Tag: Anxiety

Potato Pants! | Book Review

I love potatoes! It is one of my favorite side dishes but never in my wildest dreams would I think that potatoes would need potato pants!

Well, they certainly do if you are in the new children’s book, Potato Pants! written and illustrated by Laurie Keller. Laurie Keller is the acclaimed author-illustrator of several bestselling picture books, including Do Unto Otters, Arnie, the Doughnut, The Scrambled States of America, and Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, among numerous others.

Potato Pants! is a book that details potato’s single minded pursuit to get a pair of potato pants. However, his plan is quickly diverted by an Eggplant, who he misjudges at the start to be a big, old bully, only to realize it was a big misunderstanding by the end. Beyond being hysterical, this book also taps into those universal feelings of childhood anxiety and is a cautionary tale of what happens when you make a judgment before you have all the information. Just check out this hilarious trailer on Potato Pants! 

#MelAndNikkiReview

We couldn’t help but giggle out loud throughout the book as Potato tries to find ways to get potato pants. It is also a great book with an important message about anxiety, friendship and forgiveness. This is why for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give it 5 potatoes out of 5! If you want an entertaining picture book then this is the book for you and your child. The illustrations compliment the story perfectly and it truly is the silliest picture book you’ll ever read. We simply adored it!

To purchase your very own copy, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

How to Maintain Sanity When Getting Back to School

You may think that this year is going to be easy-peasy, especially if you have prior back-to-school experience. However, the reality has a tendency to be a bit different than what we expect. Therefore, stress and anxiety that follow school year prep can be really pressuring for both your kids and you as parents. With that in mind, you can take a new practical approach and make sure that this beginning of a school year proceeds as smoothly as possible. There are a couple of tips that can help you prepare so take a look.

Photo Source; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mareeam/4999637599

Adopt the new schedule in advance

Even if there’s still a week or two of summer break left, it would be wise to start with the school year schedule as soon as possible. This especially involves waking up, meals and bedtime. If your whole family starts following this new schedule, it will be much easier to transition back into it just in time for school. That way, you’ll be able to prevent any potential issues that would have otherwise stress everyone out.

Plan out your shopping essentials

Shopping for the new school year can be another stressful issue. Your kids may really hate shopping, or, they may enjoy it far too much. Either way, unplanned shopping trips can really end in a disaster. Therefore, before you go anywhere and look at any school essentials, sit your kids down and talk to them. Make a shopping list of all the things they need and then find the best offer. That way, you’ll know exactly where to go and what to look for.

Be there for your kids

The ones that are the most nervous about going back to school are your kids. Therefore, it’s very important to talk to them. However, don’t do it superficially. Talk about the possibility of making new friends and minimize their anxiety by talking about things that they will actually love about school. This can be playing with their friends or learning something new. Of course, if they’re truly worried about something, try to come up with possible solutions.

Bring back the responsibilities

Not many kids think about chores and other responsibilities during summer, and that’s perfectly normal. After all, they too deserve a rest. However, they still need to fall back into the usual school routine and keep up with the program. You can help your kids rediscover the importance of being responsible by giving them some chores to complete before the school year starts. This can be making the bed in the morning, tidying up their room, choosing the clothes to wear for tomorrow or folding the clothing pieces properly.


Make the whole experience enjoyable

If your kids aren’t happy and they stress about school a lot, you won’t be satisfied either. However, it’s paramount for your and their sanity to make school time as fun as possible. Studying is important but kids also need to know that they can freely express themselves. For example, you can let them use eco-friendly permanent markers to decorate their notebooks or, wait for it, decorate a wooden garden furniture, thus, expressing their creative self. You can also do fun chemistry experiments at home or let them in on some of the most extraordinary facts about the nature around them.

The most important thing about the back-to-school period is understanding that it’s perfectly normal for it to be a bit stressful for your whole family. Once you accept that, dealing with different situations and changes in your everyday life will be much easier. The end of summer may be near, but that doesn’t mean that autumn, and everything that comes with it, is not going to be fun and exciting.

Life with Crohn’s Disease

*This article is not to be taken as medical advice or as an expert piece on Crohn’s Disease. The purpose of this article is to provide a look into one particular person’s experience and journey with Crohn’s Disease.

Many times one person’s battles or struggles are invisible to the naked eye. When we don’t see what is happening on the inside we automatically assume that there is nothing wrong with a person. However, there are so many diseases and conditions that control our insides in a way that is hard for someone to understand who are looking from the outside.

