Most of the Time I’m Okay (or at least look that way)

“I bet there are other mothers of special needs children who feel the same way and deal with the same shit storms that you could relate to instead of hating everybody that doesn’t have to go through what you have gone through. There will also be someone who has a better life than you but ya know what…There are actually people who have it worse than you.” (Update Nov. 2: Just to add – Fuck you. Good luck with your counseling career if this is how you counsel people.)
This was said to me a while ago. I deserved it. Completely. (Nope, I take that back after reading a lot on depression and what not to say to people with depression, and considering you’re studying psychology and counseling – you failed. I think they wrote the ‘do not say’ list straight from your messages to me.)

Most of the time, I’m okay or can at least put on a good face and turn on the humor. When I am alone, it hits me. I typically scroll through Facebook reading articles and posts or Google whatever pops into my head. I’m alone with my thoughts and my thoughts can be like a cancer eating away at my self-worth. I search symptoms of depression to confirm for the hundredth time that I have them. I type in “parent, special needs, depression” to see if someone identifies with me so I’ll feel less alone. They always seem to have a brighter outlook than I have and in one way or another, I can’t identify with them.

Every time I drive on I-95 or any main highway, I have visions of crashing and my knuckles turn white. I can’t sort out whether I’m worried it’ll happen or if it’s wishful thinking. I shake the thought out of my head several times and eventually turn the radio up and sing along. When I was taking a public speaking class and I was a few minutes late on a day I had to give a presentation, I suddenly felt unprepared, had a panic attack, started my car back up, and went back home. I didn’t want to go back. I thought right then and there that I would quit. I had to force myself to go the next day. I frequently head somewhere with a purpose in mind but then drive right by instead of stopping at my destination. I Google “anxiety” to see if it sounds like me.

I do a job search once again, looking for something that won’t require weekends or nights because that’s what my husband works. Then I consider the fact that her sleep pattern is so unpredictable since her med change that sometimes I’m up half the night and exhausted during the day. So no early mornings. No afternoons after school. What about holidays and in-service days? Then the thought of spending the day in an office – where someone else dictates your hours, your lunch breaks and your days off, where people judge you for having a different schedule worked out to accommodate your family life or for having to take school vacation weeks off when you haven’t even worked there long enough to have earned the privilege, talk behind your back and secretly hate you (which may be 100% paranoia) – makes me feel sick to my stomach. So I just cry and feel useless.

I cry and I resent everyone. I resent my husband for not having to worry about anything else to be able to work – he just does it as the default breadwinner. I resent him for working weekends. For working nights. For not driving. For not earning enough. For not reading my mind. I resent that whatever they give him for a schedule, when they change his hours the day before to accommodate prep for holidays, when they completely change him to overnight shift, when he’s promoted and they send him out of state for training for a month he just does it. No worries. Because worrying about her and who’s caring for her – school, section 28, nursing, respite, me – that’s all up to me and things I have to take into consideration if I’m going to look into a job (which my stomach clearly doesn’t want anyway). Medical appointments, case manager and school meetings, holidays, vacations. I also have to think about these things if I want to plan anything for myself like participate in any kind of activities or take up a hobby.
I freeze. I can’t think anymore. So I don’t do anything. I give up. I decide everything I want to and should do, I can’t possibly do because I’d have to worry about her. So once I stop looking for a job, in addition to the other worries, I realize I can’t afford to do anything else. So I don’t do the things that I want to be able to look back on my life and say I did. I don’t travel to visit old friends or relatives out of state, I don’t go with the friend to Florida, I don’t join the gym, I don’t join roller derby, I don’t go to the (former) friend’s birthday party, don’t go out to live music shows or karaoke, don’t go on that hot air balloon ride, zip line, kayaking trip. I don’t volunteer at the festival or the shelter or the Ronald McDonald House like I’ve been wanting to do for ages.
I feel like to anyone else this sounds like nothing but a load of excuses. But I truly feel frozen. I imagine time will stand still and that I won’t age as everyone around me does and someday I can start my own life again right where I left off. But I feel reality in my stiff neck, and aching joints and muscles in the morning and I just want to go back to sleep. I see it in the belly I’ve given up trying to suck in. I don’t even want to get up and throw on yesterday’s clothes so sometimes I just wear them to bed. I shower when it’s necessary, lately. Sometimes I cheat and just wash my hair in the sink. I just don’t care.

I cry and I lash out at people around me and even people nowhere near me. (‘Hate on everyone’. ) I snap at my husband and my older daughter when I wish he would do things the way I do them and wish she would just do dishes sometimes. I argue with strangers I disagree with on Facebook. I unfriend people when I just can’t handle reading another post about how perfect their life is or how awful it is when it’s nothing compared to mine. I avoid contact when I realize I can’t be a good friend or when I realize they can’t be a good friend. I lash out at my sister for anything at all because I resent that she moved away, that she’s not here being my sister. I resent that I don’t have other family around when I’m the one who has estranged myself from them. I resent that no one understands what I’m going through – as a parent of a child with special needs or as a person with (admittedly self-diagnosed) depression and probably everything else. I hate when people say they understand, I hate when people say they can’t imagine, and I hate when they say nothing at all.

And when I can’t take it anymore, I cry some more. When it’s yet another New Year’s Eve and I don’t want to go through another whole year, I delete my Facebook again because I want to disappear. But that’s not even satisfying because I already feel invisible anyway. My “stuff” isn’t invisible though. I look at the clutter piles by the file cabinet I have to sort through. I know there are a few important things among the thousands of junk emails in a few different accounts, unsorted pictures, documents. I have old clothes I need to go through. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that stuff so I’m pretty sure those things are what keep me here.

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