Me, ADHD and Ritalin.

A month ago or so I started treatment for my ADHD. I didn’t know what to expect but I was scared of the change. I am 34 years old and I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as an adult but ADHD was mentioned way before that when I was in primary school. In the 80’s and early 90’s in Mexico ADHD was a taboo as any other mental health related illness. Parents were terrified to hear their perfect children weren’t ‘perfect’ and so it was brushed under the carpet in many cases. I coped well on my own for some years, my mum had more report cards for me than for my siblings and more parent-teacher meetings where she would hear things like “She’s very creative. She has an overactive imagination. She’s always in her own world. Her grades are good, the problem is she distracts the other children.” Then my mum would ask me nicely to please try to focus at school because I was distracting the other children, and that was it. In retrospect, it’s very obvious that my mum also has a mild form of ADD.

When I reached the 5th grade and we were moved to a public school I was quickly labeled as ‘the posh newbie’ and ‘the class clown’ but things got bad in 7th grade when I was moved to a very strict school and I started to get very bad grades and lots of bad behaviour report cards. I was accused of being rebelious and a brat and I hated school from then on and I dropped out in high school.

That’s when I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be like my sister or my brother and just behave and focus and enjoy school? Why did I hate it so much when everyone else was clearly having an OK time. I started to think I was the problem and I began self-harming and disordered eating as a coping mechanism. After a couple of years of suffering in silence, I started to read more about ADHD and noticed I never outgrew it. At that point I was also working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator so I was taking advantage of the overactive mind and the creativity that I somewhat attributed to ADHD. I had terrible insomnia but I would use the night time to work and I didn’t think I needed treatment, well at least I wasn’t getting report cards anymore right? I never thought that being so impulsive and having a short fuse as well as getting bored with every single job and not lasting in any of them were signs that I probably did need treatment.

Then I met my husband and we started a band, and music making and performing took over my life for a few years which was good as there was no need to stick to a routine, my husband took charge of all the ‘grown up’ things like paying bills and stuff like that. So I thought that was ok, until we decided to move to the UK and I realised that without family around and with my husband working full time I had to rely on myself more which seemed very difficult. Suddenly I was unable to cope again and I felt very overwhelmed with responsabilities and normal life things. I went to my GP and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I mentioned the ADHD but the GP thought that CBT would help me with both things so I was referred to CBT. I found it interesting and it did help me control panic attacks and anxiety but the therapists agreed that the root of the problem wasn’t addressed and that I would benefit from ADHD treatment. I was referred to a psychiatrist but there was a waiting list of two years for the appointment, so I had to wait, and wait I did. I also found out I was pregnant literally two weeks before going to the psychiatrist so the Doctor diagnosed me with Adult ADHD/ADD combined, recommended I took Ritalin after I had the baby and stopped breastfeeding. Another two years passed until that happened and now for the first time in my life, I am on Ritalin.

The Doctor  started me on 10 mg once a day for the first week and then twice a day for the next week. The first day I took it I felt like all the fuzz in my brain had been washed away and I was excited. I felt no anxiety and I had a really good sleep that first night. I don’t know if the relief of finally getting treatment also played a part on that happiness or if I was experiencing a placebo effect, but whatever it was, it was great. I even ordered Chinese food on the phone, without feeling terrfied of fucking up my order or that they wouldn’t understand me, etc. I felt like I knew exactly what I was going to say and I could focus well enough to make an order. I never, ever felt like that before so I thought it was a miracle. Then I noticed that after a few hours I was back to my normal self. Same happened when I started taking it twice a day. I would feel more stable, focused and less impulsive for a few hours after taking the pill and then back to my old self but with the added discomfort of getting incredibly sleepy in between doses. It wouldn’t be a problem if I could sneak in a nap but with a toddler in the house who absolutely refuses to nap, this is impossible. So here I am still taking 10 mg twice a day and I wonder if I should ask my Doctor to increase the dose, and I don’t know how to ask this. I suppose I just have to explain all of this to him in this way. I just get nervous with Doctors so I start more or less rambling. I guess he’s used to it, but oh well.

