ADHD, Dopamine and Addiction

I read something recently that caught my attention. Now, I’m no expert so please bare with me here while I try to explain scientificy terms in a way simpler people(me) could understand. Disclaimer: I just thought this was super fascinating but I am in no way giving medical advice as I am not a medical professional. For actual medical and mental direction, contact your psychiatrist, therapist, dietician, etc for advice tailored to you.

Okay, so in studies on the brain and how it works, scientists compared the brain of a person with ADHD to the brain of someone with a cocaine addiction. What they found, is that the two brains had something in common. They had the same level of dopamine receptors! I always forget what these pesky brain chemicals do, so I looked it up to be sure.

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s sometimes called a chemical messenger.

Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.

If you click on the word dopamine highlighted in blue above, you’ll find much more information on dopamine and its role in our bodies. But long story short, excess or lack of it can lead to some ridiculous consequences. Lack of motivation, difficulty learning and retaining information, pain processing, even affecting sleep and your overall mood. Hence, why it’s such a big deal!

That being said, a “normal” brain is supposed to make dopamine on its own. How dare my brain betray me like this! So this is how I look at it. For an addict, they probably made a dumb decision, which felt good, leading to a few more dumb decisions. Like me when I eat just one sugary, carby treat and tell myself it’ll be just this one time, and then a month goes by and I’ve gained 10 pounds… So when you make that dumb decision like use drugs or eat that damn brownie, your brain gets a hit of dopamine, and it feels good. After, the brain is like, “Oh cool, you gave me some dopamine without me even having to make it! Let’s do it this way from now on.” I get it, brain. I’d rather someone cook for me than to slave over the stove myself.

But for someone with ADHD, our brains are more like, “Welp… This dopamine stuff? It’s hard. I don’t feel like making it. Let’s just figure things out without it, okay? Actually… If we don’t, that’s okay too. Whatever.” It’s like our brains are too tired to actually cook up that dopamine on their own. And without help of any kind, we’re starving. BUT, there are three directions we can take.

First, and easiest: We just stay in this lane. We’re already used to feeling like we’re starving. It’s not new. It’s just life, right? I mean yeah, it would probably feel nice to be full(of motivation) for once, but eh. We’re okay. (That’s a lie, no we’re not.) I think many of us go in this direction at some point before it occurs to us that we can actually do something about it. But let’s face it, even then, it takes a while to get off the couch. We’ve got too much thinking to do first!

Second option: HELP. Whether it be a low carb/sugar free diet paired with all the essential oils and a virgin sacrifice and therapy and medication and whatever else, we look for something that can help in the long run. This is awesome! As long as your parents believe that you actually need help. As long as your doctor believes you. As long as the side effects of the meds don’t make things worse. As long as you’re lucky enough to find the right meds quickly enough. As long as everything goes fine because we need that dopamine NOW because LIFE. IS. HARD.

Onto option number three: Self medication. Dopamine comes in many forms. Drugs, meds, sugar, getting attention on social media… Calling myself out on those last two. With ADHD it’s so so easy to find an addiction. I’ve never gone down the path of DRUG drugs. I consider myself lucky in that way. But I’ve turned to many other things. Sex. Alcohol. Eating spoonfuls of nutella out of the jar at 1 in the morning. And of course, meds. Which yeah, are drugs, but like the prescribed kind. Because they’re so much less harmful, right? (insert sarcasm here)

For the sake of brutal honesty, ADHD sucks sometimes, and trying to navigate which option to try is hard. Even dangerous, because individuals with ADHD are more likely to form some sort of addiction than our neurotypical friends, in an attempt to make up for our brains failure to make that one thing we need. ADHD can be rough, so if someone does something for that dopamine hit that you wouldn’t approve of, try not to judge. Maybe try to help if they are at risk of hurting themselves or anyone else because of it, but leave the little things alone. We all cope differently, and especially in these times, I think we’re all a little messed up anyway.

So let’s just chalk this up to a lesson. Maybe your significant other has it. Maybe your kid. Maybe that super hyper coworker. Maybe it’s you and you needed to hear from someone who gets it that you aren’t alone, and that you’ll be okay. HEY, YOU GOT THIS! YOU’RE GONNA BE OKAY! Cuz hey, you’re not the only one addicted to your ADHD.

Being a Special Needs Parent is Exhausting

I know what you’re thinking: Yeah, kids are exhausting. Parenting is hard. Welcome to the club. 

