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...

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Heiddi Zalamar

Welcome to WEEK 20 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you're my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you're one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON...) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective and Myrah Duque of Cupon Mamacita-fame, were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is good friend Heiddi Zalamar, a mama raising two boys to be chingones (because Obviously, right?). Zalamar is a licensed therapist and deals primarily with low-income families in New York, while simultaneously fielding text messages from me, because my own therapist was smart enough not to give me her cell phone number. Zalamar is also a writer, blogger, and the New and Unpaid, Totally Appreciated, Bad Ass Volunteer #ChingonaFest Social Media Manager. YAY, Heiddi!

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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Heiddi Zalamar

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Heiddi Zalamar: I prefer strawberry.

PC: Well, well, well, Senorita Sassy..,.Strawberry it is. So, what's your favorite book and why?:

HZ: I have favorite books at different times in my life. Probably one of my all-time favorites is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

PC: I obviously need to get out more. Or start a Pinterest board consisting of the ChingonaFest Book Faves, so I can at least feel slightly productive pinning the books I have yet to read. *sigh* Moving on...What's your favorite quote?

HZ: Ooh, I live by many quotes, but if I had to choose one it is “I can do all things with God who strengthens me.”

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

HZ: Yes. I feel that I should be able to live my life and raise my kids without being required to repeat the same traditions just because my parents said so. I want to do things my way because I have good reason to.

PC: I think I'm making you a soapbox for Christmas. Describe yourself in third person.

HZ: Heiddi is an amazing, strong, resourceful woman who has a great heart, but doesn’t see herself as this wonderful person that others see. She has a hard time accepting her awesomeness and needs to remind herself often. Either with inspiring quotes or talking to her Chingonas.

PC: And I love your answer to that. We're here when you need us. Who inspires you?

HZ: You do, my love.

PC: *Blushing* You say all the pretty things, Heiddi. But who is it *you* hope to inspire?

HZ: Kids/teens like me who grew up thinking that no one was on their side. And other moms who need a boost in their self-esteem. And the whole world.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

HZ: Color all the way.

PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

HZ: Fest, Chingonafest!

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

HZ: I feel that Latinas can be a strong force in society if we can be united. Unfortunately, we are separated by whether or not we are US-born or foreign-born and class. As for the media, not all Latinas are cleaning women or sexy bombshells. Many of us do different things – therapists, social workers, teachers, lawyers, advocates, doctors, supreme court judges, etc that are NOT shared in media.

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

HZ: For them to know that they have the choice to live out their dreams.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

HZ: I just shared this today with my co-workers, having crab picnics on my living room floor with my parents and younger brother. It was as much about preparing the meal as it was eating it.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

HZ: 75% English; 25% Spanish – Mi Mami’s quotes tend to pop up often.

PC: What's your favorite dish? Why?

HZ: I already answered that.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

HZ: Sometimes, I don’t. I feel like I don’t know enough about my heritage as a Boricua/Equatoriana. I also feel that I need to speak to my kids in Spanish more often.

PC: Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

HZ: Oh I let it melt.

PC: One Latina stereotype you despise?

HZ: That we can’t speak English. Pisses me the hell off.

PC: Tell me how you really feel...KIDDING! How 'bout one Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

HZ: That we want to take care of everyone. Hence, my desire to inspire the world.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

HZ: My perfect day would have me on a sandy, white beach, my lounge chair at the water’s edge with an umbrella for shade and one in my drink. With my bff next to me and the kids with their amazing Tia Pauline. Ha!

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to survive the familia holiday drama without losing her mind. go ahead...tell me you don't relate (without laughing!)! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6.More designs and products coming soon!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. (I'll get back to you on the podcast soon!)

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together... stronger.

Episode 1: ChingonaFest LiveStream Event

 

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I'm going to start with the disclaimer. Front and center. Screw the fine print.

What I'm about to say includes a very famous name of a man who committed suicide earlier this week and with the world being what it is, I'm going to tell you right now that Robin Williams was not a coward, that depression is real, and that it's high-fucking-time we realize we can't stop talking about suicide prevention and awareness when the headlines fade away.

