Lost My Way

I want to apologize for my absence. Life has attacked from all directions lately and I was overwhelmed.

We had a bad bout of troubles around here including unemployment, legal issues, financial problems and hospital stays. The stress consumed us and I pretty much went into emergency mode where I only focused on survival.

Things seem to be leveling out, not quite sorted out, but at least manageable. I hope to get back on track here soon. Thankfully, a reader on Wattpad contacted me and let me know how much they loved my novels on there and it really helped pull me out of the mire. I feel like I’ve taken my first breath in months.

I will try and get my act together and get sorted out, please be patient with me.

Thanks,

Adriana

Coping with Severe Depression

Severe depression is horrendous. 

The NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability. Jan 28, 2015

350 Million! 

So what it this beast we call depression?

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Although depression may occur only one time during your life, usually people have multiple episodes of depression. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Other people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Most people dealing with depression turn to modern medications such as anti-depressants. In most cases this is enough to get you out of the pit and moving again. However, for some that isn’t going to work.

Many of those suffering from depression don’t have access to medications, maybe they can’t afford it or maybe medications just don’t work. Some may even make their symptoms worse. I’m one of those poor fools who can’t take the meds because my body won’t metabolize them correctly, so I only get the side effects and not the help.

There are medical alternatives for those of us who can’t do take medications.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Supplements

Examples of supplements that are sometimes used for depression include:

  • St. John’s wort. Although this herbal supplement isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression in the U.S., it’s a popular depression treatment in Europe. It may be helpful for mild or moderate depression. However, it should be used with caution — St. John’s wort can interfere with a number of medications, including blood-thinning medications, birth control pills, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS medications, and drugs to prevent organ rejection after a transplant. Also, avoid taking St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants because the combination can cause serious side effects.
  • SAMe. Pronounced “sam-E,” this dietary supplement is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. The name is short for S-adenosylmethionine (es-uh-den-o-sul-muh-THIE-o-neen). SAMe isn’t approved by the FDA to treat depression in the U.S., but it’s used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression. SAMe may be helpful, but more research is needed. SAMe may trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are found in cold-water fish, flaxseed, flax oil, walnuts and some other foods. Omega-3 supplements are being studied as a possible treatment for depression. While considered generally safe, in high doses, omega-3 supplements may interact with other medications. More research is needed to determine if eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve depression.

Nutritional and dietary products aren’t monitored by the FDA the same way medications are. You can’t always be certain of what you’re getting and whether it’s safe. Also, because some herbal and dietary supplements can interfere with prescription medications or cause dangerous interactions, talk to your health care provider before taking any supplements.

Mind-body connections

Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners believe the mind and body must be in harmony for you to stay healthy. Examples of mind-body techniques that may be helpful for depression include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga or tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage therapy
  • Music or art therapy
  • Spirituality
  • Aerobic exercise

Relying solely on these therapies is generally not enough to treat depression. They may be helpful when used in addition to medication and psychotherapy.

Some people turn to psychotherapy or go to counseling. Counseling can often be extremely helpful in sorting through the problems. However, not all counselors are helpful. I’ve been to some that just shrug their shoulders and say, “Gosh, I don’t know what to tell you.” Doesn’t really help much.  Finding the right counselor can take time through trial and error. Often this adds to the depression giving a person the feelings of failure or hopelessness.

So what do you do when you are just one person sitting alone in the dark? When nothing has worked and you have no strength left? When you just can’t find the will or the energy to get out of bed let alone seek help? When you are sitting on your bathroom floor exhausted from crying and holding a scissors over your wrist because you are so desperate for an escape? 

If you’ve hit that point then call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

However, if you are still holding out with one tiny little shred of hope grasping onto the last thread of your last rope….

It’s OKAY!

You’re not alone!

We are here for you, even if you don’t know us. There are those of us struggling along beside you. We can’t see you and you can’t see us through the haze of darkness that seems to surround us, but we are here.

And it’s time.

Time to take a breath.

Time to go out and look at the stars.

Time to let go a little.

Constantly holding yourself accountable for all the problems in the world will do you no good. You are only human and that is okay. Yes, the world around us is going to pot, (haha see the joke there? everybody is smoking it? haha). But what I mean it that the world is going crazy and honestly, honey, you can’t stop it.