What I really mean is, my kids are exhausting for me, a person with mental illness that is not yet controlled. That’s more accurate but not a very catchy title. Let’s just take a look at what parenting is like sometimes when mama or papa has a brain that won’t stop. Cuz let me tell ya, my brain, it’s a doozy.

Can’t stop, won’t stop

First, for the biggest and most obvious example: babies. Everyone wants to look at babies. Touch the babies, talk to the babies, make the babies laugh, and then they ask the parent questions like, “how old are they?” “why are they not wearing shoes?” “do you have any more?” “can I hold them?” “can I move in and turn this anxiety attack into full on panic mode?”

Okay that last one doesn’t happen, but still. It is overwhelming. My doctor, upon first meeting me, diagnosed me with “a variety of anxiety disorders,” which kinda makes it sound like a fun pack of candy, except it’s just different ways my brain likes to screw with me. Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, etcetera. Going out in public and dealing with strangers is hard enough for me, but I used to be able to awkward my way through things with as little social interaction as possible.

But then I had kids, and my children demand attention. My youngest, who is currently 16 or 17 months, something like that, is in the cutest stage imaginable. In public he will give people flirty eyes, he will wave and say hi, blow kisses, do whatever he can to ensure that everyone in the vicinity will come bow to his awesome adorableness. Honestly I can’t blame them. I made some cute kids. (Yes husband, you helped too blah blah blah.) But the whole time I’m just itching to get away and get home where no one will talk to me. Until the big kids get home.


Second example: when they come home from school, or *terrified gasp* are home for winter break! Or even worse, SUMMER BREAK. I’ve got to admit, I never understood why parents celebrated back to school time so damn hard, until I had kids myself who went to school. This shit is hard! But for me, I hate even saying it, but I feel like it might be a bit harder. One of my conditions is PMDD(premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and a major symptom is sensitivity to sound. To SOUND. I’m a mom of special needs kids with a sensitivity to sound. So at that time of the month I cannot bear to hear my own children talk to me. The constant singing, the fighting, the gazillion questions, and no kid, gazillion isn’t a real number. Do you guys know what comes after a googol? Or after a decillion? Too many questions!

Sorry kid, can’t hear ya.

Speaking of questions, and whatever else I was talking about, have I mentioned that my daughter and I both have ADHD? First of all, I struggle with so many of the normal things that badass parents conquer every day. Things like getting the kids to school on time, remembering what time to pick them up, making phone calls to therapists and doctors and the worst of all, playdates. My kids school is pretty awesome, and the people are so sweet so I’ve never been made to feel bad, but let’s just say I’m the one parent they will call on a half day to remind me that it’s a half day. Because I have forgotten and left my kids at school one too many times. Oof.

Oh, there’s so so so many more examples I could go through, but honestly, I’m tired. You know, because three kids, and a brain that won’t stop. The point is, I’ve come to look at things a bit differently over the years. I often say that I am a special needs parent. Which originally meant I am a mother to children with special needs. But who are we kidding here? I’m the one with special needs.

I need my kids to be quiet. Not possible.

I need them to pay attention. Because I can’t.

I need them to not attract so much damn attention. But seriously kid, we all know you’re cute.

I have so many needs in order to feel like I am a good mother, but let’s face it, these things aren’t going to happen. So instead I rely on what I can. Lots of alarm clocks, prayer, meds, alcohol, more meds, the occasional mental breakdown. Parenting is hard. So hard. But parenting special needs kids when you’ve got your own special needs? Damn exhausting.


Oh, and for any judgy Janes I’ll say it: It’s still worth it. 

The horror that ended my breastfeeding journey

Okay, so this post is a little late for me, since I stopped breastfeeding my third, and last, baby over 6 months ago. But I’ve learned something new that I wish I had known then. And holy hell it is insane.

Breastfeeding can be the most wonderful, fulfilling act in motherhood. The bond with your baby, the way they look up at you with all the love in the world while they nurse. The way they squeeze your hand and smile with milk dripping down their chin. The way they decide then and there that they want to grow up to be acrobats in the circus and start practicing in your lap, still attached to your nipple. Wait… That last part isn’t wonderful or fulfilling.

There are some real downsides to breastfeeding. The judgements and scrutiny about every single decision, cover on or off, how long should you do it for. Everyone has their opinion and people love to make mothers feel like shit for not following what the masses feel is best. That’s only the beginning, and the type of thing we unfortunately see all the time. I found out first hand that it can get a lot harder than that.


