Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trying to muster up the nerve

Today DD and I met with DD's therapist again. DD has been doing really well, so we didn't have much to discuss with her therapist. DD wanted to draw on the white board in the therapist's office, so she (the therapist) and I went into another room and talked a little about DH.

I told her about how much better DH is doing, but that he still isn't back where he was. I said, "He's not where he was 5 years ago yet, but he's doing a lot better than he was last year." I think that's pretty accurate.

Then I talked with her about DH's work situation (or lack thereof). She (the therapist) is of the opinion that DH will improve greatly if I (we) can get him back to work. I told her about how I feel like I'm putting too much pressure on him, and that if he could work, he would, and she agreed with me. I told her that sometimes I don't know how to be a good wife--if I remind him five times to go look for a job, one day I'm nagging him, and the next day, I remind him five times, and he's grateful, because he forgot to do it (all five times). So when I told her I had decided to just assume that he wasn't going to be working soon, and she asked me about the jobs guy. I told her what I knew, and she believes (and I think she's right) that DH is presenting himself to the jobs guy as more capable and more independent than he really is right now. That he probably hates to admit that he needs help to work. And so he "talks the talk" and says all the right things to the jobs guy, so the jobs guy thinks all DH really needs to do is go out and apply. But DH really needs some more support than that. He probably needs someone to actually place him in a job, and it needs to be a job that he can succeed in, and a job where, if DH has a "bad day", and breaks down crying or something like that, it will be understood.

DD's therapist strongly urged me to contact the jobs guy myself and tell him what I see and think about DH. Kind of like I did with the NP before DH got put on the Lithium. It really sounds like something I need to do. But it also feels so wrong!
I would never ever "interfere" with my husband's job search/work life before this. It's a boundary that I would never dream of crossing. Intellectually, I know that this is more of a mental health issue than a "work" issue, but when I start imagining myself actually calling up the jobs guy and telling him about DH, I feel kind of like a traitor, anyhow. And it's not something I think of consciously, it's more like a physical aversion to the thought. I just am having a tough time bringing myself to do it. I'm hoping that if I keep mulling over it, that on Monday, I'll be able to give that guy a call and put a bug in his ear. It seems like it would be so easy, doesn't it?

It's kind of (but not really) a similar thing to the people in town here that have given DH a "charge" account. What those "accounts" are really for, is, if you have an emergency, and you don't have any money, the hardware store, will still sell you that special screwdriver, and you can pay them back on payday. DH owes three different stores in town over $500 each. On the one hand, I know that I should go and explain the situation to the store owners, work on paying off those bills, and ask them not to extend credit to DH any more. But that is also a tough thing for me to do, because a) it'd be nice if the whole town didn't know DH had a mental illness, b) some of those people are "friends" of his, and might think less of him if they knew and c) I would never dream of crossing that boundary if DH was "normal". But he's not. And there's a lot of these sorts of things that a wife has to think about. And it's not fun.

Evolutionarily speaking, mental illness might not be a bad thing!

The following is an excerpt from an interesting article from MSNBC, explaining how evolution may have played a part in man's development of what we call "mental illness". It lists all of the most common mental illnesses and explains how they might have started as something that was a benefit, but either got overdeveloped, or isn't useful any more. Very interesting!

(click here to link to read the full article at MSNBC)

Mental ills may have an evolutionary upside

People with bipolar disorder have more sex, for instance, research says

By Robin Nixon


updated 3:31 p.m. CT, Tues., Aug. 26, 2008


Mental illnesses hinder one in every four adults in America every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And this doesn’t count those of us with more moderate mood swings.

To explain our susceptibility to poor mental health, Randolph Nesse in "The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology" (Wiley, 2005) compares the human brain with race horses: Just as horse breeding has selected for long thin legs that increase speed but are prone to fracture, cognitive advances also increase fitness — to a point.

Let's take common mental conditions one-by-one.

People with aggressive and narcissistic personalities are the easiest to understand evolutionarily; they look out for number one. But even if 16 million men today can trace their genes to Genghis Khan (nature's definition of uber-success can be measured by his prolific paternity), very few potential despots achieve such heights. Perhaps to check selfish urges, in favor of more probable means to biological success, social lubricants such as empathy, guilt and mild anxiety arose.



