Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

Never Long Enough?   Leave a comment

Why is it that a vacation is never enough? I can’t think of a time in recent history, or even in the last twenty years, when I could honestly say at the end of my trip, “I’m ready to go back to my responsibilities!”

If I take a vacation with my family and we go camping, life is much simpler, and generally, I don’t think about projects back home or work or research or anything.  I think about hiking, the scenery, what we’re eating next, and getting everyone tucked in for bed.  It’s pretty simple.

If I take a road trip to see a friend, I think about all kinds of things while the road unwinds and my mind does the same. I enjoy laughs and getting caught up with the friend.

If I am on a getaway for a night or two with my husband, I don’t think about the kids much.  I don’t worry about them.  I enjoy the buffet breakfast, I enjoy not having to cook for anyone, and I just sit and read a book when I want to.  I stare out the window.  My man and I talk about all kinds of subjects we don’t usually talk about.

So I think I’m taking advantage of these opportunities I do have, for the most part.  An exception might be fall break, which we are partaking of right now.  Only, since I’m home, the kids are home–it seems to be difficult to just do whatever I want to do, because most of my regular responsibilities are still right here looking at me.

But it doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing that is a break from the usual routine, it never seems to be long enough.  I always want more.

So do I have an insatiable appetite for rest and relaxation?

Or have I just not gotten a long enough vacation yet?


Posted October 9, 2015 by swanatbagend in mental health

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It’s a Wonderful Life – Part II   Leave a comment

Every now and then when I meet a new mother who has had a cesarean, or in early September which is the same time of year at which these events occurred, I remember.  I remember the feeling of shock that fall was already on its way–when I thought I was having a summer baby.  I had a due date of August 9th.  But he didn’t come until the 24th.  Then I didn’t get home from the hospital til the 27th.  Then before I knew it Labor Day was at hand.

The yellowing and wilting landscape personified my inner state.

Everything in my world felt like it was spiraling to an end.

I was sleeping again, which was an improvement and an escape.

Eating had started getting a bit better.

So I was functioning on some very basic level, but while the body was healing, the mind definitely wasn’t.

I wasn’t able to define it until several years later, but I was dealing with post traumatic stress disorder brought on by an unexpected cesarean at the end of a 30 hour labor with my son.

I had planned the birth of my first baby very carefully and thought I had the best care providers I could find.  All was well until I went past the time limits they were comfortable with.  Then my nurse midwives began to tell me I was too tired to go on, and their support for my natural birth went out the window.

I ended up in the ER an hour later, with a general anesthesia, for what they called an emergency cesarean.

That is not a good start for any major life transition, and it completely rocked my world.

I won’t define post traumatic stress in this post, but there is plenty of good information about what it is and what causes it on the net.  Suffice it to say, between new motherhood, the changes in hormones, a traumatic birth, the physical recovery from that birth, and wanting to generate positive feelings for my new son, and not having them–I was a big mess.

I really thought the world had come to an end.

It’s been twenty years now, and I’m happy to say that I was wrong.

It had not.

The reasons it did not come to an end were several: my husband, my parents, and some friends.  They were worth more than their weight in gold.  They were much more helpful than the counselor I saw for a month or two.  They were more important even than the medication I was given that let me finally sleep after a week with no sleep, and of course, that’s saying a lot.

These people were the reason because they kept on loving me and telling me the truth–that I would get better and that reality as I saw it was not reality.  Some of these friends took time every single week for months to call me.  They asked how I was doing, listened to and helped carry my despair, but kept encouraging me.

My husband put up with all my junk and kept on taking care of me, and of our baby, encouraging me to do normal things like go for walks, make dinner, go to church, with the assumption that one day, things would snap back to the reality I was actually living in, which was that everything was OK, even if I didn’t currently think it was.


I have a life now, 20 more years of it, that I wouldn’t have lived if I had had my way and put an end to it.

Thank God for his indescribable gift.  It really is a wonderful life.

A Perfect Day Would Be   Leave a comment

Not this one.

This one is just about recovering from a bad cold that kept me in the bed for the last two mornings.  No blogging going on there.   You know that feeling in your head after being sick where things just don’t seem right?  You want to run outside and somehow make it all change?

Yep, that’s the one I’m talking about.

A few more nights of sleep and I know my perspective will change.  But at the moment, I’m having difficulty focusing on what would make a perfect day for me.   Now, getting dinner organized–check.  Getting caught up on email and stuff–check.  Paying bills–check.

That’s OK.  Tomorrow I’ll probably be able to use my imagination again.

Posted November 20, 2014 by swanatbagend in mental health

Supplements that Have Helped A Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder   Leave a comment

I write this post in the hopes it will be helpful to another family and another child.

I have several children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum.

We’ve had the opportunity to utilize the wisdom of a biomedical doctor, and that added to my own research and all the supplements and therapies I’ve tried, has been helpful.  I sometimes wished that there had been a way, however, to get a personalized recipe, in advance, of which supplements and therapies would be the most effective, and just try those!  It would have been great to avoid cost, time and misery on things that didn’t work.  However, life doesn’t give its secrets away in advance, does it?