This rings true of Crohn’s Disease and I have the honor to share Amanda’s story on how living with Crohn’s Disease is for her. What makes this story extra special for me is our family connection as she is my sister-in-law and my daughter’s Auntie.

So what exactly is Crohn’s Disease?

According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt your body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition and eliminate waste in a healthy manner.

The inflammation from Crohn’s can strike anywhere in the GI tract, from mouth to anus, but is usually located in the lower part of the small bowel and the upper end of the colon. Patched of inflammation are interspersed between healthy portions of the gut, and can penetrate the intestinal layers from inner to outer lining. Crohn’s can also affect the mesentery, which is the network of tissue that holds the small bowel to the abdomen and contains the main intestinal blood vessels and lymph glands.

The Road to the Crohn’s Diagnosis

The road to a diagnosis for Amanda was a long and painful one. At the age of 23 Amanda started to feel period like cramps that happened often after eating. At that time, doctors told her that it was Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) and to watch what she ate. As time passed, the pains got worse and Amanda wasn’t sure if it was something more than the IBS and Endometriosis she was already diagnosed with. At the age of 25, Amanda was sent to do an internal and external ultrasound in which they could not see anything at the time. Therefore, Amanda ignored the pains for a long time and her anxiety made matters worse where she didn’t even want to leave the home.

At the age of 29, she came to the point where the pains were too difficult to endure and she went to her family doctor to advocate for herself to get further checked. The doctor stated that they would do a colonoscopy even though they do not normally do it for someone at her age. The result from the colonoscopy was not one that Amanda wasn’t prepared to hear. She was officially diagnosed with Moderate Crohn’s Disease. At this point the doctor did not prescribe any treatment or medication.

Not too long afterwards, the pains continued to worsen and another colonoscopy through the gastrologist specialist was done. From the colonoscopy it was evident that the Crohn’s was getting worse and a trial base medication was given.

Symptoms

Everyone experiences different symptoms and at different degrees. Amanda describes her symptoms as sharp and different pains everyday such as an intense pressure on the colon. The pains she feels causes her stomach to swell and when there is a blockage in her intestines then the pains she feels are much more severe. In addition, Amanda feels a lot of joint pain and random body and back pains. This is best described as if your body is constantly fighting the flu. With her body always fighting causes her to feel fatigue no matter how much sleep or rest Amanda tries to get.

Amanda also suffers from anxiety which affects her Crohn’s Disease and vice versa.

Treatments

There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease and the medications available usually start off as a trial base as everyone reacts different to the treatments. Also for the stronger treatments the patient requires a lot of testing first to make sure that the patient can take it.

Currently Amanda takes one pill, one time a day (trial) to see how it works. In order to take this medication, she had to make sure she was up to date on all her vaccinations such as the flu and tetanus shot. In addition, she had to do tuberculosis tests, chest tests, x-rays and lots of blood work.

In one month time, she has to go back to check her red blood cells, irons, etc to make sure that the medication has not affected her. If everything checks out then the dosage can go up to 2 pills a day. Amanda also takes vitamins to help support her immune system since Crohn’s affects the immune system. People suffering of Crohn’s become very vulnerable to catch anything going around.

Life with Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease has taken control of Amanda’s life and she works around it. When planning a day out or if there is an event that she wants to attend, Amanda needs to do her research first. Amanda plans out every detail of her outing from the travel route to the facilities available at the location. This way she knows that there is a bathroom around if she needs it. At events Amanda cannot really enjoy a social drink as alcohol affects the disease too.

When Amanda does go out she uses side streets as it gives her better access to stop somewhere if she needs to. With Crohn’s she is limited on trying new things. “Your body changes. You can’t be active in sports or exercise as it physically hurts. Every day is a struggle and sometimes you have to force yourself to do what you need to,” says Amanda.

As a successful hairstylist she works from morning to evening and on her feet all day. To make sure that she isn’t rushing off to the bathroom in pain while serving her clients, she avoids eating all day which has a toll on her. With Crohn’s it has limited her on how far she can take her business. For example she can’t travel far distances due to Crohn’s and so many times she needs to turn down work outside of her salon. When she has a busy and big day at work she needs to prep the night before in order to do the next day’s work. Also continuing her education is also a struggle due to the limitations of Crohn’s.

Being freshly single, it is a struggle with Crohn’s Disease. Explaining the disease to someone new is difficult and of course can be embarrassing especially since you don’t really know them. Living with Crohn’s has not only made dating difficult but just any social interactions too.