Due to fear, I failed at breastfeeding my first. The doctor insisted that I NEEDED to supplement with formula and once I did, my baby was no longer interested in nursing. But with my second, I had done my research. I ignored my pediatricians formula pushing and went for it on my own, and I ended up nursing my baby girl until she self weaned at 16 months. And I loved it. Obviously there were baby acrobatics and the judgements for going past a year and all that garbage, but I was happy and proud. So once I had my third baby, I was sure it would go well. Why wouldn’t it? I’m no rookie mom anymore! I know what I’m doing and this is going to go great.

I started my breastfeeding journey again, and this time, life was determined to knock me down a notch and show me how hard things can really be. Things seemed fine at first. Baby latched on right away and seemed happy. But before we even left the hospital, I was already starting to worry about his feeding schedule. He seemed to try so hard that he would fall asleep. Then wake up a bit later, nurse himself to sleep, and on and on and on and nothing ever seemed to be enough. He had lost weight after birth, like babies always do, but he was taking way too long to gain it back. I supplemented with a bit of formula to make sure he would get enough to grow, and I figured that once he got a bit bigger, he would get better with nursing.

That wasn’t happening. Finally, the pediatrician took a closer look and noticed that he had a tongue tie. It wasn’t severe, but it was enough to make nursing difficult. They recommended I get it snipped. I was so hesitant because it seemed so scary and honestly formula isn’t a bad alternative anyway, but this was my last baby. I wanted that bonding, and I was determined to make it work. So we went and got his tongue tie snipped. It was so fast and he cried for maybe 2 minutes before nursing again and it was such a relief.


So at about a month old, he was finally nursing long enough and strong enough to get as much as he needed, and I slowly weaned off the formula. I baked lactation cookies and drank beer and tons of water and got my supply up and I was so proud. Again, I got a big head and figured we’d be fine now. I’d nurse until he was a year and a half! Maybe even longer, who knows! And things went really well for a while. They really did.

Until he got his first tooth. I don’t know if it was just teething, or if maybe my supply dropped and he was frustrated, but the booger started biting me. He was only 4 months old, and I just couldn’t give up so soon, so I tried to hang in there. But he got another tooth and the biting got worse. I pride myself in having a high tolerance for pain. After all, I birthed all three of my children naturally, without any drugs or help at all. I figured I could handle some biting.

But I couldn’t. My body started reacting in ways I couldn’t control and it was overwhelming and scary. Every time I needed to nurse, I would feel like I was punched in the gut. My stomach would drop and my heart would speed up and no matter what I tried to do to calm down, it just got worse. I would latch him on, cringing the whole time, and then yank my breast out of his mouth if I thought he might bite or if he was almost done. This continued for over a week, and my reactions got worse. I became nauseous, and I was basically having a panic attack every time he nursed. Sobbing and everything. I just got these intense waves of fear and depression and it scared the hell out of me.

I felt like I was going crazy.

After a very emotional outburst, my husband convinced me that it needed to stop. I was a wreck and only getting worse, and with my mental health, we need to avoid as much bad as we possibly can. So I made the decision to pump instead. I did that for as long as I could, supplementing formula when I couldn’t pump enough. And for a few months, I made it work. Every week I was getting less and less from pumping and I was supplementing more and more formula, until I decided it was time to put the pump away forever. And honestly, I felt so free.

What really got me, was that about a year later, I learned about something that sounded very similar to what happened to me. It’s called D-MER, or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. It seems to be tied to the sudden decrease of dopamine in the brain during letdown. Most commonly used words to describe it are: anxiety, sadness, dread, angst, irritability, etc, etc, just a wave of all negative emotions. Although anyone experiencing it would experience it a bit differently, it’s the same underneath. And it is devastating. I think my anxiety disorder made it a lot worse and made me fear the crushing wave that I knew was coming. At the time, I thought I was just majorly overreacting to being bitten, which is bad enough to experience! But I felt so weak and couldn’t understand how a little pain could make me feel so low.

The worst part of all this is how alone I felt. I had never heard of anything like this before. I even read a bunch of pregnancy and baby books cover to cover(years ago) and I do not remember ever hearing about this. And it kills me to imagine other women going through it, thinking they are going crazy, or thinking they are failing their baby, that they’re a bad mom, and none of it is true!

