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Autism: Possible, Not Easy

It makes it possible. Not easy. Not easy.

These are the words that often run through my head as I am riding. I have been riding my bike a lot lately. My bike. Our bike. We share it. I ride it. A lot.

A couple of months ago my husband got a call from his brother. Not at all unusual. He came to my room where I was writing in my journal and asked, “Do you think (our son) would like an electric bike?”

He wouldn’t. He doesn’t like bikes. He doesn’t much like being outside – if it is too hot, or too cold, or too ‘buggy,’ he doesn’t want to go at all. Plus he finds bikes uncomfortable. We might think it would be useful for him – since he doesn’t drive, and there is no bus service here, and we are surrounded by houses and farms (no stores or anything close to us.) We might think it would be good for him, but he wouldn’t.

“No, he doesn’t like bikes,” I answered, “He thinks they’re uncomfortable.”

I would like an electric bike, though,” I told him.

He talked with his brother some more, and a few weeks later, we had an electric bike. Since my husband’s nephew works as a director for the company in Canada, and two of my husband’s brothers also bought e-bikes at the same time, we got an amazing deal.

Still I felt guilty. When someone buys me something, I always feel guilty. It comes from my childhood. It comes from trauma. Plus I worried that I wouldn’t use it enough, or was spending too much (I don’t work, after all) or like most of my decisions, it would be a bad choice.

And then the bike arrived, and my husband rode it home from his brother’s house.

As another brother (my husband has lots of brothers!) drove in with our van (that we bought off him 10 years ago – though I guess that’s not important to the story) and visited with me while we waited, I understood that my husband wanted the bike, too.

In fact, by the words of the people he knows that have talked to me about the bike, it sounds like we got the bike for him. I am okay with that. It removes some of the guilt of having the bike bought for me. We did get a great discount – but it is still an e-bike, and still wasn’t cheap.

Anyway, he works 4 days a week, and is too tired most of the time when he isn’t working to want to ride. At the point of this writing, he has gone about 35km, and I have gone more than 420km!

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The thing is, where we live in British Columbia, Canada, every direction has hills. Steep hills. So since moving here, riding has been pretty much impossible for me. Other people might be able to do the hills. I have too many barriers. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do them. I couldn’t.

And then we got the e-bike. And then I started to ride. And unlike driving a car, I found that riding a bike calms me – even if it is technically more dangerous. I also understood (though I have lived in this house more than 14 years) that half a kilometre away from me are rural properties – for a long ways. I love riding by the farms, and seeing the animals and trees and land. I love that I can ride, and hardly any vehicles come past me. I love it!

So I ride. Day after day. First 5km a day, then 10. Then one day I decided to ride to the beach 5km away. It is a short drive, but I never drive it, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Half the way there, I started saying, “uh-oh!” It was all downhill. So steep downhill that I pretty much had to ride the brake. I didn’t know – and now I would have to ride back up.

On the way home, I honestly thought I would die. My chest hurt so bad, and I couldn’t breathe. I prayed the whole time to be kept alive for the sake of ‘my girls’ (my dogs) and my son. When I got home I told my son I wouldn’t likely do that trip often.

Two days later, I did the trip again. Three days after that I did the trip again. By the fourth trip, I didn’t feel it was enough, and (after getting back up that hill) I took a detour to make the trip longer. I now ride about 15km each day – and I seek out the hills.

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But the hills??? They aren’t easy. Not even on an electric bike. It doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it possible.

And as I was considering this thought again, I started comparing it to accommodations, supports, and income assistance for people with disabilities – and I think these are pretty much the same thing (or at least that should be the goal of them.) They don’t make life easier than other people have it. But they should make living with a life quality similar to others without disabilities possible.

Not easy. Possible.

 

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Autism: Learning to Can Part 1

It started out with plums. Lots of plums. Our tree was full this year and… I had to start somewhere, so – plums!

The pressure canner I ordered back in August never came in. I waited and waited, and then went camping – but my son was still home and he watched for it. It was in Edmonton, and was supposed to arrive here the next day, but never came.

Did someone steal it? Ugh people!

It isn’t like we live in a poor neighbourhood. We likely live in one of (if not the) oldest and least expensive homes in our area. We are surrounded by doctors, teachers, nurses, business owners… We may not have much, but the people around us do – so if it got here and they stole it??? I don’t understand that.

