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Challenge: Kids with Special Needs

Paper Gowns and Prozac

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This is a little tale from me about the time my Pap smear became a talk about Prozac.

I will admit it. There are times I do not talk about autism or our connection to it at all. Mainly because where or what I am doing does not warrant a need for discussion and I kind of enjoy that now and then. My eyes and ears are forever focused on all things autism and it's nice to get a little break. Frankly, I never thought I would be having a discussion about caregiver burnout with my lady bits doctor. Yet there I was in my paper gown and socks having a good cry about being completely overwhelmed and utterly stressed out. Having now had an ugly cry in such circumstances, awkward does not even begin to describe it.

It started out innocently enough. My doctor is the one that delivered the Kiddo all those years ago. So she was rather amused to see his name on the school roster where her kid attends. (She had a baby the year after me.) We did the chit chat thing where we both pretend it's completely normal for her to examine my boob and talk about the PTA and whatnot. Then she asked "Oh he's in the same grade as mine? Isn't he older?" and then I have to let the cat out of the bag about why he's in the same grade but really not in a grade actually but just does inclusion subjects with that grade and all the autism stuff came a tumbling out with it.

And I really did not want to talk about it. At all. I wasn't in the mood and at that point in my life barely hanging on with a white knuckle grip. I didn't feel like being all cheerleader Team Autism Awareness when I was just trying to get my annual done by the gyno. Since I have no poker face or filter, I guess you could say my rapid fire explanation and sudden change in mood tipped her off I was a tad stressed out. It then came to a header when she gently suggested I try getting up an hour earlier than the kiddo does in the morning so I could meditate and that is when the dam broke.

"Get up an hour earlier??? He gets up at 4AM now. You want me up at 3??? Let me tell you something Doc, the only thing I want to be doing at that hour is to be unconscious!" Cue the tears and a very confused doctor handing me tissues.

Despite not wanting to raise awareness for living with autism, here I was doing it. Her next suggestion was I open to trying medication. It was something I had given thought to previously but like most moms, taking care of myself gets shoved aside. I knew I had to be healthy to be a good mom. This includes mental health. Every person in the Kiddo's life looked to me to keep the momentum going and I wasn't going anywhere at the moment. I was stuck in the mud. I needed help. More than just a simple babysitting break now and then. More than just a chin wag on the phone with a pal. Brain chemicals meant big guns. He was really young and I knew I had a lot of years ahead of me on this path. If I had a sinus infection, I would never question taking medication for it. Why would this be any different?

Now I won't say that every one should take them. Not at all. Different strokes for different folks. For me, it's helped. It's just something I need to do. I am a much better wife and mother on them than off. (Yes, I tried going off for a while to see and decided that was not a good idea. I prefer not crying every day. It fogs up my glasses.) I never really hid this but at the same time I wasn't walking into rooms saying "20mg Prozac in da house!". But I keep seeing so many news stories about caregiver burn out and it frightens me. It scares me to think that folks are not getting help they need in order to take care of others. Again, medication won't solve all your problems but it sure can help you get through the day to day grind of it all. I don't want to be a news headline. I want to be a mother. His mother. The mother he deserves.

So even if you think "I don't have time.", you do. Make it. Nothing is more important than you if you are dealing with depression and how to cope. Even if you are like me and don't go to the doctor unless you are sick, I bet you go to your gyno annual. (Well, my female readers. Sorry fellas.) Talk to that doctor. They can talk about options with you. You might find yourself feeling awkward talking about this in a paper gown and socks but know I did it too. We'll be like twinsies.

Why am I even talking about this very embarrassing moment in my life? Because we need to talk about depression and stress. We need to talk about mental health. We need to talk about burnout. We need to not be shamed or made to feel guilty about our feelings. Raising an autistic child is hard. One thing improves and and another problem or challenge pops up. We're forever putting out fires and advocating for our kids all while doing it in on little to no sleep. We cannot let the idea continue that we are these blessed saints chosen to be these kids parents because we never lose our cool. We are no different than any other person on the planet. We screw up, we yell, and yes, we even get depressed.

We need to advocate for ourselves just as much as we do for our kids or we are no help to them at all. A side of fries can only do so much.

