Full Stop: Tales of an ADHD Adult in Maine

This is one of those times where I am wondering if I should be saying what I am about to say because people may talk and and all that jazz, but I'm writing it anyway because stigma is bullshit and not talking about it only adds to the shame so many of us deal with when it comes to mental health issues. It's one thing to tell someone we love to be proud of themselves for talking about the hard stuff, publicly or not, and quite another to believe of and for ourselves. 

I stopped writing here and talking about mental health and body image issues and even the funny stuff a while back. I know why, and the short story is that I need to verify that the jar of fucks I've got is empty again. For a while, it wasn't. And that sucked. 

Let me give you the cliff notes version: I am a life-long recovering bulimic, will always have body image issues, and have severe ADHD with anxiety and depression wrapped up in that pretty little package. This is reality. It's as real a part of my identity as are my kinky curls and my fear of spiders. Please don't tell me that labels are bad because to me labels are roadmaps helping me navigate the unfamiliar terrain that comes with each new day. I like my labels. Labels are answers to questions I didn't know I had for far too long. 

ADHD. Anxiety. Depression. Bulimia. Recovery. Me. That's the nutshell. My anxiety and depression are controlled, for the most part, when my ADHD is controlled. All hell breaks loose when that first domino falls. That's me knowing myself. Plain and simple. 

Moving on...

Here's the deal. I'm here. But I'm not. I'm unmedicated and have been for a very long time. My therapist asked why I'm not on medication when she says I should be, and then confirmed its very hard to get treated as an ADHD adult in the state of Maine. This makes me sort of sad I sucked at chemistry in high school while highlighting a very probable cause for why Maine is in the running for Meth House Capital of America, necessity being the mother of invention, and all that. 

I'm A big advocate of natural remedies, but sometimes it's not enough. You can't tell a depressed person to try harder at not being sad any more than you can tell a person with cancer to walk it off and stop being such a fucking pansy. And I can't make my brain work the same way a non-ADHD brain works just because I want it to. (And trust me...I really, really want it to.) Thankfully, my therapist pays attention and has recommended a psych evaluation with the hopes that said evaluating doctor recognizes what she has. Doctors are gun-shy about prescribing any controlled medications with tight state regulations, which makes me jealous of my ADHD friends living Not in Maine, but there is still hope with this route. This means that I can only dream about being able to stop a panic attack in its tracks until I get a new prescription for anxiety medication, and that sucks. 

The thing about ADHD is it's not just a punchline. It's not just forgetting things. It's not just being flighty and late for everything. The doctor who diagnosed me, who also has ADHD, told me that the condition is very similar to bipolar in that we have ups and downs, but on a much lesser extreme.  My up is creativity and short bursts of focus and the ability to not only put the laundry in the washer, but to take it out, load the dryer, fold, and put it away. My down is depression and sensory overload and Full Stop. I can't focus so the little things pile up and the pile doesn't stay little for very long and then it's big and bigger and biggest and because I can't focus on any one thing, I don't do any of it. And that sucks.

I'm not blogging. I'm barely writing. I can't stay focused. I don't have many friends up here. It takes everything to do the smallest thing and I'm weeks and months behind myself on everything. I'm adding supplements and working out and avoiding alcohol and sugar and everything I can find I'm supposed to do outside of medication and it's helping... but it's not enough. It hasn't been for a year now. 

If I owe you something, I'm trying to get it done. If I promised you something, I intend to follow through. I'm just everywhere right now instead of able to focus on the things I'm supposed to get done. I'm really trying. I may be behind. But I haven't forgotten. 

So. That's what's up. 

(Also yes, I'm wearing a jacket. It's 31 degrees and snowing in May. Because Mother Nature can't get her fucking mood stabilizers up here, probably.)

(Also also my hair is fabulous. But thanks for saying so, anyway.)

(Also squared, I just looked. My jar of fucks is, indeed, empty. This is good. Fucks (read: the noun form) always fuck (read: slang verb form) a good essay.))

That hair, though...

That hair, though...

The Hastags Explained: #Latism14 & #TopBlogueras

  topbloguera

I'm not on a plane right now on the way to an event I've been looking forward to since last year. Turns out that sometimes it actually is just too hard to get from Point A to anywhere involving a plane when Point A is smack in the middle of nowhere.

#MexicaninMaine. That's me, remember? I am defined by the hashtags I have created to suit me.

#Dimelo. For the name of my Latina Magazine advice column.

#ChingonaFest. For my growing community and podcast supporting the spirit of the Latina women and our desire to raise the next generation to always celebrate their voices and their spirit.

#BitchRedefined. For the non-Latinas finding themselves drawn to the ChingonaFest community. I get it. I'm hyphenated and usually straddling the tightrope between both halves of my identity, never quite standing still long enough on either side to catch my balance. My Spanish is too choppy to be considered fluent and my English spoken in the same rapid-fire rhythm of the language I once didn't realize I thought in. My skin brown enough to arouse curiosity because What Are You seems to be considered an appropriate question to ask a perfect stranger while checking out the asparagus. My hair kinky curly enough for the person asking to step back, grin, and tell me that I do not fit their perception of who and what I claim to be. No way, they say. You're mixed, right?

I used to not know how to answer that question. Of course not, I'd think. I'm Mexican. That's what I'd want to say, but it felt like I was denying the unknown. I see my hair. I see my body. I know that when I tell people which area of Mexico my maternal grandfather was from, the asker will sometimes nod knowingly because they've now matched my appearance to the other side of the tracks in their minds' eye. Now, I just raise an eyebrow in silent warning to step away from the line in the sand. I may raise it higher and ad an eye-roll if the asker misses the first hint. Should they miss both, I feel justified in responding with many words considered inappropriate for mothers shopping with their little girls to be using. I'm not worried. My daughter is brilliant and is perfectly aware of the words Mommy uses verbally and in my writing and -- yes, I am bragging here -- she even knows which ones she is not allowed to repeat until she's paying her own rent.

I am mixed. Every Mexican is. And I live in Maine. Not every Mexican does that. In fact, I'm pretty damned sure I am the the first ever in my family to own a pair of snowshoes. That makes Eliana the second. Paths are being forged, my friends. We are pretty fucking fabulous at falling. That means we are even better at picking ourselves up.

