Sometimes in life you have to admit that you need help. For me it was last week.
I have been in a funk since April. I thought I could just magically make it disappear, yet it just got worse instead of getting better. It was not until my husband called me out that I knew I had to do something.
Being a Special Needs parent is hard work. Therapies, Doctors Appointments, the constant need of your child, the heartache, the joy… Everything seems to revolve around that child. So much so that you start to lose yourself, who you are… Who you were.
Who was I before I became a mom? Who was I before I became a wife? Who am I besides a mother and a wife?
You see I got sucked up into it. I let my thoughts and fears consume me. I forgot who Keli was/is. All I was and am is someone just trying to make it through the day. Someone who cries about what life has thrown at her but then feels guilty for feeling that way. So much guilt that it turns into pain. What if I think this way and something happens to my daughter? I could never live with myself. I love her and my husband so much it hurts sometimes. So why I am I so sad?
The three D’s my friends. The three D’s. Depression, Denial, and Divorce… in no particular order.
You see I thought I was strong. I thought I could manage this with a smile on my face and kick Autism and ACC in the ass. I thought, “I got this.”
But you know what? I don’t.
I always knew who I was before I got married and had a child. I was so independent. I was always laughing. I didn’t know what money meant because I was single and had so much of it. I had responsibilities but nothing to this extent. I thought I was going to make a name for myself as a Director or Producer in CA. I had the world at my fingertips.
What I didn’t know was this. I never knew what it was like to take care of someone that couldn’t take care of themselves. I didn’t know how hard it was to make a marriage work. I didn’t know the constant fear of death. I didn’t know the fear of what would happen to my daughter once we could no longer be able to take care of her? I just didn’t know.
Three years has ultimately changed my world. And not in a bad way bc I have never regretted any decision I have made. I am so incredibly thankful for the life I have and the people who choose to be in it. I think to myself how selfish I am acting and how other people have it worse off than me.
But you know what? Everyone gets into a funk in their life and I have realized that instead of denying my depression, I need to embrace it and figure out who I am. Who I am besides a wife, mother, and caregiver. I need to remember who Keli is. I have to get my life back together before I can be any sort of help to the people around me that I love. I have to be healthy in order to have a healthy relationship with my kid and my husband.
Denial and Depression are a funny thing. One day you feel as though you got it. You are making all these appointments. You are going to these playgroups while everyone is looking at you and making judgements of your child. You listen to your family members who say they don’t think anything is wrong with your child and that we are overreacting. You get upset and even maybe a little embarrassed when you are at a restaurant and your child is flapping their hands and making loud noises. Then you feel guilty about that embarrassment bc that’s your baby, you would die for them and you can’t imagine life without them. You get mad at your husband b/c while he is at work and really works hard, he gets to be around other adults and have adult conversations. You get even more mad when you think that no one is as excited as you are when your daughter finally waves to you at 2 years old or says mama at almost 3.
You feel as though maybe no one understands your joy, your sorrow, your fears… To them it’s like maybe they just are able to put it out of sight out of mind. And maybe to an extent this is true. However, I can’t do that. I am with my kid 24/7 without a break. Again, I am not complaining. I am just stating that there is no break. There is no not worrying about her. She is like a job. A 24 hour, 7 days a week job. She is the hardest job I have ever had. I wouldn’t change her for the world but to say that I don’t get burnt out would be an understatement.
People that are not in my situation try to understand but how can they completely understand? My best friend since I was 7 has distanced herself because she feels like I am neglecting our friendship. It feels like it is just one thing after another. I feel like I am going around trying to put a bandaid on everyone and everything while I am lying on the ground with an ulcer and broken leg and everyone is just stepping over me wondering why I am not moving out of the way.
Divorce… Now that one is a tricky one. You want to talk about neglect? Well, there it is. With everything that has been going on, I neglected our relationship. He’s felt it, I have felt it. And I am not saying I am the one and only because it takes two but I have let everything consume me to the point that he doesn’t feel like I even love him anymore. In a study I found, parents of ASD were 23.5% more likely to get a divorce in their child’s childhood. I do not want to be a statistic.
So what happens now? Well, I’ll tell you. I saw a therapist today. The first time ever. I had been embarrassed for so long that I thought to myself what will they think? What will others think? You know what? NO ONE CARES. My husband was all for it, he wants me to get better… he wants us to get better. The therapist? She doesn’t care, that’s what she is there for.
Now it is up to me. Take the help and realize I can’t do this on my own. That there is a long road ahead of me and I can’t let it consume me. I have to realize that yes worry will always be there but I can’t change what hasn’t happened yet. I need to work on me and find out who Keli is.
And I know I will.