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Monday, August 25, 2008

(I'm trying a) New Attitude

Well, they're back. It was a very short respite, made even shorter by the fact that I had to work way too many hours. All I really did while they were gone was work, sleep, let dogs out, and run errands for my mom. But it was nice to know that I didn't have to come up with any "surprise" money, and it was nice to know that I could sleep for 7 hours straight and there probably wouldn't be a crisis.

During the time when DH was gone, I gave a lot of thought to a lot of things that have gone on in the last year. I thought about all the bills. I thought about how much better DH has gotten since he started the Lithium. And I calmly came to the realization that the "Serenity Prayer" directly applied.

"Lord, please grant me
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

I think this is a time when I need to exercise the "wisdom to know the difference, and accept the things I cannot change."

Somehow, even though it had been staring me in the face for quite some time, I realized that DH is doing the best he can. Not only that, but he's pushing himself. He knows who he was 5 years ago. I know who he was 5 years ago. A hard worker, assertive, kind, ambitious, rational, organized. And I realized that based on the fact that I know DH well, I can assume that none of those traits are probably things that he would like to change, if he had a choice. Which has led me to the realization that, well, he is doing the best he can. And that especially means that he's doing the best he can job-wise, too. I (and DH too) cannot keep "encouraging" him, pressuring him, getting frustrated with him, when he can't bring himself to look for work. The DH I married would have a job in one day, if he had been out of work and out of money. But as much as I pretend, DH is not that same person right now. I can't keep "acting as if" and hoping that suddenly I'll wake up and everything will be normal once more.

So I've made myself a goal: I'm going to stop pressuring DH about working. It's going to be hard, because his ambition was one of the things that attracted me to him. But I need to accept that right now, working might not be possible. And I think that my frustration makes him more stressed out about working and makes him feel worse about himself, too. So I've just got to stop. I told DH what I had decided to do, and he didn't want to admit, either, that he can't work right now. But then he told me that when he thinks about working, he gets this "sick, scared feeling, way deep inside, I've never been scared like that." Which just reinforces my thoughts. I did bring up the possibility of DH talking with the jobs guy to see if he could get into some sort of sheltered program for the mentally ill. One of those "workshops" where there are all kinds of support people there to help, where the work is very simple, and they get paid something like minimum wage, and all the coworkers have some kind of mental illness. DH seemed like he liked that idea, but I did not comment when he did not call his worker about that, either.

For right now, to the best of my ability, I am going to accept the possibility that things with DH may never get back to where they were before he got sick. Things might never get any better than they are today. I will plan for that possibility, and if things do get better, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On my own!

Well, they're gone. DH and DD, both off to his mom's until Sunday night. I'm pretty thrilled. My stress level has gone down so much. I wish I had some time off, where I didn't have to work, and could enjoy it even more, but I'll take what I can get!!! Last night, I got home from work, and Kirby Puppy (age 15) had had a "garbage party" in the kitchen. I was prepared to clean up his messes that were due to me not being there to let him out, but that made me mad!!! He's been digging in the garbage since he was a puppy, and he still does, especially when he thinks he's not getting enough attention....I cursed at him in my head, then I remembered he might not be around too much longer, and when that time comes, I'd give anything to have him spread the garbage all over the house again. So I counted my blessings, and was grateful that I still have him to get mad at.

DH called and said he's "homesick". My mother in law doesn't have any animals, and it's a very small house. Even smaller than ours. And my mother in law, well, she's very outspoken and direct. I love her, but that's something about her that was difficult for me to get used to. And I know that spending too much time with her can get to DH, too, because she starts in on the "Why aren't you working?" and "You ahould do this" and "You should do that" and just sometimes doesn't notice that it makes him feel bad. She might have to have a defibrillator put in for her heart. I think she's supposed to find out in the next day or two. I hope they can "fix" things without doing something that seems as drastic as that.

Even though he's homesick, I think that being at his mom's is good for DH, because he can see some of his old friends, and maybe it will move his mind back closer to a place where he was healthy. Does that make sense? I guess what I mean is that maybe since he's there and not at our house, he'll find a place to be in mentally, that reminds him of who he used to be, not who he seems to be now.

Oh--one more thing. As I was driving to work today, I realized that "That Guy" doesn't come out nearly as often as he used to, and I also realized that DH rarely has the abrupt mood swings that were so unpredictable for so many months. He still has mood swings, but they're more like, if I say something that reminds him that I'm working a lot, then he'll go from being happy to being full of self-pity. But the angry mood swings, where I might say something about having to go to work and he would accuse me of "trying to make him feel guilty all the time" or whatever, those mood swings seem to he almost gone, too. Knock on wood, of course!

