Our journey in the Autism Spectrum

Posts tagged ‘overwhelmed’

Top 10 Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging…

My top 10 excuses reasons for not blogging for (*GASP!*) almost 4 weeks :

10. Co-captaining our team for the Autism Speaks walk that is now less than a week away!!! T-shirt sales, bracelet sales, letter writing, mass mailings, general fundraising duties and information gathering and distributing. (And surpassing our team’s fundraising goal, by the way!!! Go Team Chameleon!) 

9. Trying to be a somewhat decent mom, wife, friend and co-worker and currently not doing that great a job of any of those.

8. Scheduling parent/teacher conferences, doctor appointments, childcare, carpools.

7. Raising very bright, “typical”  girls (13 yrs. and 4 1/2 yrs.) and the trauma and drama of such. Ummm….yeah, it goes without saying the time-consuming stress that goes with that, right?

6. Raising a very bright boy on the Autism Spectrum. ‘Nuff said.

5. The “joys” of working from home, especially with transition to a new management company that apparently employs no one else from home anywhere in the country ~including  having to go through all the paperwork, orientations and such that go with now being considered a “new hire”~ and then being told, “Don’t worry. You’ll still have a job for at least the next 6-12 months.” (I think this last bit of information was meant to be reassuring…?) Oh yeah, and then actually WORKING from home.

4. Dance lessons, soccer practices and games, volleyball practice and games, school taxi, Parent Advisory Committee meetings, trips to the craft store for school projects and autism walk supplies, family commitments, school field trips, grocery shopping, bill paying, laundry, cooking (sort of), cleaning. (I will admit that I’ve been doing very little of these last two listed here!)

3. The day-to-day dynamics and challenges of a family of five living in the Spectrum.

2. Being overwhelmed and PWP (paralyzed with procrastination).

…and the number one thing that has kept me from blogging  for the past four weeks…

1) My inability to formulate a coherent thought and it write down and strong feelings of guilt for neglecting my blog sending me back to reason #10 and starting the list all over again.

…I know things will get better. It’s just what all of us moms (and dads) do…but it still stinks when you feel you are in the muck of it, doesn’t it?!?

Soccer Practice Fail

Almost immediately I can see my little dude becoming overwhelmed. He paces in wide patterns and circles. He stands on the outermost edge of the group as he possibly can. He’s not looking at any one thing or person, almost manic, his eyes dart all around as his body keeps moving about. When encouraged to come closer to the group, to participate, his protests come in short, loud, outbursts and he moves even farther away. Yet, he won’t step back and take a few moments to calmly watch the group either. This suggestion also brings loud protests. As time goes on his distress worsens. Louder, longer outbursts and lashing out, kicking, spitting, flailing arms. Maya works to bring his focus in by giving him simple direction to follow. We continue to encourage, demonstrate, and coax him. Finally he actually participates for a few minutes. But so soon he is back to the previous behaviors. Every positive reinforcement we give only seems to agitate him more. What little ABA game I brought with me has disappeared. I am struggling to try to help my son. The behaviors escalate. My focus, my tunnel vision, narrows. I see only my little dude. I hear Maya talking and we all work together to bring him out of this meltdown. It takes 3 of us, Grant, Maya, and me, to coral him. I catch him by the arm when instinct and past training lock in and I wrap his arms up in a safety restraining hold that I learned back in college when I worked for the State Department of Mental Health. (At this point I cannot even think about how horrified I should be that I have to again resort to this hold on my own son.) He continues to kick and yell and try to wrench free. We move to the side of the field. I sit down with him, arms still wrapped up and Maya tries to still his jerking, kicking legs. He knows once I sit down with him in this hold things have gotten out of control and we are done.  I will absolutely not let go until he comes back completely from the depths of the meltdown.  We sit. And we wait.