I decided to write this blog post so I can look back on it after a while and see what difference I notice from starting treatment and so on.

 

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Thoughts on Politics

Yesterday I responded to a tweet by Jeremy Corbyn. Instantly I started to get unsolicited comments by both Brexit and Remain supporters. Even though my tweet’s intention was to support a plea directed at the Prime Minister to treat EU Citizens decently, the replies I received were divided. On one hand, the Brexit supporters went through my profile trying to find other tweets on which they could ‘pick a fight’ with me. I Retweeted a photo of Nigel Farage dodging an egg, I must be condoning violence. By asking for a good treatment, I must be ignoring the mistreatment of others in other countries in the EU. The other half of the replies were really nice. What I don’t understand is why it has to be ‘you VS me’. What the agressive tweeters don’t seem to realise is that we are all in the same boat, and if they do, they seem to think some of us don’t belong in that boat and that is a philosophy I don’t understand.

On Sunday I was watching ‘The Big Questions’ on BBC and Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP said something along the line of ‘Economic migrants are not the same as refugees’ and ‘An increasing number of refugees and migrants are coming to the UK and we don’t have the capacity or resources to take them all’. Another woman, claims the border is out of control and ‘Economic migrants’ are pouring in and squeezing the system. There was a lovely refugee man who is settled here now who was talking about how difficult it was for him to obtain refugee status. It was a bit painful for me to watch, because it’s obvious that we all think what we believe is right and that the other person is naive or racist or mean or deluded or whatever. So I don’t know. I’m obviously biased, I’m an immigrant. I came here because I didn’t want to live in a country where my husband’s schoolmates and their families were kidnapped or extorted by Drug Cartels, never knowing if he’d come back, awakening to shootings in the middle of the night in suburban areas. I used to think of Mexico as a lovely, peaceful country when I was growing up. Everyone knew about ‘narcos’ but they were discreet and non violent towards innocent civilians. Then I started to notice something, the fairer your skin was, the better treatment you had. Most people in wealthy families were more european looking, and I was in that bubble. I grew up in a middle class family, went to private school, we had satellite TV, all my friends were wealthy people. Growing up I thought this was average. Then I realised it wasn’t. The sad part is that the people who didn’t have access to good schools, to basic services, to luxuries such as satellite TV or cars, were being mistreated by people like us. There was a lot of racism and classism, telenovelas portrayed ‘forbidden relationships’ between a rich guy and a slum girl (Maria la del Barrio) and yet that slum girl was played by a very white actress called Thalia. In reality, the slum girl whould have looked not very much like Thalia. News presenters were mostly white, Paco Stanley, the most popular variety show presenter in the 90s (who was later murdered by drug cartels) was another white guy. The TV did not show what most mexicans look like, and the problem is that what I saw on TV was what I saw in daily life in our middle class bubble so I was growing up thinking that was Mexico. It wasn’t until when in the middle of the 90s, after the recession we had to go to public school and I had to open my eyes to ‘the real Mexico’. In my old private school, every classroom had 30 pupils at most. In public school, we were 50. For every white-ish person in publi school there were 15 more ethnic-looking kids. I never thought of myself as white or ethnic or anything, but when the recession happened, I didn’t belong with the middle class kids anymore, and I thought I would belong with the working class kids, but nope, I didn’t. I was too posh for them. I hated that. I lost all contact with my old friends and it was too hard to make new friends. Fortunately, eventually I did. I met the daughter of a teacher and she became my best friend. She wasn’t working class, though. She was just like me but she had been in public school since the first grade so she didn’t go through the ‘what the fuck is this?’ thing I went through.

