Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School with PTSD and TBI

So the end of the summer has come for my school aged children and thought I would touch on this subject as this is one I really have stayed away from. While my brain was whooping with joy and my feet skipping gallantly down to the bus stop....the fear, anxiety and dread filled my stomach once again as soon as my children got on the bus. For those that really don't know much about my children; we have a three, five and fourteen year old boys. My littlest dare devils were pre and post deployment babies, so never had to deal with outside care other than my mother in law and an occasional sitter via our close friend, "Aunt Gracey", as my boys call her. Since my husband left as my middle son was born, the only one out of the three is my oldest who really knows the difference between "old" and "new" dad. After deployment and because of my son's older age, I educated as much as I could about the subjects of PTSD and TBI. I initially had reservations regarding this because although he knew what was going on somewhat, I wanted to allow him to still be a boy and not create a man so to speak, before his time.

While he still struggles just as we all do, he seems to understand more now that he is armed with the knowledge and like all of us, learning through mistakes. We didn't experience some of the depression, acting out or bad behavior as some other families are dealing with living with our types of households other than a few minor incidents at home and of course, prepubescent attitudes. I did however go through hell last year which is what we are going to talk about now. With school gearing up for all of us, I have seen an influx of "back to school" fears enter my mailbox, especially those of you who are National Guard and Army Reserve families.

Now for the active duty side of the house, I can't really tell you much about what goes on because we were never on a post or had to deal with schools like that. I can only say that on the RS/NG side, it's pretty hard because we aren't around military oriented communities and therefore our teachers and employees, (unless military related) really don't know much about our families and such struggles. I WILL say that many of you who have expressed your concerns and fears, were a ton of active components which is just damn sad. Why on posts are you all having so many issues? It's completely unacceptable! I am wondering why since PTSD and TBI is such a prevalent topic in the news that these teachers are not educated! Hopefully everyone can find something in my post that they can relate to, give you ideas, comfort you in you aren't alone or hell, at least a chuckle! I also hope this will spawn some of you to come out in the open and leave comments so others can share your advice or concerns! I completely understand what everyone wrote especially the email with the subject liner of "HOLY HELL-I'm SCARED to send my children to school!!!!". I have to admit that this year, I was dreading it a little bit. We are transitioning into newer schools for both my school aged children. One into Kindergarten at a closer school and one into dum dum dummmmm...high school. I was a bit concerned and wondered if perhaps I should have reconsidered talking to my Cardiologist about upping my Xanex dosage!

Last school year, the one problem I had and my biggest fear was not my older son but my middle son. At the age of four, he tested high enough to attend our county's first guinea pig project of Pre-School in the school system. Other than just being around Nana and a friend, he has always been with the family. I thought having the opportunity to get out and learn, plus the socialization would be wonderful for him and allow him to blossom before Kindergarten. While he did exceptionally well, we faced a TON of challenges that we weren't really sure how to address or where to turn to for help. It wasn't that my son was a misbehaved child and for a while, we never got a note home from the teacher or phone calls. I thought he was doing pretty well.

I suddenly get a HUGE letter asking for a parent teacher conference "as soon as possible-like tomorrow after school possible". Now, I wanted our family to seem normal and although I am very proactive about PTSD and TBI. I guess I wanted my children to have a normal school year. I am sure many of you can relate to that statement because although we no longer fit in the "normal category" in much of the military world, we are especially abnormal in the civilian one. We try to act as normal as possible. When enrolled, I didn't talk to the teacher about my child facing such mental and physical challenges at home because I wanted him to be treated normally and give him the opportunity to find himself without being defined by PTSD and TBI which often happens with ALL of us.

 I attended the parent teacher conference bracing myself for bad behavior. What could he have possibly done to warrant such a nasty gram home? Not listening, biting other children, the kid who eats the paste, snorts glitter, runs with scissors? What could be possibly going on that she would send such a note home to me with such harsh words? The worst I could figure was that he was repeating strong sentiments expressed by my "PTSD Beast" or maybe was acting like a goof ball in class. So after much nail biting, a quick pep talk in the mirror, I stayed after school with my son to attend the dreaded conference. I had a bad feeling and it just sort of hung off me the whole day like twenty pound sandbags around the neck.