In his protests he is able to verbalize that it’s too much. That it’s hard for him.  Yet, it is hard for him to remove himself from the situation, to sit back and watch. That is painful as well. I am helpless. Nothing seems to take away his panic, his hurt. We continue to sit. As he finally quiets and I calm as well, my heart aches and I cry silently inside, keeping my tears locked up. I have failed my son on this evening.  He continues to remain still and I feel his body start to relax. I ease my grip but keep my arms around him. He watches his team continue practice. He says he misses his dad who is down on the field, continuing to work with Lucy who is also on the team. Henry starts to talk, plainly and calmly. He is simply matter-of-fact. As if nothing distressful happened. He begins to smile and joke and tell funny stories. My heart fills with  joy and love that I have for my son. But the ache, it too has stayed with me for a week now…and  I wonder if  I will be able to handle things at another practice tonight. I am anxious and worried and sad. This failing is not of my son’s but of my own.

Coping…??? Not so much.

As I begin to type this, it is just minutes before 6:00am CST. I have now been up since around 3:30am. Henry woke up with a dream. He didn’t say it was a bad dream, he just wanted me to lay with him for while. Hard to resist when he just wants some quiet snuggle time. At 4am I crawled back into my own bed but could not get back to sleep.

My mind was racing all over the place. And then suddenly my stomach seemed to leap up into my throat. I forgot to pay our Discover bill! Damn! I glanced over at my clock which was  glaring red. 4:32am. Double damn! My alarm was set to go off in about 15 minutes anyway so I hauled myself out of bed and down to my office cursing myself all the way. I quick threw some money at the credit card bill via online bill pay as if that would make it all go away. I was dreading having to tell Grant that our bill was going to be late. He probably wouldn’t be up for at least another hour. I spent the next hour or so feverishly working to clean up my office space, get bills in order, and organize our donation lists (with pictures) for itemization for future income tax returns. As if this would help erase or make up for the late bill. In case you are not up to speed on the whole spring cleaning/donation fiasco you can catch up here and here.

Grant knows I haven’t been coping well. I can’t seem to get anything done or keep track of anything. I am overwhelmed by the little things so then too the bigger things are doubly overwhelming. I am forgetting things. Losing things. Often.  Last night Grant watched me tear through one of my cabinets looking for a lid to a container all the while ranting to myself about how “the lids always disappear!” and “where the heck can they possibly go? Who uses a lid without the container? What would you use just the lid for?” I was feeling a bit crazed and this missing lid was about to push me over the edge. Just as I was about to search for another container with its lid, I saw the missing lid sitting on the counter, where I had put it while I was filling its partner. Oh.

Grant: “Babe, are you okay?”

This was just one of my many questionable “episodes” as of late.

Me: “No. Not really. No.”

He looked as if he was trying to absorb and process my response and just ended up looking at me helplessly.

I remember an e-mail I received some months back from my friend, *Hermione*, in response to one of my blog posts. I laughed at her perception the first time I read it and certainly it gives me a good chuckle right now.  Hermione has a daughter *Rose* who is just 6 months older than my oldest daughter, Molly. We have commiserated over the years through the pre-tween, tween, and now teen years.

From Hermione: I have been reading your blog…. You are quite articulate.  You describe so well the mixed emotions…. Happy to have a diagnosis that will give Henry the assistance he requires but all the scary negative emotions of the diagnosis, which is still hard to hear, even though you said you knew it was coming…

 Anyway, you sound amazingly skilled at handling all this. *Ron*  and I are barely able to cope with a “normal” teen…. Thinking of you and Grant and Henry and sending positive energy your way.

Articulate? Amazingly skilled? Are you kidding me? Upon my first reading her e-mail, I was immediately questioning that she even was reading MY blog!

She goes on to tell me what she’s been up too; working, reading, quilting (or rather, her not quilting),  and how she and Ron are constantly at odds with Rose, how Rose wants her room painted black and Hermione’s attempts to make is less black by trying to compromise.

“…. So although she may view it as “goth/modern”, I suspect everyone else will view it as old-fashioned and Amish.”

Quick side note: We too have compromised on the black in Molly’s bedroom. She got new black curtains and some new black decor to accent her already purple and lavender walls and bedding.

Hermione tells me of  her and Ron’s trials and trauma and drama with Rose and it all sounds familiar…except in our case, Molly wants to do everything and be brilliant at it with no effort or practice and then complains about it.