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#SheSePuede. Because I can. Because I believe she can. Because we all can. Because I have to remind myself of my strength and pull myself up from the dark places that never have enough chocolate just as often as you do and because I know I always will. Don't be fooled by my resume. I will never have the five steps to unfailing happiness and self-acceptance because I am my history and my history is the Spanglish version of My So-Called Life. What I do have is a stubborn streak. I am bull-headed. I am determined. I am a realist. And a dreamer. I know I will fall again. I know I will pick myself back up. I share that because this is where we connect and relate and why it won't seem strange when we meet in person and squee and hug like we have known each other forever and really, in a way, we sort of have. So it's okay.

I'll be missing many hugs and Spanglish-lovin' this week as many of my friends and colleagues travel to Anaheim, CA. for the #Latism14 conference. I already am missing the party before the party I still can't believe I was invited to when I was named a Top Bloguera. I am honored and humbled and in need of a thesaurus, and I truly wish the four hours between me and the airport weren't an issue. The extra plane ticket I would have needed to buy for my daughter that just wasn't in the budget didn't help matters. One door opens. Maybe it closes. Another appears. I wish but I'm not. I am not but I was. And the sun will rise again. 1 of 100 selected of 400 applications. I suck at math an am easily impressed, but I still like what I see here.

I'll still be a badass. You'll still be a badass. And my daughter will still be working on my last nerve and saving my sanity at the last minute with a giggle and a smile. Thank you, Ana Roca-Castro. Thank you for today's reason to smile when you reminded us all that even if not at the retreat, the title is still ours to hold on to.

#TopBloguera. This is the one for which I thank you, my dear friends and readers. Because you read and you support and you share the words I write because we did that relating thing. Thank you. Let's do more of that, okay?

From Nothing

 

I tried planning ahead this year. Working from home while homeschooling and trying to keep up with the laundry usually means everything is last minute and so many things get pushed off until tomorrow. Or the next day. And then the day after that. I had planned to met my deadlines a week early and enjoy this week with my little family and some close friends. The house was going to be clean and the Christmas menu set and the food prepared so all I had to worry about was what to do with the leftovers.

We never got to that part.

I got the flu. The kind that came out of nowhere and hit my like a frat party hangover. Suddenly the world was spinning and my head was too heavy for my neck to lift. I sat there breathing slow and shallow breaths like the kind usually reserved for labor pains. The column I had started working on was put on hold as The Husband silently took away the Macbook and I shuffled off to bed. Tomorrow, I told myself. One day wouldn't change anything.

Three days later I was still sleeping more than I was conscious, burning up even when the thermometer didn't register a temp. Every breath felt like fire in my lungs. My body ached. The Husband took to sleeping in Eliana's room on her tiny little twin bed, hoping ti avoid the plague, while my little shadow crawled into our big queen and snuggled up next to me every evening. "I'm taking care of you," she told me. "Don't worry. I'll hug you all night so you feel better."

By focusing on me, she was letting herself forget the suitcase she had packed in her room. The one full of randomly selected clothing and toys and even her toothbrush and toothpaste for her "trip" to see her Guela in Detroit. My mom had moved with us to Tucson when Eliana was 18 months old and lived with us for three years. When she moved out, Eliana was lost, but the presence of a very close-knit friendship circle did wonders for soothing her anxieties. Then we moved again and this time, Eliana was old enough to miss those we left behind and want so very badly to wave a magic wand and instantly recreate something out of nothing in our new home. Northern Maine is beautiful. We love it. But it can also be a little lonely when it's time to explain to a child that making friends takes time. Making friends that become family takes even longer.

So she packed her suitcase and pretended she was taking a magic airplane to see her grandma and would be back on Christmas morning in time to open gifts. I was the flight attendant. Her daddy was the cab driver. And then for the entire day before I got sick, I was my mother and our home became her home and I wished so very badly for Santa to fit a new friend-family under our tree. And then I couldn't move without the world spinning and her make-believe was forgotten because Mama had the flu and Daddy was either working or trying to help out when he got home and she dealt with it by comforting herself by comforting me and I love her for it.

Day four was better. I was able to get out of bed. The world was still again. My body ached and I moved slowly, but I was out of the woods and still planned to get those fucking deadlines met and out of the way. We were going to make cookies, dammit. And drive around to see Christmas lights. And play board games and listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate. And then on my birthday, we were going to drive the two hours to Bangor for the sales and a movie and a birthday dinner. That was the plan. Then the plan changed again.

Both Eliana and The Husband got knocked senseless by the same flu I had just weathered. My laptop sat open and waiting as the laundry piled up and the sink over-filled with mugs from tea with honey and hot toddies and broth. I didn't shower because I was too busy shoveling snow, carrying more logs inside to keep both woodstoves piping hot for heat, and making sure my husband and daughter stayed hydrated. I took their temperatures and grabbed my keys to drive to Walmart for Nyquil for The Husband and more albuterol for Eliana's nebulizer and learned I wasn't going anywhere until I shoveled away the snow the plow driver had piled four feet high against the garage door.

Christmas did happen, though. They opened their gifts from the sofa bed. Santa was nice this year, even if he didn't get a chance to tackle that last request from me. Eliana was well enough to get out of bed and play with her new toys but the suitcase stayed packed because she's not done imagining her grandmother closer.  And The Husband apologized for not being able to take me out for my birthday. I told him to shut up and just feel better.

Today was my birthday. I spent it taking care of my patients and picking up more prescriptions. We ate leftovers and the sink is still full and the laundry untouched. Then I made homemade pumpkin ice cream floats and they sang Happy Birthday to me before our ice-cream melted and we watched Mary Poppins and my laptop sat, waiting just a while longer, while plans were ditched in favor of The Moment that was right there for us to grab on to.

"I'm sorry about your birthday," The Husband told me before he dragged himself back to bed.

"Don't be," I told him. "We're together."

More Solicited Advice with #LatinoProblems

Today is going to be short and sweet. Too much to do and too little time makes me wish I could wax poetic like Schmutzie more often than not. And I'll be honest; I'm not too sure NaBloPoMo is helping me in that area, either. I might be posting more often but the trade off is the time I manage to stockpile for the poetic waxing of words when I'm not in a mad rush to post and promote on a daily basis just to be able to chalk off another win. That being said, on with the show.