Look to your friends. They love you. They are just waiting for you to let them in so they can help. If you don’t feel like you have friends, then just cry once in public and you’ll find them. Believe me, they’re there. Even strangers on the internet are there to help you. There are chat rooms, Twitter feeds, Instagram and Facebook pages full of people going through the same things as you are. You may not have met them yet, but your peeps are there. 35 Million of them, remember?

Honestly, I find that a lot of depression is rooted in three places: our health,  our mindset, and our environment.

  1. Nutrition: Our nutritional intake can severely affect our emotions. I know you’ve heard this a lot, but too much pre-processed food with chemicals put in for this and that soak into our bodies and make us nuts. I see this all the time with my Autistic son. If we eat too many meals that come from a box or a can then he gets emotionally unbalanced and sometimes violent or goes through crying fits. If I keep our food on the homemade side then we have a much more stable home life. Omega 3 supplements made a huge difference for me in my depression.  Try checking your nutrition and see if you can fix anything. If you don’t know what to fix, ask a doctor. If you don’t have a doctor then ask our friend Google, there are plenty of nutritional diets out there.
  2. Mindset: When I say our mindset, it does not mean that I think it is all in our heads. I know personally that depression is very real. What I mean is that it is in our perceptions of our own reality that make it so hard for us to cope. If you let go of your preconceived notions about what is or is not the standard that you should be living up too, it can help a lot. For example, I has such high hopes for what kind of mom I was going to be. Then Autism came along. I had to give up. I can only do what I can do. Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes not. Sometimes we need to stop and do some self examination of our deepest self. We must ask some really hard questions. Why are you depressed? Is is because you are trying to hold onto something that is beyond your means? Are you living to please someone else’s plan for you life or are you living for you?
  3. Environment: Look around you. Is your personal space cluttered? Sometimes just cleaning up your immediate area can help you get a sense of control. It can make things around you seem a lot less overwhelmed and give you a sense of accomplishment. That alone might be enough to break the downward spiral of defeat. Are you hiding away? Sometimes depression comes from too much self absorption. Are you caught up with yourself so much that you haven’t looked around in a while? Seek out others and try to help them. Sometimes it will fill the void that is causing your depression. Human contact can do wonders for your emotions. However, be careful of over committing yourself so you can hide from your problems.

Depression is a many faceted beast with no easy answers or cures. It is a struggle every day, but it is a struggle that you can get through. I will leave you with something my mom always says.

Keep going. Tomorrow may be the best day of your life.

Autism and Wandering

One of the things about having a child with Autism is that they have a tendency to wander. It may be because they don’t realized they shouldn’t and they are in their own little world or it may be that they run from something they are scared of. What ever the reason, it scares the crap out of us parents.

My son has disappeared a couple of times on us while out in public and he has wandered off from grandma’s house and home. I can’t tell you how terrified we were. I live in constant fear that one day he will slip out and we won’t find him. Luckily we live in a town where almost everyone knows my son, but what if….

The lovely people from Quality Life Concepts, our family support, turned me onto the BIG RED SAFETY BOX.

It is put out by the National Autism Association. Which is great resource by the way.

I signed up and donated $10 and they sent me the Big Red Safety Box. In it there was  lots of handy stuff.

NAA’s Big Red Safety Box includes the following resources:
1) Our Be REDy Booklet containing the following educational materials and tools:
A caregiver checklist
A Family Wandering Emergency Plan
A first-responder profile form
A wandering-prevention brochure
A sample IEP Letter
A Student Profile Form
Emotion Identification Cards
Wandering Quick Tips
2) Two (2) GE Wireless Door/Window Alarms with batteries
3) One (1) MedicAlert Bracelet or Pendant, and One (1) Shoe ID tag*
4) Five (5) Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows
5) Two (2) Safety Alert Window Clings for car or home windows
6) One (1) Red Safety Alert Wristband
7) One (1) Child ID Kit from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Sometimes help is actually available. You just need to know where to look.

A little landscaping can go a long way

My front flower bed looks like this. Lots of weeds. Some wild daisies. A clematis with a fear of heights. And lost of cat poop.

