Kelley Wiman

@kelley-wiman | contributor
I'm the mother to Jayce- my favorite person in the world. Jayce has Dravet Syndrome. We will win. We savor.
Community Voices

You can make it through staying safe at home

I want to say how sorry I am to see everyone struggling and scrambling to grasp “the new normal” hopefully for only the next several weeks. I know it’s depressing and scary and life altering. I’m not posting this for sympathy or from a judgmental vantage point. I’m not going to minimize the struggle, and I’m only speaking from personal experience. I know how many blessings we had and have and how much privilege we have.

When Jayce had that first, absolutely life altering seizure, I was working. He was about 10 1/2 months old, I was lucky enough to have a job where I could trade off with a friend and we could work as realtors and watch each other’s babies. Both our Husbands’ working full time. I wasn’t making a ton of money, but had the time and work put into building a career and being in a much different spot than we are now. I loved working. I never pictured myself being stay at home full time. It wasn’t what I wanted to do.

It changed in a blink. By the 3rd seizure, Jayce being transported by ambulance and helicopter, things had to change. His pediatrician told me that I needed to “not focus on the gym, because the daycare is a Petri dish and it could kill him”, and things rapidly changed. It shook me. “Normal” was not a thing anymore. We had no idea when a seizure would strike, but they all were long ( like an hour and 54 minutes long), and could be set off by something as small as a low grade fever from teething or something worse like a cold. Have you ever seen a person, let alone a baby intubated? It’s awful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone EVER. No diagnosis, just triggers. Almost losing my child a couple of times forced us to make radical decisions. I had to stop working. Now we are one income. Our insurance was shitty, and the medical bills mounted. I thank God that I had family help or we would have been on the streets. You’ll never understand my gratitude. The financial struggle was big. The emotional struggle was bigger. I want Jayce to live.

The isolation over the years and the very tough decisions we’ve made over the years are hard. We are so cautious of everything because his body can’t handle it. We already stay at home during flu season because it’s not worth the risk. Jayce didn’t qualify for a nurse and I’ve never felt that school could even be safe for him to attend. It sucks BAD. After this hopefully passes, our lives will be the same. That’s OK. I don’t expect people to live this way, and I get it. We made our choices to keep him safe.

I guess my point is that this is temporary for many. Don’t think that I don’t understand fully the long term ramifications of people not being able to work, or pay bills, or simply have food to eat. I do.

I realize people are feeling completely out of control of their own lives right now. It’s scary AF and overwhelming, and nobody knows what to do with themselves.

What I DO wish is that people would see how much love and support is out there for one another right now. The classes that drive by holding “happy Birthday” signs for classmates? AWESOME. The people visiting grandparents in care homes and playing checkers on a window are amazing. I see people connecting and reaching out in different ways, and it’s creative and beautiful in the midst of pandemonium. I wish I had thought of all of these creative things to do all this time. Soak some of it in. Enjoy the small victories. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but you’ve got to face the the light to see it.

Juliette V.

