Monday, November 28, 2016

My Time In Jail

For eight years, from 2005-2013, I was a teacher at the men's correctional centre here in town.  I never talked about my work while I was employed, for fear of getting my hand slapped.  I once wrote a rebuttal to the local newspaper when we were on strike in 2006. That was a giant no-no and my higher ups slapped my hand while patting me on the shoulder :) Lesson learned!

I convocated from College of Education in May 2005. I worked at Sylvan Learning Centre for the summer and in October of that year, I applied at the men's jail. I was hired! Huzzah! To say I was terrified was an understatement BUT I was being hired to fill in for a woman going on mat leave.  If she felt comfortable enough working there pregnant, how dangerous could it really be? My first day, I was totally pumped to put on my standard issue uniform (I wore the same thing that the guards did).  I was shadowing another teacher for the first few days and then was set to take over his position and he would technically fill in for the mat leave.

My first year of working at the jail entailed working with the inmates in remand and secure. Guys on remand are awaiting their trial.  That meant murderers and rapists, along with petty thieves and everyone in between. In remand, I taught a group of guys at one time. In secure, I could only teach one at a time.  Guys would get pulled from their cells and spend about ten or fifteen minutes with me.  I'd correct their old work and assign them new stuff.

To test their levels, we used the good old CTBS tests that we had to do in school…anyone remember those? The scantron sheets? Anyways, we tested vocabulary, reading, grammar, spelling and math. Based on the outcome, we would assign the guys work. Reading labs, World of Vocabulary and good old math text books are what the guys used. Down in secure, everything was photocopied…no books allowed.  Later on in my years, they even switched the guys over to golf pencils and no erasers as a safety precaution. I remember one of my students making a stabbing motion and complaining, "How the fuck am I supposed to stab anyone with this?!?".  Ah, good times…

Come summer time, there were no holidays for this chickie.  I took over the main GED classroom (which was combined with the early literacy classroom) so the higher ups could have their holidays.  My only complaint was how hot it was in those gall dang uniforms and plus 30 temps! Not comfortable! While I was in the GED classroom, two RCMP officers were shot and killed while on a chase. Constable Robin Cameron was related to one of my students.  Because they were airing the funeral on TV, he asked me if we could cut class short and watch the funeral.  I said of course. What I didn't expect was to find myself in a room full of crying men. As I sat at my desk, I choked back a couple of tears myself.  I got up and stood at the back of the class so the guys wouldn't see me crying (show no weakness!). A memorable moment, to say the least.

There were four of us teachers in total. When the one lady came back from mat leave, she took over her spot in the early literacy class.  She didn't want to work full time, so I job shared with her.  Being in the early literacy class (LRC) was a nice change.  The guys who were in there WANTED to be in class and actually learn something.  For the most part, it was a good bunch of guys with only a few bad eggs mixed in there. I felt safe enough, although I never turned my back on the class and always had my radio on me.

There are only two incidents that stand out as scary to me.  In one instance, a guy in remand was pissed off that it was either school time or lock up time - no free time. He took that anger out on me and came at me with an empty coffee pot, making motions like he was going to hit me.  A guard luckily intervened.  Another time, in LRC, a guy was pissed off at something a guard had just said to him and when I asked him to start working, he started throwing his books around and just about flipped the table.  I called for back up and they were there within seconds.  Not gonna lie…I was so scared I cried (not in front of the guys).  It just rattled me at how quickly someone can turn.  I was pissed off at the guard who riled him up and then sent him to class.  He should have just kept him on the unit.

Even though I was employed there for eight years, I ended up having a fair chunk of time off.  I was forced to take from January-June 2008 off because the woman needed to top up her hours before she went back on mat leave.  Then I took December 2008 off for in vitro trials. Then I had from January 2010-2011 off because of mat leave. In January 2012, I went on disability from work due to my mental health (pregnancy really did a number on me). I never did work again.  In September 2013, I officially gave my notice and then opened up my kids' used clothing store. I've never regretted leaving the jail.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Early Childhood Intervention Program

Since February, we have been working with Early Childhood Intervention Program for Andrew (ECIP). Lori has been doing a great job of helping Andrew. Every two weeks, Lori shows up with some new game or activity for Andrew to play/try. We did a bunch of assessments, initially, to figure out where he is low/lacking and then activities are chosen, based on those outcomes. This past week, Andrew was given little strips of paper on them with lines in the middle…he is to work on cutting on the line.  Lori also left us a memory game, but it's a bit too advanced for Andrew.