Perhaps it never made it this far – but then… it was fed ex that had it (I think; might have been Purolator.) Did one of their workers take it?

So I got back from vacation and was stressed out to find it had not come in. I emailed Amazon about it, and they said they would send another. Then I learned of ‘my baby,’ and everything else dimmed in comparison. I struggled for many days and then one day woke up deciding this was the day I would harvest plums and try canning for the first time.

I guess when most other people learn such things they turn to people who know what they are doing and learn from them. That isn’t me. Working with other people presses on my heart and mind that I am not good enough. I don’t belong. They may not be thinking the same thing; I will allow for that. When I am with other people, however, I get attacked – in my head, in my heart, all around me – and I just can’t.

Though I am sure most other people don’t understand this level of anxiety or isolation, I am sure that if they experienced anything similar – like perhaps they received an electric shock every time they got something right, they would be afraid to keep going, too. Not that I get shocked – but it is like that. I get attacked through thoughts and feelings. It makes it so hard to function that when other people are around, I really can’t function. Not won’t. Can’t. I drop things, I spill things, I make mistakes. I can’t think for the shouting in my head (that I am working so hard to silence) telling me how stupid I am to think I belong there, or could do… anything.

So I don’t. Other people work, and serve, and do things with other people – and when I am there, I sit, or I try to hide in a corner and become invisible.

It has to be this way, it seems, for I am not strong enough to silence the attacks – and the attacks always come.

This means that if I want to learn anything, really, I have to learn alone. I seek out ideas, research, study, spend an inordinate amount of time fixated on the subject, and then one day I will just try.

Well, knowing I was interested in canning, my husband brought a huge water bath canner home from the thrift store where he works. I mean, it was huge! It took up two burners on the stove. I had all these plums, so that is where I started. Over a couple of days I made 24 jars of canned plums (and got at least that amount again in fresh plums, some of which we brought to my husband’s work and gave away.

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Autism: Shocking News

It was my husband’s birthday. The day started out well. In fact, as far as my mental health goes, I was in a really good place. We went to church, as we always do on Sundays, and I felt very… present for both the worship and the message. That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I go to church fixated on something else – or more often, just really tired – and I have to fight hard to pay attention. It isn’t about the message – we have an amazing pastor, who I suppose could have done something else, but it would have been a waste of real talent.

Anyway, there I was on my husband’s birthday, still feeling wonderful after that unexpected apology from my sister in law, when I did a ‘normal’ thing and the world came crashing down around me. Again.

I came home from church, and went to play Facebook games on my computer – just to pass the time while I ate my lunch. (My husband had the service he does at the retirement homes on the first and third Sunday of the month, and was preoccupied preparing for that.)

I went intending to play Facebook games, but saw a post in my news feed on the way from my (foster) son. Even that wasn’t unusual, but I had spent a lot of the week before thinking of him and his sisters. When I saw the post (just a video of a dog and a raccoon in a pool) I clicked and went to his ‘page.’ There was nothing really to see, most of his posts are like that – but there was a small comment from someone linked to the children from the time I knew them. Just a tiny comment, “Love it.”

Knowing it was likely she was still involved in their lives, I clicked to go on her page. My heart was pounding. I am not supposed to be hearing anything about ‘my’ children (since they were foster kids, were moved from our home, and had no legal relationship with us) and I didn’t want to be blocked, or seen as doing something wrong…

It isn’t like I do this a lot. If I did, what I saw probably wouldn’t have come as such a shock to me – but it was a shock. I didn’t know.

On her page I found a picture of ‘my baby.’ Well… she hasn’t been ‘mine’ in pretty nearly exactly 8 years, but… (She’ll always be my baby.)

She didn’t look anything the same. If I saw her in town, there is no way I would recognize her – and even seeing her there I wasn’t sure that it was her, until…

There was another picture of her, with her name, on her birthday.

Further down, there were more pictures of her. It was these pictures that broke me, for she was on a trip – a ‘wish trip,’ or a ‘dream trip,’ is how they described it. They listed her bucket list, and the pictures… I was not prepared for those. I didn’t know she was sick. I don’t even know what she was struggling with. I don’t even know if she is better.