Because eventually, they will. The aerial video of his home, the conjecture, the theories, and inflammatory (and triggering) comments made by those who refuse to open their eyes to the reality so many of us live with -- all of it will stop when the next Media It Topic of the Moment proves itself click-worthy and the herd lose interest in chasing a dead man's shadow. And when that happens, because it will, the world will keep spinning even when the conversation stops until the next celebrity loses their own battle with the personal demons their too tired to fight anymore.

Rinse, lather, repeat, and a spin around the mulberry bush for good measure.

Meanwhile, we continue to lose our friends and out family members -- current statistics show that one person dies every 14 minutes) to suicide. That's unacceptable. In the Latino community, the statistics are terrifying.

According to the NAMI Multicultural Action Center, Latinos are listed as a definitive high-risk group for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. This Nami FAQ also states that:

  • Latinos are more likely to experience a major depressive episode with about 45 percent women and 19 percent of males affected
  • The Common Wealth Fund Survey revealed that surveyed Latino and Asian American girls exhibited more depressive symptoms than the African American or Caucasian teen girls.
  • And from a 1997 study, the rate of attempted suicide among Latino high school girls was about 1,5 times higher than that of their counterparts.

And yet, we don't talk. We don't reach out for help. Instead, we do as our cultural upbringings have taught us and that, my friends, is to pretend the bad things don't exist and sweep it all under the rug, lest we bring shame to ourselves and our families.

That shit needs to stop and for that to happen, that means we need to start talking -- and then not stop.

Tonight marks the premier #ChingonaFest Google + Hangout in just over an hour. (Shut up on the short notice thing. It's called Mexican Time and since I'm posting with over an hour to spare, you totally got an early invite.) Topic? Mental Health and the Latino Community. I'll be joined by Ane C. Romero, Sr. Legislative Assistant/ Mental Health Advisor at U.S. House of Representatives and Heiddi Zalamar, a licensed bilingual mental health therapist based in New York.

We may have a bit of a learning curve, but stick with me as I hit the ground running to take ChingonaFest to the next level. And stay tuned: If I can bribe The Husband into being my lackey, each livestream episode will be converted into a podcast the following week. For now, though, I'm concentrating on tonight. And lastly, due to the sentitive nature of this topic, I'd highly recommend anyone who may be triggered by the dicussion to take care of themselves first by watching The Travel Channel instead and, of course, by making sure the little ones are already chasing their dreams.

See ya soon!

Man V. Food Star, Adam Richman, Tells Woman to Kill Herself

This would be the first domino to fall. 'Maybe he just didn't know." The Husband said to me. "No one can blame him for... Oh wait. Never mind."

As soon as he got home from work, I told The Husband to go online and Google the name of one of our favorite Travel Channel hosts. We're kind of on the crazy-strict side of what television shows we allow Eliana to watch, what with all the crap on TV these days, but we seem to have hit a consensus on our TV-happy place with many shows on the Travel Channel, including host Adam Richman and his show, Man V. Food. While we can't eat most of the food he consumed on the air (we are gluten-free due to Celiac and allergies), we still watch. Richman's energy is infectious, making him a natural in front of the camera.

Very recently, I saw Richman featured in a commercial and stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Richman, who had filled out during his time traveling the country in search of various restaurant food challenges, looked a different person entirely, having shed some 60-pounds. A Men's Health article describes the weight loss as "taking control over his own body." I don't know Richman, but I was proud of him, and I told The Husband as much. I couldn't wait for his new show to air.

"This is bad," The Husband said, glancing away from the computer monitor. "He didn't just burn a bridge here. He blew the damned thing up."

I nodded. I can't see anything good coming when a television personality tells a woman to kill herself in response to her comments regarding the #thinspiration hash-tag used by Richman in a post celebrating a too-big suit. Richman was understandably unaware of the dangerous connotations associated with the tag. It seems harmless enough -- take inspiration and add the "th" at the front of the word and show the world that eating right and getting active does, in fact, work. (I'll save the Thinness and Health conversation for another day). I get why he used it, honestly, I do. But the fact remains that the term is laden with dangerous undertones; it's the tag used by the eating disordered in pro-anorexia ad bulimia forums to cheer each other on. So an instagram follower commented on the post and asked him to please refrain from using again. If I'd seen it, I admit I would have done the same.

