Category Archives: Elusive Tranquility

Elusive Tranquility is my personal blog about parenting a special needs child and her siblings. I started this blog many years ago as a way to share my parenting stories and to connect with other parents of special needs children. I have three children, Jenny who is in college, and Anna and Dominic, both in elementary school. After having Anna, the way I view the world shifted. Anna has PDD-NOS (a form of autism), intellectual disability, epilepsy, microcephaly, hypotonia, hypothyroidism, kyphoscoliosis, sensory integration dysfunction, hearing loss, high myopia, mood disorder, and was failure to thrive from 6 months to 3 years. Bless her heart, her life is hard but she never complains. My son, Dominic, also has ADHD and is intellectually gifted. Anna experiences life at a different pace and with a different viewpoint, and has challenged everything I know about motherhood. Having always been very empathic myself, I feel what she feels and see what she sees… and this gives me a unique vision when exploring my artistic side. I have connected with many other special needs parents through this blog and love hearing from you.

Today I am not sharing my regular weekly P366 blog post, I will share that tomorrow. Today I am consumed with sadness and heartache and need to write about it. An 8th grade girl, a student at Dominic’s middle school, took her life Tuesday evening. She was 12 years old. Of course this hits home. It used […]

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  • jon - anonymous - Hello,

    I’ve been following your blog for a while, found you on youtube.

    Sorry to here of this loss.

    My comments on raising awareness, stigma around mental illness…

    What I’ve found is that the greatest obstacle to getting mental health professional help or any kind of health-related help is that the greatest obstacle isn’t stigma, it’s patient rights and poor quality of care.

    No one wants to get their rights taken away.

    Trust is a major issue. The best form of help out there comes in a trusted person one can confide in without fear of being force or coerced into something regardless of how serious the issue is.

    If you tell a mental health professional that you’re considering suicide he or she is legally obligated to disclose it. If you’re deemed a threat to yourself or others you can be forcefully hospitalized/medicated. That in itself would cause more harm than good.

    Mental health professionals can be extremely coercive and manipulative. They’re trained to coerce patients into doing things they naturally wouldn’t do, all while claiming that it’s in the patient’s best interest.

    The other issue is quality of care.

    I don’t know much about the health care system in the united states, but where I am, canada, we have public universal health insurance.

    The insurance covers psychiatrists but not psychologists or other mental health professionals.

    Psychiatrists here are of little help for mental health problems which aren’t bio-medical. In fact they mostly see mental health problems from a bio-medical mechanistic perspective and just pathologize every issue. They prescribe medication to treat so called pathology -> effectively covering up mental health problems caused by bullying, destructive relationships, financial problems, other stressers.

    Another thing is that while intentions are good with respect to eliminating stigma, it would be better to focus on preventing mental health breakdown entirely. By the time help is needed the damage has been done.ReplyCancel

    • Holly - Hi Jon, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Giving control over to your medical team is a very scary proposition. How do you know when you can trust someone else to make decisions for you if you are at risk of hurting yourself? It’s easy when the patient is under 18 and the parent is involved, but when the patient is an adult… you’ve raised some thought-provoking questions. Do you have any ideas on how to prevent a mental health breakdown? It appears that there is some genetic influences with regard to my family. How do I stay vigilant and get my children the right kind of support? This is somewhat of a rhetorical question, but I am curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment, I appreciate it very much.ReplyCancel

  • jon - I think that for any mental health intervention to be effective the patient has to be engaged and on board. Forced treatment shouldn’t be an option or legal in all but the most extreme cases.

    Sadly forced or coercive treatment is still a reality especially in cases involving hospitalization. If it wasn’t and rights were respected, more people would feel comfortable seeking help.

    Usually when someone is resisting treatment there’s actually a good reason and the case isn’t nearly as simple as it seems on the surface.

    I think patients under 18 (could be 16 or 14 in certain areas) can actually at the greatest risk because they under the eyes of the law, they don’t necessarily the right to make their own decisions. If a parent refuses the recommended treatment for a child (lets say due to risks and negative effects of certain drugs like anti-psychotics), doctors can easily get children’s aid involved. That’s a very dangerous.

    I don’t know if there’s anything similar to children’s aid for intellectually disabled adults where the legal guardian’s (and the patient’s) decisions can be over-ridden by a government agency, but hopefully not.

    For adults though if there’s a proper power of attorney set up (and everyone should have one) before a mental breakdown, I think a trusted substitute decision maker can step in and take charge of the patient’s care.

    As for the question of how to prevent a mental health breakdown, that’s a really tough to answer.

    If the mental illness is of a biomedical origin, I don’t think there’s much that can be done.

