And Then

Yesterday, I wrote about the huge meltdown The Boy had on Thursday night.

And then…

On Friday, I was a mess. After the boys left in the morning, I took a deep breath and then began to cry. I journaled, because writing usually helps. I cried off and on the whole time I was getting ready for work. And I can usually talk myself down, saying, “Ok, you have to go to work now, and you can’t cry at work, so time is up. Dry your tears, and let’s get going.” That did not work on Friday, and there were a couple of moments I had to use a paper towel on my desk to wipe my tears. I texted a friend about how awful I felt.

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It’s like the hangover after a binge. It’s inevitable, you can’t control it, and you really can’t make it go away until it’s ready to go away.

This is why people say that parenting a chid on the spectrum is like having PTSD. I think in my case, it’s more accurate likening it to chronic stress. Either way, it’s not a good thing, and we who deal with it have to be real careful not to ignore it.

To myself and others who deal with this kind of thing:

  1. Take the day off, if you can. It adds more stress to try to be “on” for others and shut those emotions out, and if you can give yourself a day to recover and process, then please do it.
  2. If you can’t take “the day after” off work, at least take it easy, and find something to take your mind off the meltdown. Replaying it over and over in your mind doesn’t usually do much good.
  3. Pat yourself on the back for doing the best you could under the circumstances. You and I both know people who would not be able to do what we do.
  4. Plan some sort of treat for yourself during the day. Something to look forward to, and something positive.
  5. When you have time, express it somehow. Journal, paint, talk to loved ones and friends who get it. Write a letter to yourself and send it, or burn it. Do something with all of that. If you don’t do this, it will fester.
  6. Make sure you are taking time for yourself somehow in your daily life. I know how difficult it can be, but even if you lock yourself in the bathroom for half an hour a week to read magazines, you just have to find some time for yourself to get away from the relentless needs of your child. I think this step helps us find strength when the big ones hit, too.

This is just my advice, from my experience. It’s not an exhaustive list, and frankly, I’m working on many of these, too. Meltdowns are difficult for the kiddo, and the parents, and aftershocks can be felt for days, weeks, and months afterwards. They’re not going going to go away, but we can mitigate the effects with a plan in place. That’s what we autism parents are best at, right? Planning? 😉

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Slow Down

Yesterday, I had a real-live (paid) day off. It was fantastic. After the boys left I went back to bed for about a half hour, not to sleep, but just because I could. Then I got up and got dressed and headed to Panera to work on my novel revisions. I bought a bagel with cream cheese and a hot tea, and went to work. At about eleven, The Man called because we needed to pick out fixtures for the showers at the new house. After that was done, I came back home to a silent house, cleared off the dining table, and went to work again. It was glorious. I’m sorry there was no post yesterday, but sometimes a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.

The reason I had the day off was because CPAs traditionally take the day after the tax deadline off. I didn’t know this until I started working there, but it’s much deserved. The past three weeks or so have been off-the-rails busy, and the CPAs work much harder and even longer hours than I do.

During that especially busy season, I have realized that I attempt to do almost everything fast. Every task is a hurried rush, I type fast, I drive (slower than I used to – it’s the South, but still) fast, and even at home, I eat too fast.  And I believe this started when I was teaching school, where you literally only had an hour to do all of your planning and prep, and only 25 minutes for lunch. Then the awful job at the boat place reinforced that with answering as many calls as you could, doing way too many tasks simultaneously, and not even taking a lunch break.

These rushing behaviors are leftover, but ingrained. I have decided to consciously slow down. Even with the tax deadline looming, I knew everything would get done, and I down-shifted my speed to a more sane level. It will take some work, but  I think it will be worth it in the end, if only for my health and well being.

My new mantra: “Be the sloth…”

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