Independence Day!!

Growing up in Pennsylvania meant the 4th of July was a big deal.....parades, fireworks, and everyone decked out in Red, White, and Blue proclaiming how great America is...it was all very exciting.
However, now that I have gotten out and experienced life in another country and now live in Hawaii, I don't find myself getting nearly as excited to celebrate America's birthday. In fact, I am much more excited for our neighborhood's annual Bon Dance and Summer Festival put on by the local Honganji and Japanese cultural groups. 
But actually, on a day called "Independence Day", donning a yukata or jinbei and enjoying a Japanese summer tradition is more appropriate than I thought. 
Because when I think about it, my interest in Japanese was what ultimately brought about my independence. Being one of a small (but close knit!) group of people in my age group who was interested in anime and Japanese was very hard at times, I had to deal with constant bulllying at home, but sticking with it was the best decision I ever made. Now I live in Hawaii, work at a Japanese company, raising a beautiful bilingual child, and I can truly be free to be myself and pursue what I want to do. This is what freedom means to me. 
What makes me feel sad is there are so many Americans who will be waving flags and wearing stars and stripes chanting "USA" thinking that we are the greatest country in the world when we clearly have major problems that will not change unless they change. Japan has its problems as well, but when I was there I learned the importance of eating and appreciating real food with local ingredients, how easy life with an efficient public transportation system can be, and how nice it is to pay a small premium to the government for national health insurance, and get cavities filled for around $20/tooth. 
And when I returned to the USA I found many things that I was not happy with. The "American food" I had pined for I now realized was just incredibly unhealthy. Meat and potatoes and....wait, that's it? No green, red, orange, yellow, or purple vegetables?" Huge American kitchens meant that people just had tons of expired stuff laying around. In a fairly short amount of time we were already at the Asian market stocking up on things that reminded us of home.
I was expecting my first child and I quickly found out that the "American way" of birthing and raising babies was heavily influenced by fearmongering media, institutionalized by the medical system and full of advertisements from giant corporations. I quickly researched all of my options on my own, and organized my homebirth and decided I would be breastfeeding, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, and baby-led weaning.
But the good thing is that this is America and I have the power to decide to do what I feel is best for myself and my child(ren). I'm grateful for the freedoms I have and even though I will be bon dancing in my jinbei instead of waving a flag and singing "America the Beautiful" I am grateful for the independence I have as an American, and the independence I have gained by finally standing up for myself as a survivor. Yes, it's not just about America breaking off from Britain, it's for all  of us who had to break away from someone who was trying to hurt us and control us for their own gain.....this is OUR independence day too!


The next step....

Taking Sam-E has been so beneficial for managing my C-PTSD. In the last few months, I have had more "good" days, and virtually no major panic episodes. Even in the worst-case scenario, which for me is within a few days before my period comes, if I have an argument or some kind of trigger, it can bring on a full on panic attack and depressive episode.......however even in that situation, I managed to escape with only half a day of feeling depressed.
Now that I am managing well in this area, I feel like I want to tackle another lingering injury from my past. Since I was a small child, I had always had nervous habits of biting my nails and picking the skin around my nails and sometimes even moles on my arms, and then when I hit puberty, pimples on my face. I was scolded, shamed, ridiculed for these habits and how ugly my hands and skin looked. I was terribly self-conscious of it (yet another blow to my already low self esteem) and I remembered I had used my own money to buy icky tasting nail polish, nail files to carry with me, etc. My mother eventually started taking me with her to get gel manicures and would marvel at how great my nails looked. However, the root of the problem was never discussed, and gel nails are impractical for a 13 year old, especially as using computers for schoolwork was becoming the norm.
The only time I had truly stopped biting my nails was when I went to Westminster Choir College for a summer camp in high school and spent almost 2 weeks learning a requiem, doing exercise and yoga, playing video games with some of my best friends, and meeting lots of new friends. However, with the onset of other symptoms in my late teens and early 20's, I fell back into the habit.
I still bite, pick, squeeze, etc. Not so much out of nervousness (even though anxiety is likely the root cause) but as I have read, it is an impulsive behavior and people with the problem will do it when they are idle or bored, and there is a reward system within the brain that drives them to do it. There are some similarities to OCD in how the brain is operating when people who have this habit do it, so like C-PTSD, while cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, etc. can help, supplements can also help. I'm going to try another supplement and see if it will calm down, because my skin and hands still do embarrass me when I have to be in a professional environment. Beating this will be the next step in my recovery.


Mother's Day...

