I dont like admitting my weaknesses or when I need help. I try to put on a front, carry on and go about my business because things still need to be done. Being a mom is a full time job, its responsibilities never end and that, I dont mind. I had been trucking along, dealing with things along the way the last few months as they came but this week things got to be too much for me. I was in the bathroom, getting ready for work, trying to get things together while Brody was yanking on my arm and crying, dogs barking in the background and so many other things on my mind. I suddenly felt like wave came crashing down on me, I felt my whole body feel sick all of a sudden. I had to stop getting ready because I felt lightheaded, my chest suddenly felt tight and I felt like I was in the middle of a whirlwind. I started crying and just didnt know how to make myself feel better. I have never had an anxiety attack before but that day everything caught up to me and bulldozed me over. I never want to feel that way again, It was paralyzing and I felt like I had been in a car wreck afterwards. I am not used to anxiety, I had seen the signs of it slowly creeping into my day to day life and acknowledged that it was unhealthy but just didnt have the understanding of how to change it. So many things swirling in my mind, deadlines to meet, stress, Brodys health, thoughts of the future… the list goes on and on but it was too late, my head was underwater.
Why am I writing about this? Because kids and adults with autism tend to have severe anxiety and are unable to communicate how they feel. I can see moments of Brodys anxiety come through sometimes, often when he is touching his fingers together one at a time, “nesting” in blankets, pillows and anything he can pile up and several other instances. Being a parent of a child who has autism is very challenging and has so many times of difficulty but its hard to accept that because its something out of his control. He is an amazing person, so sweet and smart but so in his own mind and withdrawn sometimes. I feel guilt for feeling anxiety over my sons behavior (due to his anxiety and autism), it is hard to properly sort through these feelings. As an adult and parent, I’m supposed to be the one who knows what to do, how to handle things and how to help. Like I have said in the past, thats one of the challenges I have with autism is not knowing answers or solutions to the daily challenges we face. How can I help my son through his anxiety when I cant even manage my own? I know there should be no guilt and there is no easy solution but I sure wish there was.
After I collected myself from my anxiety attack I started driving to work which is a 30 minute trip on the highway and just lost myself in thought. I felt awful thinking about how the anxiety I have been feeling are similar to what Brody feels yet he cannot verbalize any of his thoughts. He has to cope with so many things internally and somehow decompress on his own, finding ways to overcome his anxiety. It amazes me the things that goes on in his mind and how many things he is thinking about on a daily basis. Sometimes when you’re sitting with him you can see him off in another world, he looks all around and is in a sort of trance for a few minutes then snaps back to whatever he is doing. His autism is a challenge at times but I am so inspired and proud of him for overcoming these obstacles and difficulties and trying to find ways to go about his day, coping with his anxiety.
This type of situation is one of the parts of parenthood that aren’t talked about as much, can be uncomfortable to talk about and also can be embarrassing to admit. I try to keep it extremely real and raw on my blog and opening up about this has not been my favorite topic but a necessary one. A lot of times I post about the amazing things going on in our lives, updates on progress and just the other things happening but behind the scenes we are dealing with so many other feelings. Its okay to have low times, they come along with the highs and thats O.K. Life forces you to learn lessons when you need to learn them, not when its convenient and I just got a big dose of it. I think it will help me better understand and sympathize with Brody and others and also listen to myself when I see my mentality start to shift. I know that I am not alone and that so many people suffer from anxiety, not just those with autism, and that is can be so crippling and something that pours into many aspects of your life. I’m sorry for any that experience these feelings, I wish I could give you all a hug. If anything, I hope this post makes you not feel alone. One day at a time, deep breathes and carry on. Sleep and ice cream helps too 😉