What Not To Say To Someone With Crohn’s Disease

Sometimes people make comments (even with the best intentions) that are not appropriate to those suffering with diseases. Here are some common ones around Crohn’s that Amanda has heard.

“Wow, you lost a lot of weight.”

Any weight loss due to Crohn’s is not on purpose as a symptom of the disease is weight loss. With the weight loss, you are also losing muscle mass.

“What if you change your diet?”

There is no specific diet for Crohn’s Disease as your body could reject everything. Some foods could be worse than others and to different people suffering of Crohn’s Disease.

“Just eat healthier”

Crohn’s Disease has nothing to do with healthy or unhealthy eating. Amanda is only able to eat low FODMAP (FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol) or low residue foods. Anything with extra fiber makes it worse for the person with Crohn’s Disease. When you are cooking you need to adjust according to your particular body. All foods are a trial and error as there are no set guidelines on Crohn’s. Also everyone’s triggers are different.

“You should have a baby as that will regulate your body?”

Amanda has personally decided to get tubal ligation to prevent pregnancy as she didn’t want to risk having a child with the complications of Crohn’s Disease. Being pregnant with Crohn’s Disease is extremely difficult especially if someone was having a flare up as there is nothing that can be done to help due to pregnancy. Also having a baby will not make Crohn’s go away as it is a life-long disease.

“Have you tried a Naturopath?”

Naturopathic treatment provides a systematic relief since there is no cure for Crohn’s Disease. Herbal medication could also interact with the prescribed medication. It would be like fanning a fire. Therefore, it is important to make sure that this method is discussed with your specialist before going forward with it.

Advice To Others Who Have Loved Ones With Crohn’s Disease

Amanda stresses that one piece of advice that she can give is to be patient with your loved one suffering with Crohn’s Disease. The reason being is that with Crohn’s plans can be changed quickly even if planned in advance. Therefore, Amanda says “Be prepared to be disappointed or to go places alone.” A flare up can happen at any time which affects plans. Amanda suggests to help your loved one by mapping things out and your route when you are planning an outing. “You get so use to your loved one’s Crohn’s that at times you end up thinking like them,” says Amanda.

In Amanda’s case anxiety and depression has come along with the territory of Crohn’s Disease and it is important to offer support to your loved one with this too.

Above all, you need to provide a lot of understanding and comforting to your loved one. Amanda states, “Let them know you are there for them. That’s all you can really do.”

Life As An Aunt With Crohn’s

Amanda is a loving aunt to my daughter, Nikki. She is always there for her and enjoys planning fun activities to do with her. Amanda says, “When I pick a place to take Nikki, it’s all around Crohn’s. I can only plan outings where someone else is with her just in case a flare up happens.” Amanda wishes that she could do so much more with Nikki and on her own. However due to Crohn’s she is unable to do much more with her niece and Amanda feels that it has caused a wedge into the relationship that she could have with her niece. “Having Crohn’s is like your mind is one person and your body is another,” said Amanda.

Amanda is a true warrior though as she puts Crohn’s aside as best as she can to play with her niece. The interactions between the two of them is always so beautiful to see as they do have so much fun with one another. Nikki loves her Auntie Amanda so much that she calls her, “My Manda.”

Crohn’s has also affected Amanda’s role as a pet owner as the walks can be cut short and require her to run back home due to her pains. What Amanda tries to do is avoid eating big meals before going out for walks.

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Momma Braga’s Final Thoughts

Crohn’s Disease is a horrible invisible disease that changes many aspects of your daily living. Hopefully taking a look into Amanda’s life with Crohn’s provides some awareness of what one person may go through with this disease. It is also a great reminder that we should never assume or judge someone as we don’t know their back story.

Even though Amanda struggles and battles with Crohn’s every single day, she is still an amazing aunt in my books who goes beyond to make sure that Nikki knows how much she is loved by her.

If you would like to learn more about Crohn’s Disease please visit Crohn’s and Colitis.

Special thank you to Amanda for her time and sharing her story with all of us.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

My Daughter Hit A Low Patch Again…Dad Will Always Be There!

Guest Post By: Jeff Wood

If you have been following my blog you know my oldest daughter is 18 years old now and battles depression and anxiety.

Now things had really started to get better, the anger was lower, she was helping out without being asked and the biggest thing was that she was talking! Communication has always been her downfall and to see her opening up again was truly amazing. I had my little girl back, her brother and sister had the person they looked up to most, big sis, back! Things were great in our house.

