Saturday, February 16, 2008

I think I have been living in a coma for about a week now. One of my friends is having a difficult time lately with a few major life issues. The fact that she is still walking around is proof enough to me, that she is talking a pro-active approach to the issues around her.

We both just discovered that there is a mental disorder called ODD. “Oppositional Defiance Disorder” is the term. She just put a name to it this morning. After spending close to 24 hours in a hospital, waiting for someone to see her teenage daughter, we were both saying how ridiculous it was that a child in crisis had to wait that long for proper attention. Well, it became clear to me, when she told me what the psychologist that saw her daughter told her about this disorder. Here we were thinking that he was just describing her daughter as if he knew her personally, and it turns out that she fits into that diagnosis so perfectly that he was speaking in general. How is it, that as parents, we had no idea that a diagnosis or disease like this existed. I raised three children, all grown now, but each has issues of their own, luckily for me, none as serious as this. It is all about LABELS. We never really absorb anything until a name is attached to it, mainly because it does not exist, until then. Cryptic, I know, but I will explain further in.

In the past year, one of the changes that I made in my life, was to let my children go (I think that is a hymn we used to sing in church or it is from an old movie) “Let my children go.” Anyway, case in point, my youngest had some substance issues, which I have discussed on my blog in the past, and I had to wrestle with the struggle of letting him go when he refused treatment. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I would do it again tomorrow, now that I know what came to me, from that.

I remember as a young mother learning this: “You should begin to separate from your children when they are born, if you hope to raise independent children.” It was important to me to raise independent children. I never experienced independence until I was a young bride, with a child at 25, divorcing and being forced to live on my own. That is not to say that it was not my choice to do that, because it absolutely was. What I experienced after that, was the fear of living on my own, raising a child alone, paying bills, making enough money, feeling safe, and keeping my child safe, all things I had never learned. No one had ever taught me how to do that. I did all of that well, with my first husband, but when it was time to be on my own, the feeling was not empowering, it was frightening and it kept me from ever following through with the things that would keep me secure and safe, the tools to manage my life. I tried so many times to take that back, the feeling of security, safety and peace, but I had given it up to others in my life, my children, each of my husbands in two marriages, bosses, parents, teachers, anyone I could give it to, except MYSELF. The reality of that came so late in life. Forced to struggle so long, knowing something, but never really knowing what it was. Pushing me through so many emotional changes that were under the heading of, depression, mental illness, insecurity, immaturity, all negative LABELS, never knowing that what I was doing was fighting to live my own life, the one I had given away to so many. It is funny when I look back at it now and see the simplicity of getting to where I should have gone so many years ago, but I am there now and it is still not too late for me to leave that to my children. The vessel to contain that knowledge has not formed in my mind yet. However, the thought and the desire are present, as the first two steps to succeeding in anything or everything. (I will have to get back to you on THE LAST ONE).

All of this came to me as I watched my friend struggle with her daughter’s issues. Fed by information about things that I seemed to know and understand, realizing that I had experienced things like this before, I was able to offer support and hopefully, guidance into a dark place that she and I have both lived for so many years. In the process, we have found humor, Thank God, and understanding of things about ourselves as we struggle to learn more about her child and change things from the way we had to learn them. We are becoming more comfortable in our LABELS and moving further away from the fear of what is in our mind, in order to change things for the future of children like hers and mine.
ODD is a real issue among teens, and there is new information available. I am planning to help my friend find that information to share with other parents, but first by letting parents know that conditions like those that ODD contain, can be changed. Just putting a LABEL on it has made it clearer to those of us that have lived with other labels. We need to find a positive way to bring this message to parents and teens and teach them how to change their thoughts to change their behavior. It all begins with baby steps, and miracles are all around us, thoughts do become things and Ask, believe and you will receive.

The experiences that my friend and I went through this past week have been overwhelming to us. At times and we have struggled through sleep deprivation and sometimes fear of the unknown, but we have managed to keep ourselves sane with humor and support. The other night, while struggling with these issues and unable to sleep any longer for the night, I sent this email to her husband.
I hope it gives you the levity that we found in it, because it helped us to get through: I have removed the names to protect the innocent.

The subject line read: BILL FOR SERVICES RENDERED!


Below, is a list of services rendered to MRS.BLANKETY BLANK-BLANK. After her first consult, which was free, you were informed, that any further use of my services would come at a high price.

My services are valuable and should be recognized as such. I am a firm believer in payment of services rendered by the bartering system. Please take note that the payment for my additional services is now due and will accepted in payment by, 1 treadmill, and an office chair ( I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer doing research for the issues that your wife comes to me for. Additionally, there is a night differential which is imposed after 1:00 a.m. on all occasions.

Please do not let this matter reach the point where it will be necessary to serve you with a dunning notice. Prompt and courteous service will be rewarded with a discount on your next bill. SERVICE RENEDERED:
1. Several phone consults previous to 12:00 a.m.
2. Invaluable computer services.
3. A shoulder to cry on.
4. Valuable opinions and direct advice.
5. Sleep deprivation.

You should recall that, while I was performing these services, you were getting much needed sleep, (of which, I was denied, because once you wake me up…I am up). I’m sure you can see the value in these services and I am certain that you will consider prompt payment, knowing that my service will be needed a great deal in the next few weeks.

Ann-Marie Cunniff
P.S. Woohoo, my first paid gig…I

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