mental health

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  mental health,  sensory processing

    J is Struggling

    We have a problem with masks. No, not for the political reasons that everyone else seems to have about masks. We have a problem with masks because for the last bazillion months of the pandemic, masks, for the most part, have kept people from getting sick. Not just from COVID but from colds and other respiratory issues. Which means people aren’t coughing. And that’s a really bad thing for J. For 2020 and most of 2021, you’d go to the grocery store and it would be silent. Church was silent. Classrooms? Silent. Almost every public place without a hack or cleared throat. To be honest, I didn’t notice. At all.…

  • autism,  COVID life,  mental health,  motherhood,  post high school

    Little paper trails

    I began my personal paper trail a few months shy of 16 years old. I got my first passport in June of 1996, and on August 5 of that year (I still have the original immigration visa stamp in that passport) my mom, sister, and I moved to the States to join my dad in Nebraska where he had started his new job a few months earlier. I remember sitting in the Coutts/Sweetgrass Border Patrol Building which straddles the border of Alberta and Montana where Customs officers scoured over the paperwork my mom had filled out for me and my sister. The room was small. Wood paneling. There was a…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  medication,  mental health


    Take the syringe, watch the calibration carefully as you pull the clear, bitter liquid out from the bottle. That bitterness is why you need lemonade. Orange juice works too. The acidity will offset the bitterness. Wipe the bottle clean before you place it back in the cupboard. Any medication that spills along the sides will be sticky. J is 5 when we start this regiment, hoping that the sertraline prescription will do enough to keep his anxiety and OCD-like symptoms manageable. We were nervous to start. Anti-anxiety medication for a five year old? But the anxiety is debelitating for him. We feel like we don’t have any other choice. “Don’t…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  high school,  mental health,  special education

    COVID Rules

    Monday morning, J and I sit in front of his school-issued laptop while we chat with his special ed teacher, para, and speech therapist in our little “small talk” session and suddenly J bursts into a complete meltdown. Not just meltdown–I’m pretty sure it’s a panic attack because there’s hyperventilation and big ugly-cry sobs. We try to keep him on camera to help talk him through it–to assure him that things will not just be fine, things will be great, but he can’t do it and he needs to leave the room. It’s a very big reaction to (what we thought) was a pretty benign question: When is quarantine over?…

  • anxiety,  COVID life,  mental health,  motherhood

    Yes, we are blessed. And yes, we are struggling.

    I don’t know what day of quarantine we’re on without looking at a calendar. Time feels so different right now. The days kind of blur into each other, but at the same time they’re so different. Some days I wake up motivated, I’m on top of things (as in interacting with my kids so they’re on screens for 5 hours instead of say, 6 that day). Some days I wake up and it’s a struggle–sometimes with my kids and Steve, sometimes just with myself. It’s like I wake up every morning to a new Sarah Beck and I have to figure out what the new head space looks like for…

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  • autism,  empathy,  exercise,  family,  mental health,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    Lessons from the long run

    When I was pregnant I was aware of every single little change in my body at every single stage of my pregnancy. I took prenatal vitamins. I read up on and kept track weekly of what was going on with my body and what was going on with the baby growing inside of me. I figured out really quickly what exact foods and smells would trigger nausea and vomiting. I knew exactly which foods would help a little with the nausea: limes and carrots (I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with J during my last semester in college and so I would carry bags of baby carrots to…

  • anxiety,  apps,  autism,  exercise,  mental health,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    Thoughts from the treadmill

    J has finally, FINALLY recovered from the last two weeks of being really sick, and I thought for sure that we’d be back on track with behaviours and motivation. Apparently, that was wishful thinking. Lately it seems like it’s getting harder to determine if J’s behaviours fall into the “anxiety” category or “I’m a 17 year old boy and just want to be a punk sometimes” category. Throw in illness, changes in schedule, changes in semester, or anything else, it starts to get even more difficult to parse those things out. It’s downright frustrating as a parent (and I sense for J too), and I’m realizing more and more the…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  medication,  mental health

    The Uneaten Bowl of Spaghettios

    Or “Never a Controlled Experiment” Part 2 We’ve been struggling for months now–probably since the beginning of the school year–trying to decide if J’s current medications are effective and helping him to be the best version of himself. We’re starting to think that they’re not. It was a question J’s Dr asked us back around October. It was our first visit with her (J’s old psychiatrist retired just recently–we loved her!) and as she was familiarizing herself with J’s file she asked us, “do you think J’s anti-anxiety medication is still helping his anxiety.” The question totally took my off guard. Every discussion we’ve had for years is, “how is…

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  • autism,  family,  mental health,  motherhood

    Looking Back, Looking Forward

    No matter how hard I try and how much I promise myself that I’m going to cut back and “just enjoy the holiday season,” it never happens. I’ve been an adult now (a parent now) for how many years, and I have yet to make that balance happen (and it seems to get more frenetic every year). In the last few weeks of December, I always feel like my life is completely out of control. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who gets like this. I think everyone gets a little like this, especially women. And I’m not trying to be a martyr or disparage men by…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  family,  mental health,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Trying to protect my kids’ sanity

    Eleven days of school. We’ve had eleven days of the 2019/2020 school year. It feels as if it’s been an eternity. J has struggled, struggled oh so much these past eleven days. We have tried, what feels like, a million different strategies to put his mind at peace over the fire drill. Nothing has worked. The anxiety for August’s monthly drill had been building since his first XC meet, (August 24) and last week the anticipation for the end of the calendar month built up so much that he ran out of the school with severe panic Wednesday. I sat with him the morning of the drill Thursday. Friday, after…

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