Crappy. It’s a word I use too much, but kind of works perfectly these days. Jerky – another word, completely made up, that works quite well in this household, which frankly just serves as a substitute for words best not used when you live with a first grader. That one might go like this – “that was a jerky thing to do”, or from sibling to sibling “it’s jerky to laugh at me when I’m sad”. It’s a bit funky, but it works, and compared to a number of alternatives, it fits our lifestyle.
It’s no secret I was sort of glad to bid adieu to 2013 – against my better judgment, I even got whiney on Facebook on more than one occasion which is generally not becoming for anyone, and a violation of my own personal code of conduct. Considering that all winter break (which was insanely long due to our “crappy” Minnesota weather) we worked on a family goal of not saying anything unless you have something nice to say, it appears I may have been the biggest offender. Ugh. But as we ushered out 2013, and welcomed a new year, full of promise and unknowns, I came to realize my crappy attitude was still seizing my days. Regardless of the challenges we have faced/are facing/will face, we are not alone, and life challenge is all relative anyway. I realized it was me and not our challenges that were the problem.
Much of the time I can weave enough humor into my life to make the ugly stuff a lot less ugly. It’s kind of a challenge for me most of the time to find ways to infuse humor into the unlikeliest of circumstances – frankly, I’d usually consider this one of my strengths. It’s my coping mechanism, and it can be a little weird, but it’s worked for me for the long haul, and gotten me through some otherwise really unpleasant life experiences.
But as I look back over the last couple of months, I can now recognize that I’ve been slipping further and further into a black hole that is frankly unattractive and unbecoming. I’m sleeping a lot, I don’t want to go anywhere, my temper is short, I’m not interested in social activities or even chatting with people, and I’m consumed with worry about how to help E man through his challenges in middle school without completely neglecting Henry and Ada. Just overall crappy.
If you’ve read the Red Couch before, you know I’ve always been quite candid about my need for SSRI medication. It’s been part of my life since Elliott was diagnosed with ASD, and if I’m really honest, I’ve likely had a pinch of anxiety well before autism ever entered stage left. However, now that I’m in my mid-40’s it’s quite likely that I’m gearing up for some interesting hormonal changes that will clearly be less than a joy ride about these parts. Suffice it to say, I’ve visited with my healthcare provider, and I think I’ve figured out what does not work (based on the last paragraph), and now it’s time to do some tweaking.
Throughout my parenting journey, especially when it comes to autism, I have often felt like working through the hardest and most challenging times have also allowed for enormous opportunity for growth. Usually, when something really tough is happening, I get sad, make an action plan, work through it, fail, try something new, and eventually figure something out. Then, after I’ve learned a life lesson or two, I try to share with others to help them avoid pitfalls, or at the very least, let them know they are not alone. Experience sharing and connecting with others who “get” your deal is key for me. It’s gotten me through some really tough times, and I’m grateful to have a lot of great peers who put up with me through thick and thin.
This time, however, I haven’t found a solution for my challenges yet, so I’m not following my usual action plan because I’m still at the failing stage of working through this one. So, why am I sharing this bummer story with you? I think mostly because I am in a pretty crappy place, not feeling myself, and I may need a bit of leeway to work through this, and the Red Couch has just been too silent of late. Hopefully, I’ll be back to my regular jerky self soon – but for the moment every little challenge seems like climbing Mount Everest – and I’m tired of it.
But there are signs of hope. Last night, while Tom took Elliott to a friendship group, and Henry was being cranky about doing chores, I was able to perform a wonderfully imaginative interpretive dance number to the “Star Wars” theme song that made even my snarky 11 year-old smile and say “Mom, please! You know you’re not a good dancer”. Ah, yes, there is always hope . . .