Sometimes it’s important to step back and take inventory of one’s life. This could be necessary for a multitude of reasons.
I have honestly forgotten to do that myself lately. In fact, I haven’t done this since I became a single parent.
When you’re any type of parent but especially if you’re a special needs parent, it’s really easy to focus on the things you don’t get right or the things that maybe slip through the cracks.
It’s really easy to login into Facebook, read the random updates in your feed and feel really depressed about where you are in life or that you can’t do better by your kids than you’re currently doing.
This is why I encourage you to take inventory.
I struggle with depression and I also feel unbelievably guilty that I can’t do more for my kids than I’m doing.
The problem is that I’m comparing what I feel are my weaknesses to everyone else’s strengths.
I also get so used to the challenges I face on a daily basis that I often forget they are there.
The reality of my situation is this:
I’m raising three incredibly amazing children. While they are truly amazing, they’re also amazingly challenging at the same time.
In The Autism Dad household, we of course have Autism. I have one with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, another with Aspergers and yet another who is somewhere in between.
Two of the three are poster kids for ADHD and extreme anxiety.
All three have sensory processing issues that are considered to be severely impactful on their daily lives.
Two of the three have asthma and one of those two has a serious food allergy.
One of my three has extremely fragile health, both physical and emotional and breaks the mold in all areas of his life to the point where places like the Cleveland Clinic have never seen a child like him before.
Things like severe immunodeficiency (basically he has a severely compromised immune system requiring two weekly infusions), epilepsy, significant autonomic dysfunction, significant and continuous regression across most areas of his life.
On the mental health side it’s things like Schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, attachment disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (a very rare form of regressive Autism) and a few other serious diagnoses that I believe might be inaccurate as he’s made a hugely positive turn around since his Mom left.
I live in a neighborhood where they can’t play outside because of drive by shootings and gang activity.
My wife, their Mother, walked out over a year ago and left me to do this on my own, with no help.
I could add into the mix my personal battle with depression, financial hardships as a result of being a 24/7 caregiver to my oldest with fragile health.
Truthfully, that’s a lot for any one person to have on their plate but the reason I’m sharing this is not to complain or garner your sympathy.
The reason I listed that all out there is because it’s really easy to lose perspective in the struggles of day to day life.
I’m not always cognizant of the fact that all of this is constantly going on in the background. I’ve become so accustomed to this that I don’t even think about it anymore and that’s where I faulter.
I see how much the boys and I struggle at times, in pretty much every aspect of life. I see all the things I wish were different and I come down pretty hard on myself, which isn’t helpful as the depression does that enough on its own.
What I should be doing is looking at the whole picture and saying something like, look at all I’ve managed to accomplish, despite these overwhelming challenges. Sure, there are things that I wish I could improve on but how many people could do what I’m doing and actually do a better job?
I bet that many of you could have the same conversation with yourself.
It’s so easy to lose sight of everything you manage to accomplish because society isn’t very forgiving and there’s a general lack of understanding for families experiencing these types of situations.
Remember to pat yourself on the back because you’re doing truly amazing things and despite what anyone says, I’m pretty sure not everyone could do what you do… ☺