The start of it all was "Your child is an excellent student BUT...." and I braced myself. Here was this teacher all of a sudden ranting and raving over my child and what were her complaints? He was too loud. He liked to be the loudest of them all on the playground and yell. Sometimes his "inside voice" was too loud for her and with the many "centers" that offered educational toys...he wanted to stick with the ones that created sounds and of course...play the loudest. She had one center with trucks and cars like fire trucks and police cars with sirens. He would go in and immediately want to use that center and then not leave. She said he was testing her patience. I have to tell you Readers...I started laughing because I thought to myself and told the teacher "Is that it?". I was relieved in a way that my child wasn't going to suffer from a glue poisoning or be the kid that is the class clown and always in trouble. However, I was kind of stunned because it was like what do I do with that? So after many many many examples, and some serious evil eyes from her, I broke down and explained.

I let it ALL come out from start of being injured up til then and when I was done....she looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. Big bug eyes, alarmed face, confusion and a frown said it all. I felt absolutely deflated because I knew she just wasn't and didn't "get it". I felt like a made a HUGE mistake but kept stumbling on like some rambling lunatic. I explained that my son's behavior is explainable and it was due to his wanting to play with such toys, because we can't have them home as they set my husband off. We can't be very loud or yell, because it startles my husband so severely and then sets him off. We have to talk a wee bit louder than most because my husband lost quite a bit of his hearing and with two other brothers, he has to talk a little bit louder. I am also deaf in my right ear and can't afford hearing aids for both ears, so he does have to talk a little louder. She said she understood but I could see it in her eyes. It was as if I suddenly sprouted three heads and told her the mothership had just landed on the playground. I told her we would work on these "behavior problems" and to understand that we are a little bit challenged when it comes to expectations than those of other children.

We were batting a thousand right out the gate as the year rocked on. We not only had these noise issues but we also had the immaturity because he was the only (just turned) 4 year old they had in the entire program as the others were five going on 6. It was a constant barrage of phone calls, nasty grams home, parent teacher conferences, and then to make it worse....volunteer time. I wish I could have, looking back on it, explained how badly I wanted to be on every freaking field trip that the class took. I wanted to not only be there for my son, but wanted so desperately to dive into the excitement, the laughter and the funny things small children do at that age. When my son was at school, its like watching our service animal. Gunny works and works hard, but when he gets the chance man does he run and well, just wants to be and act like a dog! My son was similar to that and what I could see running, squealing and laughing was completely different of the child that comes home in the afternoons. He was happy, having fun and enjoying the time away. I envied that somewhat but also wanted to soak it all up at the same time. My husband and I then became the "non-participating" parents. I could not volunteer my time during the day without extensive plans ahead because I had to have someone with my husband and/or younger son. I wanted to go on those field trips and have some fun, but I was not able to do so. The nasty grams always stated the same thing "Your child was being loud on the playground or hallway and not using his inside voice-please have this talk with your child and have it corrected by tomorrow". Ummm ok.

We bought t-shirts when they were made, we bought other school fund raising items which we could not afford on disability income, clipped the hell out of some box tops, made sure our son participated in everything but selling candy which we got a lot of grief over. Our youngest child has a deathly allergy to peanuts and while the cases of candy bars are a hit with most schools....going door to door out here in cow country with a Veteran who has severe PTSD/TBI wasn't a popular idea with me. Not only that, but no matter how hard I tried to explain why I couldn't take two cases home due to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups being in there, we still got the "well alright" with a frown and arms crossed. We couldn't take the box because the oil on PB cups contaminates the entire box and could kill my child. No further explanation to me was needed, but it was like she just kept punishing me because I wasn't there all the time or was able to do the things like the other parents. Each time I picked him up, I pulled up with held breath, ass cheeks drawn up and the feeling like I was the one being punished and not him.

We made it through the school year and he graduated. She gave us a big hug but got the feeling that it was more like "Thank God they are leaving". After the school year ended and summer began, the more I thought about it the more pissed off I got. The entire time, she never offered me the usage of the guidance counselor at the school even during the time my husband broken down and had to be hospitalized. (yeah that was tough to explain my son might have bad days because we just had to put his dad in) We never really talked and came up with a mutual plan for working on the issues he had in class. He did wonderful at his work, wonderful at sharing, writing, listening etc...but would lose his tokens because of being a little loud or playing with a toy that dangled in front of him like gold in front of a thief! It ticked me off because no matter how hard the kid worked.....she set him up for failure because he would lose his tokens no matter what. So when other children would go to the prize box at the end of the week, my son would come home with nothing. I understood the reward system but with children such as ours, there has to be some room for understanding, patience, and expecting hurdles and challenges.