Last time I was in New York to record my #LatinoProblems advice segment for Latino USA, I happened to stop by Latina Magazine offices to schmooze with my fab editor, Damarys Ocana, and get my head shot taken for the magazine's contributor page. No one seemed surprised when I walked in wearing my Wonder Woman gear. It's like they know me, or something.

And now? My Wonder-Womaned self is on the Latino USA web page listed as a Futuro Media Group contributor promoting the latest #LatinoProblems segment on the show. Take a listen. Beth says I sound brilliant. I kind of like Beth.

 

Hashtag: #LatinoProblems

 

While at Latism13, I had the chance to speak to a roomful of 100 influential Latina powerhouses on my transition from blogger to columnist. The transition is actually more like Newspaper Reporter to Freelancer Who Couldn't Remember to Invoice Clients to Didn't Go Back to Work After Baby to Stir-Crazy to Blogging is a Thing? to Columnist, but who's keeping track, anyway?

Writers are a unique lot, I told the Top Blogueras. We are the most vain about the words we share (or we wouldn't share them to begin with) and the most insecure about the words we share (because validation is always a necessity).

And I saw quite a few heads nodding in a agreement. They know.

The longer I'm at it, the less insecure I am about new words written about old topics already discussed. Give me a new topic and I might hesitate (Ok, I will hesitate) a bit, but I'm still hitting publish because at the end of the day it's the voice expressed in the written word that I am most confident in. That's exactly why it took me until after 11 p.m. last night to listen to my debut radio segment (in partnership with Latina Magazine) on Latino USA.

At least, I think that was the reason. Maybe I was just afraid I'd sound like a man?

Either way, I listened and I loved it. Loved the questions and the experience replaying itself in my head as I translated the editing into the full recording session in the halls of the Waldorf Astoria. I smiled because I know my 6-year-old was sitting right next to me for at least one of those questions, snuggling in quietly while I dispensed advice to conference-goers because it was Friday and after five days of non-stop craziness, she was ready to go home.

Take a listen. I've been told I sound Awesome by People Who's Opinions I Respect so it must be true.

Did you listen yet?

A Recap told in Captions: #Latism13

Cantando con Orgullo: Singing with Pride

I know....I speak Spanish kind-of-sort-of-fluently and the Spanish word for Pride has always thrown me for a loop. But that's not why I'm here today.

I'm here to sing. Sing badly and with pride.

You see, there's been a lot of flack being thrown at Latinos singing a pretty little song called God Bless America. I wrote about that here in my weekly online Dimelo column on Latina magazine's website. One company, Bebe Lanugo, has decided to make some noise by encouraging American Latinos and their families to join in on their Cantando con Orgullo initiative and I happen to love the idea. I wrote about that one here, too.

Now, it seems I may have missed the boat on submitting my contribution to Bebe Lanugo for inclusion in the final video so I'm going with plan B and embarrassing myself (proudly, thank you very much) right here.

Eliana loved learning the words to God Bless America. And I'll explain to her a little later why being Patriotic with a Tan caused a public uproar to begin with. For now, we focus on being proud to be American because that's all that really matters.

Because Every Writer Needs an Entourage

I'm at that weird place where I'm finding myself at a loss for what to post here. This space used to be my only outlet after leaving the newsroom to stay home with Eliana six years ago. Now, the soapboxes I once stood on and the She Said WHAT stuff that once were automatic blog fodder are now the columns and commentaries that I save for Latina. It's not a bad problem to have, I know. And I'm grateful for it.

Last week, The Husband, Eliana, and I packed up the truck at drove over seven hours from northern Maine to Stamford, Connecticut, where we caught a train to the Grand Central Harlem station. the purpose of the trip was two-fold and one of those folds I can't tell you about...yet. The other was to finally go the the Latina Magazine offices and meet the amazing staff and my favorite editor in person. We Did Lunch while The Husband took Eliana to FAO Schwartz to dance on the giant piano, and the next day we packed up to hop on the train for home.

 

It was exhausting. And except for the projectile vomit thing that happened in Massachussettes on the way home that forced a hotel stop for Eliana to rest (and us to clean out the truck), it was amazing.

Eliana and The Husband were invited to visit the Latina office with me. I loved that. So did they.

 

And then we drove hours and hours to our little sanctuary so far north I'm no longer impressed by the fact that Stephen King lives in Bangor. i'll be back in New york soon enough. But it's good to be home.

A Text Message to My Mother

Hey Mom. Sorry I missed you today on Skype. We were going to call this morning but Eliana had an important hula hooping lesson. It went well. And we really like the instructor.

I figured we'd call later but then we had a surprise day out when a friend called to invite me and Eli to the Potato Festival. Eli got to walk in the doll parade with her Pip, her Bitty Baby, and got to climb inside a tractor, turn on the lights in a state trooper's patrol car, and flip the siren on in a policeman's car.

She ran barefoot in the rain with her friends for hours and stood in line for the homemade piñata a new friend brought with her.

She asked to listen to the country band and ran up to interrupt the singer to request a Toby Keith song and they made her smile when they started the next song.

I got to leave with 2 lobsters for $18 because the rain made for a smaller crowd. I'm not complaining.

Thank you, God and Small Town America.

When we got home, Eliana got in the tub to wash off the mud and then invited me to a sleepover at my "house" in the basement room. Tomorrow morning I get to go to her place for breakfast and grown up talk about our writing and going to New York because that's what writers do. We might even use the rainbow we saw as inspiration for a story. She says it depends on her mood.

It was a long day. I'm exhausted. The laundry didn't get touched and the sink is full of dishes. But it was amazing. I need more days like this.

Love you and sweet dreams.

 

 

 

A Thank You to Otterbox

 

I'm talking about the case on my iPhone, y'all. It's pretty spiffy, yes?

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I am brutal on my electronics. I blame gravity, but The Husband insists gravity had nothing to do with me spiking my last 4s on the kitchen floor hard enough to render the protection of  the previous Otterbox case I had on it utterly useless. I was left with a shattered phone screen and only didn't lose my shit because Apple Care is a Thing.

While waiting for my replacement phone to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised with a tweet from Otterbox inviting me to choose a new case on their site. No strings attached and no requirement to blog or instagram or tell you why Otterbox kicks serious customer service ass. Just a very nice gesture, a replacement case for my replacement phone, and me spreading the social media Otterbox love-fest because this is how I say thank you.