Let’s face it, I suck at gardening. My attempt at landscaping was a little plastic fence, shoveling out the cat poop, and digging up the dandelions when they showed up. Not a pretty sight.

Enter my wonderful husband.

He came home for R&R from work and decided to sort it out. He worked all day in the sun, happily I might add. (I die in the sun, but he loves it. ) He dug up all the weeds. Removed all the cat poop. Found a trellis for my poor clematis and tamed the crazy daisies. We had a bunch of stepping stones buried all over the back yard from the previous owner’s garden design. He dug them up and hauled them to the front of the house. He arranged them and then went and got some of those lava rocks and the white sparkly rocks.  After some artful scattering and a bit of rearrangement of some driftwood that was laying around.

POOF!

 I have a very pretty front flower bed.

I don’t know what I’d do without my wonderful husband.

Donkey Basketball

Donkey Basketball. Sounds funny doesn’t it? Well, it is. It is a game involving players riding donkeys up and down a basketball court trying to get the ball in the hoop while staying on the donkey. There is no dribbling but there is passing to other teammates. If the ball goes awry then the player must get off their donkey and chase down the ball and throw it to another player then get back on their donkey.  The donkey’s wear little rubber shoes to protect them and the floor of the gym. It isn’t a fast paced game, but it is fun.The Shelby FFA kids were having a fundraiser by way of playing Donkey Basketball. They asked the Conrad FFA group to bring a team to help out. My daughter volunteered without a second thought. Her and a couple of other kids rounded up enough members for the team. They donned fake mustaches and little sombreros and called themselves the Caballos diablos. Incidentally the team was all girls with one guy. Most of them had never been on a donkey, but they had ridden horses. It was an eyeopening experience.

When they arrived they found out they would be playing against the three time running champions- the firefighters. They were very intimidated but unbelievably enough the kids won! The Shelby FFA kids were playing against the Shelby Faculty. That match was a comedy of errors because it seemed the kids weren’t quite ready for their teachers to be so game. The final match was the Shelby FFA against the Conrad FFA. Nothing like friendly competition! Was more like a free for all and the donkeys were winning.

 There have been a lot of articles about the cruelty of donkey basketball. They say it violates the donkey’s rights and subjects them to frightening circumstances. I can’t say if that is true in other places but here in Montana, it wasn’t true at all. As a matter of fact, we live with an abundance of animals here in Montana and everyone is brought up to treat them right. 

The donkeys were subjected to lots of petting during half-time, but beyond that they were treated great.

From the looks of the games, it was the donkeys that were in charge of things. Most of the time they were meandering where ever they felt like regardless of what the riders wanted and in wonderful Montana fashion, the riders just laughed and let them go where they would.  My poor daughter had picked a very sleepy donkey that spent most of its time visiting with the audience and getting its ears scratched. She even ended up in the corner at one point because the donkey decided that he was done. 

All in all it was a wonderful night and my daughter said that she was glad she did it and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The FFA raised a lot of money for the food drive and everyone went home smiling, even the donkeys.

Optimism and Autism

My son has Autism. He is eleven years old. I have learned that optimism is a trap.

Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

My husband and I have been married for 20 years. I think we were optimistic in the beginning. We thought that all we had to do was work hard and the world would be ours. The Universe apparently thought that was  a challenge. We’ve been through a lot of difficulties and trials. Life hasn’t always been easy, but sometimes we do alright and sometimes we don’t. Autism has taken us to a whole new level.

I was optimistic that we could handle this new complicated life together, but instead we’ve had to give a lot up including being in the same geographic location. He works away from home because that is the only way we can make enough money for me to be a stay at home mom and still afford all the bills, medical or otherwise. I tried working, but it wasn’t worth it. Child care for a special needs kiddo is hard to come by and I had to keep leaving work to take care of problems that arose with my son.

It hasn’t been easy for my daughter either. She’s had to give up a lot and she’s had to adjust to getting less attention because of her brother. Being optimistic that I could pay attention to both of my kiddos at the same time was unrealistic. I’ve learned that kind of optimism leaded to hurt feelings and overwhelming parental failure. I’ve learned that sometimes I have to find time to devote to my daughter completely even if it means that she  has to skip some school to get it.