This year, I decided to bite the bullet with the new school and get a head start. I wasn't sure if I was making a mistake, but that's how we have learned much through this journey is from those mistakes. Fortunately for us, my oldest had just left my middle son's new school so they were familiar with my children. I was really panicking because I didn't want to have to worry about this type of stuff on top of everything else. I wanted my child to have a normal education, but at the same time, there has to be room for work on both parts of the parents and the school. I partially accepted blame for allowing last year to happen and for my not stepping up to the plate and letting the schools know. I sat down and after talking with Brannan at Familyofavet.com, I expressed my concerns about this upcoming school year and could she send me some laymen termed information on PTSD and TBI. I then took that, made several copies and then wrote a letter you can find HERE to my son's Kindergarten teacher in my son's point of view. Now from the Facebook page, some commented this may not help many of the older children but it can give you ideas on how to approach your child's teachers. You don't have to use it per say, but you get the idea of where I was trying to come from.

I didn't need one for an older child because I went and talked with the guidance counselor and principal before school started about my oldest son. I wanted to make sure that he could talk and utilize the guidance counselor during the school year. You can use it as a guideline or maybe you have other ideas. I took this packet and gave a copy to the teacher, the guidance counselor, the principal and the vice principal and made a copy to the school board. I was quite surprised at the reaction, the comments and the help they offered once it was out and I had something well written educational wise (Thank you Family of a Vet!). I found that by taking the horse by the reins this year, pushing my way in and advocating for my children was the best solution for us as far as our challenges. I am hoping this will help not only the teacher, but myself as a parent this year.

For my oldest son, transitioning to a new school PLUS High School to boot, can be pretty brutal as many remember our Freshman year. I was worried that he might have some difficulties especially after this summer when he told me he really no longer fit in "anywhere". Made me think a lot about what my son told me. I didn't realize he felt this way but he said "While most kids my age are worried about no allowance, or so and so just broke up with him/her, I am worried about my dad when I leave home for those 8 hours. Will he kill himself? Will my mom be alright?" It was pretty straight forward and well, honest. This year, my son decided to look into JROTC. I was a little hesitant, nervous and wanted to make sure he was doing it for the right reasons, not just to make my husband proud. He actually wanted to do it and I do believe it was one of the best moves we made. He has made a lot of friends his age and upper class men, sincerely is under scrutiny and expectations from SGT Major S who is a friendly version of Gunny Sarge from the movie Platoon, but he loves it. It gives him something to do extra-curricular and he has found several students in his class that have parents struggling with the same issues. I think the confidence building, the goals and standards are just what he needed. 

I can't honestly tell each and every one of you how to go about doing anything but can say from our experience, so far so good with pushing forward and advocating for my family. It's a little scary, but I felt more comfortable as the Principal called me with the Guidance Counselor and offered any services we may need. Familyofavet.com has a good radio interview which I participated in with many different panelists on board. It is an interesting way to hear different issues come up and what sort of solutions. One was to come up with a "code system" which I have found so far was one of the smartest ideas I learned. With my middle son, we have decided to use a red highlighter on bad days, and the teacher has ALL my contact information. I explained I can't fix any problems if I am not aware of them sooner.

Familyofavet.com also has diligently worked on a Ready to Use School Packet for Parents and Teachers which is ready for download. You can visit HERE to get all the information you need! The best advice I can give all of you is to just try. You are going to make mistakes as a parent, your child is definitely going to make mistakes....it's even harder when you factor PTSD and TBI into the equation. It's difficult but in all of this, you must do what you have to do. Many feel better about NOT bringing up the issues at home, and some do. Some feel that home schooling is an option that best suits their child and that is something that has been brought up a number of times due to the schools in their state/area. The point is....its up to you to advocate and search out resources. Often the school counselors are a lot more educated about PTSD than many of the teachers, if not...educate them!

