There are days, weeks, and even months when I’m struggling. There isn’t always a rhyme or reason for it, at least none I can discern. Sometimes I can feel it coming on, and other times it seems to sneak up on me.
The last few months, I could feel things brewing, and I tried to head it off. I’ve been under so much pressure, and everything caught up to me. I don’t know how to describe what I’m experiencing, but I will try.
I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. I overthink everything. I can’t shut my brain off, and I’ve reached a saturation point where my ability to function is severely impeded. In fairness, it took a lot for me to get to this point, and I have to do a better job of asking for help.
I’ve been a special needs Dad, for 22 years. I’ve essentially been a single Dad since 2014 when my now ex-wife left for the first time. Raising my kids alone is very challenging. Meeting everyone’s needs is a daunting task and frankly impossible, even on my best day. Trying to fill the role of both parents is impossible, although I try.
I don’t blame my kids for me being overwhelmed because it’s not them; it’s life. Sure, they’re stressful but isn’t that how kids are supposed to be? I certainly don’t have the market cornered regarding parenting challenges.
Lately, I’ve been struggling. Between ADHD, Depression, PTSD, trying to grow/run this business, helping my kids navigate things, and my own personal life, I feel like I’m completely spent.
I’m exhausted to the point that I can’t quite explain it. I’m not just talking about being physically exhausted, either. It’s more mental and emotional exhaustion.
I’m trying to focus on self-care, though. I’m hitting the gym five days a week. I’d go more, but my gym is closed on the weekends. I eat better. I also have been working to improve my sleep quality as well. My kids are older now, and I can sleep better through the night. That’s a relatively new evolution in my parenting journey and one I’m incredibly grateful for.
I’m just tired. There have been some dark days recently, and I’m trying to keep pushing through them. I’m sure there will be more before life settles down, but I know I’ll get there.
To help you better understand, it might be beneficial to provide some insight into how my brain tends to work.
From the moment I wake up in the morning, I think about all the things that need to be done. I walk around my house and see all the projects that need either be started or finished, at the moment, that I don’t have the money to continue working on. I think about all the work I must do to keep the business going/growing. I have Gavin transitioning into adult life and two teens who I’ve grossly underprepared for their own lives. I’m playing catch-up with them right now. These are just a few of the thoughts I start my day battling. That doesn’t even include some of the more personal ones for me. I always feel like there’s a countdown timer in the background, and I have this overwhelming sense of urgency for everything. It kind of goes back to what I used to say about priorities. When everything feels like a priority, how can you prioritize anything?
The type of ADHD I was diagnosed with is the inattentive form. It means that I struggle with memory, focus, follow-through, etc. I’m not super impulsive, and I’m definitely not hyperactive. I am easily overwhelmed, and while I can’t seem to focus on the things I need to, I’m more than capable of focusing on the negative. It’s so fucking exhausting, and I just want the noise to stop. At least, that is what it feels like on the darker days.
It all builds up because while it’s easy for me to open up like this, it’s not so easy for me to do this in real life. I reach a point where I feel like I’m losing my mind, but I have to hold it all together.
As bad as this can get during the day, I seem to be doing okay with sleep at night. I’m getting good sleep, and I’m so lucky. When I struggle with these thoughts at night, I try to think about a happy place. We all have our happy place. It’s like an escape to a place or time that was so peaceful and positive, just thinking about it can bring those same feelings back, even if it’s only for a moment.
For me, it’s fall, and I’m sitting on the front porch underneath the giant twin pin oaks, drinking a beer, stoking the fire in the pit, and watching the kids play freeze tag. This brings me peace. It’s one of the fondest memories of my adult life.
I know this struggle won’t last forever. I understand that some days will be more challenging than the next, but I also know I’ll ultimately be okay. I might not know what okay looks like right now, and that tends to make me a little nervous if I’m being honest. I want to be comfortable in my own skin, enjoy what I’m doing, raise my kids, and find peace and happiness. I think that’s what everyone wants.
For people like me who struggle with this stuff, it can be harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It can be harder to see the future. It can feel like things will never get better. Between feeling this way and trying desperately to manage all the responsibilities that go along with being a special needs parent, or any parent for that matter, it can feel like we’re drowning. I know how that feels, but I also know how important it is not to get lost in despair. Right now, I’m trying very hard not to get lost in despair, and that’s my struggle.
My daily lead-ball-and-chain existence consists of a formidable perfect-storm-like combination of autism spectrum disorder, adverse childhood experience trauma and high sensitivity, with the ACE trauma in large part being due to my ASD and high sensitivity.
Ergo, it would be very helpful to people like me to have books written about such or similar conditions involving a coexistence of ASD and/or ACE trauma and/or high sensitivity, the latter which seems to have a couple characteristics similar to ASD traits.
While The Autistic Brain, for example, is informative and useful to me in other ways, it nevertheless failed to even once mention the real potential for additional challenges created by a reader’s ASD coexisting with thus exacerbated by high sensitivity and/or ACE trauma.
When I read a book on adverse childhood experience trauma, Childhood Disrupted, it totally failed to even once mention high sensitivity or ASD.
That was followed by The Highly Sensitive Man, with no mention whatsoever of ASD or ACE trauma.
I therefore don’t know whether my additional, coexisting conditions will render the information and/or assigned exercises from such not-cheap books useless, or close to it, in my efforts to live much less miserably. I wonder whether I, when reading such self-help books, should try considering/consuming their content as might a neurotypical or non-ASD person?
While many/most people in my shoes would work with the books nonetheless, I cannot; I simply need to know if I’m wasting my time and, most importantly, mental efforts.
ACE abuse thus trauma is often inflicted upon ASD and/or highly sensitive children and teens by their normal or ‘neurotypical’ peers — thus resulting in immense and even debilitating self-hatred and shame — so why not at least acknowledge it in some meaningful, constructive way?
This sounds overwhelming. There are times and situations that simply ARE overwhelming. And if, during those times, you don’t get the livingroom vacuumed, well that’s okay. If everyone is still alive, sometimes that’s the win. And you just have to take the win and not compare your life to times and situation where more is possible. Wishing you the best.
Hey! It’s been a while. I hope you and yours are doing well. As always, I appreciate the kind words and good advice.