I'm looking very forward to the next few days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dog owners, please read this!!!

This is a story about a dog who was injured by a toy his owner bought in a pet store. It's horrifying. My dogs had one of those balls just a few weeks ago. Luckily (more lucky than I knew, apparently), Frosty destroyed the ball and we no longer have it. But holy cow!!! This could have been her!!!

Click here to read the story.

A not so ideal situation...maybe?

Well, DH's mother, who lives about 4 hours from us, wants DH to come and do some work for her, and she will pay him. When I first heard that, I got pretty excited, because I might actually have some alone time! We talked about him possibly leaving on Thursday. We decided that the best idea would be for him to bring DD with him, even though she will undoubtedly interfere with any work he is trying to do, I am scheduled to work 66 hours in the next 6 days, and I cannot fathom leaving her alone for those long stretches of time, even if most of them are past her bedtime.

Because of my long commute, it would be impossible for me to run home to help with a crisis, too. I explained all of this to DH, and he agreed, there really was no question: he has to take DD with him. Ok, then, it's all settled.

Except it's not. DH just called me and told me that his mom wants him to come tomorrow instead. His mom can be kind of impulsive and demanding, so that in itself didn't surprise me. But then he says, "She sounded a little disappointed that I had to bring DD." And then he asked me if, wouldn't I rather have her stay home so that DD could let the dogs out and all that? I said no. If it was one night, then I'd have no problem. But now we're talking about FIVE nights. And the shortest shift I am working on any of those nights is 10 hours. I can't even fathom doing that.

It seems very common sense to me. If he goes, she HAS to go with him, and if his mom is disappointed, well, too bad. Maybe that's being a little too assertive, but this is my kid, and she needs to be supervised. Just because her birth certificate says she's 15 doesn't mean that she is 15 developmentally. (And who would leave a 15 year old alone that much anyhow? Just asking for trouble if you ask me.) If I'm working 10 or 12 hours a night, and sleeping 6 hours, that basically leaves her all by herself for 5 days!!! No way.

So then DH starts in with the "I probably shouldn't even go."

I didn't buy into his guilt trip, though. I just told him that was his choice, but in case he does go, "DD MUST GO WITH."

If he were to bring DD with, it would be hard on a couple of the dogs. Four of the dogs can "hold it" for a very long time hours and be ok. I found that out when DH was in the hospital. But the two senior dogs, well, Kirby needs to go out every 3-4 hours or he (ahem) uses the laundry room. And same with Woo-Woo. So I'd probably have to clean up some messes. But the thought of it, nobody asking me for money...no drama....no whining....oh my, if they really did go, what a wonderful mental health break for me!!!!! I'm crossing my fingers that I can get him to see things my way. If they don't go, I'm sure I'll be the "bad guy" and things'll be a zillion times worse! So cross your fingers with me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

What is it about the nighttime?

Every night, around 10pm, it's the same old, same old:
Me: Did you take your pills yet?
DH: Uh....
Me: Go take your pills. You know you are going to sleep for 12 hours, so if you take your pills now, you'll get up at a decent time.
DH: But I can't take them yet, I wanted to do some laundry!
Me: You can do it tomorrow when you wake up.
DH: No I can't, I won't be in the mood then.
Me: Take your pills.
DH: You're mean!
Me: I know.
DH: Ok, I'll take the stupid pills.

Every night we have some kind of variation on that conversation. Tonite he wanted to "get a lot of stuff done." But if we get up tomorrow and I suggest he work on "all those things you wanted to get done", he either isn't in the mood, or can't remember what they are.

And another thing, almost every night, his mood gets worse as the sun goes down. He wakes up in a healthy state of mind, and then when the day starts to wind down, he gets depressed. Tonite he got depressed and could not explain to me anything that might have set that off. I don't know what the evening depression has to do with the evening ambition or the unwillingness to take the pills at night, or the inability to see that if he wants to get up before 3pm, he will need to go to bed before 3am.

I have read in several places that bipolar affects the circadian rhythms in a person's body. That bipolar people seem to prefer staying up all night and sleeping all day. But I'm not sure I understand it at all. I'm hoping that DH can get up early enough tomorrow to make some appointments, so that maybe we can figure out if there is a way to help with this. It's one of those things that I can see, but apparently the bipolar glasses keep him from seeing.

