Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sh*t is About to Get Real

Why do people blog? Do we all need to have our stories heard so much that we want to put them out for the world to see? Are we seeking attention? Closet writer wannabes? Why not just keep a personal journal?

Food bloggers are a particular breed of bloggers.

I'm obviously not a photographer nor am I a chef or someone who is expert at plating. I am just someone on a journey like everyone else out there. Why share that journey with the entire world (or the few people who bother to read it)?

I started blogging because I read a vegan food blog that made me laugh, possibly shocked me from time to time, and kept me reading. The blogger primarily wrote about food, but in a real way and with enough personal antidotes to make me appreciate the being behind the beans. The blogger inspired me to write again. I used to love writing.

Then I lost my nerve.

I decided to be safe instead of edgy. I'm not sure if I'm an edgy person anyway.

I live in a small college town. Sometimes suffocatingly small. People over the years have come up to me because they read my blog. While that can be fun, it can also be stifling.

Now I feel after months of a blogging break that I can make this space something just for me. A place that may not always be pretty and I'm not just talking about the food photos.

Do I want people to read it? Sure. I think. I am putting it out there.

I'm okay if no one reads these words too.

While I am still snapping pictures of food and fun. I will also write about the tough things. The things that keep me up at night.

It is almost 3am and yes, I consumed almost a full Chemex* of coffee post kids' bedtime. Thus I have more than my unrelenting all-consuming thoughts keeping me up.

Let's talk about OCD.**

The lovely twisted thing about being a parent of a child with OCD is getting all "ocd" about said child. He never leaves my thoughts and I refuse to stop trying to figure it out and I will never stop beating myself up for all the times I don't handle it well. At the same time, I know obsessing about my child's anxiety is totally f-ed up. Yep, my life, like so many lives out there, is a crazy roller coaster ride and sometimes I just want to get off.***

This mom is human and I have some very bad parenting days.

Today was not one of my bad days, but Dema's OCD over the last several months has been "louder". Some days I almost forget about it. The hand washing changes to something less obvious like only going to the park through two imaginary "gateways" and things are my all seems to chill and "normal". Other days, like the last several months, I feel like it is a struggle just to get through the morning and I'm drowning in the sea of OCD.

Dema doesn't get that break though. Inside that wonderful intelligent compassionate brain of his, things are always chaotic. He doesn't get the luxury of living in the moment. Oh how we all struggle with that, but for him it is so much more. His struggle goes to 11, it is one louder.****

It gets tedious for those of us who love and know him. I can't possible understand how tiring it gets for my sweet little nine year old boy. Imagine never being able to turn "it" off. It being all the anxieties we all have, but with the weight of the world added on. Every single disease we have ever heard of, each tragedy we can imagine, such intense emotions...all of them...talking at once. A cacophony of anxiety and intensity inside while on the outside we are supposed to follow all the society's unspoken rules.

Someone opens the door for Dema and he has to walk through under their arm. This arm, in Dema's world, puts him in another dimension so he has to have it pass over him the other way to be "okay". He can politely walk in the door that is so nicely being held for him, but then possibly be lost forever in this different place he imagines himself transported to or decline the open door and look rude and ungrateful.*****

At some point, I can't even remember when, Dema started asking what number he should brush his teeth to...not really knowing what he meant, I started giving him a number. It was immediately clear that the number had to be and increment of 10. Rob would try to say 25 and Dema would get so fussy. I still don't completely comprehend this ritual, but is also includes him counting by twos and is not to be taken lightly. We talk about his OCD openly, partly because I think it is good for people to understand it and partly so people don't loose their patience. I used the tooth brushing routine the other day as an example when I try to explain OCD (because people throw this term around like it is nothing and most people don't have a clue, which I totally get because I never had a clue either until Dema came into my life). So I used this example and Dema was all like, "Is that part of my OCD? Hmm, I didn't realize that." He thinks everyone does it. Just like it is hard to comprehend what OCD is like when we don't have it, Dema has trouble wrapping his head around what it is like for people who don't live with constant anxiety.