The truth is, it was never easy to make friends with working class folks for a lot of reasons, for example: I lived in a kind of posh suburb, near the hills. Public transport wouldn’t get there and the poorer kids didn’t have cars to go for play dates or anything like that. I was rarely invited to their parties or play dates but when I was, it was a nightmare to get to their houses in the ‘slummier’ bits of town, and it was too far away. We didn’t have money anymore and petrol was expensive so it was a lose-lose situation for me.

We didn’t have money anymore. We lived in the same house but the house was falling apart, we didn’t go on monthly shopping trips to Texas anymore, we had to cancel our satellite TV, we had to wear hand me downs from friends, etc. We were like working class kids but in a ‘nice’ suburb. In short, we were stretched thin.

There was a homeless man who lived in the mountain with a bunch of dogs, who used to go through my neighbours’ and our rubbish bins looking for food for him and his dogs. Whenever my mum saw him she would invite him over for a hot meal and to wash himself in our house. We were poor, and yet, we would share our food and water with this man, who was homeless, who smelled, who was clearly mentally ill; but who was very nice. His name was Genaro and he was very well mannered and no one knows why he was homeless and living in the mountain with a bunch of dogs, but instead of judging him and thinking he was just a crazy guy who was probably dangerous, my mum thaught us to be compassionate and kind and she would have him sit in our table and even though we had fewer tortillas left for the rest of the family, we were very happy to share and he was very grateful. One day we didn’t see him anymore and then somebody found his body in the mountain, the dogs were eating his body. Which was nice in a weird morbid way, I mean, he fed his dogs even after death, at least for a little while. Anyway, my point is, you can still be nice and kind and share even when you’re low in resources. People are people, no matter what they look like or where they come from, or what their backgrounds or circumstances are, and we are humans and we should be humane, because when we mistreat others based on their backgrounds or skin colour, they could become resentful. Look at the narcos and the people who work for them, the sicarios, all of them, these people are so angry at the system they decided to make their own system. And that’s why Mexico (and other countries like Colombia, El Salvador etc) are fucked up. Maybe if they have had the same opportunities as the rest of us, they wouldn’t have felt the need to shake things up. Maybe if they could have gone to school, if they had parks to go play with their mates, if they were represented in their TV programs, they wouldn’t have felt like they weren’t imporant. These guys weren’t born ‘bad-hombres’, they were made that way by us.

This is why when middle class people like Daniel Hannan, or Nigel Farage say things like ‘The elite are opressing the working class people’ or ‘We simply don’t have resources to bring everyone in’ it makes me sad. They do not have any idea what it means to ‘not have any resources’ and neither do I, but what I do know is, you should not see people like they are a burden. They are people. It’s not easy to leave your country and settle in a new one. It’s very expensive, and extremely difficult. They claim that there are houses with 10+ adults living in crowded situations. Why is this? I’ll tell you why. It’s because no one wants to rent anyone a flat or a room if they don’t have a job. Which makes sense doesn’t it? Except when you just arrive in a new country you are probably still looking for a job. So they move in with friends or with people who are kind. Sometimes these people are folks who’ve been in the same situation or who come from the same country as them, etc. That’s why there’s so many people in one house. Landlords ask for references, and if they’re new in this country and have no references the landlord wants six months rent in advance. If they don’t have a job, that’s the same deal, six months in advance. If they have a low paying job, SAME.FUCKING.DEAL. Or they just won’t rent them the flat. So they end up living in a rubbish area, with lots of people in one room on the hope that they will get a nice job and then they will be able to rent a place of their own. Then they realise they can’t afford it even after they get a decent job, as, say, NHS nurses or at a call centre or at their local TK Maxx or whatever, because London is so expensive and they can’t get a job in any other area of the country, but their girlfriend is pregnant and they want a normal family life, of course they want to rent privately and maybe only get help with their rent but all the landlords say ‘Sorry, NO DSS’. So they apply for housing. “How dare they? These bloody immigrants, having kids, taking advantage of our benefit system!!! *shakes fist*”.