If any of you have any ideas, please feel free to comment--I've learned so much from everyone in the blogosphere, I'm happy to learn more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A tribute to Leroy Sievers

A long time ago, when my friend Anita's husband (who passed away in December) was diagnosed with colon cancer, I searched the web to find some way to help, some way to understand, to hope. In the process of that search, I found Leroy Sievers, a cancer survivor, who blogged about his journey. His quiet calm was very comforting and I shared the link to his blog with my friend. I don't know if she ever checked it out, I hope she did.

I didn't check Leroy's blog every day. Things have been very chaotic in my own life, and sometimes, thinking about the fact that someone so amazing could pass on, well, it was just too much for me at the time. When DH began his Lithium therapy, things started to calm down, and I decided to see "what had ever happened to Leroy" and, finding that, against all odds, he was still alive and blogging, I began to follow his journey again.

You know, when someone, especially someone "young", is dying, you always hear about them being referred to as "brave". I've never been sure if that is an accurate word, because I think that for most people, when you get cancer, you do what you've gotta do, not really like CHOOSING to go and fight a war, or CHOOSING to run into a burning building to save a child, there's not much choice involved (on the surface, anyhow), when a person has cancer. But Leroy showed me how many choices there really are, when you get stuck with something like that. What kind of attitude to have. When to call in hospice, whether to buy new clothes or not, so many choices that those of us, who still are living with the illusion that we are going to live "forever", don't even think about. And he shared his struggles over these choices with the world. To me, that really is brave. He didn't have to do that.

I have no idea how many cancer patients, spouses, and others he touched, but I can speak for myself. His support of others with his disease, sharing of his hopes and dreams, and the love he had for his family, on a regular basis, he helped me to see my mortality in a way that I wouldn't have otherwise. I'm so sad to learn that he has passed on.

And thinking about him, and all the things I learned from his journey, and the pain his wife must be experiencing right now, I just wanted to say one more thing. My husband didn't get to choose whether to have a mental illness either. I love him so much. I can't imagine losing him. Not now, not in 50 years. And he has faced his illness with a courage that, despite my complaints, I really do admire. He strives to be the best man he can be, even if he is learning that it's not the same man he was 5 years ago. And I'm happy to have him. I'm sure Leroy Sievers' wife would give anything to be in my shoes right now. Please keep her (and Leroy too) in your prayers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A little reminder

DH and I were talking on the phone. It was a fun conversation, reminiscent of "back before bipolar". I felt like I was on the way to being normal again. DH talked about cashing in our aluminum cans for some money. I told him that he has been very resourceful, and it's nice to know that he finds ways like that to help out.

Then he said, "Yeah, especially since I guess nobody is going to hire me!" Which was pretty stupid, because you don't conduct a job search by filling out one questionable application a week. So I just said, "All you have to do is get out there and apply, you'll get hired!" And he got so upset with me. "I AM APPLYING!" "I AM LOOKING!" "But nobody ever calls back!" He sounded like he was ready to cry, and like I had just said something extremely hurtful. But the truth is, he doesn't get out of bed before 2pm, sometimes that's even later than me, and I've worked all night....then he doesn't apply for jobs at all. Last week we were looking at the paper together, and he asked me to make him a list of places to apply the next day. So I did. There were 9 jobs on the list that weren't too tough-sounding but still kind of close by. He got up at 10 that day, left with the list and came back after he applied for ONE job. That was last week and that was the last time he applied for anything. But his bipolar sees it a different way, of course. In his moments of clarity, DH sees that he isn't trying hard enough. But the bipolar is clouding his vision on this, I don't think ANY non-bipolar person would think that applying for jobs sporadically like that is likely to prove successful.

And this little episode reminded me that even though he's better, Bipolar has not left the building. It's still there, and sometimes it's not even just lurking in the background, either.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Well, wring me out and hang me up to dry...

I'm still a little frantic. After my rotten weekend, last night I slept for 14 hours, and semi-intentionally missed a "luncheon" at my other (full time) job--I didn't want to go at all, and had told my boss I might not make it, but I know it would have been better for me professional-wise if I would've went. I just couldn't get out of bed, and I couldn't make a decision as to whether I should go or not, or call or not, so I just went back to sleep. That's really bad. I'm kind of shocked that I did that. My schedule is pretty flexible, so I don't think anyone probably thought too much of it, but still....