Why is it the blog posts that are the easiest for me to write are the ones that are the hardest to hit "publish"? I'm going to though. I want to talk about this. Here we go.

This is a little tale from me about the time my Pap smear became a talk about Prozac.

I will admit it. There are times I do not talk about autism or our connection to it at all. Mainly because where or what I am doing does not warrant a need for discussion and I kind of enjoy that now and then. My eyes and ears are forever focused on all things autism and it's nice to get a little break. Frankly, I never thought I would be having a discussion about caregiver burnout with my lady bits doctor. Yet there I was in my paper gown and socks having a good cry about being completely overwhelmed and utterly stressed out. Having now had an ugly cry in such circumstances, awkward does not even begin to describe it.

It started out innocently enough. My doctor is the one that delivered the Kiddo all those years ago. So she was rather amused to see his name on the school roster where her kid attends. (She had a baby the year after me.) We did the chit chat thing where we both pretend it's completely normal for her to examine my boob and talk about the PTA and whatnot. Then she asked "Oh he's in the same grade as mine? Isn't he older?" and then I have to let the cat out of the bag about why he's in the same grade but really not in a grade actually but just does inclusion subjects with that grade and all the autism stuff came a tumbling out with it.

And I really did not want to talk about it. At all. I wasn't in the mood and at that point in my life barely hanging on with a white knuckle grip. I didn't feel like being all cheerleader Team Autism Awareness when I was just trying to get my annual done by the gyno. Since I have no poker face or filter, I guess you could say my rapid fire explanation and sudden change in mood tipped her off I was a tad stressed out. It then came to a header when she gently suggested I try getting up an hour earlier than the kiddo does in the morning so I could meditate and that is when the dam broke.

"Get up an hour earlier??? He gets up at 4AM now. You want me up at 3??? Let me tell you something Doc, the only thing I want to be doing at that hour is to be unconscious!" Cue the tears and a very confused doctor handing me tissues.

Despite not wanting to raise awareness for living with autism, here I was doing it. Her next suggestion was I open to trying medication. It was something I had given thought to previously but like most moms, taking care of myself gets shoved aside. I knew I had to be healthy to be a good mom. This includes mental health. Every person in the Kiddo's life looked to me to keep the momentum going and I wasn't going anywhere at the moment. I was stuck in the mud. I needed help. More than just a simple babysitting break now and then. More than just a chin wag on the phone with a pal. Brain chemicals meant big guns. He was really young and I knew I had a lot of years ahead of me on this path. If I had a sinus infection, I would never question taking medication for it. Why would this be any different?

Now I won't say that every one should take them. Not at all. Different strokes for different folks. For me, it's helped. It's just something I need to do. I am a much better wife and mother on them than off. (Yes, I tried going off for a while to see and decided that was not a good idea. I prefer not crying every day. It fogs up my glasses.) I never really hid this but at the same time I wasn't walking into rooms saying "20mg Prozac in da house!". But I keep seeing so many news stories about caregiver burn out and it frightens me. It scares me to think that folks are not getting help they need in order to take care of others. Again, medication won't solve all your problems but it sure can help you get through the day to day grind of it all. I don't want to be a news headline. I want to be a mother. His mother. The mother he deserves.

So even if you think "I don't have time.", you do. Make it. Nothing is more important than you if you are dealing with depression and how to cope. Even if you are like me and don't go to the doctor unless you are sick, I bet you go to your gyno annual. (Well, my female readers. Sorry fellas.) Talk to that doctor. They can talk about options with you. You might find yourself feeling awkward talking about this in a paper gown and socks but know I did it too. We'll be like twinsies.

Why am I even talking about this very embarrassing moment in my life? Because we need to talk about depression and stress. We need to talk about mental health. We need to talk about burnout. We need to not be shamed or made to feel guilty about our feelings. Raising an autistic child is hard. One thing improves and and another problem or challenge pops up. We're forever putting out fires and advocating for our kids all while doing it in on little to no sleep. We cannot let the idea continue that we are these blessed saints chosen to be these kids parents because we never lose our cool. We are no different than any other person on the planet. We screw up, we yell, and yes, we even get depressed.

We need to advocate for ourselves just as much as we do for our kids or we are no help to them at all. A side of fries can only do so much.

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