Katelyn's former preschool teacher suggested ECIP to us and I'm eternally grateful! There have been activities and games that Andrew has completed that I never would have guessed he could do (matching games, sorting games etc). Andrew enjoys his time while Lori is here, even though he doesn't always like being dressed for her visits! If he's at home, he likes to just be in his pull up…can't blame the little duder! When I'm at home, I like to be in my relax outfit too :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Worst Pain - Revisited

Oh, how naive I was when I wrote this post in June of 2012…if only I had known what was in store for me with regards to Andrew's birth.  Migraines ain't got nothin' on the pains of labour! We are done having children pretty much solely because I NEVER want to experience the level of pain that I did when Andrew was born. The only positive to the entire birth experience was that it was over rather quickly. An hour and a half from first contraction to Andrew's appearance.

There is no way I can describe the pain with his birth…I tried telling Mike to take the feelings associated with his worst crap and magnify that by a thousand…you'd come close to what I was feeling that day. My entire body was just rocked with contractions and there was no time to administer an epidural.  I was begging for morphine or fentanyl or anything…anything to take the edge off.  Nope.  No could do. They didn't even have time to get an IV into my hand.

So if I had to rewrite the list, Andrew's birth would now be at number one.  Here's hoping I never experience physical pain that tops that!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Our Big Purchase

One afternoon, towards the end of September, I commented to Mike that I had been thinking about us financing a new vehicle. Twenty-four hours later, we had a new truck sitting in our driveway. We are nothing if not impulsive!

I never thought I'd be a truck person. I had a picture of me sitting bitch in some beat up Chevy that blew black smoke. But this truck? She's pert sweet. We picked up a 2013 Dodge Ram Outdoorsman with a hemi. She's silver and oh so pretty.  I love being higher up than everyone else…if we were to get into an accident, we'd take off someone's head. We commented this morning that the only thing that would make this truck better would be a sunroof. It has heated seats and a heated steering wheel - perfect for our long ass winters.

Within a week of buying it, the kids and I, along with my parents, were off to Calgary for Thanksgiving.  There's no way we would have all fit in our old Equinox…we don't travel lightly! I had two suitcases and a plastic tote just for me and the kids.  My parents each had a suitcase, as well as a cooler, a tote, a box of wine and their laptop. We all fit comfortably into the cab of the truck…room to spare! I did most of the driving for the way to Calgary, but got my dad to drive once we hit the foggy patches.

We sold the Equinox to Colby and feel better that he has a good vehicle to drive this winter.  We had bought him a little shitbox of a car, but the muffler ended up falling off and the vehicle needed about a thousand bucks worth of repairs…not worth it when the car only cost us $700 in the first place!

We still have our black wheelchair accessible van for Joel and that's what we drive when we need to transport the whole family (like we did to Waskesiu this past summer). Because of the wheelchair taking up so much space, there's not a lot of room left over for suitcases so we can't really over night it anywhere with Joel.  He's still happy to get out and about to wherever we are going though :)

All in all, a fantastic purchase! Now we have something to haul loads of garbage to the dump - just as soon as we get the hitch put on!

And so it goes...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five On Friday

After the week I've had, let's lighten up the mood a bit on here…here's my five on friday for this week…

one} I ordered a laser background for both of the kids' school pictures.  Katelyn actually chose it and I liked it so decided to keep Andrew's the same.  Andrew's school pics haven't come back yet, but K's look awesome!!

two} I think I've narrowed down our trip…we would likely do Disneyland, Universal Studios and SeaWorld.  I'm basing this on the responses I got to my call out for help with deciding on where we should go. I'm also basing it a little bit on Becky's pictures on IG of her current trip to the above mentioned places.

three} I'm almost ready for Christmas (with regards to the kids anyways).  I've bought quite a bit off Amazon and only need to pick up a few stocking stuffers from local stores. I still have to do all the shopping for Mike (Joel gets movies off Amazon)…one quick trip to Canadian Tire will take care of most of that!

