Stress for our autism family

I haven’t put up a new post in a while, because I haven’t been able to write as much as I would have liked. The last few weeks have been very busy and last week was a particularly  difficult one for us as a family.

Every day was a very busy day for all of us. And with Joshua having things going on every evening, and with Richard having an extremely busy week at work with late nights, we had to plan with military precision to make it work. Thank goodness for my sister-in-law, who was able to help out.

Joshua is starting High School in September, and for any kid that’s a big step. But for a child with autism it is extra hard. I’ve been to more meetings than I can count with both his current school, his new school and with the Social Communications team from county who are helping us with the transition. Josh has had several visits to his new school, with me and with school. Just this half term he’s having seven visits!

Two evenings last week his year group had a show put on for us parents, there was a visit to his new school one of the evenings and there was scouts.

I know that a lot of families have things going on every evening with their kids activities, but evenings are usually not a great time for our boys, one or two perhaps, but not every night.

Josh is not great in the evenings, especially not on school nights. In the morning he takes medication for his ADHD which helps him to stay focused at school. But in the evening this has worn off and it is so much harder for him to concentrate and absorb any information. It’s hard for him. After having spent a whole day at school, keeping it together, once he’s home he just wants his own space and to do his own thing. So having things going on every evening took its toll. Especially since we all had things going on in the daytime as well.

I won’t go in to details, lets just say it was stressful.
The culmination was on Friday morning when he threw up all over his bedroom floor. He wasn’t sick it’s just that he tends to throw up when he’s over stressed. Poor boy, he hates throwing up more than anything. Apart from balloons.

Anyway.

End of summer term is always a busy time, but this year was particularly stressful. All changes and events going on takes planning and is probably stressful for all parents, but again, when you have a child with special needs it takes it to a whole other level.

It’s not just about the event itself (wether its an evening show at school, sports day, parents consultation or anything else) and trying to fit it in the calendar.

It’s also the preparation of the child, or in our case; children, for this upcoming event.

How will he cope?

Who will help him?

How will he react to the noise, busyness, stress, new people etc.

Is he to tired?

Can I bring Harry?

How will he cope?

Will I just run around after him the whole time?
Honestly, I can not even bring Harry with me when I drop Joshua off at scouts. I’ve tried. It never ends well. Because Harry is Our 10 year old toddler

By Thursday, I was so stressed I had a constant headache and I had barely seen Richard all week because he had been working crazy hours.

But I had noticed something else about me as well.
I had completely lost my oomph.
I didn’t have any drive to do anything.
Usually, getting up at 5am, doing my meditation and writing sets me up for the day. Helps me have a good day and centers me.

I had none of that drive.
I didn’t ‘feel like’ meditating and even less; writing *gasp*

I love my morning routine! What happened?
I knew that if I could keep my routine up, I would be able to handle the stress better, so I reluctantly tried anyway, but still the stress got the better of me.

Having suffered from depression in the past, I am terrified of ending up there again, and I try to be aware of any signs, so I caught Richard one morning before he headed out the door and told him about my lack of drive. I wanted him to be aware.
I told him how disappointed I was in myself for not handling stress better than this.

He laughed and told me that I do handle stress well. It’s just that our stress is constant, so when extra stuff piles on top it just tips us over.

This makes sense, I just hadn’t thought of it that way. When you live it you don’t always see it.

Stress in autism parents (and particularly mums) are well documented. One study found that the stress autism mums experienced could be compared the stress of a combat solider! That’s quite telling, don’t ya think?

autism mum stress
So if my stress levels are already on a constant high, it won’t take a lot for me to feel overwhelmed. I’m only human after all.

So

I’m not writing all this out of self pity; poor me.

Not at all.

No, I’m writing this because I can!

Guess what?
I woke up the following morning feeling a million times better. I bounced out of bed at 5am and couldn’t wait to have my cup of tea, meditate and then to sit down with my laptop and write.

Just the knowledge that I didn’t have to beat myself up for feeling overwhelmed ironically made me feel better!
So I needed to remind myself to not to be so hard on myself. It’s as simple as that. It’s not the first time I’m telling myself this and it probably won’t be the last.

But I have to accept that sometimes life is more stressful, and that is ok. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed.

I will bounce back.

Yes, I’m scared that life might get the better of me and that I end up in depression again. But I think, and hope, that I’ve learned enough about myself and now have enough strategies to not let it get that far.
Life ebbs and flows, I just have to accept the waves and ride with them.

xx

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