I love you, I need you.

(me + my mom in 1987)

Tonight, I called my mom.  I told her that I needed her.  I do need her.  I’m 31 years old and I need my mother so much it hurts.  I call her and tell her that my son needs to see her… that he misses her.  I try to get her to come up here and help me with the kids.  Really,  I just need her to hold me.

I grew up in a house that wasn’t very affectionate.  We didn’t hug very much.  We said I love you but it was a quick “okay, love you, talk to you later.”  My mom kind of has a thing about physical affection.  I don’t know that she grew up in a very affectionate household.  We’re kind of weird about feelings at home.  We don’t really express ourselves well unless we’re angry.  Healthy right?  For me to tell my mother the words tonight… “I need you…I need you… I NEED YOU…” is huge.  I am 31 and I need my mother because I am hurting.

My son was recently given an individual education plan (IEP) because he has “developmental delays.”  We’re fairly certain it is autism but for whatever reason I couldn’t hear those words right now.  It is HARD for me to KNOW that my son has something that they don’t know much about.  They don’t know what causes it.  They don’t know exactly what to do about it… I mean, sure, there are ideas– but the spectrum is so large.  There are so many unknowns.  I am not good at unknowns.  If they can’t find a reason for it– the reason is me.  That is what I tell myself from sun up to sun down.  I should have breastfed longer, I shouldn’t have eaten processed food, I shouldn’t have been so stressed, I shouldn’t have gotten the epidural, I should have staggered vaccinations, etc.   Sometimes I tell myself the worst one of all.  I shouldn’t have been selfish. 

After my husband and I got married I took red lipstick and wrote my bathroom mirror, “Don’t have children.  Don’t be selfish.  They will grow up like you.  You can’t do that to someone else.”  I looked at this every morning and I sobbed.  I wanted children so badly but I couldn’t live with them having the brain that I have.  Within a few months of writing this message, I was pregnant.  It was unplanned and unexpected.

Holding that 8 lb 6 oz baby boy was indescribable.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been more happy in my entire life.  He was beautiful.  He IS beautiful.  He had perfect eyes, so alert.  He nursed perfectly… his toes were big and beautiful.  Perfection.  He was my whole world.  He is my world.

The past year has been hard.  He’s been through so many adjustments.  We have a another little one and he has had to share his attention.  He had to deal with a truly awful preschool that punished him for his anxiety and insecurities.  He stims a lot.  He repeats questions.  He anxiously talks about irrelevant things.  He can’t talk to kids.  Sometimes toilets and vacuums scare him.  There are a lot of things that are hard for him.  BUT… he talks to me.  He loves me.  He kisses me.  He hugs me.  He laughs.  He makes jokes.  He hugs his sister and loves his sister.  He lights up when he sees her.  My children embrace each other the minute one realizes the other is awake.   They squeal with excitement.  How blessed am I to have two LOVING children?

The idea of autism is overwhelming.  I am overwhelmed.  I have obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, generalized anxiety and depression.  I have sensory issues and quirks.  I am TRYING to be an example for my fearful son but I am struggling.  Struggling to me… is failing.  I need my mom.  I need my mom to hold me and tell me that I’m doing an okay job.  I need her to hold my baby and comfort him in a way that only she can.  She may not have always been the greatest at it with me but she has ALWAYS been wonderful with my son.  He trusts her and he loves her.  They have a special bond.  A bond I am grateful for… especially when I feel inadequate.

I don’t know what I’m saying in this blog except for that I am feeling lost at the moment.  I am feeling stressed, scared, overwhelmed and sorry for myself a little bit.  I hope I can find the strength and energy to really help myself so I can continue to help my son.  Sometimes the fight seems to large and I feel too small.  I pray for strength.

The best, worst conversation

Well, its September.  So far, September hasn’t been so bad.  We’re 6 days into it and I’ve had one night away from the kids (which was good and sad.. lol.  I miss them so much when we’re apart.)  I’ve been somewhat stable mentally (just riding this high while I have it) and have had some good conversations.