four} We decorated for Christmas last weekend.  I know it may seem early to some, but we couldn't wait! I love the glow of the Christmas tree in the evenings and in the early morning hours. The Elf won't make a stop by here until December 1st, although he did make one quick trip to welcome the kids to the holiday season :)

five} After more than ten years of buying clothes exclusively from Penningtons, I finally fit into something from Old Navy (granted it was still their plus size line but who gives a shit?).  I bought Miss K's Christmas dress and boots from Old Navy and wanted a sweater for Andrew that matched her dress.  I ended up finding a loose cardigan for myself in the same colour.  I wasn't sure if it was going to fit, but Old Navy has free return shipping so I figured, "Why not?".  It showed up yesterday and, lo and behold, it fit! I have lost twenty pounds over the last two months so I think that plays into fitting into the Old Navy clothes!

And so it goes...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Fallout

I had trouble falling asleep last night for two reasons. One, I forgot to take my night time meds until 11:30pm and, by then, it was too late to take them. Two, my brain just wouldn't shut off. I lay there in the dark for a long time, listening to my babies breathe and wondering why shit happens to me.

Part of me wants to go to the dark, nasty place where people are cynical and out to hurt one another and that's the reason my blog was forwarded on to city police. After an emergency counselling sesh this morning, the majority of me (and that's a lot, amiright? Girlfriend got some more pounds to shed…) wants to believe that some concerned citizen out there wanted to help.  If I continue beating my head against the wall and going to the dark place, I'm never going to be able to move past this. And I NEED to move past this.  Pronto.

I keep replaying opening the door and seeing the officer standing there, with my blog post in his hand.  It'll take awhile for the shock of that to wear off. Even as I type this, my heart is speeding up, remembering the moment my brain realized he wasn't a politician, canvassing for an election. And then there's seeing my blog post in his hand. Over and over again.  You see, OCD is best described (and I believe it is in the DSMV) as "an awful bitch".  You've got your obsessions (or thoughts) that ruminate in your mind, followed by a compulsion (some type of action in an attempt to ward off the obsession) or extreme anxiety.  Most of my OCD is followed by anxiety.  Except for fingernail issues.  If I start to think about my nails breaking off, I have to flick each one of them to remind myself they are still there. Or I have to put band aids on each of my fingers, but it's been awhile since it's come to that. Anyways, these thoughts were replaying in my mind when I woke up this morning and I knew I needed some extra help.

Mike is on days again today which means I'm alone with the kids until 6:30pm.  There was no way I was going to be able to make it through the day without seeing one of my counsellors.  I phoned my regular counsellor first and luckily, she was able to fit me at 11:00am. We pulled from my past from a time when I was in a situation similar to last night…one that rocked me.  I wasn't able to cope back then, but I'm WAY past where I was five years ago. I didn't even cry when I had the police and Mobile Crisis in my house (besides when the one worker had to walk in with his shoes on to check on Andrew…the thought of his outside shoes on my inside floor just about put me on my knees!).  We sifted through what was helpful and not helpful. What would keep me safe today and what would put me at risk. We talked about why my home is a safe place and how that got violated last night.  Andrew was there with me and happily played with a container of plastic bugs and frogs for the entire hour…I'm so grateful my children are well behaved when I need them to be!

Long story short, I'm doing okay today. Shaken, but not to my core. It'll be awhile yet before I've fully processed all of this. And again, you have no idea how much your comments on here and on FB mean to me! I may not believe that I'm that strong YET, but I am getting there :)

And so it goes...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Somebody Snitched On Me...

It was 5:30pm.  I was in the midst of making supper when there was a knock at the door. My initial thought was that it was some crazed woman making a last ditch effort to get her hands on the Barbie Jeep I had listed several hours prior (lady wasn't understanding that it was sold before she even commented). Nope. I was wrong. A police officer introduced himself, but all I heard was "I'm a big scary cop and I have a copy of your blog post from Thursday night.  We're hear to lock you up and take away your children".