Like Sisyphus and the boulder, we start every day at the bottom of the hill.

Day after day, we get up and try.  There are a lot of things to learn when you have a child with Autism; behavioral, medical, dietary, psychological, methods, routines, etc. They all play a crucial role in a stable life. The things that worked yesterday don’t necessarily work today. Sometimes they have the opposite effect. Teachers ask me how to handle my son and I have to say, “Well, that depends on the day.”

Friends don’t really understand why we don’t do things like they do. Most of them feel that I’m being too overprotective and honestly I’m too tired to try and explain it to them. They are always optimistic that my son will be fine. That there will be no problems. Birthday parties, concerts, fairs, we’ve been to them all. We’ve dealt with the migraines and the over stimulation meltdowns and the violence that comes from them.  I’ve pushed that boulder up that hill enough times that I know our limitations. If they want to think badly of me then so be it. 

The teachers at school ask me what my long term goals are for my son. I usually laugh and say, “To get through today.” You have to have optimism in order to have goals, and I don’t.

Optimism has never been one of my strong suits. I’m not one of those people born under a lucky star where everything went right and the world was a bright and sunny place. Things don’t just work out for me. I get by on my brains and my abundance of personality. Things happen. I  deal with them. I’m a realist.

Realist: a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly.

Optimism can give you a false sense of reality and make you really unhappy because you are always struggling to meet unrealistic expectations.

I know that we are making progress, but to try and  reach a certain milestone in a certain amount of time is more stress than I can handle right now. Don’t get me wrong, I want my son to learn and blossom into a happy healthy adult, but it will have to happen in its own time. I’m just being realistic. I know that my son makes leaps forward only to backslide. That doesn’t make me try any less. I just takes away the expectations and that takes away the disappointments and the feelings of failure.  No one needs those kind of feelings in their life.

People laugh at me when they ask me, “How are you?” and I answer, “Still alive.” I see it as an affirmation that I’m still here. I’m still trying. I am living for the now taking each day as best as I can. I’ve lowered my expectations to the level of “Everyone is still breathing, so we’re doing great.”

So for those of you out there struggling to be optimistic about your children’s autism, it’s going to be all right. You don’t have to be sunny, or cheerful, or optimistic. You just have to accept your life has changed. It’s okay. All you have to do is love your kiddos. That’s the reality .Go with the Zen approach. All there is is the now. They are who they are and that’s okay. They don’t have to be anything else and neither do you.

Family Circus Outing

Took a trip to the circus with the family this past weekend. Yes, I know there is big stink going on about the treatment of animals at circuses etc, but this circus wasn’t like that. My son had been asking about going to the circus for a while now and I happened to hear on the radio that the Shriner’s were going to be bringing a circus to Great Falls. SO off we went. 

It was a wonderful circus. It was clean and all sparkly. Nothing was chipped and worn. All the workers wore matching uniforms and were all very friendly and nice. As for acts… they had it all. Dancing girls who went on to do a variety of acrobatics. Jugglers. Motorcycle riders zipping around inside of a big iron ball. Gravity defying acrobats that ran up and down poles like they were lying flat. They also had a group of acrobats that did all their amazing tricks balanced on the shoulders of one man, including riding a bicycle in a circle inside of a wheel. My hat’s off to that lady she made it look so easy!

They had six Bengal tigers, three white and three brown. They were rather playful tigers. One kept batting at the trainer’s stick like a kitten. And before you complain about abuse, let me say that these tigers were very healthy. Their coats were shiny and they were alert and active. The trainer was even giving one a hug and scratching its chest and the tiger was snuggling into him loving it. 

They had an archer that was quite amazing and left me rather unsettled as he shot arrows at his assistant’s head.  They also had kids rides on ponies, a camel, and an elephant. Once again the animals were happy. The elephant trainer never once touched his elephant with the stick and the elephant just wandered where it was supposed to. All he had to do was speak to them and they did what he asked. The camel was a bit cheeky. He was being rather stubborn and didn’t want to move without a treat first. His trainer called him a brat and  he just opened his mouth for his treat. Which he got lol.

Then of course the show ended with a bang, literally! A human cannon ball. My son was scared at first by the noise but now all he can talk about is how he wants to be shot out of a cannon.