Yesterday my husband told me that he has been largely effected by my mental illness over the past 6 months.  Of course I knew that it would get to him at times… how could it not?  However, I didn’t know that it was getting to him so badly.  He explained to me that he spends so much time trying to talk me down.  My mind goes from one crazy thought to another.  He told me he feels an immense amount of pressure having to be the only sane individual in the house.  He let it all out.  He told me everything.  He cried a little… I could feel every word.  They were laced with sadness, love and fear.  He didn’t want to tell me this because he didn’t want to add to the stress… but it just came out.

My initial reaction was to run.  I wanted to just drive… scream…punch a wall.  Anything to get my anger out.  I was upset with him for holding all of this in for months.  I was upset with him for not being stronger than I am ALL of the time… and I was just so sad that I couldn’t get my life together so he could have a better one.   These feelings lasted a few moments and then I felt better than I have in a little while.

That probably seems really weird.  It is.  For one, I felt happy that he took the time to tell me.  He risked my fragility to tell me that he was hurting and that it was in part because of me.  This told me that he trusts me… and he thinks I’m stronger than I think I am.  Or stronger than I think he thinks I am sometimes.  I felt like we were partners in this …I can tell him my fears and thoughts and he can tell me his.  He can tell me when he’s depressed.  There was something so wonderful about being completely open and honest with each other.  It actually lifted my mood.

In addition to this feeling… I also felt really relieved.  My husband is human, not a super hero.  Life can be too much for him too.  It validated some things for me.  The past year has been REALLY hard.  Calling 911 for both of your children in the past 3 months is REALLY stressful whether you have mental issues or not.  Seeing your son VERY ill for an extended period of time and then get a rare allergy syndrome diagnosis for your daughter is tough.  Postpartum anxiety/OCD and depression…are HARD.  Finances and schedules and work… are difficult.  These are not just things I torment myself over because I am “crazy.”  These are hard for everyone.

Finally, I felt a push.  I’d become lazy in my quest to get better.  I started to become fearful of my medications again.  I started to not trust my doctors… and thought I could make the best decisions for myself.  I was reminded in that 30 minute conversation that I am a long way from that place.  I need professionals to help me.  I need medication. I need therapy.  I need to find something that works… soon.  I can’t put these things off.  Too many people that I love are counting on me to get better.  I felt the sense of urgency that my husband felt in that moment and it has stayed with me.

Today has been a good day.  I can’t say that about a lot of days.  But today, my son was excited about school… my daughter let me get some work done.  My coffee was exceptional.  The sun was warm.  My kids laughed…a lot.  I painted with my son after dinner.  I took a long shower.  I listened to kid songs and sang them with my little ones.  I made a conscious effort to keep the peace.  It worked.

Thank God for the days that show you that your life can be better than the way you feel your life will ALWAYS be when you’re in your darkest times.  Thank God.

Finding answers in the guilt

I haven’t written in a while and it is because I never have the time.  When I was a kid it felt like the days were so long.  I was bored all the time.  I wanted to grow up and I wanted to start my life.  I wanted to drive and have a job and a family of my own.  I wanted everything I didn’t have.  I’m 30 now and I’ve found that I do the same things that I did when I was that little kid.  I want everything I don’t have.  I long for a simpler time.  The days are long but for a different reason.  I am exhausted.

Without going into too much detail, I am at my parent’s house for the second week in a row.  My mental issues are spinning out of control a bit and I have determined that  I should probably be at home with my parents and my kids.  If I panic, I can go to another room and know that my kids will be taken care of.  I am doing this for my children, but at the same time I know that I am hurting my husband.  He misses us.  He misses his babies.  He understands, but I still feel the guilt.  My little boy asked to go back to his house today and I knew that  I just couldn’t go yet.  I can’t explain it to him… so I try to find fun activities for him.  I try to shield him from this as much as possible.