Of course, that's not what he said.  But that's what I was thinking when I saw he had a screen shot of my blog post about my OCD being sent into overdrive.  Unfortunately, Mike and I are not strangers with Mobile Crisis (the after hours social services). One evening last year, I was plagued with thoughts of hurting my kids and hurting myself and I got my mom to drive me to the hospital where I was going to check myself into the ward.  Some miscommunication ensued and I was checked in as an "involuntary".  Not cool, bro. Not cool at all. I told them I wasn't going with them until I was placed as voluntary. As soon as they lifted the involuntary placement, I changed my mind completely and wanted to go home.  Now, since I had disclosed thoughts of hurting my children, the doctor had to phone Mobile Crisis and the police.  They all met me at home.  The kids were already gone to my mom and dad's house so they (Mobile Crisis) went there to physically see they were okay. Then a ban was put in place that I couldn't be alone with the kids until further notice.  It was a living hell. I stayed at my parent's house with the kids so that I wasn't alone with them.  After a week or so, the ban was lifted and I could gloriously be alone with my babies again!  BUT that's not the point of this post…

The point of the post is this…someone in the community emailed my blog to the chief of police who then forwarded it on to a lower ranking worker.  It got lost in her spam and sat there until today when the chief questioned what was done about it.  "What was done about what?" was the response.  Once they found the email in question, two constables were sent over to my house.

I was just about to pour myself a drink of apple juice in my wine glass when the knock happened. The officer very nicely explained who he was and why he was there.  He said they needed to follow through and make sure I and the kids were okay. Our new kitten, Raj, had escaped out the front door when I let the officers in, so the second officer, Mr. Kitten Whisperer, coaxed Raj out from under the van and back into the house. Officer #1 stayed and chatted with me.  I explained that I am okay.  That I have a great number of supports in place.  That I have a wellness checklist by my bathroom mirror that I run through everyday to make sure I'm feeling okay.  That I'm taking my meds properly. That when events like Thursday happen, I have Mike. Whether he's at home or at work, he can talk me through pretty much anything. If he can't, he comes home.  End of story. The officer seemed to be satisfied with that, but explained that Mobile Crisis still had to be alerted.  Oy vey.  My anxiety went through the roof. Thoughts of having my babies taken away because of something I wrote went through my mind. Never did I think my writing could prove that powerful.

Anyways, two lovely workers from Mobile Crisis showed up.  We brought them up to speed on what had happened and what was happening.  They checked on the kids (Katelyn was asleep on the couch and Andrew was watching videos in the kitchen on the computer…Joel was rocking out to Much Retro and making a hell of a racket singing along). They were satisfied that all was well, that I had sufficient supports in place and that I know what to do if I'm plagued with thoughts in the future. And they left.

I was shaking as I closed the door.  I promptly popped two of my natural anti-stress supplements to try and calm me down.  I couldn't get a hold of Mike at work since it was shift change.  All I could do was wait until he got home to share the news with him.  He was LIVID that someone would do that to me and tried to persuade me to make my blog private.  Hells to the no am I doing that! I'm not about to be scared into a corner where my blog becomes private and no one can find me!

To the person that forwarded my blog on to the police…I have this to say to you…thank you and I'm sorry.  Thank you for being concerned enough about me to pass along my blog to the proper authorities. But I'm sorry you felt you couldn't talk to me about it first.  I'm sorry that you didn't click that little label that says "Mental Health" under each of these types of posts and find out a little bit more about me before you forwarded my blog on to the police.  I'm sorry you didn't take the time to try and see what makes me tick before running scared. I'm sorry that I scared YOU. Lastly, thank you for giving me more material for my book ;)

And to all my peeps on FB that had my back today when I posted the teaser to this…THANK YOU! It's nice to be reminded every once in awhile who supports and loves you!

And so it goes...

I Need Your Input

If you and your children could travel anywhere for one week to ten days, where would you go? Mike and the kids and I want to take a trip in February but can't decide where to go.  We put Disneyland on the table, but Miss K would rather go to Lego Land.  Last night, I started putting together a trip that would include Lego Land, SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo. I was getting excited about it, but wondered whether we should be doing Disney instead.

Then I started thinking about an all-inclusive resort somewhere.  We'd love to go to Atlantis Bahamas, but it looked pretty expensive. So tell me…where would you go with a 7 year old and a 4 year old? Thanks in advance!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Journey Of My Lifetime

My parents travel in the fall.  Whenever they go away, I worry that it may be the last time I'll see them.  I worry that they will become a blip in the newspaper about a Canadian couple missing in…wherever. I know any given day that either one of them could be "hit by a bus", but it just seems like travelling heightens the chances of something happening.