All in all it was a great day. Whole family got to spend the day together and my son didn’t have a massive meltdown when it was done, but just a little one. I call that a win.

Prom 2017

Prom is upon us and once again the quest for a dress raises the stress levels of every girl around. Honestly I find the whole affair somewhat ridiculous. You have to find a dress, you can’t wear the one from last year, they are stupidly expensive and WTF guys get to rent theirs!

So we go shopping. My daughter is modest. She doesn’t like lots of skin showing so she wanted a long sleeved dress. HAHA! Everything we found was strapless or spaghetti strap. She tried some on then complained that she was naked! Then we found a two piece dress that had a long sleeved top but the skirt? It was poofy and barely came to mid-thigh! Who thought of that?

I told my daughter that if she loved the top then we could work around the skirt.

We went to JoAnn Fabrics and found a beautiful material that would match her top. We found a pattern and all the bits and bobs we needed to make it with.

Once home I sewed her the skirt that she wanted.

Long straight and with a split on the side.

She was very happy.

Not a traditional prom dress but she felt like a princess anyway.

Then came the hair problem. She went to the stylist to get it done up all pretty with a loose braid and all, but it didn’t last once she got home. It had to be redone. She she did it up the best she could and I fixed the rest. I’m no hairdresser but I think it turned out alright between the two of us.

Then the real fun began. She was going with group of friends and they all came to our house to take pictures together.

They have something here that is called the Grand March. I had never seen this until we moved here, but it’s kinda cool.  All the kids who are attending prom and their families, or really anyone who wants to, come to the high school auditorium. They announce each couple or group of friends and they parade across the stage showing off their dresses and tuxes. They often do some pretty goofy poses, like my daughter did. Then they crown the King and Queen and they have the royals’ dance. Then the kids go to prom and the parents go home. It’s kinda cool because everyone gets to see all the kids in their finery. 

So we got past another year. We spent less and laughed more. Prom was a success.

Have I Done This Before?

I was sitting in the line for the car wash the other day and I looked down to see my odometer and temperature looking like this….

Both were a repeating string of numbers. And at the same time I realized this explained my life pretty well. My car showed it all: repetition and zero miles an hour. Doing the same thing but not getting anywhere.

Life with an autistic child is often very repetitive and can often feel like you are spinning your wheels a lot and not getting anywhere.

Routines take over. Most days are exactly the same as the previous days and will be the same as the next one. We do the same things at the same time every day. Only the very small details change. Trying something new or going somewhere new can cause all sorts of issues. But at least we get through the day.

My kiddo is very stuck on the same clothes, so he wears the same four or five shirts and the same kind of jeans. Life gets complicated when he outgrows his clothes which is often these days. But at least he is wearing clothes.

My kiddo also has a very repetitive conversation track. We have the same conversation about eighty times a day, every day. Doesn’t mean he can’t talk about other things, he just doesn’t. I think it is easier for him to say the same thing rather than try to have a different conversation and have to struggle for the words. Kind of like reverting to default. So we talk about Moonlight’s (the cat) gray paws, over and over and over. But at least he is talking.

My daughter complains that we have the same meals all the time. It’s true. I’m not near as adventurous in the kitchen as I used to be. It’s too hard. I know you are laughing at me for that, but when every meal becomes a fight and disaster keeps striking while you are trying to cook, it gets old fast. I just want a quiet meal with no fighting. Pick your battles is my philosophy. So we eat a lot of the same things over and over. But at least we’re eating.

We have to go to the same car wash after every time we go shopping. We’ve tried to go without but it always caused a serious meltdown and we have an hour drive to get home. That’s a long drive when you have a Tasmanian Devil trying to destroy the back seat lol. Sometimes we’ve sat in line for half an hour to get through that particular car wash.  But it avoids a meltdown.

So, yeah my car says it all: repetition and zero miles an hour. But it also says that I come more than 83,000 miles and I’m headed west. I may not be moving at the moment, but my engine is running and I’m pointed in a direction. Just because I’m not getting anywhere now doesn’t mean that I haven’t accomplished a lot and I still have the power to keep going.

All in all it seems pretty optimistic to me.