Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sharing Stress Soup

So, have you ever seen this?

Well, if you haven't and you're naturally a stressed person (like myself), maybe you shouldn't watch it.  Though very insightful, it stressed me out more.  The major point that brought on unwanted anxiety was the portion of the documentary that talked about some of the most stressed people in the world.  Do you know who they are?  Yep, mothers of children with disabilities.  Interesting isn't it?

By the way, this is very hard for me to talk about.

I've always had anxiety.  I've also recognized that it's gotten worse over the years.  It comes with being a control freak and perfectionist I guess.   I've talked to you in the past about the battles of faith and fear and learning how to let some things go.  I have always thought my stress and anxiety were manageable with the help of exercise, St. John's Wort and my Stress B Complex.  But in the last few months, nothing has been helping.   Less sleep,  crying more, less self worth,  panic attacks... fear.  I finally broke down and got a prescription from my doctor; for the nights I just can't calm down by myself. 

It's been a hard thing to admit, because hey, I'll be the first person to tell you, I'm strong, I can handle it! 

Isn't it interesting the way Heavenly Father teaches us, and uses us to teach others.  Because, as you probably know, one of the main components that add to my stress level is Race's autism.  Race has lots of good days, but there are the bad ones.  And sometimes, the bad days consume me. 

Race doesn't have school on Fridays.  So after therapies and shots, we always head to the library.  It's our day that he and I get to spend a couple hours together, just he and I, and destress from the week.  I was sitting there, watching him in the library.  He was really into the comic books that day.  Every one around him could have been miles away for all he knew. 

And apparently for all I knew too.  Because as I sat there watching him, wishing he had a good buddy at school who understood him, wishing music class at school wasn't so overstimulating and hard for him, wishing he didn't want to play with the big kids who are less tolerant than the younger ones, wishing December's weren't so autistic, wishing for some form of relief for him!  It took a minute for me to realize that I was wiping tears away from my own cheeks.   It took me a minute for me to realize the three kids next to me were being obnoxiously loud in the library and I turned to see if there was any kind of supervision. 

And there was, and she just smiled at me knowingly.  How snobby and unfriendly I can be!  Because I didn't smile back.  Until I realized, these three kids of hers...

"They have autism."  I state, not a question. 

"Yes."  she smiles

"All of them?" 

"Yes, among other things."

"Are they siblings?"


I was lost for words.  All three seemed more severe than Race.  I know I just stared.  Not at the kids, but at her.  Wondering at her calmness, wondering if she goes to school with them.  Wondering if she loses sleep at night, if she's afraid.  Wondering... at her smile.  "My son has autism."  is all I can say.  She glances at Race reading comic books.  He looks up and smiles at her.  She smiles back and nods.  We stare at each other for a moment.  She's smiling and I've got tears ready to spill over.  "How, how do you do it?"  I whisper.  Afraid to speak louder for fear my voice will crack and I'll start to bawl. 

I'm sure she could have said many things, but seeing my fragile state, she simply said, "The same way you do."

After a longer than usual library visit, Race and I made our weekly fast food trip.  It was amazing really.  The immediate flip in my spirit.  I felt good after talking to the mother in the library.  I thanked Heavenly Father for the strength I felt. 

As we left the drive through, the vehicle behind us starts honking.  Confused, wondering, what the heck, is my gas cap open?  do I have a flat?  I don't recognize her.  She's now motioning for me to stop.  I stop, and I wait for this complete stranger to get her food from the window and pull up next to me.  She gets out.  She looks tired, stressed, anxious.  I've seen that look in the mirror way too much. "Where did you get your bumper sticker?"  she asks in an almost desperate tone.

I have a magnet that looks like this on the back of my car:

After telling her, she says, "My son has autism."  She motions to the happy boy in the back of her SUV.  "We just moved here from North Carolina and..." she starts to cry.  "And I don't know what to do, everything is so hard here in Arizona!  I feel like I'm just running in circles!" 

I step out of my car, grateful to the mother in the library and my Heavenly Father, and the extra strength given to me just minutes ago...

...and I pass it along to my new friend.


Annell said...

Amazing! Love you sis!

Adriane said...

It's not enough to say that was great or awesome because I know that post was you letting go of your insecurities as a mother and a writer. Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart and was something special and I hope this is only the beginning :)

Laurie Freeman said...

what a blessing!! you're posts about dealing with autism make me cry everytime.

Jennie said...

what an amazing story, thank you for sharing that. It's amazing when we are able to recognize His tender mercies. I'm so glad you were able to help boost that other mom after being lifted up yourself.

I have a really close friend who lives right outside of Tucson with a son that has autism too. I don't know where you live, but she would be an awesome friend to have if you live in Tucson.

Bonnie Bell said...

Oh Teddy Betty. Thank you for sharing these experiences. I was touched reading your post.

Karalea-Karalea said... are a saint...

...sending you peace and joy.

...sending you strength and happiness.

with love.