When Your 7-Year-Old Eats Lunch Alone

I'm not entirely sure how to explain to a child so full of life that the lenses he sees this world through are clouded - and wrong.

This is an ongoing thing with him; He is convinced he has no friends. He laughs and plays and that's perhaps why I find his meltdowns into No One Likes Me Land at the tender age of 7 to be altogether bothersome and concerning. Chase is socially anxious to the point that today he explained through tears that sometimes he eats his lunch alone. Something he mentioned in passing before that I chalked up to drama. No. He does. I can see it now.

He lives at the intersection of fearful and happy. It's all very likely that he as himself, in his worrisome little heart triggered just enough stress to send his brain aflame when he seized a year ago. It's a life of glass floors in the mind of this boy. Floors I'm slowly noticing.

I look at pictures of Chase before the seizure - well - between seizures. I need to remind myself that "before", when we thought he was safe and his birth story was all a peculiar incident, a mere blip on his Life Radar, those hopes and thoughts were wrong. 


We lived in the now under the false pretense that he would never have to deal with the seizure word again.
In those pictures exists a child that is apprehensive, but still jumps. A little boy with sunshine pouring from his heart. I see my happy son.

After his seizure, his nerves became bound and sensitive. It feels like my son is in there - scared - and afraid to speak.

I watched a few Fridays ago as Chase struggled with a water bottle across the field during his team's halftime break. He tried to open a new bottle of water, could not, got up, and began to follow his coach around. Said coach was busy with another child, and Chase being the polite and scared-crapless person he is, did not interrupt. 
I waited. I knew how this would go.

Coach lapped the child, and positioned himself in a way that wasn't welcoming (body language style) to Chase. And Chase's response? Defeat. He knew he would have to say his Coach's name loudly, perhaps even touch the man or possibly even wave, and that was simply not at option. Not having water during his only major break, which is timed and nearly up, after 25 minutes of running his butt off... and Chase can't bring himself to ask a single soul to assist him. He sat down as I stood up, cleared the field, opened the bottle, looked him dead in the eyes and said "You may feel small, but your voice will always be important. Ask for help - if not from an adult, then find a friend. Ok?
Tears began - and a meek "yes ma'am" followed.

His teammate (he's surrounded by 2 boys) pitched in a "I would have opened it!". I know without a doubt they would. This boy is loved and he lives in a place where he is pretty consistently surrounded by those who encourage him.

And that's the problem. He doesn't deem anyone willing or able to help him during any level of distress. To Chase, Chase is not important. To him, his voice is shaky, fragile and doesn't hold weight. In his eyes, his presence is unfelt. He considers himself part of the shadow. 

That crushes me. To know he is physically spacing himself away from his beloved peers - we are talking good children from great homes with a terrific teacher and fabulous school who all express verbally that they love him and accept him - is too much. He is too young for this to matter to him. He is far too small to feel so small. 

It's all the more confusing to me as a parent to know that he's unable to socialize properly when I see differently at home. At home, he is generally a go-lucky dude who loves to draw (but not color), sing and dance, Lego for hours upon hours, and is always down for a round of Minecraft swords with his brother and/or step-sister. He can read far above his grade level, and chooses to do so leisurely pretty much every day. Chase loves his cat and dog, a rousing game of trains, and collects Hot Wheels.

He will always collect Hot Wheels.

He gets upset and mad and angry and sad and all of the normal things that 7-year-old males do. But he also deals with something deeper.

Tonight, he and I talked more about how he has been eating alone at lunch - too afraid to ask his friends to save him a seat, and too physically small to push his way into the front of the line (something I witnessed myself while visiting him last week).

"You have to promise me that you will always say something. You will never go silent. You fight through whatever inside you says to stay quiet (he shook his head yes here hard - he got me), and you will take all of your words and jam them together in a word ball, and get the courage to push those words out. You matter. We want to hear you."

He cried. He said it was hard to get his words out. Him forcing that out was painful for both of us.

I don't have the answer here. But I did challenge him tonight. I told him that tomorrow, he needs to ask for someone to save him a seat at the lunch table. He reluctantly agreed. 

Tomorrow he will try.

Hanging Christmas Lights

Whenever I’m in a car, I must have an exact destination. I know this hurts many car enthusiast heart’s, but it’s just not me. I need to know where we are going, how we get there, how long it’ll take, and if there’s going to be stopping.
Be it a quirk or personality trait or a something deeper, I’m unsure. 

I think that’s a big part of my depression - how it plays out seemingly with no end. In it, you function with the knowledge that things will lighten up... eventually... and at some point, the happy you gets to return and live your life; but in the meantime, you must lay there in the dark and feel the hopeless feelings. You have to suffer in these chemical imbalances without knowing when it ends. It feels as if you are at the bottom of a damp well... a little foggy, a little hungry, and a bit unsure if anyone is coming for you. 