“[Rose] wants to quit piano…. At which point she will be doing nothing. Nothing at all, except texting and watching Anime and doing homework. No sports, no interests, no extracurriculars, no hobbies,  nothing at all. Except homework and being nasty to her parents. Ron comes home and goes into our room and hides. Comes out for dinner and goes back in again. And then Rose is crushed he doesn’t pay attention, but when he does, she is so often nasty…. He over-reacts and she needs to be kinder. It is all driving me crazy. Both of them. And then the dog got sick….. but nothing to complain about, really. How you do it is beyond me and you have my highest regard….Hermione.

 Did I mention that the *Weasleys* are big Harry Potter fans? Anyway, here was my response back:

 Here is my secret to coping (if you can even call it that): Alcohol, Hermione. Alcohol. That and making friends with Zoloft.

 Keep in mind that sounding skilled and actually having the skills are very, very different things! We get by. We laugh, albeit sometimes quite maniacally, to avoid crying. Molly is at odds with Grant constantly. The ONLY reason she and I are not at the same odds quite as often is I just tune it out. When I just can’t take one more snide remark or sneer from her I just shut down and leave the room. I try my best to avoid any kind of raised voice at all. This is not my strong suit but practice is forcing me to get better at it.  

We also have been trying to apply ABA strategies that we learned at TouchPoint for Henry to all three kids. That is becoming easier too. It’s not usually very fun but at least the verbage is getting easier for us. Yelling just fuels Molly’s fire. I now try to state what is expected of her and remind her of whatever the consequences may be and then I walk away. She has been known to follow me around the house for HOURS whining and complaining, yelling, screaming, slamming things, getting in my face….and I just keep walking away, avoiding eye contact, every so often repeating the expectations and the potential consequences. I pretend to read or surf the internet. I pretend I am playing a part and there is an important critic in the audience so I’d better make this performance good! (I have a friend who does the same to win an Oscar~ for myself, I just want to get out of summer stock). I don’t let Molly see me cry.

 I have not read anything in forever. I have at least 5-6 books sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. My escapes right now are Facebook and blogging and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents. I am pretty sure that I am going through a midlife crisis and my alter-ego is trying to keep me busy. She has her own Facebook page. She wears glasses. She is supposed to be working on writing a book. Lots of half-ideas….nothing formulated enough to actually write down. So, we blog. Everything is a potential blog post. Nothing is sacred. hmmmmm……yep, don’t be surprised if you see this reconstituted as a blog post at some point in the future.

 I don’t see that as coping at all. I see that as a crazed, under medicated manic/depressive hanging on by a thread and shutting down and escaping whenever possible. And for the record, my oldest is not always that bad all the time. She is an awesome kid….but you know, she is still a typical, hormonal 13-year-old! So, I concluded with:

So, see, I really am not handling this teen stuff or autism stuff very well at all. I suspect really most parents don’t, Hermione. We just do what we have to do to survive it. We will survive it! Hang in there! You know where I live and how to get in touch with me if you need to! I am out here in the muck too! ~Karen

I do realize that I have a pretty sweet gig here and certainly there are MANY parents out there going through much worse, much rougher times. I get that and I am ever so thankful for my family, my job and our life.  But there are moments, lots of them lately, where I just can’t seem to get a handle on things…so much feels out of my control. I feel lost. My husband always knows how to “find” me and anchor me. But he is tired too. I ask so much of him.

So, flash forward to now…this afternoon… I’m tired, anxious, and have LOADS of things I need to do. And I am still not getting any one thing done. The little ones are “playing” by destroying the basement family room. Laundry did get started but just that, started. At some point I am going to have to do some work that I actually get paid for… I guess I will try to squeeze that in sometime after I hard-boil about 2 dozen eggs for the family fun night of egg dying and decorating.

Oh, yeah, and that late Discover Card bill? I was so freaked out about it and worried we would lose our low APR, and Grant was too, that he called the company. Turns out I had paid that bill early sometime late last month. So, we weren’t late at all…

Oh yeah, and now I guess I CAN mark one thing off my list as complete! Blog post. Done! Now, where did I leave that laundry basket…?

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