    Even for other cases you can’t really protect family members and friends from external sources of stress which lead to mental breakdown. The person him or herself has to admit that there’s a problem (not the same as concrete internal “disorder” or “defect” to treat) and be willing and open to drawing on social supports to change the situation.

    The best any family member or friend can do is not brush off mental health concerns and check in with people in a respectful** way. There needs to be a lot of trust, and often in a parent-child relationship there isn’t, especially if it’s the relationship itself or problems at home that are causing the mental health problems to begin with.

    **By respectful, I mean making sure that that anything being done is only in the person’s best interest and not just to control or get rid of what’s perceived as abnormal/undesirable/disruptive behavior. (the behavior is just a symptom after all especially if there’s substance abuse involved. ) The worst thing any family member can do is try and abruptly address poor mental health, “mental difference” or behavior as a simple, concrete “problem to be fixed” ->that’s damaging as often the patient is already fragile, has very poor self-esteem and is already all too aware of the dysfunction.

    I know this from my own experiences. I didn’t seek help out of fear of being judged or given trouble or worse being forced into medical or psychiatric treatment. (…and it wasn’t even suicidal depression or substance abuse, far less serious than that)ReplyCancel

One thing I miss about doing a Project 365 or a Project 52 is the story I end up with for the year. At least with those projects, I’m shooting and blogging frequently, so I’m kind of keeping a virtual scrapbook of our lives. Instead of a Christmas letter (which last year was my very first one), I […]

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In honor of Halloween and the fact that it’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything, I thought I’d go back into my archives and post a couple of super creepy spider pictures. For those that are scared of spiders, I’m sorry! But I’m fascinated by their minute details. This image is from April. […]

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Today, Jenny drove down from Georgetown to see me before my next surgery scheduled on Wednesday, 9/30/15. I really wanted to be able to meet her partway for lunch, but I knew if I did, that I’d be in bed the rest of the day. I’m about 3.5 weeks post-op now from my thyroidectomy and […]

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I have a broken body. (By the way, this damn post has taken me four days to write.) I am a chronic pain patient. I see a pain management specialist, among many other specialists. There is a lot of stigma and shame associated with being in pain and I really don’t understand why. I didn’t […]

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  • Rebecca Spencer - Love you my dear friend, you are truly beautiful inside and outside. Rebecca xxxReplyCancel

    • Holly - My dear sweet Rebecca. I some stuff I want to talk to you about soon, about Theo and Dominic. Wish you weren’t so far away. Love you right back! xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • Kerry Lake - Holly, I didn’t know you were struggling with so many health challenges! And yet, you are always thinking of others and staying so positive! You have given so much to others, now it’s time to let them take care of you. Best wishes and HUGE HUGS to you and your family. 💓ReplyCancel

    • Holly - Kerry, what a kind and sweet thing to say. I will do my best to allow others to help. It’s so hard when you are used to being the caretaker! Thanks for your support. <3ReplyCancel

  • Anna - You are Beautiful! And your children couldn’t have a better mom than you. Life is love,and you show it. XReplyCancel

  • Tracy Bradbury - You are such a huge inspiration to me, you cope with life challenges with grace and dignity and I wish you all the best for your forthcoming surgery. You should be incredibly proud of not only being a wonderful Mother but also a beautiful friend and person, sending my love, Tracy xxxxReplyCancel

    • Holly - Tracy, you inspire me as well… you have been through your own share of Hell and back, and you handle life with a gentle graciousness and sweetness that permeates everything you do. Thank you for your support. <3ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Thank you for taking the time to “suck it up”, and tell us about all that’s going on.
    One thing you should be glad about, is that at least the Dr’s are helping you.
    Wait til you are 65, then you are just an excess human. Dr’s do not seem to be concerned about problems of “feeling like you are passing out’ when ever you are on your feet. They tell you things like”you should just learn to live with this”, even tho its getting worse, or that you are an enigma. Basically my life, as an artists, has ended.
    You are a great inspiration and your attitude is so inspiring.
    Good luck with upcoming surg. Barb Pryor – wife of magician.ReplyCancel

    • Holly - Barb, I am sickened by how as people age, they become invisible and overlooked. I’m going to write you privately but please know that I hear you and honor you and wish your circumstances were different. Thank you for reaching out to me. <3ReplyCancel

  • Dawn Cherry - Holly, you are strong. You are kind. You are brave. You are victorious. And God is right there with you every step of the way. You are in my prayers.ReplyCancel

    • Holly - Dawn, you give me strength with your wise and kind words. Thank you for being so supportive and understanding. xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Holly-
    I wish I could give you a great big hug. I’m so sorry for your pain and your worry and your frustration. I’m praying for peace and comfort for you. I’m praying for peace and calm for Anna. Big hugs and big prayers.