It isn’t natural – this locking out of a child’s life. It isn’t right.

It isn’t like I would do anything illegal to get them back – or intrude on their lives and confuse them, or… It isn’t right.

She was sick. She may be sick. It is likely (as that is what wish trips are) that she is/was severely sick. And I didn’t know. I read it, and couldn’t stop crying for many days.

I read further and found that they had adopted her the very same month that I had been diagnosed with Autism two years ago. It made sense. It really did. They had her from birth until she was placed with us at 14 months old. She went back to them a short time after she was moved from our home (they all did – only the older two were moved after that.) They have had her most of her life. It does make sense, but it hurts, too.

She was my baby.

pink sweater

Besides, how could they adopt her, and not the older two?

My mind was struggling with such news all at once. If I had known all along… but then it might have hurt as much then. How could I know?

It was my husband’s birthday – and my pain was deep. However, I felt I couldn’t share it with him. Not on his birthday. So I kept quiet, and turned away to cry, and tried (and failed) to smile, and… I wonder what he thought was wrong with him that day. I can only hope he didn’t think it was about him.

 

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Autism: Fantasy or Reality

Last night I had the strangest dream… whenever I want to share I dream I have had, I think of that song we used to sing in grade school music class: “Last night I had the strangest dream, I’ve ever dreamed before. I dreamed mankind had all agreed to put an end to war.”

Well, I guess my dream last night wasn’t about putting an end to war. It was more, I suppose, in reflection to anxieties regarding my mental state – which has been… challenged, I suppose, with the departure of my mother (on an airplane, not in a grave.)

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At first I was in a building of sorts. I think it might have been my church in the area which is now being used as a toddler room, but used to be the library. My son and I were in that room, only he was a young child (as he was when it was a library) and he was playing hide and seek with another child who was somewhere down the hallway.

My son had hidden under a shelf and behind the book drop box that used to be in there. I was sitting on a chair reading, and waiting for my husband, I assume. He used to work there, and was on the worship team for a while, so in the past (when my son was young, and that room was a library) we used to wait for him a lot in there.

As I was reading, I looked up. At the other end of the room was a double closet (which is not there – though my son has something like it in his bedroom at our house.) In the closet was a large pile of laundry, dirty sheets, and such. Suddenly several of these were lifted up by invisible hands, and flung at me. Not only were the sheets and other clothing being thrown at me, but heavier objects as well, such as a lamp, and books.

I got my son, and fled.

When people asked me what had scared me so badly, I told them of these objects coming through the air on their own. “The wind,” they said. “Demons,” I responded. I took them to the room and showed them the heavier objects that had been flung at me.

As a result of this, I was encouraged to check myself into a mental hospital. I have been in that hospital several times in my dreams – though I have never been to one even to visit in reality. This building was really nice. It had hardwood floors, lots of plants, a few indoor gardens, an atrium, and even the rooms were well decorated. Above that, they had activity rooms for crafts, and other things of interest to me.

In past dreams, when I have gone there, I decided not to stay. I needed to be with my animals, and couldn’t leave them behind. Above that, the rooms were often shared, and I couldn’t bring myself to a place where I would have to share a bedroom, and especially a bathroom. So I filled out the paperwork, and I left.

This time, however, I knew I needed to stay – the outer world was becoming too dangerous for me, and I couldn’t live well in it. So I walked up to the admitting desk, where I knew the man behind the counter (a man from my church who is in his 80’s I think.) He was sure I was there for someone else, but I corrected him, told him my paperwork was completed, and that I was Autistic.

What got me most about this dream was not that I was questioning my mental state (which I do) but the fact that I finally admitted it was bad enough that I was willing to stay in a place where I had to share a bathroom in order to be treated.

Since my mom went home five days ago now, I have been really struggling again with abstract concepts of time and distance. She was here, and now she isn’t. Not only isn’t she here, but she can’t be, as she lives to far away to just come back. Try as I might to recognize this as truth, it just doesn’t fit as such in my mind. So things like this bring me to a space where I am questioning if anything from the past (including the visit from my mom) was real – or was it just a dream?

And I suppose with that comes the fear that each time these things occur, my sanity slips a little – and that fear that my memories are but a dream carries into my dreams to tell me some day I might need extra help in seeing the difference between dreams and reality.

