A Mother’s Love

One of the hardest things about being a parent with anxiety is concealing that anxiety for the benefit of your anxious son.  The past few months have been difficult.  I’ve become obsessed with the possibility that something is wrong with him.  Does he have autism?  Does he have ADHD?  Does he have selective mutism?  Is he just a developing young boy who needs time to adjust and be a kid?  I don’t know.  The not knowing is making me crazy.

Every day that I pick him up from school I have to deal with his teachers telling me that it was another rough day.  He ran from them.  He didn’t engage with other children.  He didn’t listen.  He acted out.  I don’t know what to say to them anymore.  I have no idea what to do.  As much as I hate that they have to deal with his misbehavior… I hate even more that this could be due to anxiety or some other condition and none of us know how to deal with it.  I never want my son to feel anxious.  I don’t want him to act out because he doesn’t know how to express himself. I have such an ache in my heart for him.

Today I put him in his carseat and I kissed his cheeks.  I stared into his beautiful blue eyes and I tried so hard to read them.  I felt myself pleading with him telepathically almost.  I tried to feel what he was feeling.  I wanted to know so badly.  “how was your day love?”  “fine and good.”  Sigh.   I never get a direct answer. I just love him so much.   I want to fix anything and everything for him.

I know he knows something is up.  I’ve tried so hard to get him to talk to other kids.  I’ve scolded him about listening and not touching other children.  I’ve tried so hard to help him… and maybe I’ve done too much.  I know he’s heard me talking about it.  He’s seen me cry.  I know he knows more than we give him credit for.  I feel so guilty.  Each day I struggle with letting my emotions show too much in front of him.  I am desperately trying to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself.  It is so hard.

Why isn’t a mother’s love enough?  It is the strongest emotion I feel.  I feel like it has the strength to fix any problem.  How can it possess so much power yet still not make everything perfect?  No matter what I hope he knows that I love him yesterday, today and forever and ever and ever.  I would do anything for that child.  I will do anything for him.  I don’t want him to suffer… ever.  I’m always here to help him.  I think I’m telling this blog because I don’t know that he understands when I tell him.  I can only hope he does.

If you pray, pray for me and my family.  My head and my heart need the love and support.

 

 

He is perfect.

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Last week I took my son to a local organization for a screening of his behavioral issues.  We were to tell him it was a fun special school where he would go play games.  He was excited to go and he did really well– at least in my opinion.  He hopped on one leg and balanced, did vision and hearing tests, identified objects, drew a circle and scribbled other things, answered questions, etc.  I watched my sweet boy having so much fun and a single tear fell down my cheek.  Then another and another.  I felt silly… but I loved watching him be happy.  I also felt so sad because I knew they were just observing him to see if he had developmental delays.

Long story shot, they think he shows signs of being on the autism spectrum.  He has to go for another long observation.  I heard the words come out of the PhD, whatever his official title is  and couldn’t breathe.  I felt such anger.  I was mad at him for labeling my son.  I was mad at him for thinking anything was different about him.  I was mad at him for saying that social skills could be challenging for him.  I was just mad.  My son was and is perfect.  As soon as he said the words I felt the same way I’d felt nearly 11 years before when my friend called to tell me that one of my best friends had passed unexpectedly.  I threw the phone in anger.  I couldn’t bear to hear another word.  The words seared my face.  Then the tears took over.  I thought about that because I was feeling the exact same way — but no one had died.

Thinking about it…I realized that something did die.  The plans I had for my son.  The ones I made when I delivered him.  These words… autism spectrum… suddenly meant that my son couldn’t have everything I wanted for him …or be who I imagined he would be.  I started to grieve.  I was so sad.  I had a panic attack in front of the observers and excused myself to the bathroom.  I felt so much pain.

I’ve thought about this every second since that day and in my gut, I still don’t feel like he has autism.  I don’t think I’m in denial.  I can see there are certainly things that stand out as interesting.  He can talk to adults but isn’t great at talking to other children.  He hand flaps.  He’s smart.  My husband thinks he has selective mutism.  I have no idea if he does or doesn’t.  I know that social anxiety and generalized anxiety are VERY prominent in my family.  My father never talked to other children when he was a child.  When he did start talking he stuttered.  So the biological component is there.

No matter what happens, I love him so much and feel so blessed to have him exactly as he is.  He is healthy… he is happy. He loves school.  He loves us.  He loves his sister.  He loves to sing and make up stories.  He loves playing outside and loves his extended family.   He is so incredibly precious.  I feel almost guilty for having the emotional reaction that I had.   I am not perfect.  I react to things like anyone else and then I have to step back and think about them.  After this week I know this…

I know my kid.  He is the epitome of love.  He is hilarious.  He is precious.  Every single day that I’ve been his mom has been a day better than all of the days before it.  He is perfect whether he is on the spectrum or not.

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.