I hope my story can reach at least one person who needs to hear it. Because I wish someone had told me.


Pain and Parenting

A lifetime ago, when I imagined my life as a mom, I honestly thought I would be the most soft, loving, nurturing mother there was. And three kids later I am those things, when I can be. One thing I didn’t factor in, that I never would have imagined would play such a huge role in my life, was pain.

Like it or not, I’m a different person when I’m hurting. I have much less patience, less focus (which is pretty scarce to begin with, thank you ADHD), I get irritated easily and I’m much more likely to raise my voice. None of that really screams soft, loving and nurturing.


As I write this, I am bundled up in my biggest blanket, desperately trying to stay as warm as possible while I take my painkillers and pray they kick in before my kids wake up. Winter is coming, and besides being a pretty awesome GOT reference, it rings true for me in acting as a warning. But instead of whitewalkers, winter brings me a promise that I will hurt more. The colder it is, the worse it gets. And if there’s rain or snow, that’s when it’s at its worst.

And although I know that kids are resilient and forgiving, and I apologize often when I get too angry, that’s not enough. They may forgive me, give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me. But their behavior changes. My daughter is very sensitive and gets even more so during these times. My son expresses it outwardly, in explosive behavior. When upset, he screams or throws things, runs out of his classroom at school. Once in a while he will even hit another classmate or his sister. And although some of all this is because of my sons autism, and my daughters ADHD, I know I can’t lay the blame solely on that.


I’m constantly trying to be better, but the mom guilt never ends. So tell me, if you deal with any sort of chronic pain, how does it affect your parenting? And if you’ve got any tips, feel free to share with the class, because I am very much still learning.


Halloween and special needs kids

I’ve heard so many grievances about kids and Halloween for years now and honestly I just don’t understand the big deal. If they’re a kid and they are trick or treating, just give them something yummy, a smile, and move on with your life. Same goes with teenagers because come on guys, they could be out making some terrible life choices, but instead they are holding onto their childhood a bit longer and participating in something innocent. Don’t complain.

But my major issue surrounding adults and Halloween is that everyone tends to forget about the special needs kids. Halloween can be hard for them. The scary decorations, the bright jack o’ lanterns, greetings from strangers and the excitement of all the other kids running around. Even just at home it can be stressful.



I remember a few years ago, my husband and I didn’t feel like our son was ready to go trick or treating and he agreed. We still bought candy, gave him some, and dutifully answered the door when kids came knocking. But it was too much. After a while our son was visibly agitated and started melting down every time someone knocked on the door. He was looking outside and seeing all the scary costumes and with each knock he was getting more and more overwhelmed. So I wrote a note, telling kids to take a piece of candy and have a Happy Halloween, and I left it outside with the bowl of goodies. No more knocks, no more anxiety. (Believe me I was having just as hard of a time as he was. Anxiety disorder + people knocking on your door nonstop = bad news.)

The next year, he still didn’t seem ready, so I was prepared. I printed out a cute little poem about how our little pumpkin was autistic and got scared of the loud noises of Halloween. I asked for no one to ring our doorbell, and for them to enjoy some candy, and again have a Happy Halloween. And this time, it was better. No one knocked. No one rang the bell, and when people say the sign, they quieted down a bit. And this time, my son looked out the window and watched the trick or treaters walking down the street with curiosity mixed in with the anxiety.


Last year, when he was 6 years old, was our first year trick or treating. We put out our bowl of candy and set off on our own adventure and honestly it went well. We got a few people asking what my son was dressed up as (he wasn’t because he didn’t feel comfortable in a costume), which he got upset about, but our daughter, 4 at the time, was quick to step in and distract people with her sweet charm and adorable Sheriff Callie costume. So all in all, it was a good night. My buddy was polite, and most of the time said thank you without being reminded. He ran to each door with excitement and didn’t complain about what he got. I was so damn proud.

But I know in a different area it could have gone different. I’ve heard stories of adults demanding to know why the child wasn’t wearing a costume, or getting angry when the kid wouldn’t say the right words, or wouldn’t talk at all. Kids literally being bullied by adults for not behaving the way they’d expect a “normal” kid to behave. And that is unacceptable.

These kids might not be comfortable saying trick or treat. They might not be in costume. Costumes are itchy and different and different is hard. They might not be able to look you in the eye. They might forget or be too scared or shy to say thank you. They may get upset that the candy you give them is something they don’t like. But guys… This is not their fault. It’s not about you in any way and it’s not personal. They’re just kids, trying to enjoy an innocent tradition, just like other kids their age.