 

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Autism: Triggers

It was a Saturday afternoon, and we were sitting in the waiting room – my son and I. His small kitten meowing loudly in the crate on his lap. The appointment had been set. It was just a routine post adoption check up, coming just days after we brought Nicholas home. The day was snowy, the roads scary; so different from that hot summer day eight months ago (has it been eight months already?)

We sat in the waiting room at the vets office, and it was not lost on me that my son and I (by no preconceived decision) were sitting in the exact places that we had been on that day – and I looked to the floor where my dog had sat struggling on that day; that horrible day when I brought him in to save him, and went home in tears without him.

I looked at the floor half expecting to see him there still… and I did as my memory placed him back there. I did, but I couldn’t go back and save him. It wouldn’t have done any good – they couldn’t save him then. I looked at the floor, and expected to see the fluid from his lungs spreading out in a pool on the floor. It was an emergency – didn’t they see it? Why did they make us wait?

Trying to bring myself back to the present, I turned to my son’s kitten and spoke to his cries. “It is okay Nicholas.” It is okay. But it wasn’t. My heart was breaking sitting there, and I wondered if that place would ever bring hope for me again. I cried for my boy that I miss so much, despite the beautiful girls who have come to fill the gaping hole that he left behind. “I didn’t mean to leave you here, Gryffindor. I didn’t want to leave you.”

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I held it together until I got home, and then I fell apart. It took days to get over it… not really over, but to block it out again so it didn’t hurt so much. I used to be good at blocking things out – as a child – I had to be. The skill was dulled along the way, yet no less needed today. In order to live, I must be able to block these things out, but the triggers come. The triggers will come.

There was another winter day. I was working. The highways were closed in both directions due to accidents. Many people were trapped in town as they were attempting to drive through. The motel was filling up quickly. The entire town was filling up quickly, for there was nowhere else to go. I was alone at the front desk, with a lineup of people asking for rooms. Online bookings were closed, and I was given orders not to take phone reservations – there wasn’t time. First come, first served, and they had to be at our door.

I answered the phone only to tell people we had few rooms left – they had to show up. One phone call, a woman – “we’ll be there in five minutes.” Five minutes. Okay, I have a couple of rooms, and there was a moment of quiet. Five minutes. I can do that. “Good, I’ll have the social worker call to book it,” she said. “No! I am not able to take online bookings.” No time. I have my orders. I can’t do it. Dishonest.

Another call. “Are you going to leave these people out on the street just because of our little mistake?” Not mistake. I was clear. Manipulation. Lots of people being turned away tonight. Hate! I hate social workers. Hate them. So manipulative. Triggers. My father was manipulative, too. Really manipulative. As a result, all manipulation triggers me – even my own – and social workers, I have found, are the worst.

Tears, all night. Anger. Trauma. Two separate incidents (my childhood, and the loss of my children) that I still fight PTSD because of – and manipulation triggers them both.

Phone calls. Certain smells (like the smell of cigarettes on the clothes of smokers). Places. Moments when I feel overwhelmed (that happens a LOT!) Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, powerlessness (like seeing videos of factory farming and animal cruelty.) Stories of evil. People dismissing my activities as not having value because I don’t get paid for them – judgment, criticism. People dismissing my struggles as unreasonable. Places that remind me of pain. All triggers.

And as I experience life, the triggers grow. I am less able to deal with life now at 40 than I was at 15, though I was being abused then – and my husband, though he does not understand, and though he dismisses my pain as unreasonable, is not a cruel man.

The triggers come, and I am overwhelmed with pain, and sorrow, and fear. It takes me days to block it, and I am only successful when no other triggers come. Just trying to hold on. Hoping I can hold on. Fearing I won’t survive it this time. Just trying to hold on.

 

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Autism: Don’t Think She Hears Me

Before I left the house, I felt okay. A little anxious, but not bad considering I had an appointment to keep. The roads, though the snow came several days ago, were still kind of bad. Sanded, but still covered in snow, and slippery in spots. I drove carefully, and still the breaking system did its ‘thing’ at one point on the way down.

