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Autism: Walking Off Depression

21 Oct

During the first year of my son’s life, I spent nearly every daylight hour walking. His birth father worked nights, or stayed out through the night with his friends, and wanted to sleep during the day – not a great schedule for having a new baby in the house; it was just easier for me to be out.

I lived in a big city, with frequent bus service – but during those days buses had stairs, and it was really awkward, and even dangerous to try to fold up the stroller with my son in my arms. So I walked.

As he was young, and I had little interest in visiting much of the time (with the exception of Saturday afternoons and evenings, which we spent with my mom) I just wanted a destination where I could walk, spend a lot of time, and then walk home.

So almost every day, I would stock up his diaper bag, strap him into the carrier (I brought along the stroller, as he was a heavy baby, but he didn’t really like being put down – ever) and away we would go.

Most days I would walk six city blocks to a mall, where I would then walk around for about four and a half hours, before returning home again. In total, I would be out of the house walking for about six hours a day, at least five days a week.

I enjoyed that time with my son. I enjoyed walking through the mall, and looking (though rarely buying – we had no money those days) and caring for him there. It was better than being at home, anyway.

Shortly after my son’s first birthday, I started babysitting my six month old cousin. He didn’t like going out every day. He would cry most of the time we left the house, so I often chose to stay home while I had him, and we got out of the habit. By then I wasn’t living with my son’s birth dad anymore, though I still preferred the times when I could just walk with my son.

After a few months, my aunt moved my cousin to a daycare centre, but I never really got back into walking as often. By then my son was old enough to take to the playground up the street, and our trips away from home became much shorter.

When my son turned four, we moved across the country to British Columbia, where every street seems to be twisting, turning, rolling hills – great for hikers, but not for me with my low energy and aching feet. The bus service was nearly non-existent in this small town, so we got a car. Life became busy. Walks became rides… life changes on its own sometimes.

Now that I am not working, my husband and I decided to go back to having one vehicle – meaning I am once more without transportation throughout the day (unless I want to drive him to work, and pick him up again at the end of the day – but I’d mostly rather not.)

The thrift store where my husband works holds a bag sale for three days every month. A grocery store bag (cloth or fabric) of clothes, books, fabrics, etc. only costs $2 each during those days.

The bag sale started on a nice day this month, so instead of turning around part way along the trail as I often do with my son, he turned around, and I carried on into town. It takes a little over an hour to walk the lakefront trail from our house to the thrift store in town. When the path is not muddy, frozen, or flooded (as it is every summer) it is a really nice walk.

As I walked in the sunshine along the trail that I love, I could feel the tension leave my body; leave my mind. The calmness came over me, and I could breathe. My thoughts turned positive, and thankful. My mind was filled with wonder over all that was beautiful in the world.

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And as I walked, the question kept coming into my mind, Do you wish you could teleport now? And I would answer, no! Considering who I am, that is a big deal. As I have mentioned in my early posts, I am in a constant battle with reality – especially with the inability to move with ease through time and distance. So for me to know so emphatically that I do not wish to be able to teleport shows such an overwhelming contentment with where I am, which I rarely feel in my life.

At the thrift store, I was very pleased with my finds – 3 pairs of corduroy pants, 2 sweaters, 1 very warm winter coat, a touque, a neck warmer, and several rope belts – all for $4 (which I didn’t even have to pay because my husband gets store credit in place of overtime pay, and my purchase didn’t even cover 1/5th of that for the month of October.

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On my way home, I thought back to those early days with my son, and realized that is very likely how I was able to avoid being overwhelmed by postpartum depression after he was born. I am prone to being in shock, overwhelmed, and shutting down, with every major life change – good or bad. To then have been able to avoid that in the first year after having him, was a very big deal – and very, very likely the only reason I was able to raise him well during those days was because I walked so much.

I must try to remember in future days, then, how much of a positive effect walking has on my ability to function at my best.

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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Poetry: My Creative Outlet

 

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