I think that is what parenting with anxiety is.  When your little ones are hurting and its because of things that they don’t understand, you take every bit of yourself (whats left after anxiety has beat you up) and you give it to them.  You try to make every single day the best day you can for them.  Maybe one day they’ll understand.  Maybe one day my little boy will ask me why we spent so much time at his grandparent’s house.  I will tell him the truth.  I will also try to stop beating myself up about this.  I am sick and I can’t help it.  I am trying to get better, but in the meantime I am trying to protect my babies from seeing how bad it can get.  Something I wish had been done for me.





The parenting side of things

I shared this blog with a friend and she gave me some constructive criticism.  I was happy to get it.  She told me that I should include how I cope with anxiety and OCD while parenting and what strategies I could share.   I thought about this for a second and realized that I’d been pretty self absorbed in the blog so far… talking about how I think and feel everyday without including much about how it effects my family or how I deal with it in regard to my family.

So here it is… this is my strategy.  I don’t really have one.  Here is my answer:  I don’t have one of those either.  This is how I do it:  I’m not sure.  I really don’t know a damn thing about parenting with OCD and anxiety…I just know how to get through each day.  I don’t know that I’m not doing irreversible damage to them.  I don’t know that I’m not projecting every crazy thought onto them.  I don’t know that I haven’t passed down these genes to them. I only know that I have  a lot of guilt when it comes to this, but I also have goals.

My parents raised me well.  They instilled values into me …they were as loving as they could be.  They fed me, clothed me, gave me my own room with lots of toys and helped with school work.  They gave me rides… and put me in piano lessons and dance lessons.  They are good parents.  With that being said, they battled their own demons.  I’ll dive into this a little more later, when I’ve got more time and feel like I can handle it emotionally.  Long story short, my parents had nervous breakdowns- within months of each other.  I was about 12 or 13 when it happened.  I have never told them how I felt during that time.  They have never asked.  I have talked about it for over 10 years in therapy.  I am STILL figuring it out.  I am still dealing with it.  They couldn’t help it, but I still suffered.  They suffered and in turn, I suffered.  I think they knew I was suffering but it was easier to not recognize it.  It was easier to turn a blind eye and afterall, they had so much on their plate.  I never understood that until I had my own kids and have had to parent and cope at the same time.   You have to do both when you have these issues.  You have to do both when you feel like you can’t even take care of yourself.  You have to find the balance.  Everyday is about finding the balance between coping with things and parenting your children… and its extremely hard.

So now that Jack is 3 and absorbing EVERYTHING at a rapid rate… I am having to watch myself a bit more.   I am finding that trying so hard to shield him is making it worse.  I am more anxious, more upset, more guilty.  God, the guilt.  The guilt wrecks me.  It physically hurts me. I very well may have passed these genes down to them.  It is a very REAL possibility.  Sometimes the day is too long and I am too weak and things get to me and it shows.  I can see my actions and reactions impacting him.  It hurts so much.  I never ever want to hurt my children.  I never want them to feel like this.

With that being said, I am 30 years old.  At 30 years old I am going to try the hardest I’ve ever tried in my life to get my OCD and anxiety under control.  I am going to fight it for myself and more importantly, for my kids.  I am going to give them a fighting chance at dealing with this.  I am in weekly therapy sessions and have agreed to take my medications.  I am in regular contact with a psychiatrist and don’t see this changing.  I have started meditating and hopefully can get back into exercising soon.  I am going to try everything I can to make myself a better person, and in turn be a better mother.  I am doing it for myself and for them.  Even when it feels like too much, I never forget how precious my children are.  They are everything to me.  I want to be well for them.  I want to be a mother that they think is loving and caring and present.  I want to experience life with them instead of just passing through each day while life happens to us.  I have a goal and I have to make it.  For them.