In my last entry,' Can depression be useful?' I brought up a few points about how depression could possibly be useful in some ways, such as really hyperfocused problem solving. For myself, my recent bout of depression seemed to really be an effective instigator in finding some solutions to long term issues that have been happening in my life. It seems that when something is a way for a long time we tend to not be able to see that it can be changed, even if the situation is negative. It's like we just resign to situations that don't work for us, even when we would like for them to be different out of habit. I had just resigned to certain things being less than optimal, because in my mind it was just the way things are. I swallowed my feelings about them, and moved on. That can only work for so long before mental health starts deteriorating in some cases where the situations are stressful.
The change in my mental state was a wake up call. It was what I needed to take stock of what mattered, and didn't. What was working, and what wasn't. It was the kick I needed to really reign in my energies, and make some changes that needed to be made.
As I pulled in my energies, and shut everything else down one theme quickly became clear in my life- I really was in desperate need of a break.
I think most parents of special needs kids can say as much, but in my case it had become to a point to where a ridiculous amount of stress was resting on my shoulders. I know that I don't really detail a lot of the struggles that happen in my household here on my blog, because to be honest it's not my story to tell. So, I will suffice it to say that there's a lot of mental health (and other) issues that occur in my household on a daily basis from every member of the family that no one knows about, even other family members who think they know what happens in our house. Not only is it up to me to coordinate appointments, services, and every other area that needs to be taken care of because I am the wife, and mother of the household I often feel people make a lot of uninformed opinions about how I handle things, which aren't always positive. Due to the fact they only know about a quarter of the facts they often think I am not being effective enough at handling things, or that I am over-diagnosing my family members with things to make my life more exciting, or something. They don't know, and my husband, and kids don't want them to, so it's once again me stuck with being the target of gossip. Not only am I being judged, but I'm not being offered any real support from family. It has always seemed odd to me that if one has a family member who is in an accident, or something similar the neighbors, and other family gather round with support. When it's a family member who suffers from chronic mental illness no one brings you dinner. No one sends you cheery, supportive cards. No one offers to help you with household tasks, or the like. It's usually the opposite, and that is if your family member will allow anyone to know of their recent breakdown.
It became apparent to me that I needed to find support.
It would be great if I could turn to family for this, but there is not a single person on my husband's side, or on my side of the family that will actually extend a genuine offer to help with things. I had to face the fact that I HAD to find help elsewhere. I had tried here, and there to find respite workers, and badgered our respite agency to help me find some. It is not that I don't have the service. I do. Like many things that come from my state's disability waiver respite is covered by insurance for Beans, but I am unable to find anyone who is reliable who wants to come to our house, and work.
This had to change.
I wrote an email to the boy's case manager telling her that I needed workers. I didn't word it lightly, or try to make it seem like she could get to it as soon as it was convenient. This time I very clearly said that I needed respite workers, and that the current agency was unable to provide them. It was important that this change. So, now we are in the process of changing agencies that will be more effective in filling the hours that Beans has allotted to him through insurance. It's not a quick, easy process by no means. Like any other government program it is tedious, and inefficient, but the wheels are at least in motion.
The second thing that needed to be different goes along with the first. I really needed to enlist my husband more in helping with things. I don't want to paint a picture of him that is misleading, so I will say right off the bat that he is not lazy. He does help.He takes lots of time off of work to assist with appointments, and helps with kids when he can. Due to some of his own health issues he needs a lot of down time. It's not unusual for him to sleep 12-14 hrs a day. That leaves me on the hook for the rest of the time as far as childcare goes. It's all on me most days, and most nights. I don't need a lot of companionship, but lately even I have been tired of spending night after night alone while he sleeps.I had to explain to him that I needed more help. I couldn't hold everything together anymore on my own. When he is needing some time to himself he just takes it, but for some reason I never feel like I can do that. I never feel like I can say "Hey, I need some time to myself, so I'm going upstairs to relax." Or, any variation of that. He does it without thought, but I feel guilty when I do it. In such a gender biased world when a father takes 3 or 4 nights off a week to watch football, or whatnot no one bats an eye, but when a mother does the same thing it is seen as selfish, and unmotherly. It is expected of us (whether or not we have jobs outside of the home) to clean up, and take care of the kids in the evening while the father relaxes. This isn't how things always go with every family, but it's fairly common from what I see. It's a double standard....
Anyway, with my overthinking why our culture is biased in regards to women, and all that jazz aside....My point is that I need more help from hubby.
One of the other issues that I thought about when I was depressed (was is a relative word, because I still am pretty depressed. Just not the severely so as I was.) and taking time to reflect was the uneven state of my relationships. Of course, not all of them. If you're a friend, and reading this chances are very slim that I am talking about you here. The relationships I am referring to are the ones where I give, and give, but when I need something my kindness, and thoughtfulness is not reciprocated. This has been an ongoing issue ever since like kindergarten, and I suspect it is so with most ladies on the spectrum. We tend to be quite action oriented with our empathy, so we really jump right in with any kind of assistance a "friend" might need. Unfortunately, this vibe is often picked up most by those the least deserving of our efforts. The ones that will use, and abuse us. Sometimes, it's not that black, and white, cut and dry, but still the end result is either someone purposely using us, or there being a misunderstanding one way or another between us, and the other person about what the relationship was about to begin with. What sometimes we see as close friends type of relationship the other person sees as an acquaintance who is just being helpful.
I'm tired of getting into this mess. I am too old to keep making the same mistake, and getting my feelings hurt over people that aren't worth it. I decided that I need to be more assertive with people that are taking advantage of me, and maybe not be so quick to assist people who seem to always need assistance. There's always that friend that has yet another emergency going on, or that could use some help with this or that. I don't have the energy to be giving away, and I need to treat my energy as I would my bank account. I'd never keep letting a person make withdraws without ever putting any back in. The same with my efforts. There needs to be some reciprocation.
I think the idea of guarding my energy, and my time like valuable resources was pretty much the biggest overall lesson. I don't always use my time, and energy as wisely as I could. I squander them on things that aren't all that important, or I don't take action when I need to, because I feel helpless. I'm not helpless. I have options, and the ability to make improvements in my life.
Also, last, but not least I went to the doctor to get my thyroid checked. The low energy, bad depression, and other symptoms could mean that my thyroid levels are too low again. I'm still waiting on the results, but these issues would definitely keep persisting if the levels are low.