Remember, this is cute and cheerful, seemingly lovable Adam Richman we're talking about here. Who knew he was a Complete and Total Asshole?

Richman's responses (which have since been deleted) , however, may have been his undoing, already resulting in his new show being pulled "indefinitely" by the Travel Channel.

 

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 Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.

And suddenly I'm inside my own head. I'm a college sophomore student home for the Christmas break holiday. I haven't told my parents I'm on the brink of failing out. My friend and sorority sisters are tired of my drama and antics and if they haven't already was hands of me, they are about to. I know this because of the letter I'm holding in my hands. My mother said it arrived with the mail earlier that same day, which mean it was sent from campus and intended for me to read alone and without  chance to respond. The words on the paper are blurry because I'm crying too hard to focus, and yet, I've somehow managed to keep the letter from getting wet as I sit in the tub, cocooned up to my neck by the weight of the piping hot water.

I had been hell-bent on destroying myself for a bit. I was promiscuous. I was bulimic, anorexic, extremely depressed and was up all night and slept through almost all of my classes for an entire semester. My friends tried to help, but I hadn't hit bottom yet in my emotional well. Until I did. With an entire bottle of Advil or Tylenol or whatever it was sitting on the desk in my dorm room. But then I got scared because sleeping and ignoring the sun is not the same as never having the chance to try again. Death is permanent. And I got scared.

"If you really wanted to kill yourself you'd be dead and if you really had an eating disorder, you'd be a hell of a lot smaller than you are right now. All you are is a drama queen looking for attention."

Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was a nursing student and he got me to the ER, I drank charcoal, lied when I was asked if I was still feeling like hurting myself (because wanting to and following through are two different things), and was sent home. Not too much time passed before I found myself with a letter sent to me by a "friend" and "sister" from the sorority I used to belong to.

With the letter in one hand, I kept reading those words over and over. I had the razor in my other. Maybe she was right. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. Maybe I was still eating to much. How many calories did one apple have? And one slice of cheese? That's all I allowed myself every day. Anything over that, I punished myself by purging until my throat was raw and I was empty again. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to the hospital and just waited to disappear.

Or maybe not.

Maybe she's wrong, I thought. Maybe I'm here right now because I got pissed off about being labeled and misjudged and knew I had to put the razor down if I was going to do any good in writing, sharing all of my experiences, and showing this bitch just exactly who she was dealing with.

I survived because I was told I wouldn't. I kept going because someone told me to stop living. Anger and stubbornness are what set the razor back where it belonged in the tub. Growth and the desire to help those who are currently where I've been are why I'm writing the words you see here. Fuck Adam Richman and his close-minded vitriol. Fuck suicide and eating disorders and self-hate. Fuck all of it and Richman's "apology." Because words can't be taken back, especially once they've been given shape and weight after having been written.

Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.

Richman showed his true colors in this exchange and may have ended his television career in one fell swoop. I wonder if he's even begun to grasp the severity of the situation or if he's still convinced he did no wrong here. But then, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? What does is speaking up and speaking out in an effort to reach those depressed enough to harm themselves and letting them know that someone gets it. That someone understands. That someone cares and will, without a doubt, miss them -- sopleasestayalive.

Maybe Richman just didn't know. Maybe he just didn't care. Either way, the rest of us who do care are going to keep trying to pick up the broken pieces left  in Richman's wake. I'm not fooling myself into thinking anything written on the subject at hand is going to change his mind, nor do I believe any and all apologies on his part are actually sincere. Instead, it's time to focus on the silver lining.

#eyesontheprize #victory #anythingispossible.

Yes, Mr Richman, anything is possible. There are those of us who will continue to speak up in the hopes of helping the eating disordered recover and remind the suicidal that they do matter to those who need and love them. Feel free to sit this one out, Richman. We're doing just fine without you.

Find out the warning signs of suicide and how to get help:

If you're thinking about suicide or know someone who is, get help now. Not sure what signs to look for if you're concerned about a friend? Here's a list of warning signs from the You Matter Lifeline website:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. Dial

1-800-799-4TTY (4889) for those with hearing or speech impaired with TTY equipment.