...Sincerely, 30something & Premenopausal in Maine

 

 

This is one of those times where I really have no fucking clue how to begin. So I'll start there. Because it's honest. And because I'm still trying to buy the time to figure out  a way to explain the last 15 years in something that doesn't rival The Canterbury Tales in length and words that needs a dictionary for translation into modern English.

Anyone who has been reading my blog  and/or Girl Body  Pride regularly will know I have openly spoken about ADHD, eating disorders, body image issues, food allergies, and a host of other ailments that leave people wondering how one individual can be this fucked up. If you follow me on instagram or pinterest, you'll have seen my on again/off again allergy rash pictures that turned my face and neck into a burning pink chin beard no amount of make up is ever going to hide.

Eliana, now six, came to us with the help of fertility treatments and I still consider her a miracle baby with all of the issues that, individually, could have kept me from ever giving birth. The pregnancy itself was a nightmare. I was on bed rest at five months, suffered from debilitating and full-term hyperemis gravidarum (which is akin to being forced to survive your worst college hangover on a tilt-o-whirl for nine straight months), and was induced early due to pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was 200/100 when I was just a hair shy of the 37 weeks at which a pregnancy is considered full term. My midwife didn't pull any punches when she told me the baby and I could die if I had done anything other than nod my head stupidly and get to the hospital.

It's important to note the linear here, because all the Before and Since I Was Pregnant issues -- every single one -- can be linked back to progesterone deficiency individually, which is significant. Even more so is the fact that my list of combined symptoms is nearly identical to those Google searches were kicking back while The Husband and I did our research. It's what we do when mainstream medicine waves me off with a dismissive hand and orders to eat less and exercise more because my fat ass obviously isn't trying hard enough. Not that he needs another reason to rub in the fact that he was right (again), The Husband single-highhandedly proved a case for the testing that resulted in my insulin resistance, hypothyroid, and PCOS diagnoses. Every instance had a contrite doctor apologizing profusely for being an overconfident asshole who hadn't bothered treating the patient because the symptoms and the charts are what they know.

You'd think me telling them something was being missed because I still felt "off" would account for something, but y0u'd be wrong. It's not like I know my body or anything.

I'm 35 now. I was 12 when I started my period and missed a few days of school each month because it was just that bad. Heavy. Horrible. Cramps that kept me in bed because standing up meant throwing up. I gained 50 pounds in six months when I was 21, going from a healthy and athletic size 10 and 150 pounds to Hello, Lane Bryant and trying to pretend I didn't weigh more than my 6'1'' husband. That's the same year I had a nine-month long period and found out I was hypothyroid (after insisting on a test because the doctors didn't think I needed it, of course). Since then, I've added insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, and a miles-long list of food allergens including wheat, gluten, grains, soy, all dairy and egg products and byproducts to the list of reasons I pray Eliana inherited her daddy's superhero penchant for health.

I have leaked breast milk from my left breast since I was a high school teenager and eventually learned the microadenoma -- a small tumor on my pituitary gland -- was producing enough prolactin to make my body think it's continuously pregnant. Can you say Irony Much?

I've dealt with monthly rash flare ups so severe they once covered my entire body and were so painful I couldn't get dressed, high blood pressure tied to my hormonal fluctuations and allergic reactions, and debilitating PMS nausea that is eerily similar to the hyperemisis I experienced while pregnant. Just yesterday I used the phrase "two and one" in a coded conversation with a new doctor to refer to the two unconfirmed miscarriages and one full term pregnancy to my name because Eliana was in the room, listening to our every word. And I've watched, horrified, as I lost clumps of my shoulder-length hair in the shower so thick that the hair itself actually kept the water from draining. And I've said "fuck it", when I had so little left that my only choices were to buy really expensive wigs or just grab the scissors and chop and shape and chop some more until I found the pixie cut.

I needed that. I needed to feel like I had some control left.

Doctors weren't listening to me because I didn't fit in one neat little box. And when they did, they didn't know what to do or what to look for. The fact that all of my symptoms were directly tied to my cycle had one specialist recommend a hysterectomy just six months after I had my daughter. His diagnosis? Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis. Translation? The doctor thought I was allergic to my own progesterone hormone. The diagnosis was given a boost when we tried for another round of fertility treatments and I broke out in hives and promptly lost most of my hair. But no one wants to take the hit for a hysterectomy on a 30-something-year-old woman. Doctors hedged and passed me on from one specialist to the next in the hopes that someone else would just do it, already. But no one ever did. And I finally got tired enough of all of the bullshit to pony up the cash for a naturopath and my salvation.

We were still living Arizona when I met Dr. Nicole and Dr. Justin at Modern Elixir. The Taylors fixed me, you guys. They diagnosed my ADHD, sent me to my nurse practitioner for an epi pen after they diagnosed me with my Worst Dinner Guest Ever list of food allergies missed by every doctor that came before them, and, most importantly, they didn't stop at the symptoms.

They went for the cause.

It was Dr. Nicole who first brought up the fact that she believed I wasn't allergic to my progesterone, but rather, deficient and in need of major supplementation. It took a bit of convincing -- and a lot of research to verify I had reacted to the medical preservative in the progesterone used during the botched fertility treatments and not to the progesterone itself -- but she did it. And it only took a about 2 days of progesterone supplementation to realize it was working.

My rash cleared up. My bloating went away. My never-ending appetite finally ended. My crazy food sensitivities lessened just enough to make me feel normal. It was amazing.

I'm still working on getting myself on track. There's so much to figure out and so much to come to terms with.

What I can say now is that I'm thankful for my husband for disregarding what I once took as gospel and looking for answers. I'm grateful to the doctors who listened to me and treated me as an individual. And I find myself staring at my daughter more often now, totally in awe of the fact that she's here and that she's perfect.

I'm also pissed off that all of the signs were ignored for so long because I was too young for the symptoms to "make sense". I'm pissed that I had to go "alternative" because "mainstream" means I'm the fat chick who is to blame for Not Exercising Enough and Please See Us Again in Six Weeks. And I'm pissed that I'm now dealing with fallout of a domino effect 15 years in the making.

But I have my answer. And with it comes validation, peace of mind, a clear direction on how to proceed, and a renewed determination to trust myself and my instincts always. That person in the white coat looking at my chart and making educated guesses is just practicing, after all.