So remember, the kid who won’t look you in the eye, or say trick or treat; the kid not in costume, or the one having a meltdown instead of going door to door, they’re all so special and they are trying so hard. And they deserve a good time just like everyone else. So give them an extra smile, don’t put any pressure, and if they aren’t in costume, don’t mention it. Just wish them a Happy Halloween. It might not seem like much to you, but I guarantee you, their parents will notice and it will mean the world to them.

Why I willingly gave up bus privileges

As of a few days ago, I am officially a school drop off line mom. And I’m good with it. I really am. Here’s why.

Last year, my son was in first grade, loving school and learning enough to make his mama feel a bit dumb. But, as with most kids with special needs, things weren’t that easy. He had a lot of behavior issues in and out of school and they weren’t improving much. Especially on the bus. The school he goes to is 15 minutes away from our house, so the school was adamant that he take the bus. Partly for some sense of routine, partly because this is an amazing school and they want to make things easy on the parents if they can.

But things weren’t great. The bus driver was nice, the bus aide was a total sweetheart, but they were no match for my son. He would throw things, get up and try to move seats or cause trouble, scream and hit the aide if he got upset. So the school timidly approached me about getting my son a harness. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine the kind of harness a dog might use, except instead of a leash on the back, the back would be strapped into a special seat belt attachment on the bus, so my son wouldn’t be able to get up during the ride.


I think many parents would say no, and I could tell that they were expecting me to be upset. But if he needed this to stay safe on the bus, and keep everyone else safe, then I wasn’t going to complain. So we got the harness.

It didn’t help with his behavior though. Last year was a struggle, and he was written up multiple times, although I know they hated doing it. And this year? We tried to start off school with no harness, to see if he could handle it. He lasted three days before we all agreed to put it back on. But his frustration with the bus was becoming worse and I was starting to see that his behaviors were not just out of nowhere. I started seeing patterns, and reasons why he would get upset. If the bus changed, if it looked a bit different, if the driver or the aide was out and someone new was there, if another kid wasn’t on the bus like usual; there were a million variables that seem small to us, that bothered my son in a profound way. And they were not anyone’s fault, or in anyone’s power to fix.

The only solution I could think of was to ditch the bus completely. I might not be the most organized person, but I’m Mom. I don’t get sick days, so I would be the one there to drive him every day. In the same van, in his same booster seat, with the same kind of music, and his sister next to him. And, better yet, no harness.

So yeah, it takes a full hour out of my day to drop the kids off and pick them up later, but if it helps my kid, I’m good with that. I really, really am. This is why I became a stay at home mom; so when my kids needed me, I would always be there. And we are already seeing an improvement in his mood and behavior in and out of school, so I know I made the right decision. In the end, all that matters to me is my kids and how they feel. And he’s already feeling much better.



Miscarriage and Marriage

It’s been 6 years. I still remember that time of my life very clearly and it still kicks me in the gut. But October is the month to talk about it. So I’m going to join the brave souls who are speaking up. I’m going to talk about my miscarriage.

I don’t remember the details of the beginning. Like the day I took the test. I faintly remember that the line was not strong, but it was a line, and I was thrilled. I estimated that I was probably around 6 weeks or so, so I made an appointment at a local clinic since we didn’t have insurance and they’d help with the first ultrasound. That two weeks could not come soon enough.


I had all the same symptoms as my first pregnancy, but much less subtle. I thought I was lucky and I’d have it easy this time. I was smug. But then the big one, the nausea, started to taper off. I was happy it did but it scared me. That was when I first started wondering. But still, I pressed on and counted down until I could see the little bean for myself.

The day came. My husband was running late so we met up at the clinic, me toting our one year old. They had me take a pregnancy test, just to make sure they wouldn’t be doing a free ultrasound for nothing I guess, and it was faint again, but still positive. So into the room I went. I stripped from the waist down and relaxed myself as the doctor inserted the wand, happily chatting and looking for what we were there for. Then she stopped talking. The smile on her face faded, and the hand that was reaching out to turn on the sound stopped and pulled back.

“I’m so sorry, but I’m not detecting a heartbeat.”

The next few minutes she gently told us that the fetus was only measuring at 6.5 weeks and she didn’t know how long it had been since…. She mentioned going to the hospital for a D&C if my body didn’t let it go naturally soon. I didn’t hear most of that. I was too busy trying to breathe and control my heart rate so I didn’t lose it in front of a stranger.