Braver (Together)

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Let’s talk about Being Brave.

Not with a sword, but with our voices. Maybe we use a pen. Maybe we click, clack away on a keyboard, looking up only every now and then at the words born onto the white screen before us. Maybe we are Brave with our voices or a maybe it’s with a paintbrush.

We are Brave when we share our truth with others. We are Braver Still when we know we are not alone.

Jenn Marshall calls it Finding Our Brave. I call it Writing Without a Filter. Whatever you call it, the premise is the same, whether we write about our personal struggles with bipolar or eating disorders or sexuality, we are brave when we share that which others can connect with and know they are not alone.

What’s my Brave?

I’ll be honest. I’m only halfway home when it comes to fully embracing it. But that’s the beauty of Being Brave. For each of us, Bravery means different things and we are each defining the term for ourselves every time we sit down to share a new Something Personal about ourselves.

Me? I’m a life-long recovering bulimic with compulsive eating tendencies. I’m ADHD and sometimes will do circus tricks if you give me coffee when my brain is moving faster than my medication can work. I have anxiety issues that tend to spike when my ADHD is in high gear and suffer from dermitillomania. That last one is a fancy word for the OCD scab-picking condition I didn’t know wasn’t just a stupid habit I couldn’t break until last year. I’ve suffered from depression, attempted suicide, and founded a website to help myself while helping others learn that nurturing our self-worth and self-image is the key to recovery for many of the demons we deal with daily.

Am I fixed? Hell no. Am I on my way? Today I am. I’ll let you know about tomorrow when it gets here.

How do I manage to Be Brave and share these words with the world? Because I have to. Because I want to. Because I need to.

Because I had to find my Own Brave on my journey and wish I could have known people like Jennifer Marshall when I was looking for someone else to Be Brave with me. I just wanted someone to relate to.

Together, we can be Braver, and isn’t that the point?

 

** This piece was recently published on I Am Ballsy. (Because, yeah, I am.)

Oversexualization & Our Daughters: Refusing to Feed the Demand

What do you see here? I'd love to know, because I see a problem.

This rather adorable outfit is from Jelly the Pug and, last week, was available on Zulily. I'm fine with the outfit. It's cute and perfectly age-appropriate, so don't think I fell off the deep end. It's the decidedly "adult" pose that prompted me to pull out the soapbox, y'all. This one, and the images like it, caught my attention and suddenly, the word "oversecualization" begin chanting itself in a loop inside my head.

When I images like this one, I see little girls and headlines about the dangers of over-sexualization and body image issues and

eating disorders and, sadly enough, I see complacency. We can't be shocked if we expect it now, can we?

When Suri Cruise stepped out in high heels for the first time in 2009, the world brought out the voice of judgement. And we judged. We are so very good at that, aren't we? (Don't try to argue with me on this one because I'm sure the 7,200,000 results that popped up for Katie judged Suri in heels" will prove otherwise). In fact, I'm judging right now.

Not surprisingly, sales for high heels for little girls jumped and designers scrambled to provide more for the masses. A quick search shows this pair by Michael Kors.

 

The black pumps and that teeny tiny heel make me nervous just thinking about my daughter breaking an ankle while trying to walk in them. But when compared to the snazzy little number available recently on Zulily, the first shoe is downright tame.

I should point out that I'm not out to vilify Zulily -- or any other singular source -- for promoting the sexualization of young children, but I am now wondering if I should allow my 6-year-old to browse the site with me. She's more apt to wear clothing she helps to pick out, but I don't feel like having to explain why there is no way in hell I'm ordering her a pair of hot pink stilettos that look like they belong to a very tiny stripper No offense to the stripper, mind you. Maybe I can't stop the world from playing strip-tease with our kids, but I can limit what my own daughter is exposed to.

I realize there are people who will think I'm overreacting. That my daughter will "see it anyway" on television or in movies or in magazines and I'm wasting my time trying to shield her from all I think she doesn't need to see right now. They will say it's not that big a deal and that little girls just want to dress like their moms and gush about how cute their kids look strutting their stuff in hot pink stilettos and say I'm too strict and need to lighten up. They will tell me that they may have had their own misgivings about buying their 8-year-old that string bikini for the neighbor's pool party because all the other girls have them and not wanting them to feel left out, so they did it anyway.