 

Not So Fine Print: I'm not a medical professional and I don't play one online. This is an account of my personal experience and is not meant as a replacement for medical advice. If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, please contact your physician.

Choose Your Word

I recently had the chance to hang out with Holly Fulger and friends (and fellow Speaking of Beauty contributing writers) in Holly's home in L.A. Don't freak out if you happen to be aware of The Cali Curse and the Me Being Banned from Ever Stepping Foot NEAR Cthe State of California thing. At least, not yet. I may eventually need to have a shaman clear me for seeing Holly in person, but right now it's all Google Hangout, but you're safe for now.

The purpose of our chat was to discuss the focus of our writing for Speaking of Beauty as Holly moves forward in her vision and her mission to grow the conversation of beauty, perception, and self-acceptance. That sounds a lot like Girl Body Pride, with my own personal flavor, of course, and I think it's why Holly and I were naturally drawn to each other. This, people, is one of the reasons I love social media. Pretty sure there's no way in hell there's any other way Regular Me would end up anywhere on Hollywood Actress Holly's radar without my iPhone in my bra, twitter, and 140 characters. And here I was helping Holly lead a group discussion focused on writing, inspiration, and sharing ourselves and our stories with the women looking to see themselves in our words.

Our conversation was incredible, the group is amazing, and even Eliana had a chance to sit on my lap and say hello to Holly, as she will soon be joining the ranks as an official contributor to the site. I just need to remember to drink an espresso before the next time we get together, and perhaps write up a few bullet points to stay on track, because I'm pretty sure I gave the impression that I like sniffing glue.

Other than that, I learned I'm inspiring.

It's my word.

Speaking of Beauty features a Style Profile Test designed by Holly and business partner Melissa McNamara. The idea is pretty simple: Choose your word and find your essence. Holly and Melissa plan to launch a makeup line in the near future and the style profile is meant to help women realize that beauty truly is an inside job by first defining themselves before defining their style.

Choose your word and find yourself. Are you an Inpsirer? A Seeker? A Dreamer? a Leader? or a Thinker?

 

GROUP 1                                                                                                                               Visionary, Inventive, Original, Authentic, Spontaneous, Unconventional, Sexy, Outgoing, Idealistic, Inspiring, Stylish, Motivating, Exciting, Influential    YOUR WORD___________

GROUP 2                                                                                                                                 Curious, Funny, Natural, Musical, Entertaining, Joyous, Playful,Whimsical, Eccentric, Vibrant, Artistic, Blithe, Vivacious, Creative                                                                    YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 3                                                                                                                      Caring, Gentle, Peaceful, Graceful, Spiritual, Deep, Source, Ageless, Classic, Serene, Balanced, Soulful, Ethereal, Still                                                                                                         YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 4                                                                                                                          Passionate, Powerful, Independent, Commanding, Adventurous, Fearless, Bold, Athletic, Brave, Risk-Taking, Heroic, Confident, Indomitable, Forceful                                           YOUR WORD____________

GROUP 5                                                                                                                        Strong, Rational, Wise, Centered, Honest, Elegant, Prosperous, Logical, Focused, Loyal, Determined, Organized, Striking, Driven                                                                            YOUR WORD____________

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 WORDS?   __________,  _________,  ________, _________,   ___________

NOW CHOOSE 3 __________,   ___________,    ___________

NOW CHOOSE 1 __________

 

My 5: Inspiring, Creative, Deep, Bold, Driven

My 3: Inspiring, Creative, Driven

 

My Word: Inspiring

 

 

According to the Style Test on Speaking of Beauty, Inspirers are visionaries, idealistic, and spontaneous.

 

Inspirers stand out from the rest. Others follow you and the influence that you embody is very compelling. Your look has been designed to accentuate the aspects of your visionary nature. Since you are unafraid to take chances, a bold palette has been created. The Inspirer’s strength and sense of purpose can be conveyed by strong colors, a distinctive eye, and a defined lip. -- Speaking of Beauty

 

That sounds about right.

Me? I like my red lipstick.

You? What's your word?

Find it. Then go out and live it.

 

 

 

Blogher 13 & The Multi-Culti

It's 2 a.m. and I just sat down. I could be sleeping.

I should be sleeping.

But before I do, I'll tell you about this little party I'll be hosting. 'Cuz you're invited.

 

That's right. It doesn't seem real, but I'm all Giddy about the fact that I've been asked to co-host BlogHer's Multi-Culti Extravaganza at this year's event in Chicago with fellow hosts, Ananda Leeks and Dwana De La Cerna. Read Lori Luna's post about the full lineup of events, including the #MultiCulti here.

No, this isn't THE secret. That one is scheduled to be announced on June 1, so you still have to wait to hear that little bit of Happy. For now, consider this your official invitation to meet up with me, Ananada, & Dwana in Chicago. I'll be the one with too many suitcases, not enough Xanax, trying to look badass while drinking water from my wine glass.

Cheers.

 

Housekeeping! (A List in Accented English)

* Yes, I did in fact say that in my head with an exaggerated Spanish-accented English voice. * Because I can.

* If you don't laugh, you're actually hurting my feelings.

* Things are insane.

* Hence, the list.

* Turns out you guys are all Made of Awesome.

* Why, you ask?

* Because 418 of you signed my Change.org petition to get Disney to drop the sex kitten crap with Merida.

* It's too late.

* Maybe.

* She's been crowned & the new image is available on a variety of Crap We'll Buy Our Kids Because We're Giant Suckers.

* And because even if she's been sexed up, the movie is still amazing.

* Oh right.

* Because if we tell our children it's the message that matters and not the size of her waistline, we done good.

* We have no choice, really, since Disney contradicted the very message behind Brave with this whole debacle.

* You know, the one about family, independence, and finding the strength to find out own fates within us?

* Yeah, that one.

* The happy asides?

* A Mighty Girl has a petition with over 18,000 signatures.

* Brave's director is a bit pissed off about the animated plastic surgery job, too.

* So high five on that, y'all.

* New subject.

* Keep up with me, will you?

* I've got an updated version of my Mind Over Medicine review on Girl Body Pride.

* You'll want to stop by.

* Gigi Ross from Kludgey Mom needs some love.

* And Lissa Rankin has written a book I promise you'll want to read.

* Trust me on this one.

* Also? I've got a winner for the Aspiring Mama giveaway of Mind Over Medicine.