I know, it’s not *your* fault. You were born here, you deserve your rights as a UK national, your parents have worked hard, your grandad saved the world from Hitler (Thank you grandad btw). You aren’t responsible for what immigrants have been through and you need to feed your own kids so you want your taxes to go to services you and people like you will use. Immigrants are people like you. ‘But we need to take care of our own first’ *eyeroll* Well, we need to take care of people, the order is not important as long as you don’t deny ‘care’ to anyone on account of them being’not yours’ or being different than you. That’s just being an asshole. And yes, there are assholes of every race and every background. Not all immigrants are nice, and yes, you want, and deserve to have a strong border but it’s already strong, believe me.

I know we’re living in difficult times. We all want things we can’t afford and it’s making you angry that other have these things and you don’t. You’ve probably been to your GP and had to wait longer than you were used to, you probably have been looking for a job for a long time. But it’s not the fault of immigrants. Just open your mind and your heart and take a hard look around without listening to what politicians are saying. If you still feel like immigrants are a burden on you and your resources, then, fair enough. At least you decided that on your own accord.

 

 

How to stop being all judgy all the time

I have struggled for a long time with this. I try not to judge and generally I’m a very non-judgemental person but I find myself judging those who judge a lot, which ironically, makes me a hypocrite and I feel ‘iffy’ about that.

You know how Maria in The Sound of Music talks about her favourite things and her favourite things are really simple things? Brown paper packages tied up with strings, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on her nose and eyelashes… My favourite things are similar to that, to see the train passing through the station when I look out my window, the foliage in autumn, when ladybugs land on me, my daughter’s random smile, etc. Simple, lovely things. But, the things I hate, are usually more complex things, and the feeling is so intense I always wonder if I’m over reacting or if I’m going to self combust soon.

I have read numerous blogs and articles saying that looking at Facebook a lot makes you unhappy, they always say that it is because you compare yourself to your friends and their ‘picture perfect’ lives make you feel inferior. I don’t get that. I love looking at my friends being happy, and leading good lives, what makes my blood boil is when they post passive agressive quotes because they’re feeling insecure about some shit, thus unknowingly attacking people who don’t deserve to be attacked, or  when they post links to stuff they feel validate their choices and views without realising that it sounds like they’re telling everyone who disagrees that they’re idiots. I do this from time to time and sometimes I regret it and delete my posts, but I really don’t know how to avoid this feeling, and it’s a tough thing to fix because I don’t want to ‘unfollow’ my friends on my feed because I like most of the things they post but then they go and link to some shit like ‘Eating processed sugar makes you stupid, FACT’ or an article titled someting like ‘8 ways to improve your kid’s mood’ that sounds more like ‘Read this and see how you’re parenting wrong’ and the person who posted it feels like the perfect parent because they do what the article says, and what they don’t realise is that for every article validating their style, there are tons more saying the total opposite is the way to go but the fact that they post it to feel better about themselves or to get validation makes me roll my eyes so hard I can see my past lives, and I feel like burning the internet. But I’m wrong and I know this. I want to look at those links and those posts and feel the same way I do when I see someone enjoying their drinks, or when they announce they’re getting married or divorced or a vasectomy or whatever makes them happy. Except, I can’t and it frustrates me but I wonder if it is the pressure to be a good human and to expect everyone to be a good human which in itself seems like a stupid concept, after all, humans aren’t meant to be ‘good’ the same way lions, woodpeckers, sea urchins or elephants aren’t good. We’re just meant to survive and evolve like every other animal. It’s tough because we have a conscience and we believe animals don’t, cause if they did they wouldn’t hunt and kill cubs would they? Worse, we have ‘rules’ and morals and ethics and religion to tell us how we should feel and behave and how evil we are if we don’t follow the rules and if we sin, etc. So many contradictions and conflicting ideas. Sometimes I wonder if I am the way I am or if I’m trying to be the way I am, constantly.

Who the heck knows, ey?