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day to celebrate beautiful, loving mothers and all the hard work they do for their children by guiding and supporting them.
I became a mother almost three years ago, and up until then I had wanted children, but was increasingly afraid to have them because of my worsening C-PTSD. A mentally ill mother should not be raising children, and if I managed to attempt suicide again and be successful what would that do to them?
 However, they say all things happen for a reason, and timing of my pregnancy coincided perfectly with the start of our new lives in Hawaii, and so it was the perfect time in my life to really reflect and turn it around. My own mother made it clear that she was incapable of showing basic empathy for my mental health struggles, and respect for aspects of my lifestyle (and later, parenting) that she didn't agree with, so she is not in our lives anymore. I would be fine keeping low contact with her if she simply showed me empathy, respect, and remorse for her actions..but part of my healing is letting go of false hopes.

So I will be spending Mother's day with my daughter this year, appreciating her for making me a Mother and appreciating the support I have around me to be the best mother I can!!

Links + Resources:







February- a month of change!!

February is the month of the Chinese New Year, and seems that it's often a month that brings good changes for us, starting with February 25, 2005.

February 25, 2005 was the day that Yasushi and I met for the first time in Hawaii on after 6 months of chatting online. He spent 3 magical days here and we went on a sunset cruise, stayed in a hotel, and promised to see each other again. 6 months later, he came to Pennsylvania for another very short vacation, 3 days, but this time we knew it would only be another few months or so before we could see each other again, because I would be going to Japan for study abroad. 

February 25, 2006, he proposed to me. I use the term loosely, because we both knew that we had found "the one" and that we would get married after I graduated. 

February 24, 2008 was our wedding day. We had a lavish ceremony at a venue my mother chose, with over half of the 80+ guests in attendance her friends+coworkers, a good number of them people I had never even met. Nevertheless, it was our day, and I designed my dress and we had a Unitarian Universalist do the ceremony for us as we are not very religious, and I had a great time with my friends dancing to music I chose at the very end of the party. 

Then in February of 2012, we moved to Hawaii after spending some time in the Mainland because we had to wait for my husband's green card to be completed....and also because I had found out that I was pregnant and had to wait until at least the 2nd trimester to fly safely. That month we also got a 4-D ultrasound and saw our daughter's face, and learned she would be a girl (to Yasushi's disappointment, but since she is now the most badass+fearless 2 year old girl anyone has ever seen with keen interest in Daddy's tools and motorcycle, there isn't anything to be disappointed about!) That was also the time I started "no-poo", a.k.a. made a decision to not use shampoo anymore. I am still going strong 3 years later with my sporadic "washes" of baking soda and ACV and occasional dab of coconut or argan oil.

February of 2013 was the official time I cut ties with my parents. From around the time I moved to Hawaii, I started this blog and used it to reflect on my own experience and write about my new experiences becoming a mother. However, my parents took offense to the descriptions of their verbal abuse and emotional neglect and then the following entries in which I described my current struggles with my CPTSD (which had not yet been diagnosed at the time, all I knew was it was depression, anxiety, and I had attempted suicide and spent a few days in the hospital.) Like my pregnancy, it was all about them and their image. After deciding for themselves that I had ASD and was a difficult child anyway, they told me they would never contact me again, and ignored me when I asked for help in getting professionally diagnosed by a psychologist specializing in ASD.
After that, my mother continued to stalk me and attempt to passively-aggressively harass me via her Twitter account. She deleted any tweet that mentioned me by name 1-2 days after posting it, but the rest of them are still alive. She kept this up for almost 2 years, actually, and I mostly ignored it except for one tweet in February of 2013 where she posted our home address, which I had never told her and took precautions so she wouldn't find out. So posting the address was clearly an act of spite, and harassment, and also an act that would put our family in danger. I wasted no time, contacted Twitter and an attorney and had it removed and sent a cease-and-desist letter within a few days. Again, never heard back, and now I have a new address which is a secure building, so it's very safe. 

And so, now it is February 2015. It has officially been 10 years since Yasushi and I first met at Honolulu International Airport and couple of weeks before our anniversary, Yasushi found out that he would be promoted to Head Chef at his workplace. So instead of a usual dinner in a nice restaurant, we decided to do something a little more special for our anniversary and celebrate his promotion at the same time by going on a cruise. We had gone on a cruise on the day we met 10 years ago, but we were so nervous at the time and so much time had passed that neither of us remembered very many details of the cruise or the name of the ship.
However, using my knowledge of the travel industry here, I narrowed it down to two cruises, and then compared the two pictures I have of us on the cruise with pictures on Yelp, and found our boat. It was the Navatek. I called the number and spoke to a person that I spoke with regularly at work, but this time as a customer, not a business partner. However since I still am a business partner I did get some nice discounts and perks. The 3 of us had a great time on our sunset cruise and Chinami was the little Ambassador of Aloha and also gained a fan following and was busy taking pictures with everyone at the end of the night.

