I was told by a well known author that writing about the hard times is as important as highlighting the good times.
Thanks Neil Steinberg. He wrote an article about Jasan and me in the Chicago Sun-Times in February. http://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/steinberg-autism-spins-kids-parents-2/ During the interview conversation, I was so pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had talking with Mr. Steinberg about his kids, his family and also about writing. I felt blessed that he recognized my blog/autism as something to write about. But, one of the major take-aways for me was the comment above. Write about the hard times too; people can relate.
So, here I go.
I had actually been depressed for many months. Even when that article was written about us, I was feeling frustrated with my life and trying to push the depression away. Jasan was (and still is) having a tough time at school; for example, getting notes home that he is completely destructive and throws furniture, hurts others, etc.
That’s hard to take.
I was not taking care of myself at all. No time for just me. It has been that way due to life circumstances pretty much since he was born 6 1/2 years ago. That is a long time to be doing it on your own with barely any time to recharge. I am sure many of you special needs parents out there can completely relate to that, whether you have a partner or not. (Partners aren’t always helpful and can sometimes even add extra stress to the situation.)
I did a lot of self medicating, now that I look back…wine was my friend for sure. When Jasan was younger, I had a few friends that had the room for us to come over and spend the night which would mean time for me to socialize. But, because Jasan and I sleep together, I would keep the poor guy up until he was exhausted due to my selfishness of just wanting more time with my friends. It has been things like that, over this time period, I have done because of starvation for recharging time, or even just time to connect with other adults/friends.
I have missed countless outings that I see on Facebook that my circle of peeps have gone to do. I even started getting uninvited to things because they thought I would feel sad due to not being able to go. That hurt just the same. Pretty much, I felt that it was a lose-lose situation.
But here is the most important point- I was letting that be my perspective. For as many posts that I have written on this blog about CHANGING the perspective to the POSITIVE and seeing our children in a different light, here I am going down the “dammit, my life sucks; especially compared to everyone else” path. (And, as we all know, comparison is an evil thing to do to yourself, but easy to fall into.)
I have been on antidepressants on and off most of my life. I will admit, I am one of those unlucky people that had the chemical imbalance fairy hit me with her wand at birth. I have now found a new awareness about myself that actually I am dealing with bipolar disorder. That added a whole new layer to looking at my life and how I have always gone through these patterns of mostly depression, but also mild forms of mania where I feel I can take care of it all. I haven’t had a major crash down in a long time. Many years actually…I think age 27 or 28 may have been the last one. So, I have kept it together somehow for 10 years now. You can image how deep this episode fell. Add Jasan into the mix; I blew up at him multiple times because I couldn’t control my sadness and irritability (which isn’t the typical me AT ALL when it comes to him) and felt the worst guilt EVER in my existence on this earth.
I could not deal with that.
So, turning the corner, getting involved in some healthy group settings (and new meds for me) has finally paved my way to a new, better me. More understanding of how I am wired and how I can be aware of my mood swings. (Haha. Side note: this may turn any man that may have wanted to be in my life the other way now, but hey. Honesty is always the best policy, right? Take it or leave it.)
The reason I am sharing my very personal story with all of you is because what I have learned (even though I felt I already knew it) is that we have to find ways to take care of ourselves. ESPECIALLY because as special needs parents, we have tons of extra stress on our plate. It is scientifically proven that extra stress literally changes our DNA in a negative way. (That blew my mind.) We age quicker and die earlier.
No thanks. I’m not going to go that route.
I honesty believed I didn’t have the time, but I now learned that I do, even if in little ways. Also, I NEED TO ASK FOR HELP. That is hard to do sometimes.
On top of that knowledge, I fully believe that our special and beautiful kids can sense our energy on a more sensitive level. That, in itself, can make a huge impact on them. If we are constantly on edge, what kind of effect is that going to have on them? It can’t be a good one. I also believe that kids can manifest sickness when we are “off” as parents. Yes, there are germs, but the holistic part to our existence can show up in illness.
These images were taken at two different ER visits. I was in a bad place when this occurred. We are almost as one. He knows when I am not happy or struggling.
I need to be strong. I need to take care of me so I can take care of him. He needs me more than anyone in this life. I am so completely dedicated to being the best for him that I will do anything. Literally.
For me that means exercise, meditation, writing, photography, time with friends, movies, and music…to name a few. I need these components in my life. I will be a happier Heidi and a BETTER MOM.
I didn’t believe this was possible 8 months ago, but now I do. It’s just part of my lifestyle now. I want to also teach Jasan by example that he needs to do the same…take care of himself.
Happiness is back!