Another idea to, and one we placed the resource card in our back pockets, was utilizing the Army's Child Youth Services. Relatively new, they have placed School Support Specialists in each state. They can help provide resources, and if need be, even speak to your child's teachers and school employees about the challenges faced at home. This can be done by phone or if feasible depending on location (as you know they have tightened up budgets), they will come to the school. Now they seemed to me to be more Active related, but did offer some great advice, ideas, and offered to be on call anytime that I needed our specialist to step in to set up a meeting, educating and diffusing "situations" that are family related.

I feel better this year myself, and will all this completely help in the whole year? Maybe. This is only the first week of school so I am sure we will stumble on some issues along the way. I am trying to stay focused but have to say that I, as a parent and spouse of a Veteran, feel more confident and sure of myself than I did last year. Embarking on a journey with our children through life is difficult and then the pressures of PTSD and TBI mixing in, can be challenging. You just have to find the right solution for your family and if you fail, keep trying. At least the school system can't fault YOU for not trying to letting them know and educating them. Check out the resources, most definitely check out FOV's Packet for Parents and teachers, and let your mind chew on some ideas on how to best help yourself. At least we can say....we got an A+ for effort!

Still Learning, 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For the Love of a Vet: Most Asked Question To The Mistress

With life being so insane right now with Coordinators, advisers ( I may have more now than Obama has and still don't know what the hell I am doing), MED/PEB board, service dog, paperwork and school starting up....it's been difficult to answer and get caught up to all the emails. Since I had a battery of medical testing yesterday and under orders to rest, I thought I would take the time today to answer the most asked question that many of you have sent in:

How Do You Deal/Cope With A Veteran With PTSD, TBI, Issues?

Honestly, this is a question that is one that plagues us spouses on a daily basis and one that there really isn't a specific answer for. I have read the books, I have researched, and everything I have come across has different answers because like your question to me, I have asked that question to others. You could cram a room full of experts, therapists, and psychiatrists and still not get a single, mutually agreed upon and understandable answer. Now does all that researching, reading, exploring and asking make me some type of educated "know it all" on these issues? Absolutely not! Never claimed to be, never will be and to be honest with you readers...I am still to this day asking, exploring, educating and wondering myself how I deal with all of it! 

So after reading 58 emails this morning with this very question that eludes us all, I thought I could pass on what I have learned, what has worked for me, and what hasn't. May not be the answer you want, but it's all I have because every Veteran is different. Each of us has different stories, and will have different outcomes. In that same sentence, every spouse is different. What is common among us all is that we all have problems and varying degrees of issues/wounds but, as individuals, our thresholds are different. So what works for me, may not work at all for any of you.

1. Education: I know I brow beat all of you on this but in many emails I have received, the spouse admits that they don't know much about any of their husband's issues or diagnosis.  Almost everyone has a computer these days, and access to the internet. If not, there are libraries. Research. So what do you do with this knowledge? You will be surprised, but it changes the situation and you will learn how to best handle the counter-attack with your veteran. Education on these subjects will be your best coping tool that you will find. Why? Because you can't do anything but shy away from the unknown and you find yourself swimming in unfamiliar territory. First thing we do as humans is panic, defend and retaliate. This is NOT going to help you in any manner with your veteran. Once I learned as much as I could, I understood my Veteran better. You have to understand that many times, the Veterans don't even understand what is happening to them, let alone try to get their family members to understand. Once armed with knowledge, you can find ways to adapt to this new person who you are living with and that comes all on your own. Each of us will interpret this information and react differently. It's up to you though to know what you are dealing with.

2. Understanding the Veteran is NOT your old husband: At first, this whole mood swinging, yelling-screaming, foul-mouthed, foaming at the mouth stranger that came home to me, scared the hell out of me. After I educated myself, I understood the different processes they go through. How did I cope with this? I looked at my husband as many different individuals and named them. You will see me refer off and on in my blog posts about "Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde" in which is his sudden in-a-good-mood man and then BAM! Pissed off and cussing man. You will see me refer to the "PTSD Beast" which is the monster side of PTSD when it rears its really ugly head and the talons and fangs come out. There is "Mr. Downer" for when he is depressed and flat lined, "Asshole" for the times where he is well, being an asshole. "Mr. Danger" for when his adrenaline seeking methods turn into stupid, self-absorbed and crazy ass antics he pulls. "Eugene" which is in reference to a donkey we met on a Wounded Warrior Wive's retreat in which I use to envision my husband when he starts hee-hawing and going off. My "Pod Person" that came home, isn't my husband. However, sometimes...some days, I see small glimpses of him and that right there is worth all the other personalities I must live with. Each mood and each day can be challenging, but try to find humor in it. Learn each mood, each personality and find what best fits YOU as the spouse when dealing with it. When the "PTSD Beast" rears its head, try one thing and if that doesn't work....keep trying until you get it right. You will eventually learn something that does work and most of that will be through trial and error. When "Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde" shows up, I simply find other things to do or get out of the house. It's easier to walk away than be an unintended target for their anger.