* Tanessa Knoll? Buttercup just said Comment Number Two is my winner.

* So ... you're welcome.

* Email me your address, will ya?

* Twitter works, too.

* New subject.

* Yes.

* AGAIN.

* Buttercup is about to follow in Mama's footsteps.

* Little girl has been granted permission by The Mama (me) & The Daddy (The Husband) for a pretty cool gig.

* Girlfriend is going to be a regular contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team.

* Which also happens to include me.

* I know, right?

* The girl can read at a fourth grade level but has the typing skills of a 5-year-old.

* Probably because she is five.

* So I can't knock her for that.

* Instead, I'll be transcribing my baby's words and views on what beauty means to her.

* I promise not to edit what she says.

* I hope like hell I've done right by her and taught her that beauty is everywhere.

* That the only size that matters when it comes to beauty is the size of our hearts.

* And that society is full of assholes who will try & knock her down a peg or two but that they don't matter.

* I'll know I've succeeded in about 10 years.

* If the child is self-assured enough to wear this when she's 15 because it makes her happy without giving a damn what you think?

 

* I win at motherhood.

* Whiplash warning.

* New subject.

* I really need to take my Xanax.

* That wasn't the subject change.

* Just proof that I need the fucking Xanax.

* This is the subject change...

* Dammit.

* I forgot.

* No, wait.

* GOT IT!

* Girl Body Pride has new team members!

* Congrats to Heidi Zalamar and Margaret Elysia Garcia.

* You guys kick major ass.

* I promise to add your bios to the writer page sometime before 2014 hits.

* Was that all?

* No, seriously.

* I was asking you if I needed to cover anything else before I chase that Xanax with an instant espresso.

* Shut up.

* It works for me.

* Last subject.

* I'm still sitting in a secret.

* And it's a Big One.

* Oh...

* And The Husband just warned me to be on the lookout for the family of moose in the area when I let the dogs out.

* Drops Mic & Saunters Offstage.

 

This Week's List

 

Things I've done this week:

* Confused a gopher for a beaver

*Packed up and moved from one rental to another

* Photographed a caterpillar

* Slept only when my eyelids gave up

* Decided that anyone who moves and is able to unpack within a week is probably using magic from fairies who owe them favors

* Got published on Latina.com

* Watched The Husband get the moving truck stuck in 4 feet of swamp

* Laughed while a front loader towed both both The Husband and The Husband's friend out of the swamp

* Explained to Buttercup that The Husband wasn't pissed off at her while he swore like a sailor after getting the moving truck because he's a man and that's what they do when they colossally fuck up and they have to call for back up

* Said this sentence to my child, "Daddy isn't mad at you, baby. He's mad at the world. We just happen to be in it."

* Kept a secret still a secret (I know, I'm impressed, too)

* Watched the moon follow us home

 

These Things Happen in Small Towns

I refer to myself as Mexican-Catholic. The short answer to your question is this: I believe in God and I show up at church for weddings, funerals, baptisms, first communions, and Easter. If I'm lucky, that sometimes means I'm only setting my alarm once in a given year to get there on time. Don't think I'm being disrespectful. I know I suck at being Catholic, and I'm not a huge fan of organized anything, but the religion (at least for me) has always been wrapped in culture. Before I hit send on anything important, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and make a sign of the cross. When I find anything I've lost (which is often), my eyes instantly look upward in a silent Thank You. And my Spanish might not be what it was before I started kindergarten, but I can still recite the Our Father without tripping over my own tongue.

When we got married, The Husband agreed to a church ceremony for me. We agreed on baptizing Buttercup and my taking her to church at least until she makes her First Communion. After that, it's up to her. It's the same set of rules my parents had for me and I'm good with that.

The thing is, you don't just show up for the First Communion with the pretty dress and expect anyone to just bless you and send you on your way. Buttercup is almost six now, so I found a church, started going to bed before 3 a.m., and she and I are now regulars at the 10:30 a.m. mass, right after Sunday school. I can't say we'll be there the Sunday after she makes her First Communion in two years, but I don't know that we won't be, either.

Last Sunday, as we sat in the pew during the service and listened to the words, I realized something. It wasn't Profound. It's not Deep and Meaningful. But it is pretty fucking hilarious because learning that your deacon adjusted your coccyx after you almost broke your tailbone falling down the stairs because your deacon also happens to be your chiropractor is just the kind  of thing happens when you live in a small town.

Just Gimme 30 Seconds

I'm so far behind myself at this point that it's just easier to point and laugh at things like the laundry piling up, the taxes that aren't done yet, and that little thing people call sleep. So of course I said HELL YES when Cheryl Hansen-Leahy asked me if I'd like to lead another 30 Second Mom chat tonight. I'd like to tell you about that thing that I still have to keep a secret and the four blog posts I wanted to have written that are probably now irrelevant. But I've got a  lot to do before the chat tonight, so let's just focus on right now, shall we?

WhenWhereHowWhy? Yeah, I know...stay with me and keep reading the chat promotion fellow 30 Second mom, Cheryl Hansen-Leahy, has put together:

  • Do you truly love “you?” No, not the imaginary you (minus 20 lbs, plus job promotion)...the you TODAY! Join an amazing woman and writer Pauline Campos as she inspires us to realize and celebrate our strengths, just the way we are. She will also touch on her experience with her recently published anthology, Strong Like Butterfly, which hit the top of my chart this winter!

    Pauline is the creator of http://www.girlbodypride.com/, her answer to a lifetime of self-doubt, body image issues, and an eating disorder. She maintains her blog at Aspiring Mama while also blogging for Funny Not Slutty and Owning Pink in addition to being a 30Second Mom contributor.

    Here are some tweets to spread the word!

    Do u love yourself JUST the way u are? Join @Pauline_Campos 4 #30secondmom chat Wed 8pmCT/9ET RSVP: http://ow.ly/jaBRL

    Screw the finish line- don’t wait, embrace the NOW! #30secondmom chat with @Pauline_Campos Wed 8pmCT/9ET RSVP: http://ow.ly/jaBRL

Remember the part where I told you I'm done with the bullshit and working on the Happy? Yeah, that part.

I'm not here with a pretty soapbox to give you some line about how following THESE SIMPLE STEPS will FOREVER CHANGE YOUR LIFE and are THE ANSWER YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!