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Though the parking lot was nearly empty, I parked across the street. I had one bad experience about 18 months ago, and have used the overflow parking ever since. I was nervous walking across the street; worried about slipping; worried about cars; concerned with how tired I was feeling.

I walked down the steps, stomped my boots to get the snow off, walked through the door, and announced myself at reception. I was early. I always am, but I wasn’t as early as usual, for I didn’t want to leave my dogs, and so left the house later than I often would. I sat in the waiting room, and waited.

The waiting room was empty, except for me. I sat at the back, but after several minutes chose to move to a seat by the door, in order to read a poster about ‘bats.’ Bats interest me. I like to watch them while I am camping, swooping down and around to catch insects in the air. I couldn’t see it well enough to read from my original seat, and wondered if more bats in the area might have rabies. I read this morning that a fox in Alberta tested positive for rabies; should I be concerned?

But the poster only talked about how to properly dispose of dead bats, or how to get one out of your house if it gets caught inside, or the fact that sometimes scratch marks from the claws are so small they can’t always be detected… I continued to wait. 1:00 passed, and still I wasn’t called in. At 1:05, I saw my doctor pass. She must have been out to lunch. Shortly after, I was called in… she didn’t even come to get me as she always did before, but just told the receptionist to “send her down.”

The first question is always hard, but you know, I don’t think she really hears me anyway: “How are you?” “I don’t know, okay I guess,” I said quietly. “That is good,” she responded. She doesn’t hear me, I think. Not really.

Why do they ask that if they don’t want anything but the standard answer of “fine”? How many people going in to see the doctor, or in this case psychiatrist, are actually fine? Would I be there if I was? Of course I am not fine. Can we please just get on with the appointment?

So she asked what I had been doing in the six months since our last appointment: I got two dogs. They make me happy. My son researched, and saved, bought the parts, and built his own computer; I am proud of him. I have been writing, and learning Spanish, and a bit of Latin. I have been going to church and Life Group, and have been visiting a friend every other week or so. Anxious, and nauseous, and very tired… “Okay, I guess.”

Of course, I didn’t say all of this at once, but over the course of nearly half an hour. Still…

Her focus was on getting me to leave the house (even to volunteer, if I was afraid of losing my disability) and to communicate more, and to not be afraid of phones, and public bathrooms, and… because if I did, it would “teach my son that these things were okay.”

“But I did work, and I did go to school, and I did get honours, and I did spend most of his life working or going to school save for the last 18 months; and I failed, and it made no difference to him at all.”

“So what you are saying is that you can work, but you don’t want to,” she responded.

No!” I nearly shouted (in my very quiet way,) “that is not what I am saying at all!”

“What were you saying then,” she asked me.

“When I went to work, or school, my anxiety was so severe, I couldn’t function,” I said (this is why she took me off work, but she doesn’t seem to remember anything about me between appointments) “I could hold on for a short time – maybe three months to a year, or so – but then I would fall apart. I would fail.” (and the failure would accumulate, and the anxiety would grow.) “My anxiety doesn’t get better with time, it gets so much worse.”

She looked at me like everyone else who doesn’t get it. “If you tried, you could do this,” her look said; but I did try. Over and over after failures that would cripple or kill other people I kept trying, and I kept failing, and my anxiety grew. “If you won’t try, I can’t help you,” is what I heard as she said she wouldn’t book more appointments, but I “could call” if I were in a crisis or something (Um, no I can’t – phones, remember? But of course she didn’t, even though I had mentioned that inability several times in that 30 minute appointment.)

I went in feeling not to bad, but I left and came home in tears. I really, really don’t think she hears me. No different from all the other people who judge, but really have no clue.

Only she was supposed to be different, for she was the one I went to for help.

 

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Autism: In or Of the World

It isn’t something that bothers me until I share it with other people. “I am watching…” some supernatural movie, or something revolving around magic or something, and the response is… well, it is like I have done something really wrong. Something I should have known was wrong. And it leaves me questioning all that I do.

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It isn’t something that bothers me normally… except when it does. There are some movies, shows, or episodes that hit too close to things I believe are real – and they leave me with very real fears, and very real spiritual battles. “I am sorry, Lord,” I cry. “Please keep the evil far from me, and help me to avoid such things in the future.”