Now you would think reading all that, things are still perfect. Ohhh man I wish they were, but anyone who has lived themselves or with someone else battling mental health sometimes it raises its ugly head and BOOM! right back down we go.

2 weeks ago I started seeing her behavior start to change. The first thing to go was the talking. Home from university and right downstairs, hide in her room for hours only coming up to play video games or for food. Ask about her day and you get one word answers like fine. No more talking about what she is doing or where she is going.

Big red flag for me and now I know something is wrong. Next comes the anger! Getting mad at anything said to her. The worst part is she gets stuck in her own head once talking stops and goes right to worse case scenarios, then reacts based on them even when it’s not reality. Now with this, anytime something is said to her the anger flares, and our house can become very volatile.

The whole time this is happening I try to talk to her. The first stage, not talking, gets me one word answers, the second, anger, gets me screamed at. I’m not talking your typical teen moodiness, I’m talking “Can you not right now, I’m not going to be all roses when you are the reason I’m angry!”, “It’s your fault that I’m mad, stop trying to talk to me, just leave me alone already!” all with blood curdling screams.

I have been told over the years she wishes I was never in her life, that I’m a horrible dad, I made her this way, I wish I wasn’t here, You think I’m a 2-year-old when I’m an adult – the list goes on and on. To be honest I remember saying the exact same things to my mom when I was fighting my own mind.

Believe me I don’t blame her for lashing out like this but I am so tired now emotionally from it. For almost 4 years now I have dealt with my daughters bad days and it takes a huge tole on me. I question whether I am a good dad, am I making the right choices, will my daughter turn out ok in life because she hates me so much – even though I know she loves me.

Her younger brother and sister have to sit through the meltdowns, hearing her sister scream from her room horrible things about dad. It has taken a toll on them as well and as their dad I feel horrible. They know why it’s happening, I have had those talks with them but to be honest I’m not sure they fully understand. My daughter never lashes out at her brother and sister no matter how low she gets and for that she is very strong. One day maybe she will talk with them to explain in her own words how she feels – when the time is right and they are old enough to fully understand.

The hard part of mental illness is during the low points, you don’t think clear and instead of pulling yourself up, you drag others down by any means possible. It’s hard to watch your child suffer with their own mind, you feel helpless and lost. Watching your other kids see and deal with it hurts. You feel as though you should just give up and walk away. On the really low days, Hell seems like a vacation compared to what happening. I would be lying if I didn’t say these are thoughts I have struggled with from time to time.

But here’s the thing for me, I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! I will take everything she throws at me, good and bad. I will be her punching bag always if it helps her deal with whats bugging her. I will be there to help whenever needed. I will also be the one who brings her off the ledge so to speak – by allowing her to scream, put me down, even hit me if it’s ever needed untill she is ready to open up. I love my daughter more than life itself! She will always be my first child, daddy’s little girl and a huge important part of my life.

After long talks over the weekend, the problems she was dealing with on her own came out. I will have a post soon about why. Things have calmed down and I hope will last for a while again. I was put through the ringer again, but it is worth it if only to allow her some mental peace. Sometimes as a dad, you need to same your child from themselves not just the world around them.

Now to work with her on more coping techniques, communication skills and to help were needed with these and any other problems she faces. Communication is key and the hardest lesson yet.

Parents, know your kids – and well. You never know when that knowledge will come in handy, but if it does you will be glad you paid attention.

Teen Depression & Anxiety

Guest Post By: Jeff Wood

As a father, all I want to do is help my kids through life to make it as fun and easy as possible. But like with ourselves sometimes life throws your child a curveball.

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My oldest daughter had quite a curveball thrown at her about 3 years ago. She ended up with depression. On top of that she has high anxiety. Now as a father this kills me every day. I want nothing more than to take the pain away and fix the problem but I am rendered helpless in all ways other than just being there for her.

3 years we had noticed slight changes in her behavior. Passed a lot of it off as its her being a teen. Her school marks started to drop a bit, again she is just being a teen.

Then she started dating. Quite a big step for a teen girl at the end of her grade 9 school year. Things were good at first then I noticed this boy was very controlling. I told my daughter what I thought and said keep your eyes open for red flags. That’s when the anger hit us. The over reacting over everything. The pulling away from friends and family. My wife and I sat up many nights talking about what was happening to our girl. Then BAM! The first break up. We knew this would be hard as it was for us too back in our teen years. But what we saw was something else. It was straight down. Crying and lashing out. Not leaving her room. School tanking big time.