So, because I have seen an immense change in my nine-year old over the past two plus years of treatment, I would like to mention some things I think are most  helpful.

First, let me give you a profile: My nine-year old is incredibly creative and intelligent, very sensitive, highly irritable, very grouchy and sometimes difficult to get along with. He tends to have a chip on his shoulder and to find it difficult to forgive and natural to hold a grudge.  (OK, I admit it, the negative portions of this description can also by applied to myself; guess he comes by it naturally.)

Disclaimer: what I suggest here won’t permanently solve your problems.  But, it’s still worth sharing, as I can definitely say I can’t imagine the child’s life now without these several supplements.

First, diet is important.  Unfortunately I don’t know which diet will be most  helpful to your child.  We were gluten and casein free for 15 months and did not see definite changes.  When we went back on gluten we didn’t see changes either, so we aren’t still eating that way.  Eating MSG free and avoiding food coloring and corn syrup, on the other hand, has made a  huge difference in decreasing irritability and hyperactivity, so he has a better place to start from.  My other commonsense thought is cook from scratch as much as possible because of all the additives in prepared and processed food.

Then, supplements.

Fish oil: We use two kinds, both are Nordic Naturals brands.  I know, these products are expensive.  However, they are good for so many systems in the body, I think they are worth paying for.  We use the children’s strawberry flavored DHA soft gels, actually a double dose.  Also, we use Nordic Naturals’ Ultimate Omega  lemon flavored liquid.  Within a week or so of starting that, my son became markedly less irritable and more agreeable.  Again, taking down the internal stress or whatever it is he’s living with every day, helps him cope with the other daily challenges of life, whether they be academic, emotional, or social.

Magnesium: We use Source Naturals magnesium citrate.  It comes in capsules and I put it in applesauce with the other capsule contents and mix in.  Again less irritability,  better able to sleep, less stress, etc.

Lithium orotate: This little capsule is a mood stabilizer, and I guess a lot of people are deficient in it, as many are in magnesium, because it has certainly helped in that area.  We buy Complementary Prescriptions brand from

Vitamin E can be helpful too, but not in too high of a dose.

GABA: Another calmer.  We have been happy with Solgar brand.  My son’s occupational therapist noted that he was calmer and more focused after starting this, and she asked us what we had changed.  High five for GABA.

I wish I could give you the laundry list of all the other supplements we have tried.  Believe me, there have been many, probably 3 or 4 times the amount listed here that we are still using.  He is very sensitive to any change and to any new supplement or medication.  For example, we tried Nasonex for his congestion and found after two months that it literally made him depressed.  Quick change there.  Other allergy medications have unfortunate side effects as well.  So, I keep a record of what we are taking, and anything we change.  Also, when we change something, if at all possible, I change nothing else for at least three weeks.  It can be that long or longer before a side effect appears.

If you have a child on the spectrum, ideally, I’d suggest finding a biomedical doctor.  If that is not possible, do your own homework.  Just keep in mind all people are different, so you may get different results with your child.

But here is a place to start if your child is anything like mine.


Posted October 17, 2014 by swanatbagend in mental health, parenting

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My Filing Cabinet   1 comment

I’ve always had a great memory.  I am known among friends and acquaintances, who turn to me for obscure song lyrics from the 70s and 80s, other people’s telephone numbers and addresses, specifics about things we did together in the past…that kind of thing.

Not to mention the important stuff.  I never forget birthdays, anniversaries, what’s important to someone, where he’s from, what she does for a living, either.

That is…I never used to.

But something started happening when I turned 40.

I know, I know, huge stereotype, right?

But for me, literally, when I turned 40, that very year is when things started getting erased from the hard drive.

Now I can still remember songs from the 80s and some phone numbers from about ten years ago, you know incredibly useful stuff like that, but meeting new people and successfully storing their names in the gray matter has gotten way harder.  And it’s continuing to get more difficult, despite working hard to pull that stuff into the “keeper” file.

It’s the strangest feeling having your children tell you about something that happened last month or a few years ago and it’s blank.

They are at least tolerant of this weakness, and they like the metaphor I used to describe my situation.

You see, life is full and has been ever since I started giving birth to them.  So life is like a pick-up truck roaring down the interstate at 70 miles an hour.

In the back of the pick-up is an old, grey, extremely battered metal filing cabinet.

And as I drive wildly down the road of my life, the drawers rattle open from all the movement and action.  Guess what happens next?

Bits of white notebook paper come shooting violently out of the loose drawers of my mind.  So as I go I leave a trail of confetti.

Yep, that’s what it feels like.  There just isn’t room for any more  information, for one thing, and the speed of life demands that the time I have be spent in the present and planning for the future, so I don’t have time to turn around and try to collect all that lost information.

