A friend reminded me today that there was a time when we use to speak in a way that wasn’t so hopeful. In the beginning when autism was new and we were learning how to speak about it and view this new world. She got me thinking. I wasn’t always this positive.
When Oakley was diagnosed, I was a first time mom and had no idea what I was doing. I was tired, overwhelmed, and dealt with post partum depression pretty significantly. Throw autism in the mix and I was lost. I wanted people to understand, to help, and to offer their support and acceptance for my child. I wasn’t getting it from any but a few close family members and the thought of those who didn’t try made me unappreciative of those who did and bitter towards the ones who didn’t. I think a portion of my content in the beginning expressed this wrath and it wasn’t right. It was a mistake I’m embarrassed to admit today, but I learned and I promised myself to never let myself go that far off the edge ever again. That time in my life changed me and made me who I am today.
Today, I am strong. I am happy, positive, and full of good vibes. Or at least I try to be. That is the message I preach today and one I don’t ever plan on changing. Having a public Facebook page and blog has made me prone to other’s criticism about who I am. Some think because I’m so positive about autism and life, that I’ve never gone through anything hard so I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to be caught up in the feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, and sadness or any tough emotion that comes with raising a child with special needs.
I’ve felt every single one of those emotions and I felt them deeply. Some I still feel. And not just because of autism, but because of every day hard things that life throws. I’ve experienced trauma, depression, anxiety… you name it. I shouldn’t have to justify my positivity with my hardships just so people can understand why I am the way I am. I guess that’s the world we live in.
You know what I also felt? Control and determination. I developed a drive to control my emotions, my mental health, and my life. When I carried onto the depression, anxiety, anger, and sadness, my body took a toll. I gained weight, I was fatigued, I slept all the time, never ate good, or exercised. I was a pity party and for me, it wasn’t okay. I was better than that.
A friend told once told me, “You have to heal your brain to heal your body”. I’ve never heard such truer words. My mind set had to get better to want to take care the rest of myself and starting with my brain had to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. So here’s what I did.
- I let go.
All of that anger and bitterness I had towards people- I let it go. I was done asking for help. Done trying to get people apart of my son’s life to understand him. It was easier than I thought it would be and years later, I’m thankful I did what I did. Sometimes, you just have to let go of people who don’t make you feel good. This doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean those people were bad people. It just means you weren’t meant to have a meaningful relationship. And that’s okay.
2. I stopped feeling sorry for myself
No one and I mean no one but yourself is going to pull yourself up. You have to do it for yourself first and then for your kid(s). Your mindset is your responsibility and no one else’s. Nobody is responsible to give you validation. You own your own validation of who you are. That’s where your control lies. Use it.
3. I surrounded myself with the people and things that make me happy
Once I had cut the negativity from my life, it was so easy to see the blessings I was surrounded by. The people I wanted to be around, the joy I wanted to have, and the mindset I wanted to lead. Autism, depression, and anxiety were never my enemies. I was. I was the only thing in the way of living the life I wanted to live. If you want something, act on it. Don’t wait for someone to save you. Save yourself.
One day, the fog cleared. I knew who I was. I found my place in this world. My message about autism has nothing to do with my mental health and my writing needed to shift from that. This was about Oakley. This was about his struggles, his life, his triumphs, and the ever so awe-filled beauty that he brings to this world and to his daddy and I’s life.
My perspective changed. My writing changed. Not everyone supported it, but that didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was I was creating an environment that was hopeful, positive, and respectful to my son and all autistic individuals.
My hope is that when someone comes across my page, they will see that and it will help them shape their perspective.
Because that is exactly who I needed when this journey began for me.