I also am aware that the constant finger pointing is how we deal as a society instead of taking a moment to consider our own responsibility when controversies become headlines and we see our daughters adopting our body image issues as their own. We would rather blame Hollywood, the magazines with emaciated and photo-shopped models,  the fancy designers who tell us why Unrealistic Ideals are the new black, and the retailers for providing us with yet another choice we are aware we would have been better off without then admit we contributed to the demand for the supply.

All of this is okay with me. You will either agree with me or feel sorry for my kid. This is entirely your prerogative. You can buy the take your preschooler to see The 300 at the movie theater and tell them to just shut up when they ask you why that lady has her boobies out and that man just got his head chopped off loud enough for the rest of us to hear. This is your right and I'm not going to tell you how to parent your children. I am, however, going to do what I feel is right for my own daughter and her well-being.

I'm going to continue to say no. Whether or not retailers like Zulily or designers like Michael Kors bother to take responsibility for their part in the oversexualization of our little girls, I still have that power. The rest of her friends can jump off that bridge my own mother always talked about while mine has the biggest I Hate You Mom! meltdown known to man. She can tell me that I am ruining her life and all her friends get to do wear bikinis and listen to Justin Bieber and don't have to wait for their parents to pre-screen movies before they can watch them, and I will wait for her to stop screaming at me before I tell her the answer is still no because I can't undo today when tomorrow gets here. The damage would already be done.

This is not an exaggeration. In 2007, the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls released a report suggesting that young girls are are affected in many areas of development as a result.

 

Sexualization has a broad array of devastating effects on youth, both male and female, and ramifications that extend throughout our society. Exposure to sexual images of girls has been linked to multiple mental health problems including girls’ low self-esteem, symptoms of depression, and eating disorders. Sexualization is also linked to girls’ increasing engagement in risky sexual behavior such as having unprotected sex and using drugs and alcohol, which impairs decision-making (APA, 2007).

 

This is what Suri Cruise in her high heels and shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and sexily-posed little girls modeling clothes for little girls have done (and continue to do) to us and our children. What we say to them - and what we let them see onscreen - will stay with them. Do we want that? Are we happy where we are?

I have already spoken with quite a few mothers who had the same knee-jerk reaction to the too-sexy child models as I did. I know you aren't happy with any of this. Maybe we make noise and spark a discussion or three. The important thing is that we show our daughters that we are here when they need us and again when they don't.  And that's a start.

Waffles for Breakfast

It’s impossible to always put yourself first…

but poisonous to always put yourself last.

Those words are by my friend, Jenni Chiu. I found them tonight and I'm sharing them with you now, partly because they need to be shared.

Mostly because I needed the reminder myself.

I'm in a weird place right now. I'm not even sure of the words to use to describe it, which doesn't happen very often. All I know is I keep hoping that tomorrow the veil I can't shake will have lifted. I want to see the sun again and feel it on my face.

I want to stop being the reason The Husband worries.

I want to stop being tired all the time and remember what it feels like to revel in my once-regular workout routine because I know it makes me feel good.

What I don't want is for Christmas to be a giant farce wrapped in pretty paper, because right now, that's what it's turning out to be. The Christmas cards went out. The gifts are under the tree. Santa's ready. I know Christmas morning will be magical for her. Her magic is my own.  But I want my own groove back.

When I wake up to find my daughter quietly playing in her room, her breakfast dishes in the sink, and the opened cereal box on the kitchen counter because she knows Mama needed sleep, I vow to sleep like normal people do and wake (like normal people do) with (or even before) my child. I'll start tomorrow. Then I'll start the next day. And then it's 3:30 a.m. and I've accomplished nothing. I climb into bed, drawing myself close to the warmth of my husband's body, and fall asleep before I can worry about everything I still have left to do.

She asked for waffles the other day. I made them for lunch. But I know it's not the same.