My wife picked up on little things faster than I did which she is great with. I tend to let my emotions lead which makes me miss the little things. In talking with my wife and with my experience going through depression myself, it was time to go to the doctor.

We took her in and sure enough depression had a hold of her. Now recovery begins. She started taking anti depressants. Things slowly started getting better but until she had the right dose there was still rocky times. We had a few run aways, lots of screaming matches, and her becoming down thinking she was crazy.

Now let me tell you one thing, when your child runs away from you in a Costco parking lot, life sort of stops. I called my wife crying knowing I had just gave her crap for anger before I went into the store. This was my fault. I’m never going to see her again. The things that went through my head were endless. It took awhile but I found her. She told me things were just too much and she felt she needed to run. I don’t blame her at all. Depression is one of the hardest things a person can go through. Your head is foggy. Nothing seems right and you feel like you are not wanted.

After this day a breakthrough happened. She started opening up to dad. Now I was shocked it was me but quite happy she was talking. Things were worse than we ever thought. Many days were spent listening and trying to give advise.

I had lots of talks with her about my own experiences dealing with depression. I feel it brought us a little closer even though we still have our moments now. At the very least it showed her she isn’t alone. This effects many people and I showed this to her through groups and even on twitter. Blog reading helped a lot as well.

Fast forward 3 years. Depression really isn’t a factor any more. There still are down days but a lot of those are due to her anxiety and not the depression.

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Now anxiety is a whole other story. Anxiety runs her life. I have been talking and working with her for a long time on this but like everything unless you want it to end it never will. She is a very strong independent young lady. She knows the signs of her anxiety and a lot of her triggers but having to admit a way of thinking is wrong, like most teens, is her downfall. She feels like if she admits she is wrong she has failed and for her failing isn’t an option.

Que in test anxiety. School time brings a lot of volatile nights due to a big test coming up. She studies hard then gets completely focused on the fact she might fail and can’t sleep let alone function. The anger that come from this is huge. I try talking and getting her to cope but it is a slow process.

With life for her anxiety runs it by her way of thinking the worst is always going to happen and a lot of focus on the past without looking to the future.

Now for me I’m an A to B thinker. That’s it. I’m here and need to be there. For her to get from A to B usually hits C,D, and ends up on E. All 3 aren’t there but she seems to make them possibilities and completely misses out on where she needs to go. This is very hard to deal with as a parent.

For example. I want to go out this weekend with friends. For me it would be ok call them make plans and go. For her it’s I want this, they are probably working, no point on calling, anger because I’m doing nothing.

Now coping with depression, anxiety, and anger all go hand in hand. I have talks with her about staying out of your own head. Don’t answer for anybody in your head, ask them and wait. Keep looking forward and not in the past. Be your life’s tour guide not it’s road block. Your parents are here to help not hurt but anger and bad behavior will always have consequences weather here at home or out in the world. But the biggest one is you have to admit fault. When you admit you were wrong you don’t need to lie anymore. You can learn from it instead of hurt. It’s not a bad thing, we all make mistakes, lord knows I have made tons but it’s how we learn from them that’s important.

Also if you feel anger taking over, breath. Deep breaths help. Say I need a minute and take a break to recoup. Take time for yourself to relax. Anger brings on words we can never take back. It can ruin a lot of relationships.

The hard part is everything goes hand in hand. Depression brings on anger. Anxiety leads to depression. Anger brings out both. It’s still a work in progress for me and my daughter but the way she have persevered is amazing.

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We still have battles. We still fight but we have made huge strides forward. Dad is learning too. Things not to say or do to trigger her. I am changing myself as much as she is. I am very proud of the woman she has become. The hardest part is implementing coping techniques into every day life. I know this first hand as I have been there myself. She has made me a better dad once again through a very bad and dark time for her. She is almost there and I couldn’t be happier. I understand first hand what she is going through and don’t fault her for this at all. I still give her crap for anger, don’t get me wrong, but I also explain coping skills with it.

The future is very bright for my daughter and once the coping kicks in she will truly be free to enjoy life’s vast experiences.

I love my daughter with all my heart and would love to take the pain upon my self. She has done more for me in life than she will ever know. One day we will look back on this and laugh about butting heads.

If you yourself have suffered or have kids that do, know you aren’t alone. My daughter is and I have been through this. Please share your experience or just comment to show support for my girl. If you know coping skills that have worked for you, we are all ears.

Thank you for reading.