It has been an amazing 10 years, I am healthier and empowered with all kinds of knowledge and confidence that I didn't have 10 years ago. I wonder what things will be like after another 10 years? I know we will be living in the same place (hopefully with not too much mortgage left), and that will be the first time in my life for that to happen, and I hope we will have at least one more adorable, awesome child to share our love and our life with! 


Great memories of 2014- Home for the holidays.

The holiday season has officially started, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am truly home for the holidays. Things are falling into place and I feel more and more relaxed. And there is also the fact that the holidays are just so, so much fun!!! 

First, there was Halloween. 

Chinami's first Halloween, she was just under 5mos and we sat outside our complex and handed out candy,  her in a leopard print diaper and me in a matching dress with ears and makeup. Her second Halloween, we were dressed up, her as a little angel and me as a devil, however we couldn't go anywhere because she had chicken pox (which, in true Chinami fashion, she got over in a few days with no complaint.) So this year, I was determined to show her how fun this day could be. I had started watching Sailor Moon with her as hulu was streaming both the original series (remastered!) and the remake, Sailor Moon Crystal. She really took to it, and now loves to sing along and do the various poses and catchphrases! (yay, more Japanese influence!)

 So this year I decided I would be Sailor Moon, and she would be Luna, as she loves cats and the color purple, I could make her a costume she would really be comfortable in. (Toddlers don't usually do well with costumes with lots of accessories and complex hairstyles) So, working on a budget, I bought a Sailor Moon lingerie set, and a purple Luna hat, and went to the thrift stores and raided my closet and scraps bag for a white tank, blue shorts, red sleeves to make "boots" and then went to the craft store and bought netting, ribbons and plastic tablecloths in several colors and made tutus. A red one and a blue one for me, and a purple one with yellow ribbons interspersed for Chinami, and attached a black tail to hers. I made a crescent shape for Chinami's shirt and a tiara for myself from yellow duct tape. Chinami wore a black or purple dress, as she wore hers several times. We had trick-or-treating at our local shopping center the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and then a party at a dear friend (our doula who helped me when I gave birth to Chinami) 's house with an unexpected detour through the "Hallowbaloo" block party in Chinatown. Then on the day of Halloween, we went to Ala Moana Center for trick-or-treating. My original plan was to go to Ala Moana, then Ward, then Hilton Hawaiian  Village. However, I underestimated the crowds and decided to keep it simple for Chinami, so after a dinner break at Subway (I had a BOGO free coupon for 6 inch sandwiches) we headed over to Hilton for the tail end of their trick-or-treating (Honolulu Cookie Company FTW) then walked through the Hilton, admiring the  Friday night luau show as we headed over to the Great Lawn for fireworks and an outdoor showing of the Charlie Brown Halloween special. As we waited for the movie to start, Chinami decided to go around to all the other families there and show off her costume. She was so proud of herself, so friendly and so much confidence! As we watched the movie, we snacked on some of the candy we had gotten, and then walked home, going to sleep past 9 pm. Safe to say it was the best Halloween both of us had had in years! 

Then in November, there was another important event for our family. We finally rented out our 2nd bedroom to a lovely young couple who are honest, courteous and Chinami loves them! So our household went from 3 people to 5! It's so nice to have extra people in the house. They watch Chinami once a week or so and it's such a great help to have them around!

So because of that, for Thanksgiving, not only did we have a lot of delicious food, we had more people to share it with! We had our roommates, their friend, and a friend of a friend of ours who was staying in Hawaii over for dinner, a total of 6 adults and Chinami.

The dinner itself was decadent-a turkey stuffed with onion, garlic, lil' smokies sausages and loaded with bacon on top with brussels sprouts thrown in the pan near the end, my wild rice and quinoa "stuffing" made with chicken broth and vegetables in the rice cooker, and my kabocha/sweet potato pie, and a salad, and we had some mashed potatoes with gravy, a spicy broccoli casserole, and fried rice contributed for a delicious spread.
The day after Thanksgiving, Chinami and I made some sandwiches with leftover sliced turkey breast, salad, and an avocado, and took a picnic dinner to Waikiki and ate under the stars before watching the Waikiki Holiday Parade. After the parade was over, we zipped over to the beach to watch the Friday Night Fireworks. The holiday season was officially here and I was so ready for it!