3. Knowing that most of what is directed AT you doesn't mean it's FOR you: I had a hard time with this and often times, I still find that I get my feelings hurt when he yells and screams at me for something else. Over the last couple of years, I have learned to tune out most of it and try not to wear my heart on my sleeves. Easier said than done is probably what you are thinking. Understanding their wounds will help you accomplish this but will also allow you to see that they can't help but lash out. If you are there....you are/will be the target. I once had a therapist tell me that although they may seem like they are foaming at the mouth and ranting at you for nothing that you did or had control over, take that time to listen as they are often letting you inside without you realizing it. Everything is cooped up in that small organ called the brain and they don't know how to reach out or tell you that this made them angry, sad etc. Much of the time, they are scared. That made a lot of sense what she told me that because once I learned, I found that my husband in all his yelling was actually his way of opening up and letting me inside. Showing what they are feeling and how to express it in the appropriate manner is one of the biggest challenges because what we know as "normal" isn't in our worlds anymore. In this, you must learn to stand up straight, move the feelings aside, listen, and let them get it out. I usually find that once he is done, he is actually easier to deal with than letting it bottle up and explode. 

4. Being a part of their lives: Often we find when our veterans come home, we are suddenly living together but not really "together". I struggled with this as the relationship changes and it's very hard to find a place where each of us can mutually come together. As I learned, educated and asked questions...I found that my husband was actually more open to me because I was trying. Rather than fighting and yelling back, I tried to rely back on what I learned as my focal point to stand on even ground with him which helped tremendously. Again, learned through mistakes and trying again. By attending the appointments with my husband, showed him that I was still by his side and interested enough to learn to adapt to his disabilities. Learning to recognize their triggers is one of the biggest things. If you know that crowded places piss them off or if being in a particular situation stresses them out, then don't push it on them or force them to be in those situations. Finding resources that you CAN do together is a great way to help adapt into this new life. I found that by paying attention, learning what sets him off, learning what he can do actually helps him communicate with me a little more and we find a common ground we can stand on. If you aren't showing them that you care enough to go that extra mile to understand, they won't move an inch because in their minds....you aren't trying at all. It's very easy for you to be seen as the enemy and every little thing you do will be viewed in their mind's in huge blown out proportions. Often times, they are merely pushing your buttons, so you will be angry and that in turn punishes them. It's really a vicious circle and it's up to you to put a blocker in that circle.

5. Understanding they will never be the same person: This is one I find I still have trouble with and to this day, often my heart misses my old husband terribly. I recently was reviewing VA medical records in which he reported that he thought I was leaving and taking away his children, that I was poisoning his food, and that I was picking on him for no reason. It really hurt to read all of that because I couldn't understand WHY he would think such things of me! I know in the educated part of my brain that is part of the paranoia that comes with PTSD and that in his mind, he probably really does believe this. In the feelings part of the brain, it hurt like hell. Much of the time everything is about him or the world revolves around him, and often times we as the spouses lose that helping hand/companion that we had before war. He doesn't seem to care when the kids and I are sick, or if something happens in the family. He has just become numb and flat-lined. I just talked about this to a dear friend of mine the other night who quickly reminded me that in their minds, they just aren't capable of such things anymore. I guess what helps keep me going is seeing small glimpses of what he used to be. Occasionally, an acknowledgment or a simple I love you makes it worthwhile.