So I find myself pondering - “Where do I go from here?

I’ve felt hesitate to “announce” my depression for the obvious reasons. No one wants to be “that sad chick”, y’all. Literally zero people want to feel like this.
(except I’m sure there’s a disorder in which a person enjoys depression… but I’m not even going to google that so you people have fun)

I don’t have a calendar alert for the day the shadow goes away.

I don’t know which holidays or 70 degree Saturdays I’ll miss.

I can’t schedule which work activities I’ll mess up because my brain feels like scrambled eggs.

When you are clinically depressed, you just have to wade out the storm.


I’ve only recently discovered that the time I’m most inclined to write is juxtaposed to my least favorite time to be near a computer - directly after work. Typically this is the time for my sons to do their homework and being online or generally “plugged in” is easiest when I don’t feel conflicted to be present with them (or tied to the stove).

At roughly 6pm, I feel mentally capable of producing complete thoughts and I also happen to not be at work (because you should not do that) (no really… don’t do that).

After 8 hours of constant computing, however, I don’t want to.
I just don’t want to sit down and type and stare at the screen anymore, but I have to.

To wade out this storm. 

My depression may not have an end date, but I can set little goals for myself while I’m in this. Writing here helps. There’s not much light at the top of this well, but here I am, hanging some Christmas lights along the way.

The multi-colored kind with the big glass bulbs.

How Facebook Murdered My Blog And The Detox To Get My Writing Back


I picked up my phone and set it back down.

This is to become my most hated aftershock from a digital dependency on social media. Suddenly, the device that retails for nearly $600, that you pay a hundred bucks a month to keep alive, is nothing more than a fancy phone.

I’m going through something that a lot of people experience every year, but that doesn’t make it feel any less lonely. At any given point, nearly 3% of Americans experience the feelings I’m currently mucking through – major depression. 
I know I must keep pushing through the slime as depression is no joke. It’s a silent killer – depression is involved in more than two-thirds of the 30,000 suicides that occur in the United States every year. For every two homicides, there are three suicides

When I started blogging in 2006, shortly after the birth of my first son, I did so as a source of stress relief. I wanted to write to connect with others, to share my story and to keep my own story alive. Facebook existed then, but it was less inclusive. It was also less intrusive – the first iPhone didn’t come out until the summer of 2007, meaning I didn’t walk around with all these faces in my face.

The first iPhone came to my hands in summer of 2007 and soon thereafter I’m sure I downloaded the Facebook app. I continued to write to connect with others on my blog, and sometimes I’d share my “status” with my Facebook friends too. Facebook wasn’t a priority. 
(It should have never become one)

I don’t know what went wrong, but I do know that sometime after my divorce in 2010, I began to shy away from my blog. I ended up moving back to my hometown, doing the single mom thing, and grabbing one of those Big Girl careers – all at the cost of my writing and my sanity. It was easy for a while to supplement my outlet with social media. On Twitter and Facebook, I could quickly chat with my friends and connections. The illusion of connection remained strong. That illusion told me I had friends, and a support system. It lied and led me to believe I was creating bonds.

I was completely unaware of the damage being done.

And I struggled on occasion to come to terms with my dead blog space, as my depression grew. 

And that depression has become a monster that I live with. He’s chained to my back. He weighs a monster weight. He’s dark and mean and honestly, there are times I think he’s winning.
So I pulled the plug on Facebook to save myself. Sitting in traffic Thursday afternoon after a long day of hating myself, I realized that if anything could “give”, this was the most effective.

“Settings > General > Account Options > Deactivate”

What happened? I have so far found peace. I have found time to sit. At first, I noticed a bit of apprehension and anxiety when I wasn’t otherwise “busy”. My hands were fidgeting (something my youngest son does as nervous habit) and I would even say that sometimes I feel “bored”.

Without Facebook, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on as much because the reminder isn’t constant. I don’t see your beach photos, so I’m not upset that I can’t take my children. I can’t see your job promotion, so I’m not jealous that I work in what feels like a dead-end position. No one comes running into my office with your adorable, professionally shot family photos that cost a fortune for me to sulk over. 

Yes, I also acknowledge that I am missing out on being “in the known” and that may translate to me straight up MISSING OUT. Without Facebook reminders, events and groups, I do run the risk of not participating or being invited to something. I do miss the updates, but being in the know is not important.

What’s important in this moment is that I have found a way to concentrate on getting out of my depression. Detoxing from Facebook will NOT save me, but it has given me a moment of clarity, and I’ve found a way to write again. A way to be less distracted from the few loves I have in this world. I will not become a statistic. I will fight.

For Your Consideration:

New Research Finds That Facebook Use Is Linked To Depressive Symptoms

7 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook in 2015 | MensJournal 

5 Things I Learned Trying to Quit Facebook | Huffington Post

7 Reasons Why Quitting Facebook Now is Good For Your Future | LifeHack