During the holiday season, Chinami and I watched more parades, Christmas kiddy events, met Santa, and we bought a proper Christmas tree for our home. On Christmas Eve, Chinami and I watched "Elf" on an outdoor screen at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

 Then on Christmas Day, after I played Santa and delivered tiny bottles of homemade mulled wine to my coworker's desks, Chinami and I watched Christmas movies and ate cookies, red and green pancakes, and made a "gingerbread house" out of cinnamon sugar Pop-tarts, graham crackers, and red cookie icing with marshmallow fluff. When Yasushi woke up, we opened presents, and went out to a Christmas brunch at the Willows Restaurant, which was delicious.
After that, Yasushi had to go to work, and Chinami and I spent the rest of the day at home, enjoying her Christmas presents and the food coma.

 Every year, the McCully Shopping Center runs a free "holiday trolley" that goes on a loop ride through the Downtown area to see the Christmas displays there and at the Capitol and Honolulu Hale. It's a fun event, a guide/MC hosts and we sing carols and he makes jokes. However, it's very popular due to the reasonable price and convenient starting/drop off point., and there are only a few days a year they run it. So we went before Christmas but were too late to get any tickets for rides before 7:45. Our last chance was a couple days after Christmas, we went and it was the same deal, all of them were full until the 7:45 ride. So, rather than miss out, I took the tickets, and we went up to Long's and the park to kill time. Long's was getting rid of all their Christmas stuff so we scored some super-cheap ornaments, and a singing elf hat and a Nutcracker which Chinami loved as we had watched the movie version of the Nutcracker Ballet together. We enjoyed our trolley ride and again, went straight to bed afterwards.

New Year's Eve, unfortunately due to Chinami's lack of staying power and my work schedule, we had to turn in early again. We went to Hilton Hawaiian Village again to watch "Frozen" and went straight home to bed afterwards. I woke up briefly at midnight and Yasushi came home, and we watched the fireworks from our bedroom window. We could see parts of both the Waikiki and Kakaako displays along with several amateur displays as well. It was a pretty magical way to say goodbye to 2014.

And then, it was 2015. New Year's Day, I worked, which meant I had to miss the Gagaku New Year Celebration, but since I was lucky enough to have been able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family this year, I couldn't really complain that much. Plus, on New Year's day, being a Japanese company, we shared a celebratory drink and had delicious lunchboxes for everyone, which was a really nice perk and I was glad to be able to share in that.

Our Christmas tree was temporarily made over into a New Year's tree, adorned with bamboo, plum, mandarin orange, and red and white themed ornaments, and we enjoyed my bento from work along with an assortment of traditional goods bought from our local Japanese market down the street, and mochi soup and stewed vegetables I made, in the afternoon after I got home from work.
I tried to watch the first sunrise of the New Year while at work from the airport, but because of the clouds the sun didn't actually come out until almost 8 am! However, I usually watch the sunrise on the way to my 2nd job- working at the honey stand at KCC Farmer's Market a few Saturdays per month. Compared to my regular job, I can sleep in a few hours or so, and still leave with enough time to take the longer, more exerting, more scenic route riding my bicycle around Diamond Head, taking a break at the lookout point to get a perfect view of the sun rising. The first sunrise I saw there this year didn't disappoint.


Having CPTSD means that not every day is going to be a good one, I accept that. But I can only hope that 2015 holds some good days like these.


Seeing a light...(finally)