The steps aren't simple. You may fall down a few times.

Forever actually means "Rinse, Lather, Repeat."

And the answer just leads to more questions, which is actually a good thing, because that leads to more self-discovery and personal growth.

I hope you join me and the rest of the 30 Second Mom team for the chat! We've got some great prizes to give away, but you have to RSVP in the link above to be eligible to win. So do that, stop by, and let's get real.

We can even sing Kumbaya after.

Catching in the Rye; The Spanglish Edition

If The Catcher in the Rye had a sequel based on a Spanglish-speaking Mexican-American homeschooling, allergic to everything, eating-disordered writer mama of one, I'd be a happy girl. Because then, at least, I could just hand people a copy of the book when they ask how I'm doing.

'Fine?" That's usually a lie.

"My cat just got ran over, thanks for asking," could possibly be the truth, but when people ask other people how they are doing, no one really expects an honest answer if honesty means replying with anything other than "fine." Except  I don't have a cat. I do have three dogs, though. And a kid. And two websites and an agent and a manuscript sitting in a file because I don't have a platform big enough to stand on and wonder if I ever will.

This isn't a Poor Me post. Don't get your violins out, folks. This is a Truth post; one in which I step out behind the bullshit and tell you that fine is a lie and that I miss my nonexistent cat because I am, in short, a fraud. Not the Push Up Bra and Spanx Coming Off On the Third Date kind of fraud, mind you, but the Holden Caulfield kind in which I find myself standing in the middle of the high school cafeteria, holding my lunch tray, not sure where to sit because I have no idea where I really belong.

I preach Body and Pride on Girl Body Pride. I say thing like Love Yourself As You Are NOW and Our Daughters are Counting on Us to Get (and Keep) Our Shit Together. And I mean them...for you. I want to mean them for me, too, and I figured that if I shouted it long enough and often enough from my soapbox that I'd start to buy my own bullshit, but that hasn't happened yet.

That, my friends, pisses me off.

I want to connect and inspire and feel validated for what I say and what I do and what I am hoping to become and I see so many others doing exactly that while I sit back and cheer them on, not sure what I'm doing wrong to keep missing the boat or if the boat's going to bother coming back to the dock again to give me another chance. I want to speak to women on the same journey and let them know it's okay to be where we are right now as long as we keep trying because that's what matters. I want to organize inspiring workshops and a regular conference for women to focus on fixing the mess inside of our own heads because our kids aren't going to believe in their own self worth if they constantly see us tear ourselves down.

It's the old airplane analogy: No point in passing out from oxygen deprivation while trying to get our kid's mask on first if the cabin depressurizes. The only way we can truly be effective role models is if we fight every maternal instinct and put ourselves first for fucking once. Once our heads are clearing from the oxygen-deprived fog can we be there to ensure our children are breathing, safe, and secure in the knowledge that Mommy has her shit together.

Maybe, I think, the boat is on to me. The boat knows I'm a fraud and frauds are not allowed on board. Only passengers who are truly at ease in their own skin who don't look for and rely on approval and validation outside of themselves are allowed on this boat. I'm not there yet. I used to be. I will be again. But right here, right now, I'm a self-destructive mess who's best bet it is to just let it all hang out because it's the truth and it needs to be said.

I don't have The Answers. I'm not standing at the Finish Line waving the Official Flag of Self-Acceptance because I haven't run my own race yet. What I do have is a burning desire to share the crazy idea that it's okay to be a fucking mess. It's okay to have bad days and worse days and throw a party on the good days because they are so very worthy of celebrating. It's okay to not love yourself (but you want to) yet and it's okay to talk about the bad in public because if we don't then no one else will and everyone will just continue to assume that "Fine" is the only acceptable answer to be given when they ask how we're doing and that's really just a giant disservice for those of us who need to know it's okay to celebrate The Journey because The Destination is just a little too far away right now.

I'm not fine. In fact, I'm a royal fucking mess. My ADHD and anxiety are triggering my five-year-old's anxiety into fodder for her therapy appointments which happens to fall under the Mexicans Don't Talk About That Sort of Thing category because it's uncomfortable and much easier to sweep under the rug with the rest of our emotional baggage along with the whispers about how pregnant the bride really was at the last wedding we went to while we collectively pretended to believe she wasn't because it matters even though it really shouldn't. It's why I told The Husband I wanted yellow gold when he asked what kind of ring I would like when he was fishing for engagement ring hints because that's what my family wore. It took me ten years to admit I hated yellow gold and really wanted platinum because that shit doesn't work for me anymore.

Away with the rug. Let the dirt fly. And when the dust settles, I'll still be standing here holding my lunch tray because I'm not sure where to sit because no matter where I choose, I feel like everyone else will judge me for my choice even though none of that should matter. But it does.

And I hate that.

I most decidedly do NOT have my shit together. You need to know that. It's okay to be a royal fucking mess. You need to know that, too.  I miss my imaginary cat and I have very real cellulite and I have a sweet tooth and a closet eating habit. I make sad things funny and funny things funnier because that's how I deal. I'm avoiding my therapist and not sleeping much.

All of this is today's truth.

Now tell me...

How are you doing?

Does the Media Get the Blame for Eating Disorders?

A friend recently sent me a link to an article on Ed Bites regarding the author’s thoughts on the media and eating disorders. The article, to be published in Emirates Woman magazine, is well-written, thought-provoking, and importantly (to me, anyway) written from personal experience.

The author, Carrie Arnold, recounts her own experience as an anorexic in treatment. When handed a sheet of stickers and a stack of magazines as a project for a body image group. The stickers were to be used by the patients to label the images of models and celebrities either with a smiley face promoting a healthy body image or a frowny face pointing the finger of blame at the image (and by default, the media as a whole), for promoting eating disorders.

Says Arnold on her blog, Ed Bites: {the latest tasty tidbits in eating disorder science}:

“I was no stranger to advertising. No one really is. But I knew that most ads were digitally altered and that bodies – real bodies – didn’t look a thing like what was portrayed on the pages of glossy magazines. Weighing roughly half of what I currently do, what I did know was that I was terrified of food and eating. Consuming more than the bare minimum of calories left me feeling dirty, and I felt oddly compelled to purge the extra calories via exercise or other methods. 

