Sometimes I feel like a sane person locked inside a looney bin. I’ve privately made this statement many times over the years and while it may sound insensitive, it’s simply how I feel sometimes.
Let me put this into perspective for you.
There are five people living in our house and four of those five people have special needs. I suffer from depression but I’m largely able to function. There are times however, where that level of function is much more difficult for me to maintain.
Here’s the thing that I’ve been known to struggle with.
Every person I coexist with in our home has physical or emotional needs that require me to modify the way I address things in our life.
Gavin requires me to sit and listen to him ramble on about his hallucinated missions, in which he is basically a hero to an entire universe of people. I can’t challenge his delusional beliefs because that could make things worse.
Instead I will sit and listen to him because I know it means a lot to him, even though it breaks my heart to hear how far out of touch with reality he really is.
Elliott and Emmett both are walking sensory nightmares. Both are also tightly wound balls of hyperactive energy as well. The boys are easy to love but very, very difficult to manage sometimes.
Even with Lizze, things can be challenging but to a much lesser extent.
Lizze has bipolar disorder and that’s tough on both of us but mostly her. She’s doing remarkably well and I’m so proud of her but we still have our struggles, just like anyone else would in our situation. It’s nothing we can’t handle and if anything, knowing she has bipolar disorder makes things a little easier because I have a better understanding of where she’s coming from and why.
The whole point is that I’m depressed and have been waring with depression since my early teens. Depression is something that I understand because I know first hand what it can be like.
I’m not Autistic. I don’t have bipolar disorder and I’m not schizophrenic. I don’t struggle with impulse control issues like my kids with ADHD. I certainly can’t even pretend to understand what the sensory issues are like for my loved ones impacted by that..
I have a very firm but conceptual understanding of these things. I understand how my family is impacted by these things based on what I see and experience. I understand things from a clinical standpoint but that’s about it.
That limited understanding is more than enough to help me be empathetic, understanding, patient, supportive and kind. It doesn’t mean that I know what it’s like to walk even a single step in their shoes and I won’t pretend that it does.
There are times that I really struggle because in order for me to interact with everyone, I have to learn to communicate in a way that best works for them. That amounts to four different approaches and those approaches need to constantly evolve.
It’s almost like everyone has their own language and I have to learn and be able to bounce back and forth between all of them throughout the day. It doesn’t even always work.