But the vampires, and monsters, and zombies that scared me so much as a child? I don’t believe in these. They no longer hold the power over me to leave me trembling in fear. And if I don’t believe in them, and am not afraid of them, why is it that these type of shows are ones that I will binge watch?

I don’t even like evil. In fact, my favourite part of those shows is when what is evil is somehow made good. While other characters don’t trust them, and won’t forget where they came from, I am thankful they are good. What they were is gone, and now… I like them now.

Mostly I think I watch these type of shows because they are so far from reality that I can just watch, and not be so tormented by the evil in them, for the evil isn’t real. I still enjoy the characters, though, and so it is an escape. And I think I learn from these characters who are so… emphatically themselves.

Then there is the magic. I don’t exactly believe such magic is real, or at least available for use, in this world; but I wish it were. Sometimes I really wish it were. As a Christian, I suppose this is a horrible thing to… admit??? wish for??? Both I suppose. Yet I do, and I would be lying if I said otherwise. Though technically I know that I don’t have access to this power (and conveniently forget while wishing for it that such an ability would have an evil side as well) I think that because I feel so very powerless in this word – in my abilities, in my disabilities, in my overwhelming exhaustion – I really do wish that I could make things happen with my mind, because I often cannot with my body.

You see, my thoughts, my imagination, my mind is capable of far more than I could ever do – so while I almost always fail in the practical part, if only I could take it straight from my thoughts, I could accomplish so very much. Plus it would be a lot of fun! And while I know that these things are impossible, while I watch there is hope that says, “maybe.”

Which brings me to ghosts. Do I believe in ghosts? No… yes… I don’t know. While I have never seen a ghost, I have been around death enough to have seen that what was once there no longer is. So my question at each death is: “Where did they go?” It is an overwhelming fixation. Perhaps it is wrong, and sometimes it is scary, and mostly the shows are so fake that they are ridiculous, and still I watch them. Because maybe someday, sometime, someone will stumble upon an answer. Where do the animals go? Where do the children go? Christians go to Heaven – I believe this – but what is life after death for everyone else (My heart breaks for the lost, over and over: Where do they go?) It is an obsession. Wrong? Maybe – but my fixations and obsessions serve the purpose of helping me to think, and helping me to calm, and they are really hard to let go.

I know these things are escapes for me. The pain of the world lies heavy on my heart and mind, and sometimes… often, it becomes too much, and I have to escape. So I do; into worlds and imaginations, and abilities that are beyond what is available in real life. So the question that comes into my heart and mind at the response other people have when I tell them what I have been watching: Am I in the world, or of it, and is my faith therefore in danger? I would answer, “None of these.” In these moments where I am watching these shows, being in the world is too much for me – I certainly don’t want to be of it. What I want… what I truly want, is to go “home,” and the only way to get there is through faith.

Meanwhile I exist in a world that is often way too much for me, and I have to escape. I have to. And I pray that will be understood.

 

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Autism: Necessary Dogs

We brought him home six years ago. He was a necessity, not a luxury. At the time, I could barely get myself out of bed, let alone out the door, my depression was so bad. Our adoption had fallen through just six months before, and it was the most painful thing I had ever experienced in my life. I didn’t want to see anyone. I hardly wanted to live. As far as I was concerned, there was no future for me.

However, I had been pet sitting a little bit here and there. I had my cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits, but dogs need you more, and I really needed to be needed. They would come and lie with me on the bed, and I had to go out for their walks each day. The dogs I watched stayed for a few days, and then went home. The pay was very low. I did it because I wanted the dogs in my life.

And then my husband agreed to let me have a dog of my own. He was listed on Craigslist – not exactly free, but they had spent quite a bit of money on him between the vet and the groomers (he had come from a bad place) and wanted to get some of their money back. We weren’t really particular on the breed. We just knew we wanted a small dog.

His name was Grizz, as in Grizzly bear – a pure bred Chocolate Pom. Of course, with my compulsion to name things, I had to come up with a new name, but not too different – just something to make him ours. After many suggestions, we settled on the name ‘Gryffindor,’ or ‘Gryff’ for short (though mostly I call him ‘Pookie,’ which he doesn’t seem to mind.)