I went to work today just dreading it (at my full-time job, not the one that I did over the weekend), and I was absolutely sure that I was going to be in trouble for something, or I was going to run into a problem that I couldn't handle. I was still really stressed out and reeling from the weekend. But I got here, and was so relieved to be doing my work that I just blasted through a bunch of it and finished one of my projects. That made me feel a lot better about work. For today, LOL.

Tomorrow, DD has therapy at 2pm, then at 3pm I have a "staff meeting" at the weekend job, then I have to go to work at my full time job. On Thursday, I have a staff meeting at a different location for my part time job, and it's at a restaurant--they're taking us out to lunch, because two people are leaving and it's kind of a "farewell" party. THEN I'm going to work. I could probably skip the restaurant thing, but these people are my coworkers, and I kind of feel like I should go....we'll see how I do on Thursday!

After all that, I do have Friday completely off and to myself, so I'm looking forward to that. I want to get one of the dogs groomed and spend some time in the yard.

I had a dream that I woke up and Jim was sleeping on our couch again....more like a nightmare, LOL!!!

DH has been somewhat up-and-down during all of this. On one hand, he's made some observations regarding himself and his behavior that have greatly impressed me (like--"if I want a job, I have to swallow my pride and get out there and take the first thing that someone offers me"...but on the other hand, he still hasn't contacted his therapist or anyone else, for that matter. And he starts beating himself up with the "I don't have any money, how did things get so bad? I need a job, but nobody will hire me" etc...but he doesn't do anything to change it. I have bitten my tongue several times already this week when he's gone there. I'm hoping that maybe eventually he'll see the light--it seems like once in a while he does, and until then, I am going to keep on trying to keep my expectations low.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Struggling to keep it all together....

Hi everyone, I'm so sorry I haven't posted as often this week as I usually do, it's been "one of those weeks", for sure!

First off, I took an extra shift at my "part time" job, so when it was all said and done, I worked about 76 hours this week. I'm excited to have a little bit bigger paycheck, but the lack of time is a huge factor in why my weekend was such a washout.

So, I worked 10pm to 8am Friday night, and the same thing on Saturday. I've done it before, but it was particularly difficult this week. First off, my cousin, who lives in the same small town as all of my mom's family (brother, sister in law, nieces and nephews and long time friends, too), called on Saturday to let us know that he was going to hold an impromptu family reunion on Sunday. Since my mom doesn't really like surprises, I didn't really expect her to want to go, but she did, I think, because we haven't gotten down to see her family all year, I've been busy working, and it's 120 miles away. Anyhow, I knew how important seeing her family is, and how being a part of get-togethers there is something that brings her a lot of joy, I just didn't feel like I could say "no", because even if I did, we'd end up going out there and having a much longer visit, as we would go to everyone's house instead of just to one location. So after working all night until 8am Sunday, and knowing I had to be back to work again at 8pm Sunday night to work all night, I still opted to go, because I didn't want to disappoint my mom. DH and DD went too. It was fun, and my mom was so happy to be there that she cried when she saw all of her relatives. I'm still glad I opted to go.

But that really left Sunday in a huge rush, because I wound up sleeping 2 hours, then we left for the reunion, we spent a few hours there, then we rushed back to make sure I got to work on time (I did, just barely). I was very tired. I knew I shouldn't have done things that way.

So I got to work, and that job is working with people who have very severe (much more severe than DH) mental illnesses. And a client who is normally very placid had a very tough night, and I wound up calling an ambulance to bring him to the hospital. After calling an on-call supervisor and a nurse. Anyhow, he did come back home, it all led to lots and lots of paperwork, and when my boss came in, I learned that I had contacted the wrong people, so I felt very stupid, but I was very tired and, well, at that point all I could think of was "everyone's safe".

I got home at 6:30am and at 7am my boss called me to come back in because she had to bring the client back to the hospital. My mom has had an appointment related to the podiatrist for three months and had been really looking forward to it, and the appointment (of course) was at 11am in a different town. But all of that worked out (except the sleep part) and we got to the appointment.