 

Anti-Gloom

I was thinking about how easy it is for me to write about the negative stuff in my head. Whining comes natural for me, but I think it’s not because I’m a negative person overall, rather, because I don’t like to ‘brag’ about the good things. When I’m feeling depressed, looking at people gloating about how they have everything under control and leading amazing lives makes me compare myself and then I feel worse, so I always try not to make others feel that way. But I was wondering if it may be possible to talk about positive things happening without the smugness?

For example, 2016 is over. It seemed like a weird year specially towards the middle and end, with Brexit and Trump winning and so many sad events happening in the world. But for me, personally, it wasn’t that bad. My mum came to visit for five months and she was here for my birthday, my daughter’s birthday, Christmas and New Year’s. I had the best time with her, she’s my best friend in the world and my little girl loved having her grandmother living with us for a few months so, that was pretty amazing.

Another highlight: I won a Coca-Cola promotion and received a personal visit from their Christmas truck and a bundle of prizes, including a pretty cool 4K TV and a MacBook Air. I never thought people actually won those promotions but I still decided to enter cause I thought my toddler would enjoy seeing the big red truck with all its lights and the Santa Claus on its side, I never even knew about the bundle of prizes until they called me to say I had won! Awesome, isn’t it? The best part was sharing that bizarre experience with my mum. So a pretty lucky year for me. I still hate that so many horrible things happened and that I couldn’t do anything to stop them from happening but, as Queen Elizabeth II wisely quoted Mother Theresa in her last Christmas message: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” which resonated with me because I make portraits for a bit of an extra income and the people who commission me always let me know how happy my drawings make them and that brings joy to my heart, so I’m a very lucky person that I get to do what I love, feel happy and even make a few quid from it. I guess I should focus more on this kind of thing instead of dwelling on the things that I can’t fix like war, social injustice, etc. I’m going to try to moan less this year and hopefully I won’t sound too smug or braggadocious. 

New Year’s Resolutions? Save more money,  sleep more, moan less, get out a bit more and go visit my family in Mexico. RAAAAHHH. And maybe eat healthier, etc…

Things I don’t wish to change: I don’t want to change me. I’m pretty rad. BRAG ALERT. CCHHHRRR BEEEP BOOP CHHHHH *STATIC* STAHP OK, THANKS, TRANSMISSION OVER.

Shifty

When I am stuck in a gloomy frame of mind, I generate catastrophic scenarios by the minute, one by one, they twist and coil and find each other and they become a feeling of impending doom. It’s terrible, living your life expecting something devastating to happen, and when something devastating actually happens, you realize you were still unprepared for it. When I’m stuck in this emotional state, I am a tiny spider trapped inside a tumbler glass, I don’t know who trapped me in it, but I feel watched, taunted, tortured even. I can’t breathe and I can’t do anything and all my movements are scrutinized so I can’t even burst into flames or use my powers. I have no powers. I’m dying. I feel heavy, my joints are stiff, my lungs are solidifying, my brain is flashing images – all terrible, and then it teases with a good memory: I used to have powers! I could breathe, I could speak, I could do anything. I was normal. I was healthy, beautiful, young, immaculate. I was pristine. And then it flashes again, and that good memory turns into a bad omen. There’s a beast outside and there’s a tornado approaching. This is the end. I’m only a tiny spider! Please let me out

Then I die, and then I’m no longer a spider. I’m human again. Fear and resentment made me lose some of my powers but I can regenerate and get them back. I can forgive, I can forget, I can let go of fear. I can do this! I will conquer this. I’m not a bloody spider! I’m a Nephilim! I am a demi-goddess! No fucking tumbler can contain and imprison me. No beast can take my youth, my health and my substance away from me. I am the crust of the earth and I shift as I please. This is my life, the globe is my stage. Now here’s my song and I hope you listen, but it’s ok if you don’t, I’m going to keep playing it anyway because I’m not performing for you. I’m just being that, which I am.