I'm going to be 36 soon. The new year is almost upon us. There's a promise in every tomorrow. I know all of these things. I just don't feel them right now. Maybe it's something in the water. Or maybe I'm seeing so many friends writing about how they are pulling themselves through this holiday season just barely because so many of my friends are writers now and this is just how we process. I'm not sure. What I do know is I see myself in their words. Maybe you see yourself in mine.

We're mothers. We're women. We're tired but don't want to be.

We're doing what needs to be done for others. We're wishing we didn't feel guilty for even considering that we must also do what we want for ourselves.

We push ourselves relentlessly because we've learned to balance the weight of the world on our shoulders and don't know how to deal with the sense of lightness that comes when anyone else tries to lift it because that is what we would do for those that we love. The problem is that we don't know how to handle taking the time we need for ourselves to just breathe and do for ourselves before we find ourselves running on empty.

Mental Health: Breaking the Silence at #Latism13

It's been a pretty good week so far. Sure, I owe certain friends really big bottles of very expensive Something Alcoholic as payment for dealing with my 60 text messages per hour/pre-conference freakout, but that's just normal. I've been prepping for Latism13, am piecing together my Great-Gaysby-esque outfit for the El Gran Gatsby themed award gala, and know way more than i ever imagined I would about the 1920's and what flappers wore. I've also made peace with the fact that the 1920's were not the kindest era to women with an hips and ass. Who knew?

And then there's this other thing that just happened...

 

That's me. A moderator at Latism13! And the topic couldn't be a better fit: Mental Health: Breaking the Silence in the Latino Community. I'm looking forward to learning so much from the incredible panelists on such an important issue.

Now, I go drink some chamomile tea because I have anxiety and am allergic to Xanax before talking to my kid about what set hers off last night.

See what I did there?

 

Hearts and Flowers

 

I'm supposed to be writing this in Tucson, my feet tucked up nicely beneath me, while Eliana plays with her little besties she has known for most of her life. My friend Jill said Hotel What? No, you stay here! And we nodded happily and made sure to pack the flower girl dress and the bridesmaid dress and our shoes and asked the BFF where the hell my headband and pretty shrug were because I had torn my closet apart and Oh Thank God...she made me leave them at her house when I moved to Maine because I lose everything. I'm in control again, of only for a short while.

I was supposed to have written three other blog posts by now that may be obsolete by the time I have time to write them. And I wasn't supposed to be worried about a family emergency I can't do anything about from 28,000 feet.

Instead, I'm on a plane heading from Georgia to Tucson  for what is turning out to be the most expensive hand basket ever made. If you didn't get the reference, ask the other kids in class, cuz I've got a lot of material to cover here. So...moving on.

We missed yesterday's plane because the child had the kind of meltdown that led to her therapy. Delta rebooked us and was kind enough to waive enough of the change fee so we could afford to make the trip, but because of Life and Shit Hitting the Fan, that meant we had to wait until today for a flight.

The Four Points Sheraton across the street from the airport took pity on the sobbing mess that was me when I went to see if we could get a room once we realized we were stuck. Miss the morning flight out of Bangor and you missed your chance, period.

I was also supposed to have launched my writing and social media coaching services by now, annoyed all of my friends with requests for NEDA Awareness Week retweets, and possibly slept for more than 24 hours in the last week. But that was before the two ER trips and the day at the pediatrician and the resulting questioning looks from strangers when the five year old is wandering around with her legs so wide apart you'd think she has chaps on. The plastic doughnut she's got hooked on her arm like a security blanket confuses the hell out of the people really paying attention, but I don't have time to explain things like "cellulitis" and "drama queen" and "future broadway star" and "distress tolerance" and "anxiety."

Eliana is finally asleep after a morning only Xanax and a few deep breaths could cure (for ME, people. She's the one who took the deep breaths) and I am relieved. I need the quiet. There is so much to process.

I'm exhausted, but I'm not stupid. Falling asleep would be letting my guard down and if she wakes up and has another screaming fit because I DON'T WANT TO and LET'S GO BACK HOME, NOW!!! (she means Maine), and MAMA, PLEASE!!!!! aren't going to make the woman sitting in front of us on the plane a very happy neighbor. She's already turned around once to tell me she's trying to sleep because Buttercup and I were laughing at knock knock jokes. I was like SHE'S FIVE. She rolled her eyes and turned back around, mumbling about how she has an 8 year old. Which is nice, but I'm not sure how the apples and oranges belong in the same basket. I've got DDDs. The woman with the stick up her ass about the laughing child who was inconsolable only a few moments before because change scares the absolute shit out of her? Well, I didn't get a good look, but I'd ballpark them somewhere in the B-range.

