Leah (AKA Pokey Mom)
Leah (AKA Pokey Mom) and her family, recently went through a major family transformation. As noted in her blog Pokeymom, prior to finding out her son (AKA Pokey Boy) is Type 1 Diabetic, she dealt with her own anxiety and depression. Despite this, stressful events led to an increase manifestation of these symptoms in various ways which are usually not communicated as examples of these mental health conditions. Her story not only exemplifies the difficulties many families have experienced but the strength, persistence, and courage to maintain their family bond and health despite the odds.
I sat down with Leah to get a better understanding of what makes her an Overcomer.
Q: The first time I read your blog, you mentioned in a very, small phrase that you dealt with depression and anxiety. When did you become of aware of this?
A: It probably started around high school...early adulthood. I thought to myself this is depression and anxiety. So I talked with my doctor. I'm taking meds that have brought it down for several years now. But definitely, when he [PokeyBoy] was diagnosed it brought everything back out full force.
Q: When you had your son in 2010... you felt that increased your anxiety and depression?
A: Not when I had him... when he started getting sick in Summer 2016. That definitely added fuel to the fire. With my depression, there was a lot more sleeping. With my anxiety, I was a lot more irritable not necessarily a panic. I was really on edge.
-: I'm glad you brought that up because people don't usually think about irritability when they think about anxiety.
A: O yeah! Irritation and anger, not at anybody but more at the situation.
[With PokeyBoy] There is always a chance of dipping down into a coma at night because he can't feel when his sugar is dropping...we've been setting alarms, getting up and poking his figure to see where he is at. We had to find a nice balance with that.
[In the beginning], we did everything to the book. Everything the doctor said to do...that's what we did. If the doctor said to get him up at 2 AM, we did 2 AM. But we have done just a little bit of adjusting to make it through.
Q: When you found out he was Type I Diabetic, I'm sure there were some scheduling changes with the food and incorporating the school. How did the family adjust with that, especially with his little sister?
A: At first it was really difficult because we were following it to the "T" which doesn't really work for real life. They had talked about having him eat between 4 hours between meals. So we would feed him even when he wasn't hungry, which meant that the whole family ate at the same time. We thought he couldn't go further than four [hours]. Sometimes we would say, "we don't want to eat; we just ate a few hours ago." So in that aspect that was an adjustment. We still have to make sure he eats pretty regularly.
For a few weeks, I took the week off of work and gave him his shots every day because the school did not have anyone that could do that because our district is small. He now has a Para-Pro and the district nurse was trained and she is readily available. If she is not, there is a substitute that is also trained.
Q: So what are some of the things you do to manage your anxiety?
A: Definitely self-care is imperative. When I find myself being anxious or irritable, I know I need to take a step back. I can't just do art on my own because they [Pokey Kids] are into everything, so I try to organize, set them up with arts and crafts activities so they are occupied too. I really think it helps them because they aren't fighting or anything.
-: Well they are learning the skills at the same time.
A: Yeah (giggle)...I put down a plastic table cloth, we just paint and do our thing. They aren't finished yet but they are working on bird houses...then the gardening is really helpful. In the spring and early summer we have black raspberries, so that's fun. We go out and walk through the woods. I also think as much structure I can put into a day helps. We've done reading and more organized play. I've been doing a lot more reading myself.
This painting was provided by Leah to demonstrate her talent and how she copes with life.
Notice the intense moods captured within this paintaing.
Q: What are some strengths you think you and your family has gained from this experience?
A: We learned how to communicate [a lot more] when we are frustrated. At first, I think everybody was trying to be tough and it came off like we were angry. It was good for the kids when we did show emotion. Learning that we had to communicate a lot more, especially my husband and I, and not internalize stuff.
I'm somebody who needs to get out of the house sometimes, where my husband is perfectly happy to be here and working on things. I think just balancing each other out.
Q: What is an area you feel you need to continue to enhance?
A: Patience...I think I'm a pretty patient person. But I think when I'm tired or low energy small things bother me a lot more. Being more patient...letting things out. Understanding that other people don't have the same mindset like we do. A good example: we were Downtown and someone offered him a slushy. Another person offered a cutie instead. Well that is still a sugar. But I had to think about how everyone does not have the same mindset.
-:Yeah, I do think that would be important to teach in schools, that fruits are still a type of sugar.
A: Yeah it is...so being more patient. Reminding myself that people are not going to always think the way that I think.
And there you have! The trials and adjustments that had to be made for the lemons that life throw at you. Yet, despite it all, Leah and her family are able to identify strengths throughout the challenges life presented to them. Furthermore, she has gained insight into areas that needs to be enhanced. She is the epitome of an individual finding A Solution B.
Clearly, we don't have to have it all, but when life throws you lemons become like Leah, become an Overcomer.
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