Calculators

Francesca hated most things. She didn’t have a lot of motivation to continue studying but she figured there was nothing else to do. She wasn’t about to go and get a job in retail or anything of the sorts. How embarrassing would that be? What if she had to serve her old Private School mates? Inconceivable! So for the time being, she needed to keep going to school, even though she despised ninety percent of the students and ninety-five percent of the staff. There was Mr. Donaldson, her Algebra teacher, what a piece of work he was. He had the cheek of acting like a down-with-the-youngsters, friendly clown, but he was evil incarnate. He would not allow calculators in his classroom. Frankie who unknowingly suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, could not concentrate on something boring even if the safety of the human species depended on it and algebra was as boring as watching an old, wrinkly, arthritic pensioner peeling chickpeas for eight hours, or so she figured, anyway. Naturally, she failed Algebra with Mr. Donaldson so she had to retake the subject the following year only this time with a new teacher called Mr. Trang, who had written textbooks about algebra and who was quite passionate about it. He allowed calculators because he wasn’t a psychopath and Frankie passed with an A at the end of that year, which, only proves that sometimes the problem isn’t the student, but the lack of calculators. Then there was Mr. Salinas, the Psychology teacher, who, upon meeting Frankie decided he needed to understand her more than any other student so he did a hypnosis session on the whole class with the intention of getting her to talk but she was one of the few students that didn’t fall asleep. He did convince her to take an IQ test and other personality tests and she thought that was sort of interesting. It turns out she has an IQ a bit above average (nothing to write home about) and she is an INTP. Like Einstein, Carl Jung and Sherlock Holmes. A rare personality type, especially for a woman, but Mr. Salinas knew he was dealing with a strange girl so he wasn’t fazed by it. Frankie thought he wasn’t that bad. There were also other slightly duller characters, such as Mr. Chavez, the Chemistry teacher who asked his daughter not to hang out with Frankie in case she was a devil worshipper, because she said she was Agnostic; Mrs. Macias who was a singer and had a video on TV and kids would use her song lyrics as puns when talking to her in class, and Mr. Videgaray, Social Sciences teacher, he was quite young and handsome and all the girls were infatuated with him, Frankie just thought he was a pervert since he approached her and tickled her waist once. She didn’t report him because what twat reports the only handsome teacher? So, anyway, most of the teachers were a disgrace to the Teaching Profession and her classmates were not any better, but sitting in a classroom surrounded by the cast of the night of the living dead was a lot better than staying at home with her sister, Becky.

Becky is a control freak. She started working at a very young age and since her parents had money problems she was helping with the costs of living as much as possible, Frankie’s tuition included, so that gave her the idea that she had the right to dictate on things like where to go on Holidays, what clothes to buy, etc. Frankie had always suffered from tooth decay problems. She ate way too much candy as a little girl and her molars were ridden with cavities. She was always afraid of dentists because each time she went to the dentist’s it was to have her mouth prodded and it always ended with a tooth extraction, but when she was in her late teens, her sister Becky offered to pay for her dental treatment if she wanted to have it done before it was too late, to which Frankie agreed. The problem is, she had some work done, and then a few weeks later when she received a paycheck for a freelance art commission, Becky asked her to pay her back. Frankie wanted to use that money on something else. Becky thought Frankie was being selfish. They argued about this, their mother got involved, their brother Rodrick go involved, even the pet rabbit seemed to have an opinion. Becky and Frankie were always fighting over something, usually, it was to do with Becky wanting to impose on Frankie and Frankie was too stubborn and too INTP to allow it. They bickered like Mycroft and Sherlock, or like the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at the weekly PMQs and of course it always ended in tears but they always remained relatively close, and very fond of each other.