On the flip side, I know my mom worries about going away and leaving me, especially if I'm not doing well when they leave.  When they left for Japan this time, my mom left me a beautiful card that I want to share on here. I won't share the portion that she wrote…just the commercial version.  It speaks to me on so many levels and is just so…true.

You're on the journey of a lifetime…
A journey no one else will travel and no one else can judge - a path of happiness and hurt, where the challenges are great and the rewards even greater.
You're on a journey where each experience will teach you something valuable and you can't get lost, for you already know the way by heart.

You're on a  journey that is universal yet uniquely personal, and profound yet astonishingly simple - where sometimes you will stumble and other times you will soar.
You'll learn that even at your darkest point, you can find a light - if you look for it. 
At the most difficult crossroad, you'll have an answer - if you listen for it.
Friends and family will accompany you part of the way, and you'll walk the rest by yourself…but you will never be alone.

Travel at your own pace. 
There'll be time enough to learn all you need to know and go as far as you're meant to go.
Travel light.
Letting go of extra baggage will keep your arms open and your heart free to fully embrace the gifts of the moment.

You may not always know exactly where you're headed, but if you follow the desires of your heart, the integrity of your conscience, and the wisdom of your soul…then each step you take will lead you to discover more of who you really are, and it will be a step in the right direction on the journey of a lifetime.

Thanks Mom!

And so it goes...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

OCD Into Overdrive

I'm not sure why a Saskatchewan father took his seven year old daughter's life today.  Perhaps he and his wife had yet another fight and he wanted revenge.  Perhaps he was mentally ill.  No, wait…to take your child's life, you are most definitely mentally ill.  I almost know it too well…

You see, I have tremendous fears of being part of the next news story that brings a province to a stand still…my OCD keeps me in its grips and brings me thoughts of wanting to hurt my own children.  Even kill them.  There…I said it. It's out.

I have difficulty with bath time because I want to hold my children under the water until they are no longer breathing.  When I am cooking supper, I want to slit their throats with whatever knife I am holding.  When we're driving on the highway, I want to steer into oncoming traffic and take all our lives.  I live in a pretty constant state of warding off negative thoughts with regards to my children.  It's a living hell.

This afternoon, after learning that little Nia Eastman was no longer alive, I needed to lay down.  As I laid there, my OCD took over and began to make a plan to drown the kids and then kill myself.  But this time? Instead of telling myself I'm crazy and no one has thoughts like these, I decided to just let the thoughts be.  I questioned them…why am I thinking of this? What possible good can come from thinking this way? What makes my brain go to these dark and twisty places? Why me? And a funny thing happened…my mind eventually went quiet and I was able to nap somewhat peacefully. Of course, waking up and realizing all over again that there's a mother out there that will never get to hug and kiss her seven year old daughter broke my heart all over again.

My OCD is a psycho hose beast.  But it's one of my truths.  I have many truths, but OCD seems to be one of the most prevalent ones…it dictates so much of my day and affects those around me.  When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  Mike has missed work because of me and my thoughts of feeling unsafe, whether it's with regards to the kids or myself.  My kids have missed school because I've been kept awake by these thoughts and then too tired in the morning to pack lunches and kiss foreheads before they catch the bus.

I realize that this post may be shocking for some to read, but to me, it's just the norm.  I've talked about this so often in counselling and psychiatry sessions, it seems old hat to me.  I can be speak quite flippantly about my thoughts because the topic is brought up often in my life, whether by me or by my team of supports.

Mike asked me how the news today affected me.  I was honest with him and said that it scares me that I could do something like that.  Mike made me promise him that I would NEVER hurt our babies…I swore on our wedding rings I would never do that…that I would just take myself out of the equation if my thoughts ever drove me that far. And then we come back full circle…why I find myself in hospital so often…because I'm plagued with these thoughts and afraid I'm going to act on them.  It's vicious and nasty, but it's my life.   BUT but I am getting stronger with the help of my counsellors and good medication.  I journal more regularly now and post for help on Instagram when I need some extra support. And my friends always come through for me.

One day at a time is all I can do…it's all any of us can do.

Keep Nia Eastman and her family in your prayers tonight.  And hug your babies a little bit closer when you tuck them into bed.

And so it goes...