Sometimes, answers can come from the strangest of places. And by strange, I mean from somewhere that you least expected it to.
Somewhere you’d never have imagined and from someone who you barely even know.
BUT – God works in mysterious ways!
If you click here you will read that this blog was always intended to be a place where I could write about whatever I needed to at any given time NOT just about parenting children with autism.
Of course- it all ties together in the end because autism is so intricately woven into every single part of our lives. But this is not a specifically autism related post per se.
I will start this post off with somewhat of a “warning”.
This post is going to be a deep one. It’s going to be a little long and probably a bit confronting for some people.
It is full of my life story and if you don’t read through until the end, it may seem like a bunch of annoying complaining, but if you do choose to read, you’ll see the awesome self discovery that I’ve made and you might even see your own life in a new light.
Right. That said – I’m going to do a quick flash back to my last post where I admitted that I have been struggling a lot with depression lately.
I ended that post with words to the effect of: Autism is the root issue of everything that’s difficult about my life.
A few hours after I’d published it, a very close friend wrote to me and said that she had just finished reading it and that she didn’t feel that autism really was the reason for all my sadness and pain. She said that she believed that autism was just a small part of the bigger picture but that she didn’t quite know what “the thing” was.
I actually completely agreed with her – but because I was still unable to figure out why on earth I seem to struggle SO much more than other autism mothers (maybe it was just my own skewed perception), I assumed that autism was to blame. It was something that bothered me endlessly and I needed an answer and that one was the most obvious choice.
Anyway, one of my regular readers and commenters, a lovely woman whom I have never met (but hope to one day) wrote that she thinks that I am still in a period of grief. And as soon as I read that something inside of me shouted YES! That’s it!
I KNEW that there was something in that!
And I don’t believe that it’s all related to my father passing away a couple of short years ago. I found this wonderful passage in a psychology book (of all places) and it was spot on as far as I’m concerned.
“Many assume that grief is associated only with the loss of a loved one.
Psychology shows us that this is very often not the case, but those suffering grief from things other than the death of someone are often told to “snap out of it.”
Grief is, quite simply put, a response to loss.
The loss can be of something tangible or intangible. It helps to recognize that disappointments, abuse, recognizing one’s limitations, illness, losing a job, or so many other things can elicit a grief response.
People suffering a loss need time to grieve, and such time depends upon how important the loss was.”
YES! That’s me!
Let’s see: In 2 short years, I had 5 major surgeries. Check.
The brain surgery being the biggest at a whopping 13.5 hours long – complete with a collapsed lung and the recommended recovery period from this is 2 YEARS!
I had an undiagnosed/ aggressive/ insomniac autistic 18-month-old child on my hands at home so recovery wasn’t really an option.
9 months after that, I had my corneal transplant then found out I was pregnant with our unplanned “high-risk” baby Lucas. Check.
Consequently, I had a general anaesthetic c-section followed by a tubal ligation and ALL of these took place in the time that I was “supposed” to be recovering from brain surgery.
We had the added stress of our finances being incredibly stretched due to all of the medical bills I’d racked up (You’d think having brain surgery to remove a 5cm tumour would be covered under Medicare wouldn’t you?) And not to mention the exorbitant costs related to the corneal transplant too. Check.
And just after Lucas was born, I had to undergo surgery for the 5th time to get my gall bladder removed. (There were 90 something peppercorn sized stones in my sterile jar if I remember correctly!) Check.
Then my dear Dad was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after I contracted glandular fever and due to not being able to recover properly– my Doctor told me I was borderline chronic fatigue. Lovely! This possibility scared the wits out of me so emergency procedures were put into place and Mr Patient was forced to take time off work until I was well enough to carry on. Check.
A few months after that, I received a phone call from my Mum asking my sister and me to go home immediately because the Doctors had told her that Dad was on his deathbed.
We rushed home and he died a few short days later. Check.
6 months after losing Dad, we were slugged with Harley’s autism diagnosis and it was about then that I started blaming autism for everything that I hated about my life. Check.
And while we’re talking about grief – there is definitely a grieving process related to the discovery that your child is “different”, (though I do believe that my kids can do whatever it is that they choose to do and that they will do it well!)
I went to a counsellor and she ordered that I be medicated before she’d even attempt to talk to me again. She diagnosed me with “acute clinical depression” (Whatever that means!)
I didn’t see her for very long because it got far too expensive and she was difficult to get appointments with plus I had no-one able to mind 3 small children for me. I did however find another counsellor that I was able to see during school hours and had a wonderful baby sitter for Lucas – but that was also short-lived due to the time constraints and travel involved.
It’s times like THIS that I find having no family to help out really tough. You can only ask friends to help out so many times before you wear out your welcome no matter how many times they say they’re happy to help.
The simple fact here is: I haven’t had time to grieve ANY of these things that have gone on in my life because they have all happened so closely to each other and they have kept compounding and building up and it TOTALLY explains why there always seems to be a pressure cooker ready to explode in my brain!
Now that I know that it is grief that’s holding me back , I can finally stop blaming myself for not coping as well as everybody else.
I can stop wondering “WHY” I suck at things that other people seem to just drift through and I can now actually believe it when my Mum tells me that I’m NOT a basket case & I’m NOT a crappy, disorganized, useless mother – I just have a lot on my plate and I have a lot of grief to work through!
It’s the keeping it real factor that I have been struggling the most with.
I have always found it REALLY difficult to “put on a happy face” when I feel like screaming.
I’ve struggled to “appear” normal for fear of turning people away.
And I honestly physically hurt whenever I tried to be something I’m not. I know my intensity can be scary and my emotional rollercoasters are annoying – but I’m still a work in progress here.
I’m living, learning and growing.
I’m still grieving, but the thing that excites me the most is that I have discovered that I am up to step 4 in the 5 part grieving process of:
So guess what?……… I’m almost there!
See you on the other side!
And thank GOD that I have God on my side