“Although I couldn’t see it in the mirror, I knew, on some level, that I had long since passed even the most whacked-out culture’s definition of ‘thin’. I didn’t want to look like a model – I’m a geek, not a fashionista. I wasn’t attractive, all sallow-skinned and bony, and I didn’t care. Starving myself was the only way that I could turn down the cacophony in my head. The less I ate and the less I weighed, the quieter my anxious thoughts got. Fashion never crossed my mind.”

And I get that. I’m a self-described life-long recovering bulimic. I was hiding in my parents’ pantry at the age of seven binge eating long before I knew the term and condition was one recognized by medical professionals and at the age of 15, took a news special on a woman treating teens with eating disorders as a “how to”. I was home alone and had been eating mindlessly all evening. At 5’6”, I was curvy but athletically built, wore a size 10, played varsity tennis, and thought I was fat. Random attempts to “become” anorexic had failed horribly and only proved to my warped sense of thinking that I had no self control. Binging, I learned that night, was what I had been doing most of my life, which only served to stuff down and quiet the chaos in my mind.

The answer I had been looking for

Purging was the release I had been looking for. As a first generation Mexican-American, I grew up observing the fine art of Not Acknowledging the Obvious like brides pregnant months before their wedding dates were to take place and family happily ignoring the fact that the premature baby born healthy and adorably chubby. Alcoholics weren’t alcoholics if they didn’t go to meetings and as long as I remembered to not throw up oranges in the shower, I didn’t have to avoid eye contact with my parents after they found the evidence i had forgotten about on the drain.

As Arnold points out in her article, it is very easy to see how the media and the models and celebrities portrayed take the brunt of the blame for “causing” eating disorders. Everything is photo-shopped. Headlines boast the Secrets to a Perfect Body and tell us How to Lose 20 Pounds by Labor Day in issues released just weeks before the actual holiday. And every Hollywood mom seems to either be under contract to drop the baby weight in six weeks, pose in a bikini, and show us how we can do it, too, or become the newest spokesperson for whichever major weight loss program hands them the biggest contract to sign. The message seems loud and clear: Perfection is at the finish line and you better work your ass off to get there before you have the right to feel good about yourself.
This video on YouTube by Aceygirl17 serves as a perfect example.

 

But is the media at fault?

Yes.

And No.

As Arnold says, compliments from strangers on how skinny she was may have given her a temporary boost, but they didn’t fuel the need to continue with her disordered behavior. I can relate to that, too. I never once looked at a magazine or a celebrity and thought myself less. My mindset was obviously disordered to begin with. If the media did cause eating disorders, every single person watching the same news special I did would suddenly have jumped off the deep end and embraced anorexia and/or bulimia just like I did.

“So what’s the big deal? Why does it matter what causes eating disorders? For one, it affects who we think are at risk and how quickly they are diagnosed… If we think eating disorders are the preserve of vain women, we are less likely to view them as requiring treatment and more likely to blame the victim. No, we can’t just snap out of it and, although normalising nutrition is crucial, eating a cheeseburger won’t cure us.”— Ann Arnold, Ed Bites. 

Changing our focus

No, we can’t snap out of it. Eating a cheeseburger won’t cure an anorexic and learning the definition of self control won’t suddenly help a bulimic figure out how to diet. Similarly, a society hell-bent on proving a market exists for glossy magazine covers of photo-shopped and over-sexed female celebrities and models is doing nothing more than giving the media reason to continue on the current path. If this shit sells, you can bet your ass it’s going to be printed. And while I firmly believe that the media is at least responsible for fueling body image issues in both susceptible children, teens, women and men, I can’t say the media has the power to turn a non-disordered person into an eating disordered mess.

Yes, the media plays a role in how we as a society have come to define beauty in ourselves and others. And as Arnold notes, printing celebrities and their own eating disordered struggles in the “style” section of their publications only trivialize the issue and reinforce the myth that eating disorders are a choice. That, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit.

So who do we blame?

No one, Everyone. Ourselves. Our mothers. The doctor who sent in a nutritionist with a pamphlet on the food pyramid when I was 16 and settled on telling her I couldn’t stick to a diet because I choked on the word “bulimia.”

“The girl thinks she has an eating disorder because she can’t stick to a diet,” I heard her say to the nutritionist in the hallway. “Send her home with this. I’ve got to get back to work.”

Okay, fine. That doctor I actually do blame for choosing to dismiss a cry for help. But is blaming her, or The Biggest Loser, going to help those already suffering? No. It’s not.

Does that mean the media is off the hook?

Not by any means. The media might not be the reason those of us unfortunate enough to have our brains wired in such a way that disordered eating behaviors actually make sense, but there have been plenty of times I have been written about my own good days being ruined by checkout lane headlines telling me I have no right to feel good about myself until I’ve managed to get my ass into the same bikini I wore before I got pregnant almost six years ago.

I’ll give The Powers that Be a pass on my disorder. But I’m holding the media responsible for perpetuating a false ideal of perfection, creating an environment in which our daughters (and sons) are learning to hate their bodies while they should still be playing with their imaginary friends, and reinforcing the belief that self-worth is based on a number on a scale. Eating disordered or not, that line of bullshit is the reason so many of us think happiness isn’t a right we deserve, but one we earn when the scale, the salesgirl, and Other People say we have.

I’m not good with that. I truly believe that until we learn to accept and love ourselves as just the way we are right now, none of us is going to find anything other than a skinner version of ourselves who happens to still hate who we are and what we see in the mirror.

Your job begins now

This is where you take responsibility, my friends.

If you felt good until you picked up that copy of whatever glossy magazine it was that gave you a complex and suddenly had you reaching for a bag of chips out of despair, stop buying, reading, or watching what is obviously a trigger for you. The stories might still sell. The stars might still be selling weight loss programs post-baby because we have turned yesterday’s A-listers into today’s headline just so we can talk about what they’ve gained and how quickly they’ve lost it. Turn your focus inward and focus on changing what you can (how you feel about and perceive your self and body image) and just ignore the rest because it’s not going away anytime soon. We live in a body-conscious time where numbers are given more value than self-perception and worth.

If you need help for an eating disorder or body image issues, seek it out. NOW. If you feel comfortable, share your story and let others know it's okay to do the same. I applaud Arnold for doing so.

So where does that leave us?

Shut out the noise. Fix the mess inside your head. Then let the rest fall into place.