The Problem With Tomi Lahren's New 'Stay Triggered' Merchandise

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s Associate Mental Health Editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. In the past few years, Tomi Lahren has risen to prominence as a conservative political pundit known for speaking her mind. She recently attracted attention for being hired as a contributor for Fox News, slated to appear on the network’s primetime show “Hannity.” But what didn’t receive as much coverage last month was when Tomi released merchandise on her website bearing the controversial words that have quickly become her slogan — “Stay triggered snowflakes.”   View this post on Instagram  And I say this with love..stay triggered Snowflakes. (TAG YOUR LIBERAL FRIENDS) New MEN’s & WOMEN’s tanks/shirts/hats on sale NOW at TeamTomi.com #TeamTomi #snowflakes #triggered #meltingsnowflakesA post shared by Tomi Lahren (@tomilahren) on Aug 16, 2017 at 5:24pm PDT But what does being “triggered” actually mean? According to PsychCentral, “ A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.” With this definition in mind, it’s kind of hard to believe this psychological term has been transformed into a political one. Thanks to conservative commentators like Tomi, variations of the word “trigger” have entered the political consciousness — and unfortunately, not in a way that supports people who have experienced trauma or mental illness.   View this post on Instagram  Just melting some Snowflakes. Check out my official FB page for Snowflakeism diagnosis and defrost methods. Stay triggered, Libs. #TeamTomi #snowflake #MAGA #meltA post shared by Tomi Lahren (@tomilahren) on Jul 10, 2017 at 4:58pm PDT Aside from the derogatory slur “snowflake” has become, Tomi’s phrase, “stay triggered,” implies that a person who has experienced a psychological trigger chooses to “stay” that way. And if you’ve ever lived with a mental illness or have experienced the effects of trauma, you know it’s not a choice. In her quest to vanquish “snowflakism,” Tomi has appropriated the word “triggered” for political means, and has inadvertently taken away vocabulary used to communicate mental health difficulties from a community that has long been silenced. The reality is people who experience mental health difficulties come from all over the political spectrum — and all need a way to communicate with others about their experiences. The politicization of the word “triggered” has made this term somewhat “off limits” for many people struggling with traumatic emotional responses for fear of being labelled “attention seekers.” People who experience mental illness already face incredible stigma in their day-to-day lives, they do not need yet another “reason” to not be taken seriously. But if I’m being completely honest, this conversation isn’t really about Tomi at all. It’s about how the term “triggered” has become a buzzword synonymous with “weak.” And w hile the phrasing may have changed, this message isn’t a new one for people in the mental health community, who are used to being told their struggles make them “weak.” It’s our responsibility to change this narrative. It’s this kind of stigma that discourages people from talking about how they are really doing. It’s this kind of stigma that makes people believe struggling in silence is better than being called weak, childish or damaged — a “snowflake.” It’s this kind of stigma that could lead people to suicide instead of reaching out for help. This isn’t about politics — this is about people. It’s not up to Tomi or anyone else to “diagnose” people as “snowflakes.” Not only is it not helpful, it can be extremely damaging and invalidating for people who have experienced trauma and mental illness. We need to stop shaming people for their reactions to trauma, and start supporting them instead.

Kelley Wiman

Having Hope When Parenting a Child With Dravet Syndrome

Kelley and her son. Everyone always says to appreciate the moments you have with someone, because they can be gone before a tear even hits your cheek. This has been multifaceted  to me for as long as I can remember. I never wanted to envision a day without my parents. So I didn’t. It seemed too big and too painful to fathom. I was right. Millions of times worse than I could have imagined. I have a beautiful family of my own. A sweet wonderful, handsome (very, very handsome) husband who works his fingers to the bone for us. He is the most devoted Daddy. I have a step daughter who I’ve watched grow into an adult. I fell in love with her first, guy aside. We got married and had a beautiful, precious cub. Jayce. My sweet, smart, fierce, fragile, breathtaking boy. He has Dravet syndrome. It’s like trying to be a mother to the ocean. So complex. So powerful. So crucial. And so wise. And quiet. And already he holds the experience of many lifetimes. A million little ecosystems in that body, not always working in harmony. The storms can be violent. Those waves can take his life. We can’t control the ocean. Just roll with the ebb and flow. I can do my part in protecting the environment and climate. But I can’t think like that. I can’t focus on the tsunami and miss the days where the water is smooth. It’s hard to look for tomorrow and appreciate today. It’s hard to fight for that every day and to savor it. But I have boatloads of hope. It’s all I have. My fleet travels this ocean. I know a lot of other oceans. Every one is breathtaking and unique. I know those mothers trying to shoo the clouds away. The distress flares are glowing. The water may seem choppy and the waves are just coming in too hard and too fast. Look farther. Look. Look for one of those boats. It’s there. Hope floats.