6. Knowing when to take care of yourself: Coping with our Veterans can literally suck the life out of you like a blood thirsty leech. Compassion and patience can go right out the window if you don't cling to it somehow someway. I have been really bad about NOT paying attention to myself and letting my husband control much of how my life is run. I decided that I didn't want to be just a "caregiver" anymore with PTSD and TBI ruling every little thing I do in my life, hence the blogging. This is my way to still have a part of me, but document our life and struggles in hopes that it helps others. I realized I was having some health issues and after a good hearty scare, realized I haven't been taking care of myself like I should have. I am still learning in this department because I am a giver and not a taker, but in living with such issues...you still have to have a life. Surround yourself with other spouses like yourself. You may think you are alone as many of you have written in to tell me and trust me, I hear you! I have small children and cows surrounding me and no one in the area who "gets it". However, with technology today, you can find other support groups online and although weird as it may sound....my friends live inside my computer. Hahaha! There are many support groups online such as the Wounded Warrior Wives through Operation Homefront who have chat forums. It's nice because not only are you seeing that you aren't alone, but can find answers, open up to other resources and the list goes on. There are retreats and resources out there, you just have to take the time to find them. I am trying to find myself more time for me, and just for me alone. If in all of this, I think this is one of my biggest challenges is to let go and give myself some attention. 

7. Setting and Knowing Your Own Limits: Out of all of this...this is the most important one and one that often leads to the question of how to deal. I have been through it all, and second chances have been given because I understood and was educated. Love will often blind you and also give in to second chances. However, I will NOT let my husband use me as a physical or verbal punching bag. I will NEVER allow him to hurt my children or someone else. I will NOT allow him to do everything he wants to do, disabled or not, and not face the consequences of his actions. I set guidelines and know my limits and most importantly his. Once those gets crossed, its best to walk away for each of us. I try to promote understanding of PTSD and TBI but at the same time, you can only take so much. So for those of you who write to me asking whether you should stay or not? I can't honestly give you that answer because I can't. I don't know what your situation is, I don't know how bad it is, or what you have been through. It would be crazy for me to even attempt to try to come up with some lame ass comment to your question. Best I can offer is this. You do what you need to do. If you aren't happy, and you have tried...sometimes you just have to walk away. It is ok to love someone and just not be able to be around them or hell, even like them. You know your own limits and what you can deal with and adapt to, and that's for all of us. You have to make the decision on your own and follow through with it. The Veteran must understand that there are limits to their behavior and often times, we all know that behavior can easily become volatile and dangerous. Don't stay because you might look like a bad wife, or "not supportive" as one person stated. If you have done everything you can, and things don't improve...do what makes you happy and most importantly, protects you and the children. 

So in closing this long winded "non-answer" to the most asked question that has been given to me, realize that I am just a spouse like you are. I am living with the same person, the same issues, and problems like you are. It's been a long path for us and one with many physical and emotional challenges, but you aren't ever alone. I think what keeps me going is just stupid, blind, adoring love for a man who went to war and never came home. There are parts of my "pod person" that I have grown to love and accustomed to, but I still grieve for things long gone. There will be many many bad days, and few good ones. I take one day at a time, prepare for the worst,expect a disaster and hang on to the smallest of hopes. I know that sounds depressing but I am sure many will agree that is all you can do. You learn from each day, and learn from the challenges. Take that wisdom and put it to good use. There isn't a manual, or a "break glass in case of emergency" box with all the solutions that many of you seek. It just simply isn't there. For the love I have for my husband, I would cross the ends of the world for but know in my mind....that he simply would not for me because he is no longer capable of doing so. However, I hang on to the tiniest glimmer when I see a part of his old self, and the hopes that I can find more of them that keeps me going. I hold on to hope period and as we go through each day, I discover more strength and wisdom about myself and other spouses than I ever had before. Learn to let go of the past, which is extremely hard....and move on from this point forward. There is no going back. I am a firm believer of the "if one door closes, another shall open" phrase we often hear as we have discovered that. 

I hope this helps someone. Again, maybe not, but its the best answer I have for these types of questions. It's one of the hardest ones to be asked because you have to stop and wonder "how the hell am I dealing with it?". It's not something you can explain, or teach...it comes through hard work, patience, and the belief that love and hope still exist. I stand my ground, I stand firm and I fight. I wake up, I let go of yesterday and deal with tomorrow when it comes. For each of you who wrote in, thank you for sharing with me and I wish I could have a "Here is what you do" words of wisdom for you. I wish there were such things. Just know you aren't alone, there are others exactly like you, and we are all facing problems just in different degrees. Just open up your mind, find your own strength and you will be amazed at what you can overcome.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. 
~Lao Tzu