I want to understand my son. I try so hard to put myself in his shoes. We started a new approach with him and we call OCD his super power. Because it is, in a way, a gift. People with OCD are sometimes able to do repetitive motions that would bore other people which can make them talented at athletics or even in academic endeavors. He isn't "broken" and in need of "fixing". He has something inside of him that can give him strength and power. Allow him to reach goals that others would find daunting. Yet, when the anxiety part of OCD makes him sad, angry, and keeps him from being a happy care-free kid, my heart breaks over and over again.

It is almost unbearable.

I just want to turn back time and take all of this away. Whatever triggers caused his pain...the car wreck? the motorcyclist hitting him while he was riding his bike? being pushed from a rock when he was three and ending up in the ER? the birth of his baby sister? or was something completely benign to me that was Earth shattering and life changing for him?

I want to hold him and make everything better. I want him to trust that people around him aren't aliens and that his dad and I will always be there for him. I want him to slow down. I want for his mind to give him a break. I want the drone of apprehension to be silenced.

I wonder if it is like having a pot of coffee in his mind, but not just for a self-inflicted night of buzzing on caffeine. All. The. Time.

*I bought Rob a Chemex last winter solstice. We both love it. We usually only drink coffee together on the weekends so it is a treat. After years of trying to convince Rob to kick his caffeine habit, I finally joined him a bit. Now in an ironic twist of fate, Rob has completely cut down his coffee consumption. He has moderately high blood pressure and has since before we met, but he started taking it seriously after turning 50. He recently started charting his blood pressure at home and he noticed without coffee his blood pressure is completely normal. He is now joining me in my obsession with tea, but we do still make coffee from time to time.

**You should hear the tune of the Salt N Pepa song, Let's Talk About Sex.

***Not in a suicidal way, but in a "I'd love for life to be even keel for a bit and everything to work  out all neat and tidy like the American sitcoms teach us" way.

****Spinal Tap

*****This is a true story that used to be one of his issues a couple years ago. Fortunately, at seven years old he was in touch enough with what was going on inside himself to finally explain this to me (after much frustration since passing under things happens quite a bit when you are seven and surrounded by people taller than you).


Lene Lundgaard said...

Dear Linda,
I've been reading your blog for quite a while and I am very happy to see you back! Your posts are very inspiring. Good luck with everything.

-Lene, Copenhagen, Denmark

VeganLinda said...


Thanks for reading! It is good to be back.

Spécialiste de l'éphémère said...

Glad to read you again!

Veganopoulous said...

Hi Linda, I can identify with what you've written, though to a degree (I don't want to sound like I know what you're all experiencing as our situations are different, but I do have an idea, if that makes sense!). But what I do absolutely understand is wanting to make it all go away for a child. Aaaand I know too well the feeling of wanting to screeeeam at people when they said something stupid about my children/their anxiety/my parenting/etc :)

Good on you for writing this, it really does provide a sense of "ohhh someone else truly gets it!" feeling for others who know exactly what you're talking about! My best wishes to you and your family :)

VeganLinda said...



Stephanie Roark said...

Hi Linda,

I just found your blog this morning and I was comforted to read this post. I think we have a lot in common because we are a vegan (most of us), homeschooling family living in the same city and we have been dealing with anxiety issues for the past couple of years with our 2 youngest children, ages 11 and 6. Actually, we have been dealing with anxiety with our middle son for most of his life but we didn't have a name for it for a long time. I feel like parents hide the problems of their children and don't talk about it openly because there is so much pressure to be the perfect parent. I think I have been afraid to talk to anyone else about it because it always seems like everyone's lives are so perfect and my often feels like such a mess. I think now that everyone has difficulties that they aren't really sharing. Thank you so much for getting real. You have inspired me to do the same. And who knows maybe we will see each other around town someday!


the sandwich life said...

I am just getting caught up. I loved reading this...not because of the challenges and the worries...but because I love your family and you know I can relate to the challenges and worries. Blogging is a funny thing. I've never been able to keep a personal journal for more than a few days. It just doesn't satisfy me. There's something about writing it for someone else to read that allows me to process things and feel comforted. It is odd though...sometimes I wonder if there is some kind of ego in it....I don't know. Anyway...much love to you.

Iesha said...