to to punish people who lapse in insurance. The problem is what happens if you lose your job and you lose your insurance along with it? You have no job so you can’t buy private insurance and they are really going to make it more difficult to get Medicaid. Then when you finally do get a job, you’ll have to pay 30% more for it. This seems like a tax on the less fortunate population.
  4. What about co-pays? Right now you don’t have to pay co-pays for preventative care. This means that you are not going to pay $25 a pop for your physicals which may give some the incentive to actually go. I know I go to my regular checkups more that I don’t have to worry about paying for it. This means a healthier population. I do believe this also counts for pregnancy, saving women at least $200 that they will not have to worry about when it comes time for their hospital stay that will cost in the $10,000s.

These are only a few of the questions that I have about this new plan that no one seems interested in mentioning. There is a big problem with healthcare that no one seems to want to directly address: the costs. I have no heard any plan that says “yes, paying $200 for a pill of Ambien while you are in the hospital is ridiculous”. What about the big mess with insulin meds or the Epi-Pen? Maybe we should mistrust politicians since they don’t want to fix the problem because then they won’t get their payoffs for helping these big companies profit off of the people who can least afford it.

A Love of Facts

That is really what is missing in the world today: facts. With outrageous “news” organizations like InfoWars, BreitBart, Occupy Democrats, and the many other so-called news organizations out there, people don’t bother with facts. When I read a headline that strikes my interest on any topic, I immediate Google the information and search to see if any other reputable news sites have any information on the topic. If not, I assume it was just a fictitious story that was created for the sole purpose of pandering to their masses or to incite some fake outrage. If I do find that the story is something that is real, I read several different websites (CNN, Fox News, local news websites, etc.) to find out everything about it. I’m smart; I know each of these organizations are going to toss me an angle rather than the whole story, purposely omitting something to twist it to match their own agenda. Then I decide for myself, as a free-thinking individual what is likely the facts because I don’t trust anyone to just tell me what facts are. Everyone has an agenda.

When the whole thing erupted with Hillary, I was skeptical of the timing and wondered if it was more political than facts. Then the facts came out and you think, “well, that was dumb of her” and “how is she able to run for president after doing something that sketchy”. I like facts. Facts proved that she did do something wrong, whether it was in the gray area or fully illegal, she definitely did something wrong.

If you are going to rattle off any type of accusation, you better have proof. You cannot just say something like “Obama wiretapped me, Breitbart said so” and have that be a fact. You can however say, “I was wiretapped, as president I have definitive proof right here”, then show us the results of the wiretapping. Isn’t it as easy as that? Unless there is no wiretapping and he is just trying to divert the attention from the mess that is going on right now. If there are facts, they need to be released to the public so they can actually be outraged and then address how to handle what happened by legal action.

I have a big mistrust for people who just rattle off information for the purpose of outrage without backing it up with anything. Facts are everything and every day, facts are becoming less important to our daily lives. People just follow along like sheep, not caring about those pesky little details other people call “facts” (or alternative facts, as some will point out). The reason this still goes on is because we allow it to. Don’t just follow; educate yourself. Read as much news from the more reputable of websites as possible and please, please do not just read one website and call yourself educated. Opinion pieces are often masked by “reporting the news” rather than straight up facts. That is why it is so important to read everything.