My mother is like Ripley

My brother Julian drank too much. I don’t know why a teenager was allowed to drink but I figure it was because there were no immediate consequences to his drinking that he’d binge drink so often. He would come back home at three or four in the morning and let himself in the house stumbling, and he’d pass out on his bed. The next morning he would make a little joke about it, smile his signature dimple-fest smile and my mother would just nod and shrug it off, like it was a rare and charming anecdote, except it happened several times a month. She was scared and she felt helpless but she didn’t know what else to do. Her relationship with my older brother, Franco, who is twelve years older than Julian was rocky for a similar reason. Franco also started drinking quite young. My parents didn’t see anything wrong with teenagers drinking in moderation, but my brother started taking drugs and he got in trouble with the police before his eighteenth birthday. My dad was the owner of a nightclub called Hawaiian Paradise, where stand-up comedians and other entertainers performed, but in the early nineties business was in a slump and my father was thinking of closing the bar, but my brother convinced him that if he could take over and convert it into a trendy, live music nightclub for a younger audience, he wouldn’t need to close. My dad thought it would be good for my brother to learn about responsibilities and that maybe running a bar would trivialize alcohol and drugs and he would grow into a mature business owner, it may have been naive on his part but he had faith, and my brother became the owner and operator of the new, General Ackbar nightclub. My dad bought him a car so he could get to work and paid for the redecoration of the place. At first, everything seemed to be a great idea, there were a couple of live gigs with a good reception, money was going in, and my brother seemed happy, but less than a year later my dad closed the bar. I never knew exactly what happened but I think I overheard them talk about people selling drugs there and my dad wanted nothing to do with it and he didn’t want my brother to end up in jail. My brother hated him so much. He thought my dad was being unreasonable and purposely ruining his life and after that, even though my brother got married and he and his wife and son lived with us for years, the relationship he had with my parents wasn’t good. He was very resentful and angry all the time. It was like he was halfway there and halfway somewhere else. I’ve never understood Franco, although I wish I did because I love him very much but I digress. All of that was to illustrate why I think my mother was afraid of it happening again so many years later, but now with her “baby”, so she threaded lightly and her parenting style was HANDLE WITH CARE – FRAGILE PORCELAIN.

