I love you, I need you.

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(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.

a moment to myself

Today I witnessed my son’s first real panic attack.  He is 3 years old.  I don’t really have words for this.  He made the craziest face.  He wanted to cry but he was too uncomfortable to cry.  He wanted to “be normal” in a room full of kids that he didn’t feel okay around.  He wanted to be okay.  I could see it all in that face he made.  He wanted to cry but he didn’t.  He breathed rapidly… he told the teacher he was “all finished” and he came to me.

I have so much more to say and absolutely no energy.  That face he made has sucked away all of my energy.  All week I’ve been strong for him… and strong for my daughter.  My husband is sick ..and all week it has just been me.  I’ve had to cook, clean, take care of babies, etc. etc.  The only thing keeping me going is the 30mg of Prozac I am taking.  Tonight, I am crying… sobbing. I can barely make it through my work.

Blogger world.. if you pray- pray for me… and send me positive thoughts and energy.  I need to feel the good vibes you all have.  Thank you.

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.

Blessing of the hands

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These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever. 
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.  These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. 
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. 
These are the hands that will countless times, wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. 
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. 
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. 
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. 
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a simple touch. 

The Rev. Daniel L. Harris

My friend sent me this poem tonight because she wants it to be read in her wedding.  It is so beautiful and really spoke to me.  Specifically the line “These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.”

I am so blessed to have a husband that wipes the tears from my eyes and helps me wipe the fears from my mind.  I am blessed to have friends that listen to my worries and help me get through the panic.  I have all of these helping hands in my life and I feel tremendously blessed.  I have a wonderful support system and I am forever grateful.

 

 

The glimmer

I’ve had panic attacks and anxiety my entire life.  I understand that it gets better… it gets worse… it feels okay… then you feel like you’re dying and its just kind of trying to figure out how to ride the rollercoaster.  It really sucks actually.  I’m tired of it truthfully, but it never stops and I just have to keep on.

At my last therapy appointment I spoke very highly of Prozac, credited it to making me feel like a new person.  I felt like I could enjoy the moment, interact with my kids a little better, interact with others in general a little better.  It felt like it took the edge off and I needed that.  My therapist was so happy to hear that I was getting some relief.  When I was telling her about how great I felt I knew that I was jinxing myself… but I didn’t want to think that way.   I just wanted that moment.  I needed that moment.  Even if I knew it would be gone soon enough.

Not to get into too much detail …but something set me off and it was over.  The panic attacks came and they were intense.  They hurt.  I felt crazy.  I went to the ER.  I called my doctor a million times.  I asked the same question 8 different ways, 30 different times trying to find some sort of reassurance about what I was stressing about.  My kids saw me run around with my head somewhere else completely.  They saw me pacing the floor and although I was with them physically– mentally, I was a million miles away…

In a way I felt manic.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I felt like I was crawling out of my skin.  I couldn’t eat.. I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t do anything.  I only felt okay when I was driving somewhere.  I didn’t want to sit still… I wanted to run away.  I needed to be somewhere else.  My body knew it.

When I did finally get some sleep I would dream horrible things.  My dreams are rehearsals for real life dangers and often times I can’t even escape in them.  This month I’ve had crazy dreams but perhaps the craziest of them all… was a dream that was wonderful.  It was so out of the norm for me.  It was so short but it meant everything.

In the dream I was at the beach.  I had a bikini on and I didn’t care how I looked in it.  I was sitting…staring at the ocean with the sun on my back.  The sun was warm but it wasn’t burning me.  It was perfect.  I could feel it and I didn’t worry about melanoma or …if I was getting sunburned…or if I even had sunscreen on.  I just knew that in the moment I felt really happy and relaxed and well.  More importantly- I was IN the moment.  I was actually present in a moment… even if it was in a dream.

I thought about this dream throughout the week.  I thought about it when things felt like they were becoming too much.  When I was losing my mind … the dream was always there.  It gave me a few seconds of calm in a really bad storm of emotions.

In therapy last week I cried for a solid hour.  I spoke about my fears and the rollercoaster of my emotions.  I spoke about the fact that my kids are seeing their mother in such turmoil and how I hate that I’m doing this to them even when I’m trying SO hard not to.  I told my therapist that I was just ..tired.  I’m so exhausted.  Thinking 3289 thoughts at once takes so much out of you.  Having 2 kids takes so much out of you.  Working part time and being a mom full time takes a lot out of you.  I’m just… tired.  I vented and I wept and I finally just felt paralyzed.  I couldn’t move anymore.   I just wanted to sit there until something changed.. anything.  I didn’t even want to blink.  Everything hurt.

And then… there was the dream.  Before I knew it I was telling my therapist about the dream.  I had no idea WHY I was telling her about this dream that I hadn’t told anyone about …but there I was …explaining it in such vivid detail.  My crying stopped, I felt warm.  I felt the warmth of the sun in me when telling her about this dream.  I needed this moment.

I looked up to find my therapist crying.  She had chills.  She said something I will probably NEVER forget.  She said, “Catherine… that is the glimmer.  That is the glimmer of hope.”  She explained that my body, deep inside… knows what I need.  It knows how to heal itself.  It knows how to carry on.  It knows exactly what I need to do to feel better and have a fulfilling life.  My anxiety is just beating the hell out of it.

I realized that there is a threshold with pain, fear, anxiety.  Everything has felt completely out of control and mostly because I feel like I can control everything and realizing that I can’t …kills me.  I couldn’t control this dream, or any other dream that I have but somewhere deep inside me… I was given a gift from myself.  I was given that glimmer.  That hope.  I was being reminded that there is a way to feel something other than pain.  Maybe it lives inside of me.  I just have to find it.