Ripping Off The Bandaid

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These are the lessons I have learned since deciding rip off the bandaid to share both my son’s diagnoses,  and our family’s journey,  with the world.

  1. A “label” isn’t always a bad thing –  We spent a long time not wanting to “label” our son, and therefore were not straightforward with him, ourselves or others. This came from a place of trying to protect him from the big, bad world, but in the end actually made him (and us) more vulnerable. The day we sat him down and for the first time had a conversation that included the words autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and medication, was actually a good day. We gave our son the words to begin to understand and talk about what he is struggling through. There is both both knowledge and comfort in the labels.
  2. We are not alone – In the first minutes of linking this blog to my Facebook page, I received private messages from 6 different people talking about their own, or their child’s, experiences with anxiety, panic, depression, sensory processing, and autism spectrum disorders. Within minutes I went from feeling like my world was very small, to realizing that my world was big, and wide, and there are loving arms to hold us up when the burden seems too great. There have also been people who my son admires deeply, who have come to me with their own stories of struggle. Being able to share those stories with my son, along with the knowledge that these are adults who both care about him and can understand what he is experiencing has made parts of his world a little less frightening.
  3. Being honest, doesn’t guarantee universal understanding – Most people have been amazing, supportive, and understanding. Most, but not all. I have come across skeptics and naysayers. These are the people who even after hearing the diagnoses, still say “but he seems fine,” or “are you sure?”, or “he’s just going through a phase.” No, no, and NO! I am thankful that the amazing, supportive, and understanding people far outnumber the skeptics and naysayers.

Ripping off that band aid was hard. But we did it. It stung a little, but mostly there has been fresh air. And there is so much healing to be found on the other side.

 

 

 

Cheers!

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That memory popped up in my personal Facebook feed this morning…

The therapist I referred to in this post a year ago was the brilliant speech language pathologist, who spent the next 9 months doing amazing work to close Owen’s expressive language deficit. She’s also the one who referred us to our current psychologist, who in turn referred us the psychiatrist that finally gave us a solid diagnosis yesterday. So apparently that celebratory treat was truly a celebration of the first step down the right path.

The Lie I Told Today

This is the lie I told this morning at church…

In response to the question “How are you today?” – my answer was “fine, thank you.” Or some version of that several dozen times as I greeted different people. I smiled and lied to each of them.

The honest answer would have been…

“I’m exhausted and worried. My son is retreating further into himself every day, and I feel like he is taking us all with him as we try to figure out how to help him. It took every ounce of strength I had just to get myself here.”

But that honest answer is probably more than most people want to hear. And it is also more than I tend to want most people to know. I am an introvert and self-sufficient. I am slow to let people in, and even slower to ask for or accept help. I have worried that telling the messy truth will elicit one of two responses from people – either running away as fast as they can, or inviting themselves in with offers of help and support. Neither scenario is particularly appealing. As much as that is true, it is also true that continuing to tell people that everything is “fine” is not sustainable.

So this blog is where I can shout “I AM NOT FINE. WE ARE NOT FINE. WE ARE ALL A LITTLE BROKEN!” It is a safe way for this introvert to reach out into the world and to let people in. It is where I can acknowledge that in order to have the strength and energy to get my son the help he needs and the healing my entire family needs, I need to be willing to ask for and accept some help.

For those of you who know our family in “real life”, the truth is we are struggling each and every day. Struggling to help our son, while keeping things as “normal” as possible for our daughter. Struggling to make the time and space needed for our kids, while also being good partners to each other and  daughter/son/brother/sister/friend/employee/boss to so many other people. We are not fine. We are struggling and we are broken, but we are fighting. We aren’t entirely sure at this point what our son is battling against, but we are close to having some answers and we know there is a long, hard battle ahead for all of us. We know we need our personal village. We know that we have so often in the past been the ones to offer support, and now we need to be willing accept some support.

For those of you who have come across this blog, but don’t know us in “real life”, the truth is we are struggling each and every day and we know we aren’t alone. Whatever your personal battle may be, I hope that following along on our journey will give you comfort. I hope that you will find the strength to reach out to your own personal village and accept the grace they may offer to you.

 

 

 

A New Waiting Room

I am writing this post as I sit in a very uncomfortable chair, in the waiting room of an adolescent psychiatrist. This is our first time at his office. My husband and I just spent an hour with him. My son is in with him now. The answers and help we are looking for may finally be within our grasp.