My point? Just because we both have a set of  chi-chis doesn't mean we can trade bras. And my inner child almost wishes the my own child would freak out again and make me feel like the worst mom in the world because I can't fix it. Because then I could ask the woman how her nap was going.

Admit it. You'd feel better, too.

But karma is, it turns out, not always a bitch. We have the happy gay flight attendants chatting in the galley right behind us. This is being mentioned because 1) I miss having a gay boyfriend. I had one in college. And then there one who liked to hit on The Husband  whenever he picked me up for lunch when I was working as a reporter just because The Husband is hot and my GBF was adorable.

2) The Three Amigas are conversing, y'all. It's girl talk and it's loud and obnoxiously cute and I secretly hope the woman in front of me can't sleep.

Petty thoughts? Yes. I freely admit that.

But it's easier to be petty inside of my head while going back and forth with the therapist by email while trying to talk the child off of another ledge because something just set her off and we have no idea what it is or how to fix it or keep it from happening again. I'd rather focus on how she just woke up smiling and asked if she has ever told me that I am the flower of her heart while she plays with her ballerina sticker stage than the feeling of complete and utter helplessness that comes when nothing I say or do can make it better and The Husband has no choice but to leave us in the busy airport terminal so he can order lunch during a layover and I'm sitting on the floor with a child who went from logical, loving, and so adorable it's insane to completely and utterly inconsolable in a matter of seconds.

It's the In Between that does it. The Before, too. And sometimes, The After comes into play in the form of night terrors because we went to a Mexican wedding and my little girl isn't used to hands reaching out constantly to touch while she hides behind my dress because she wasn't exposed to any of the cultural craziness I was growing up. The Before is a bitch because no matter how much time we have to prepare her for any change, it's never enough. The In Between just comes into play on days like today when we have two layovers and three planes for a 3,ooo mile trip.

Because once we got on each plane? I'm in familiar territory. I'm in the place where I am a flower and inside her heart.

Silver Ribbons

A lot of us hide behind our words. It's easier that way. Usually, anyway.

But then the voices inside our heads that can only be expressed with our fingers on our blogs or in our journals or in our essays remind us that we can't always keep the secrets at bay.

If we had cancer or leukemia or a physical disability that other people could actually see. . . it might be easier. . . maybe. But instead we have our prescriptions and our therapists and our internal struggles and our own issues with shame because we know there is something. . . different. . .

And sometimes that makes us feel like less than we actually are.

Just a few days ago, Jenny Lawson (everybody's favorite Bloggess) bravely and beautifully told the world about her struggles with depression and self-harming behavior that she is hoping to get under control before her young daughter is old enough to really see what is going on. Jenny spoke about the cycle of depression and how it affects us and our families and how no one really understands the guilt that comes along with each breath as we realize how much everyone else had to pick up the slack because we were just working on being.

And survival. And pride. For us and those who love us. Jenny talked about those things to.

We listened, empathized, related, and shared. Because that's what not hiding behind our words can do for those we are connected with. Using our words to open even the tiniest pieces of our souls to the world has power. And with that power comes acceptance and love and understanding and validation. .  and even more pride.

Because we survived.

I wear a silver ribbon because:

  • there are things I'm not brave enough to share yet but. . .
  • my sister is manic depressive
  • I am clinically depressed
  • eating disorders never really go away
  • happiness comes wrapped in a tiny little capsule
  • Obsessive-compulsive scab picking is how I self harm
  • when I tell you that there's no shame in mental illness, I mean it but. . .
  • I'm not quite sure that rule applies to me
  • and I want it to

Thank you, Jenny. Thank you for using your words to bring us all to a better place that includes support and love and self-acceptance.

Why do you wear a silver ribbon?

***

This post originally appeared on Owning Pink.