I was so tired!!! I had to reschedule two other appointments for my mom because I knew that driving would be dangerous. And I finally did get three hours of sleep. But nothing is getting done, I've got phone calls I need to make, and DD needs a new pca and I havne't even had time to call and get all that straightened out. The pca people have been calling me (of course I'm at work) and getting irritated with me. DD's case worker wants to come over to our house next week, but I haven't called her to confirm, either. There are so many things I need to do and I just don't have enough hours in the day. And the only thing that directly had to do with DH at all was that the entire time I was working and driving to appointments, he continued to sleep. So I got pretty angry with him. But I know I should just "lower my expectations."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

(My) Pride and (possible) Prejudice

Well, I'm ashamed to say it, but today I gave in to something, and I'm still not completely sure if it was the right thing to do or not.

My brother, has offered to pay off one of the big loans that I'm paying on, so that I can have some "breathing room". At this time, he can, apparently, well afford it, but I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I'm a grownup, after all, and I shouldn't need a bailout. I really hate the thought of that. So there's the pride. He spent nearly two hours convincing me that it would be ok. I know I didn't get myself into this by being irresponsible or lazy or anything like that, life happens....but it happens to everyone, doesn't it?

When I put it all down on paper, though, I really felt like I had to accept his offer, no matter how I wished I couldn't. There's no money in my miniscule budget for savings, no money for heat, no money for school supplies for DD. But by him paying off this loan, there would be all of that. I could stop putting stuff on my credit card, when there's anything that is not in the "normal" expenses. When I thought of that, it felt really good. But that's not how it's supposed to be done.

I'm trying to be grateful. I'm not actually TRYING, I am very humbled and grateful. For sure.

I hope very much, though, that it doesn't change how my brother views me. (I've never really been concerned about that before, but this is something beyond lifestyle differences, and I know how money can change people.) He made it very clear to me that it is not a loan, it is a gift. I'd like to make a promise to myself, that when things are a little bit easier, I could pay him back anyhow....who knows, maybe by then the tables will be turned.

Until then, though, it's a very strange jumble of feelings that I'm experiencing tonite--gratitude, humility, shame, pride, sadness (that I have to accept), relief...
I'm really not sure how to end this post, but it's been a very strange evening.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Something I forgot to tell DD

Well, we went and picked up DD from her camp session, and I was glad to see her. She was wearing a scarf that she had made in "Arts and Crafts" around her neck. We stopped at a restaurant on the way home, and when she took the scarf off, there it was, a big hickey.

Now, DD is 15 years old, but due to her disabilities, her maturity level is more like that of a 10 or 11 year old. So I was very disturbed. I waited to talk about it until we got home.

She told me that a boy at camp was giving girls hugs and when she hugged him back, he gave her a hickey on her neck and she didn't know what he was doing. And then she had this mark on her neck. I believe her, and the more we talked, the more I believe her.

I very sternly told her that when girls have those on their necks, other people are going to assume bad things about her, and that they aren't going to stop and ask her how she got it. I told her that some girls like to have hickeys on their necks because it "proves" to the world that a boy likes them. I explained that most people don't think that way, and would only think badly of the girl. As I explained this, she looked like she was ready to cry, then asked me how long it would take to go away. She asked me how people get hickeys, so I tried to gently explain that "when you are kissing your boyfriend, sometimes you are kissing him a LOT and he is kissing you a lot, and if he kisses you really hard on the neck, then you might end up with a hickey." I told her that I knew that someday she was going to have a boyfriend, and someday she would be kissing a boy, and it's ok to kiss someone you're in love with. But the whole world doesn't need to know that you kissed someone, and even if it feels like you want to tell the whole world about it, it should stay private. "If you have hickeys on your neck, people are going to think that you are kissing a lot of different boyfriends, and they will say bad things about you."

I never ever, in all the talks I've had with DD, thought about hickeys. Because of her disabilities, she needs to have things really spelled out for her, she doesn't pick up on cues that other people give off--even if one of her friends made bad comments about someone else's hickeys, DD wouldn't understand really what was being said and why, so I've tried to think of every thing that she might run across as a teenaged girl who doesn't have an ability to make good judgments. But I had forgotten about that part of being a teenager, and I felt like I didn't quite do my job well, because some people at camp probably think less of her now, too. I hope not. I hurt for the things she's going to have to deal with as an adult, because I know I can't foresee everything that she gets into, I hope though, that I can give her enough to get her by. She was very relieved that I believed her. And DH was happy that I talked with her, because he wasn't sure how to handle it. I have to say, though, that "That Guy" did not come out, and that was a huge relief in itself.