2014 has become 2015, and now I can't believe it's already February. Happy Year of the Sheep everyone, because well, a bit too late for the "regular" New Year's greetings now.
I spent the end of 2014 enjoying the holidays but also dealing with my anxiety and depression.
Therapy, getting a diagnosis, and exploring the various aspects of what had happened to me and how it was affecting me helped a lot, but I was still having occasional panic attacks and days where I lacked motivation to do much of anything. The techniques and affirmations I was learning were useless if I was unable to actually apply them, and I didn't have enough support around me to really be able to get by with just learning about grounding and breathing. I gradually accepted the idea that cognitive therapy would not be enough to undo all the bad habits, coping mechanisms, and other damage. I hated the idea of taking medication after my experience with Paxil around 2009-2010. While it had helped a lot, the physical withdrawal symptoms after going off it were too scary to justify putting that kind of drug in my body daily for however many months or years I would need it. St. John's Wort and other natural therapies needed time and steady doses to be effective. So I kept looking around for other ideas.
After much deliberation, I bought some SAM-E from Costco and started taking it a couple of weeks ago. In a few days, I already felt better. Since I have started taking it I have been feeling more energetic, motivated, and best thing--no panic attacks. Of course it will take a couple of months at least to make a judgement, but things are really looking up now. Before, I would have great days, and always feel fearful that the next day would be another hard one. Now, I feel a little more confident and "normal". I am also considering trying MSM supplements as well, but so far SAM-E is pretty good.
Of course, I know this is no such thing as a cure for C-PTSD, that I will have to spend my life in and out of therapy, practicing yoga, meditation, I have also planned to add acupuncture treatments if needed, and I always have the suicide hotline on speed-dial in my phone.
The reality of it sucks especially because CPTSD is not an illness you are born with--it is directly caused by injury and neglect and a bad environment. I wish my mother had properly come to terms with her own past and her own injuries and gotten adequate treatment and therapy before choosing to procreate, but at least I was able to learn from her mistakes and break the cycle.
Hopefully supplements and more aggressive treatments will be the key to a truly happy, healthy 2015 for me and my family. I will do my best.



I am Kimberly Ong's son.

I think I'll copy a Huffpo writer by writing an article entirely about myself while attempting to link it to a relevant news story (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html)

In the beginning of September, a road rage video taken near a shopping center about 20-30 mins from where I currently live went viral worldwide and was featured in several local and national news sites. It involved a woman named Kimberly Ong driving erratically on the wrong side of traffic while shouting obscene language, and then leaving the car unlocked and running at a stop sign while she stepped out onto the road to confront the driver who was taking the video. The dangerous and hostile acts all took place with her young son strapped into the front seat (even though he was still obviously at an age/size where he needed to be in the back with a booster). He sat there listening to her violent verbal assaults before she left him alone in the running car on the road to confront a stranger in his car. Luckily for her, the man in the car, Ryan Arakaki, had incredible patience and restraint, and his only "weapon" was the cellphone he was using to film her public temper tantrum. In addition to being a viral sensation, the police were able to use the video to charge her charge her with  unauthorized entry into a vehicle from when she reaches into Arakaki's car and tries to hit the phone out of his hand.

Kimberly Ong was a military officer and nurse and apparently lived in the Diamond Head area according to news sites. People who knew her and lived near her said that this was not an isolated incident and she would regularly have these kind of tantrums, shouting obscenities and screaming at people when something wasn't going her way. (Someone in her complex said she shouted at a woman giving birth in her home to "shut the f**k up")

Kimberly stated later in an interview that her son was angry at Arakaki and agreed with her fully. I do not believe her for a second and that sounds like she is just engulfing and trying to control what her little boy says and thinks. If he agreed with her and supported her, then why did we all hear his voice shout "MOM!" with a mix of exasperation and fear when she left him in the running vehicle to confront a stranger.

The way she refers to Arakaki as "fatty" and "fat boy" is also very shameful behavior on her part. Especially as a nurse, she should know that people have different body types and that petty, immature insults and name calling does nothing more than hurt someone's feelings. I wonder how she treats her overweight patients suffering from heart disease or diabetes?

Unfortunately, as I wrote in the title, I am her son. My mother never drove( A car accident when she was on her learner's permit made driving an impossibility for her),so she never had a road rage incident. However, there were tantrums. There were so many times I sat in the back seat listening to her scream and shout endlessly, using obscenities, flying into a rage, over trivial, pointless, insignificant things.
If someone had pointed a video camera into our car at that moment, I would have been making the same face as her son. "Why me? Why do I have to live with such an emotionally unstable person? Why is she screaming and shouting and turning red over nothing?"
And then of course, there were the times when  her lack of control over her own anger turned physical. I sincerely hope this boy is being spared of that, but I will never know for sure.
In addition to the tirades, verbal attacks, and physical attacks, were the immature, superficial blows to the self-esteem. "(My best friend, someone I care about) is so ugly/fat! Why on earth would they wear that/dance/participate in theatre?!?" She used insults like "nerd" "geek" "pig" to describe my friends often.

I only hope that someone, a teacher, school counselor, a friend, anyone, takes this boy aside and gives him some validation. I hope they tell him what he probably already knows: His mother's behavior is not just her being "loud" and it is never OK to verbally abuse someone. I hope they give him a phone number to call, and tell him to call if he ever feels threatened or afraid. He will really need someone for support, especially since his mom is probably spending a lot more time at home after this video went viral. I certainly wouldn't want an emotionally unstable, abusive woman working as a nurse in my hospital!
Stay strong, little guy!!