It’s Christmas Eve, a wonderful, magical and hopeful night.
It leads to the gift giving and love of CHRISTMAS DAY, so what better time to add to my circle of incredible women and bloggers?
When I started the Story CIrcle of Love earlier this year it was because I knew so many women that had LITERALLY changed my heart and mind through their words. Getting to know them through their blogs and then becoming their friends was such an enourmous gift to me. I wanted other women (and men) to share their stories of it too.
Unlike the Proud Mommy Moments I share on this blog (new ones coming in 2013), where I shared my words about a certain mommy and blogger, I wanted others to
“Write a love letter of thanks to another blogger, someone who has changed your life since you were introduced”
The circle gets wider, along with my smile and my heart expands with the amount of love, support, friendship and companionship that has flowered in the wake of it.
I have been introduced to three bloggers I didn’t even know before and my hope is that as we join hands and add to the corner, I am given the gift of even more new friends.
This is an exercise in LOVE.
An experiment in SUPPORT.
and a REAL world example of how the people inside our screens have become our most trusted “sisters”.
I couldn’t think of a better day to ADD TO THE CIRCLE , than the night before Christmas.
When I started blogging I did so to preserve my own sanity. I am the mom of a teenager with Schizoaffective Disorder; in the simplest of terms, a disorder that combines the “best” of both Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Tim was 14 years old, on his ninth inpatient hospitalization since the age of 11, and our home life was an experiment in terror. Tim had attempted suicide once seriously, once half-heartedly, and contemplated it in stark and scary terms several more times. He threatened to kill me, his father, and others because the voices in his head screamed at him to do so. He wouldn’t bathe because he was convinced that the water was poisonous. He’d been on more than 20 different medication combos, met with and burned out three child psychiatrists and three therapists, and could not get through five hours of school without a screaming, swirling meltdown of anxiety and psychosis that invariably ended with his classroom being cleared and a pile of desks being thrown into a corner.
So I started blogging as a personal record. I was sure I was the only one living with the constant fear that my child’s life would end by his own hand, or our lives would be irrevocably damaged by one of his violent, psychotic rages that injured us or resulted in his incarceration. We stood on the precipice of a future that offered us the equally unappealing choices of long-term residential treatment, electroconvulsive therapy, or medication with so many side effects that the FDA requires the patient to register the results of blood tests in a National database. I sent my words out into the ether, assuming they fell on deaf ears. Then one day, a blog post got a comment from another parent like me.
I began to venture out into the virtual world of social media, looking for others who might understand. And I found them. I began to realize that the confusion and fear I felt wasn’t a singular experience. I had peers who were living lives like mine, and they encouraged me to keep sharing. Bolstered by the realization that I had a voice others wanted to hear, I agreed to be interviewed by the Chicago Tribune about stigma and mental illness. I felt confident and strong. Until the hate mail came. Hundreds of emails condemning me as a thin-skinned killjoy hell-bent on sanitizing the world to satiate my fragile psyche poured in from all over the Midwest, and then snowballed into thousands of emails as the article was reprinted in the United Kingdom and one of the world’s largest Spanish language papers. Many encouraged me to glue my mouth shut. Some encouraged me to end my own life or let my son end his. A select few offered to end my life for me.
But amongst the tidal wave of hate were a few notes of love and support. One of those was from Julia Roberts. When I saw the name I had the fleeting thought I bet you’re having now. Not THAT Julia Roberts. A much more important Julia Roberts. A mom from Georgia with two children of her own, including Gage, an impish young man with a head of beautiful blonde curls, a face peppered with freckles, and the dual demons of polycystic kidney disease and deep, dangerous depression (PTSD, Clinical depression rage etc) . Julia’s words were a soothing salve to the flaming hatred I had received, thanking me for standing up to those that trivialize mental illness and encouraging me to continue. Julia understands my pain because she lives it. But she doesn’t wallow in a cloud of despair.
Julia’s blog, Kidneys and Eyes, is a love letter to the children she loves and the daily war she wages to keep them healthy. I explored Julia’s posts and meekly reached out to thank her for the letter of love amidst the sea of bile I’d received. And as we continued to correspond, her fierce yet compassionate words were the encouragement I needed to raise my voice over the hatred and continue to fight against the stigma that could relegate our children to the margins of society.
Julia also runs a website dedicated to helping all parents of special needs children find the others that relate to their cries for understanding and support and change. I hold Julia up as the example of who I strive to be – a woman on a mission to save my child by bringing us all together in a safe, warm bear hug of community, advocacy, and empathy. She is my touchstone, and my and my son’s lives are better for having basked in the warm glow of her friendship and support. I am the advocate I am today because of her stunning example.
Oh Chrisa and Julia, both of you are such AMAZING women to me.
Reading through your blogs and now having you as part of this Circle has enriched my life.
THANK YOU so much for being here.
Their strength, determination and LOVE for their children is truly inspiring.
If you’d like to read more about the WOMEN IN MY CORNER you can read about it here.
and for those of you celebrating today…” Merry Christmas to all, and to all a GOOD NIGHT!”