I barely made it out to the car, tears falling as I strapped my son into his carseat. Turning to my husband, I looked him in the eyes and lost it. Full on panic attack in the parking lot of a pregnancy clinic. My husband tried to calm me down for a few minutes, and then said he would meet me at home and he left. He just left. I sat in my car for I don’t know how long crying and thinking that it couldn’t be real, and how my husband just LEFT me there and….

I was a mess.

Turns out my body held on just long enough for me to get that ultrasound picture, and that night, the process started. I couldn’t deny it any longer. I was having a miscarriage. Me. This doesn’t just happen, right!? I must have done something wrong or not done something I should have done or… I didn’t know what to blame or what to think. In my grief, I got more and more angry, and in the end I found somewhere to direct my anger. My husband.

While I was spending every spare second thinking of what might have been, crying my eyes out and longing for answers, my husband just went on. He went to work the next day, the gym a little more often than normal, and went to bed early. He was avoiding me.

The more time went on, the more angry I got with him until I almost hated him. That was our baby, how could he be okay!? We grew further and further apart and neither of us seemed to have any desire to fix it. I don’t know what stage of grief I was at, but at some point I fell into a deep depression. The more I hated my husband for not caring, the more depressed I got, but every time I got a little lower, I started to feel a little less. I was starting to feel everything less. Less angry, less sad, less happy. It was all just fading away and I welcomed it. 

Then I finally got the perspective I needed. I overheard my husband on the phone with one of our church pastors, telling him that I was pregnant. I stopped where I was, out of sight, and listened. He told the pastor that we had lost the baby, voice breaking on the word baby, and then he started sobbing. It took him a few minutes to get himself together to finish the conversation and I spent that time in a whirlwind of emotions.

There was anger: How can he talk to the pastor about it but not ME? It happened to both of us! I’m the one who physically lost the baby!

There was confusion: I didn’t think he cared at all, why is he crying now?

There was relief: Maybe I’m not the only one mourning.


And finally, it hit me. He had been mourning the whole time. He was just as broken as I was. But despite the stereotypical manly vs womanly ways of showing grief, we had different childhoods and upbringings and his way of dealing with something that hard, something that could break him, was to turn it off. He needed to not think about it. He needed time to process it without pressure and without guilt. And I had not given him that at all. All I had done was make him the bad guy in a situation where there was no one to blame, and no winners. We both lost something huge, and I got angry because my husband didn’t grieve the same way I did. I felt like the worst person in the world. 

So I went in and just sat in his lap and hugged him. We cried together, and I don’t remember if we talked at all, but I felt a change then and I hope he did too. I wasn’t angry anymore. From then on, I took his cue and I didn’t talk about it to him. I knew he needed time, so I let him have it. 

And we did talk about it eventually. When he was ready, we talked about whether we thought the baby was a boy or a girl, and agreed we both thought it was a girl. (It was way too soon to tell, and we went with our gut, that’s all.) We gave her a name and I often visited the spot in the backyard where I buried her. 

Now, we can almost talk about her without tears. Now we imagine her waiting for us in Heaven, and we have imagined what she would look like today. I think she would have had curly light brown hair like I did as a little girl, blue eyes like her daddy, and the cute little button nose that our next daughter has. Her name is Kaelyn Anne and we will never forget her, even though our time with her was short. 

But the message I want to get across specifically is this. Going through a miscarriage is one of the worst things someone could ever experience. Don’t do what I did. Don’t shut out the person in it with you. And remember, people grieve differently. Respect that, both of you, and stick together. Your marriage deserves that. You deserve that. And you are not alone.

Advice for the new special needs parent

So you’ve just gotten a diagnosis. You might be scared or worried or just blank on what to do or where to go from here. I’ve been there. Three times. I get you. So let me help.


First and foremost, breathe. Your child is the same child they were before the diagnosis and getting that diagnosis is a good thing! Because now you know more and that means better understanding their struggles and their quirks that may baffle you.

Second, your child being “different” is not a bad thing. Things might be hard right now, but as they grow you will find things about them that you love ferociously, and in doing so, realize those things are part of their diagnosis. Part of them. We don’t love them in spite of the diagnosis. We love all of it.

Also, don’t buy into the whole “treasure every part because they grow up so fast,” BS. It is okay to get frustrated. It’s okay to get overwhelmed.