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He quickly settled in to our family, and he really did make a difference on my mental health. For one thing, he needed to be walked twice a day. He really likes his routines. For another, since our rabbits ran loose in our front yard at the time, he needed to be watched while he was with them. He did catch one of the rabbits at one point, when he got out the door as my husband was carrying things in – but his teeth weren’t great, and he did no damage. He was quickly trained to understand that our rabbits were not his toys. He stopped chasing them, and they started chasing him instead!

Dogs aren’t cheap, and I quickly came to the conclusion that in order to take proper care of him, I would need an income. That is when I started running my daycare again – quite a leap for me, as my confidence was exceptionally low after the failed adoption – but I did it for him.

After a while I got another job at a motel. While I liked having the children, the pay was extremely low (since I could only take two at a time) and I really couldn’t handle the changeover as the parents left for various reasons (lay-offs, odd hour requirements… in short, not needing daycare.) That was the first job I had away from home, and the only reason I could do it at all was because my dog depended on me.

Of course, being me, it didn’t last long-term. I am now on disability as I get severely anxious and overwhelmed too easily to function at a regular job. But having my dog really brought me out of myself, and kept me working for a long time – that I could work for 3 years was due to having him, because I never could have done even that for myself.

Early this year, he got a cough. It has progressed into frequent coughing, wheezing, rapid breathing, and low energy. Twice in the last two months, we have had to take him to the vet, where we have been told he has a heart murmur and enlarged heart. He isn’t even eight years old! And it breaks my heart.

Expensive, when I am on a fixed income. Frightening, when every night I wake up to his wheezing wondering if he will last the night. Sad. So very sad is the thought of losing him. But what can we do? As I said, he is a necessity, not a luxury – and he has given me so much. So I pray, and I worry, and I take him to the vet, and every time in my heart I am begging that they will not advise us to have him ‘put down,’ or that the expense will become so much that we have nothing left to give, for I can’t! I can’t lose him. I need my dog.

 

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Autism: An Okay Day

 

Something had to be done. It isn’t like I had a choice. My husband is working, and as the only one of us with a job at this time, I couldn’t ask him to take time off. So although I haven’t driven in two months, as I have been so dizzy since his holidays ended (during which time he did all the driving) I had to find some way to ensure I could drive tomorrow.

My son has his first appointment with his psychiatrist in the morning. We have been waiting for this one for six months, and I certainly don’t want him to miss it. But the dizziness and shocks have not worn off, and so I did what I had to do, and took my anti-depressant yesterday (this is the one that is causing all of this sickness while I wean myself off of them.)

I have been taking them every three days, but still the illness has been really bad. This time was only two days apart. A backwards step, which worries me – what if I have to go through that withdrawal all over again? But I have to be able to drive.

So I got up feeling tired around 9am. At 11:30, I started doing yoga (something my counselor suggested a few days ago, to help with sleep issues – but I couldn’t do, as it caused such nausea.) I did that for a full twenty minutes, and then sat outside eating a salad for lunch.

Although it is still early February, we are getting a warm spell. While I was outside, it was just above 8 Celsius. It is supposed to go up to 15 this week, amazingly! (That is about 60 Fahrenheit for those on the imperial system.) Last year, spring began in mid-February also. I guess that has to do with the global climate change, but at this point of the year, I really appreciate it.

It was so nice, and so sunny, that I decided to stay outside and clean up my garden. Considering I have spent about the last 6 weeks lying on my couch in nausea and dizziness, that was quite the accomplishment. During that hour outside, I did not feel particularly dizzy or nauseous, and it felt really good to be out working in the sun.

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I suppose that I will have to take one again tomorrow morning, as I am (in the early part of the afternoon) already starting to feel unwell again. My hope is that it will work for what I am using it for (to ease the nausea and shocking) but I know that afterward, I will have to return to taking them every three days – and after having such an improvement today, I fear it is going to be even harder to do.

Although I could technically keep on taking them every two days, as my psychiatrist suggested at my last appointment, I also know that these pills are the cause of the severe pain in my right side which I was waking up with every night, until I got down to having them three days apart. Even now, I have that back pain every night after I have taken one – so it isn’t really an option.

But for today, it was nice to have a couple of hours off of this illness that has taken over my life, and left me feeling useless and depressed all the time.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Autism: Mental Health and Healing

 

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