So, if I forget something about you, or the last time we got together, and what we did — don’t take it personally.  It’s just the state of my filing cabinet .




Posted July 2, 2014 by swanatbagend in mental health, transitions

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Re-Entry   Leave a comment

What is with this re-entry thing?   It hit me Monday morning, first thing, and it almost makes me wish I hadn’t gone on a vacation.

I know it isn’t just me, because while on my vacation I talked with a mother of 9 about this very thing.  The routine, the stress, the feeling that gee I should be rested and refreshed, but why am I just so darn crabby now that I am back home?

It was a very peaceful vacation also.  It was camping, which involves a certain amount of work that you don’t have at home, but it’s all basic, physical stuff, that is great because it empties my mind of any worries back home.  I usually find it difficult to follow an intellectual thread to its conclusion when I am camping.

Need I say, I love that.  It’s a really nice change from normal life.

So we ate, we went out to the beach, we hung out with friends, roasted s’mores, beached, slept, napped, rested, ate, and repeated.  Not too stressful.

So I know I didn’t overdo it.

And all I had to do the last two days were 1. ride back and 2. make dinner and 3. help set up and break camp.  Easy.


Why am I so tired and crabby this week?  Did I do something wrong?

What can I do differently?

I’m lying down each day for a while.  I’m not doing anything extra that we don’t normally do.

And then there is the usual question I keep asking, each morning, just like I always do after returning from a trip.  (And just as regularly, I forget before I go that this annoying phase will occur when I get back.)

The question is….why do I feel so crabby?

I suspect I only have another couple of days and we’ll be okay again.   Just wish I could skip the whole re-entry transition.

I think a week at the beach would be just the ticket, right about now.

Posted April 11, 2014 by swanatbagend in mental health

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Got Mental Health Issues? Consider this.   Leave a comment

Before you even go to the psychiatrist or your doctor, unless it’s a pressing or urgent situation, the first thing I’d recommend is the MSG free diet. Thank you Ruthie for exposing me to the possibility that what my children were eating was creating a plethora of unpleasant symptoms.  You can look up the diet online and find several websites that explain it more fully and teach you what the specifics are.

The basic idea is that you are just eating real food.  You are specifically avoiding MSG and all its derivatives.  This does mean goodbye to onion soup mix, canned soup, prepared dinners, frozen food, and convenience food in general.  But don’t panic, nowadays there are lots of good quality convenience items on the market, so you can go that way if you don’t feel like cooking from scratch.

The other good news is that you may not have to eat like this always and forever.  We actually do use commercial bread, rolls and tortillas; we go out to eat and eat with people in their homes without problems.  We just don’t consume a regular steady diet of the main culprits.

Also, I would recommend giving it a long trial, more like a couple months than a couple of weeks, especially if you don’t see any improvement on it in the first days, or think you don’t.  I didn’t think we had any changes, but kept on because I liked the way the food tasted and felt happily crunchy about the whole experience: I was making more things from scratch, roasting organic chickens and cool stuff like that.

Glad I did, because it eliminated completely some problems my children were having.  Nightmares.  Bed-wetting.  Insomnia.  Sleep onset problems.  Anxiety.  Hallucinations.

The insomnia and bed-wetting were just kind of an annoyance that we had been dealing with for years.  I don’t know why, honestly, it did not occur to me earlier that perhaps regular bouts of insomnia in a child starting at three years old were not, strictly speaking, normal.  But it didn’t, and when the child was about eight years old, we had reached a point where the anxiety was interfering with our lives, but it had no source I could figure out.  Over-analyzing our personal family dynamics looking for clues changed nothing.  I thought we were going to have to see the shrink when hallucinations started.

But thankfully all I really needed to analyze was what we were eating.

That led to a a transformation: a child who would not go outside because of fear became a child who went outside on her own and out of sight of the house without even giving it a thought one year later.

The added benefits of no insomnia or wet beds were a nice surprise.  A surprise because I did not believe those annoyances could be caused by onion soup mix.  Wrong.

I also didn’t think whatever was affecting my then 8-year-old was affecting my 4-year-old, but after we had done the MSG free diet for a couple of months, the 4-year-0ld was able to doze off at bedtime within 10 minutes.  It had been taking him a good half hour or more to go to sleep and the time just kept getting longer.  Again, I had no idea what was causing that.  I can’t tell you how much magnesium these children got to take at bedtime and how much lavender they got to breathe, to no particular effect, before we took MSG out of our diets.

There’s really nothing nicer than tucking in a preschool child…and having him fall asleep.  How simple and wonderful is that?

So anyway, that’s my story.  I was in favor of eating good quality food before I read up on the diet.  What I didn’t realize was how many prepared foods had substances in them that were stimulating the kids’ brains unnecessarily.  Now, I’m really truly in favor of eating real food.

I strongly recommend the MSG free diet to anyone with mental health issues.  It’s worth trying for a couple of months.

It could be as simple as what you’re eating.

Posted February 13, 2014 by swanatbagend in diet, mental health

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