It’s okay to say “I love my kid. But I do not love meltdowns.”

Finally, take every part of you that cares about what other people think of your parenting, and throw it out the window. Your parenting will not be the same as neurotypical parents. Sometimes taking advice from people who are in different situations, although well intentioned, can cause your child and your family more grief and trouble than following your gut.


YOU are the parent. YOU know your kid. Listen to experts and doctors and go for therapies and all that, but not blindly. There are tons of resources and many adults who used to be that special needs kid who can give insight on what was good and bad for someone like them.

And mostly, breathe and hug your baby. Whatever their diagnosis is, there’s always something beautiful in it that just adds to the wonderful person they are already turning into. There’s a ton of us going through the same thing. You are not alone. And we got this. 🖤

For the stay at home parent who did “nothing” today

It wasn’t until I threw myself into the circus of social media that I finally came to realize something. I am not alone in how messed up I am! Which is awesome. Sorry guys but it’s good to know I’m not the only one. But one crappy thing about being a stay at home parent is that we can all easily feel like we can never do enough.

We are called stay at home parents, so that means we spend all our time at home, which in turn means we have time to clean the home, right!? That’s the logic that many people follow, and if we are honest with ourselves that we follow for ourselves as well. So when we end the day with a home that is just as messy as it was upon waking, we feel like we failed. WELL WE DIDN’T.


So let’s change things up a bit. I’ve been trying to end my days differently. Instead of focusing on what didn’t get done, I make myself a list. Not a to-do list, because who needs that kind of pressure. More like a “What I accomplished today” list. And it changes everything.

I look at the messy counter tops and note that I made a weeks worth of dog food and a months worth of baby food today.

The baskets of laundry waiting to be put away are marked down as actually washing laundry that day.

Smiling children means I spent quality time with them.

A messy bathroom and pink rimmed tub shows evidence of a fancy bathtime.

Toys scattered on the floor means the baby had a fun day.

And a sink full of dishes means I fed my family, and hopefully even myself.


I’m someone who has some extra struggles in the housekeeping department, a shitty homemaker being one I’ll admit to… But even without any extra things going on, GUYS, this stay at home parenting thing is HARD!

Whatever we clean, whatever we fix or prepare, it all gets undone almost immediately. It’s the way of things and not anything to be avoided or agonized over, yet we let ourselves feel the guilt of it anyway. And honestly, we deserve better. Screw the rest of the world and their opinions, we need to think higher of ourselves because we deserve that recognition. We deserve to feel proud of what we accomplish at home, even if some days it feels like nothing.

So to all you stay at home parents who did “nothing” today: You did not fail today. You are doing a great job; and there may not be any parenting or housekeeping awards but I’m handing them out now. But like, in my head. Virtual invisible adulting awards. It’s a thing now. Trust me. When you feel like you’ve fallen behind, focus on the thing you did good with today and imagine me in all my mysterious internet stranger glory handing you a beautiful gold ribbon.

This is the hardest job ever, and honestly in these days it’s hard to feel the slightest validation in it. But you are doing great. And honestly, I wrote this because I needed to hear it too.


Growing Up Broken

This article first published with Daddy’s Digest August 2019.

I was always a weird kid. I was the loner, the outcast, the one playing with bugs in the yard instead of with the other kids. While they did stunts and chased each other, I sat back and watched from a safe distance. I was too scared to take risks. Too afraid to get hurt, afraid of what they’d think of me, afraid of being their friend and afraid of staying on the outside and not having friends. Everything about being a kid terrified me.


I never learned to ride a bike, I never broke a bone, I was always last to try anything, and it was with such terrifying intensity that I’m amazed I didn’t just puke my way through childhood. As I got older it got worse, but it also got easier to hide. But getting older brought on more weird. Around 10, I was starting to slow down. I just felt heavier, like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I was obviously too small to carry it. My eyes constantly threatened to close, my shoulders gained a permanent droop and my smile faded away.

I tried talking to my parents about it, and they both took me to a doctor, who ordered blood work, and when the blood work came back normal, I was deemed normal. Normal means there’s nothing wrong, right? I never saw a doctor for it again. When I said I still wasn’t okay, my mother determined that it was a spiritual issue. She started taking me to prayer meetings and forcing me to stand in front of the whole church while everyone I knew prayed for me. I was told different things from different people.

“It’s just a phase, you’ll be fine.”