I’m only eighteen months older than Julian and we have always been close. I have always felt very protective towards him. Example 1: When we were both toddlers, my mother was driving us, my sister and my grandparents home in a Datsun Wagon. It was the eighties and when it was a long ride, my brother and I would ask my mother to let us go in the trunk so we could lie down and sleep. It was open in the interior of the car so it wasn’t like we were locked in a dark trunk, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would allow their children to sleep in their trunks nowadays (no matter what), still at that time, we didn’t even have car seats for children and the city where we lived was just a small town so it wasn’t as dangerous as it would be nowadays. The car’s windows were shut, and we had the air conditioner on as it was a very hot summer day. My mother was in the driver’s seat, my sister next to her, my grandparents sitting in the back seat and me and my brother trying to sleep in the trunk. My brother was flat out and I was squirming and couldn’t sleep. I started to feel uneasy, I was less than three years old and I remember vividly thinking “I have to help Julian” but I didn’t know what to say to my mother that she would understand what was happening so I kicked my brother in the stomach, and that made him wail and gasp for air, I vomited all over my grandmother, and my mother realised that something was wrong, she drove to the hospital and my brother’s vital signs were low. The doctor said we were poisoned by Carbon Monoxide escaping through the car’s air conditioning vent and my kick in the stomach saved my brother’s life. Example 2: When we were both in kindergarten, my mum used to pick us up at the end of the day and take us home but one day she decided that we could go on the school bus instead, but for some reason that I can’t understand she didn’t tell me or my brother, so the head teacher told us at the end of the day to hop on the bus. We did but while it was still parked and waiting for more children to get in I remember sitting there, watching all the kids hopping in, and my little brother sitting next to me and the uneasy feeling came, and I just panicked and told him “We need to get off” and he tried to convince me otherwise, but I insisted “No, we need to get off” so we did and I told the head teacher we weren’t going on the bus, that we were going to wait for my mother. I remember her being very mean and saying my mother wasn’t coming, that the bus would take us home, that my mum had arranged it and it was paid for, etc. But all I could think was “They’re going to kidnap us and kill us and I’m responsible for my brother, it will all be my fault”. Where I got that idea from, I have no clue, but the woman had to call my mum and she came and picked us up and told me it was fine, she had paid for the bus, etc, but I was so angry and told her we were never going to go on the bus. Thirty years later, my mum still thinks it’s one of the funniest things ever and I’m still a bit angry about it. But it shows how protective towards my brother I feel. Example 3:  I also saved him from choking on a Dorito once. And Example 4: When he would go out and binge drink and party until very late, sometimes I would feel that “my brother needs help” thing and I would tell my mum we needed to get in the car and look for him even if it was the middle of the night. One of those nights the feeling was awful. It was a cold and foggy November night, and I was on my computer as usual, my mum was sleeping and it wasn’t even that late, it must have been around midnight but I didn’t want to wait any longer so I woke her up and told her “We need to go find Julian”. She trusted my instinct so she jumped up without hesitation. We got in the car and a few yards down the street, our neighbour Valeria was driving on the opposite side of the road, she slowed down and my mum slowed down as well so that we were parallel to her car, she opened her window and said “There’s been an accident on the main avenue, but your boy wasn’t in it” and I said “Mum, keep driving, he was” and she drove. The next thing I remember, we’re closing in on the accident site, there was a queue of cars waiting until the street cleared up so they could continue on their way, I saw the flashing lights of the ambulance truck and there was so much fog, I didn’t dare to look further as I knew I would just see a wreck of a car and that my brother was in it. My mother quickly got out of the car and said “I’ll be right back” and the next thing I know I’m alone there, the cars are beginning to move and I can’t drive. I don’t know what to do, I got out of the car in my pyjamas, and I saw Valeria’s son who I assume was driving by and saw his friends in the car crash and got out to see if he could help, and I asked him to please drive me home. He did, and I didn’t know what was happening but the awful feeling wasn’t as bad anymore. I knew my brother was going to be fine now that my mum was with him. I couldn’t wake my dad up, nor my sister Lily who was recovering from surgery and Franco was sleeping in his bedroom with his wife and kids so I waited and after what seemed a year but was actually about forty minutes, my mum called, I picked up right away, she asked me if I was OK, I said yes but how is Julian? she said he was “stable” and that she needed to talk to my dad so I had to wake him up. I listened to their conversation and it turns out he was far from stable, in critical condition. My dad probably thought she was exaggerating but he rushed to the hospital. They told me I should wait to wake my sister up in the morning and let her know what had happened but not to scare her as her stitches were still tender. So I didn’t sleep. I just waited and at 6 AM I knocked on Lily’s door and I knew she would never expect me, the weird sister who would stay in her room catching up on sleep until noon to wake her up, so I said “Hey, don’t be scared but Julian’s been in a little accident. He’s ok but he’s in the hospital, my mum and dad are there. Are you well enough to drive us there?” When we got there my brother was in surgery. My mother who usually cries over the corniest stuff, like a Hallmark Greeting Card or an insurance company’s TV ad, or at a piano recital, was stoic. “He needs reconstructive surgery on his left ear, and twenty-six sutures on his face and he broke his femur so he will also need a metal implant, and he lost a lot of blood so he needs donations…” she said, in the same way she had said “He needs four stitches” when he opened his skull at the pool ten years earlier. She must have been terrified. After eight hours in surgery, he was taken to ICU for recovery. My mum was plucky, the picture of braveness. She was as courageous as Ripley, third officer of the commercial starship Nostromo, fighting for her life against an Alien, except that Alien was the prospect of losing a child. After a few weeks, my brother recovered. He kept drinking. Luckily he stayed safe. He’s now grown up and married and doesn’t drink as much as before and he has a great relationship with my mum. So her HANDLE WITH CARE PORCELAIN INSIDE approach must be working after all.