“You’ve got nothing to be sad about.”

“God will heal you if you have enough faith.”

And my personal favorite: “There’s no such thing as mental illness. You’ve got demons inside you. You need to cast them out.”

While it all sounded different, it felt like they were all saying the same thing:

There’s something wrong with you.

So, after the last prayer meeting that didn’t go very well, I screamed at my mom that I was never going back.

I started to lie. It worked! I’m cured! Must have been those pesky demons because I’m okay now. Look at this smile. Totally normal kid.


The dangerous part is… They bought it. I don’t know if the adults in my life believed I was really okay or were just relieved not to hear about it anymore, but they stopped asking. I put on an act, and I was a damn good actress. But on the inside, I was broken. The adults in my life had shown me that there was no point in speaking up, so I learned to keep it in. And when I kept it in, it grew. The depression that had been a tiny tumor hinting at trouble, started to turn malignant. Vicious, aggressive, and life threatening. I felt it growing inside me and I sobbed through the nights because I was dying, and no one could see it. And I almost did.

I lost track of how often I thought about suicide. How many times I planned. But through years of acting, I had gotten too good. I fooled myself. I spent my preteen and teenage years going through the motions on autopilot, acting the way I thought was expected of me. Dressing the way my friends did, listening to the same music they did. Partied how they did. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked because if I looked behind the mask, it hurt too much. The person I pretended to be was a shield protecting me from my own brain. And that person just kept going. She fell in love, got married, had a baby. And through my adult years, that mask began to crack.

Becoming a stay-at-home mom changed everything. I was suddenly sheltered, alone and in charge of another human life and the stress was breaking me. The tumor sensed the crack in my defense and it started to grow again. It grew, and it grew, and I kept on smiling, pretending I was a young, happy mom. I got pregnant again, lost my baby and the crack widened, threatening to swallow me whole. Pregnant again and I kept it together because I had to. I had two kids now, and I had to care for them. I was on autopilot again and terrified of something I still couldn’t completely understand.


When I was 25, on a day that looked like every other day, the crack in my defense broke completely. The kids distracted with a movie, I ran to the other room and had the worst panic attack of my life. I suddenly couldn’t take it anymore. I looked at my precious babies in the next room and lost it because I knew in my heart that they were going to lose their mother. I was going to die. I tried to push it away, and I did many times whenever they needed something, but for months I slipped farther and farther into the worst state of depression I had ever been in, with no hope of ever finding my way out. I lost track of how many times I planned to die. I came very close more than once. And I honestly feel very lucky to still be here.

In the end, I couldn’t leave them. I made the decision to seek help, and I was finally diagnosed with major depressive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Disorder, disorder, disorder, broken, broken, BROKEN.

But this time it was different. This time I was more mature and the more I looked back on my past, the more I knew I needed to change. I was ready to be fixed. At some point, I decided that I needed more than just doctors’ visits and meds. I needed a failsafe. Something to remind me to hang on even if nothing else gets through. I realized that almost my whole life I was fighting something, that I still am. I have these battles that will never truly end and if I am going to keep fighting I needed to become something else. I needed to be a warrior. So, I did the best thing I could think of, and I armed myself. A sword, right on my forearm where I am sure to see it every single day. When I’m doing well, it makes me feel strong. And when I’m not, when I get low, it reminds me that when I was at my worst, I chose to keep going. I chose to stand up and fight and never give up.


My mask is gone now. It leaves me open to more attacks; gives my brain more chances to fight against me. But now, in its place, it’s just me. Finally trying new things, finding who I am and who I want to be. I’m not hiding anymore. And that’s the strongest thing I could ever do.

So now, while I am finally trying to learn how to be okay, I want others to know stories like mine. I want parents to read and pay attention. Listen to your kids. If they say something is wrong, do not dismiss them and don’t you dare ignore them. Find real help and know that mental illness is not a common cold or flu type of sick. It’s a chronic, there for life type of thing and you need to be there for all of it. It might end up being a phase brought on by hormones and teenage emotion. It might be grief over something in their life changing or the loss of a loved one. It might very well be one of those temporary types of things. But just in case it’s not, be there. I had just enough at just the right time in my life to keep me here and it makes me feel damn lucky. But there are countless other kids with similar stories that can’t write about this. Countless others who lost their fight. So, this is for them. For our kids, and for other parents going through this themselves. We are warriors, and we will never stop fighting.