Adjust my Crown and Attitude

Paperwork. I absolutely hate it. It signifies that I have more appointments to go to and more services to fight for.

I was waiting for some paperwork from the county. Having a daughter with autism who is now an adult, I feel I must get services for her in order for her to succeed in life and also to take the burden of driving, care, and other things off of her parents. Uh, that would be me. It took me months to just call there. I didn’t want to do it. I don’t know if it was asking for county help or just the thought of having to take her to another appointment. It’s just tiring.

I managed to call there about a week ago and answered some questions. I’m not very good on the phone. I need time to process questions and I felt rushed. The receptionist said if her IQ wasn’t 70 or below, she wouldn’t qualify. That’s so stupid I could scream. Her IQ is 74 and her deficits are enough to have her qualify for it—so says every autistic parent I have ever met! And furthermore, autistic kids can be genius and have IQ’s through the roof, but still not be able to function fully in society. Ask any professional and they will tell you, yes, they need outside help. I swear sometimes the county and social security just likes not having to pay for this stuff. Well if that’s the case, I’ll lawyer up.

Anyway, the papers came in the mail and I don’t know what it is about paperwork, but I got this sudden sense of dread. UGH. More shit to fill out. More explaining. More people not getting it. I just get tired of fighting for basic help from doctors, counselors, social security, and now the damn county. But, fight I must.

I opened up the packet and more dread. Now they wanted me to take her to the doctor to have them fill out stuff that backs up my claim of autism. The diagnosis from last year wasn’t good enough. They also wanted her doctor to say she had these issues. Like I don’t have enough stuff to do?

I’m not gonna play victim but does anyone ever think about the caregivers and parents who take care of these kids and how exhausting it is? But go ahead, throw in your extra papers and doctor visits. Assholes. I thoroughly enjoy visiting clinics and doctors. It’s fun.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this. But, the thing is, once county services and social security and other services are set up, it’s not a big deal. The burden of proof is on them to kick her off the services. And autism isn’t curable. So there you go. The only way she’d ever get kicked off is if she made too much money and if that was the case, would we need county services then? No.

I told my husband today that I get tired of always having things hanging over my head–and I don’t mean the sunshine. I mean, all the things I need to do. If I mess up, it feels like a whole lot of guilt associated with that. I’m not ever allowed to do nothing. I have to always be in fight mode, it seems. And that’s pretty damn exhausting. And not just with one kid, but with the other one too and her mental illness. I’m always go, go, go. And it feels wrong, in some ways, to just be like “You know, screw it today”. I feel like I have to always be doing something so we are heading in the right direction. And if I don’t, it seems someone reminds me often that I should be doing more.

Everyone has a breaking point, you know? And at times, I feel like I break my own sanity to save theirs. That’s not fair, but it’s life.

So the damn paperwork sits on the kitchen table for now because I don’t give a crap. I’ll get to it. It’s just today, I feel tired from the fight and from the endless questions and appointments that seem to have overtaken my life.

I realize I need to adjust my attitude, but days like this are hard. And it’s rare when someone comes alongside me and says, “Hey, you are doing the best you can. Take the day off. It’s ok.” I get angry at the fact that there is often no reprieve. So I have to adjust and adapt and take breaks if I need to. It will get done when it gets done.

We can’t always be heroes. My cape is in the wash machine.

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The suicide Game

I’m sitting in the eye doctor office waiting for my oldest daughter to finish her appointment. People walk past me. Patients sit across from me. But they would never know.

I’m tired. No, nix that. I’m depleted. I pulled my hair up in a presentable bun. Threw on some “good enough” clothes of jeans and a short sleeve black sweater. Tossed on my sensible flats even though nothing in my life seems all that sensible.

My husband stayed home. Thank God. I couldn’t have survived this day if he didn’t.

We both tried to resume some sense of normalcy. I ran to the store this morning to get donuts. Maybe copious amounts of sugar will make this day less awkward.

No, not really.

Yesterday my middle child sent me a text at 7pm telling me how she should’ve tried harder. The text was sent 7 minutes before. I instantly knew what that meant but was I too late? Just moments before I heard the water in the shower running. I didn’t know what I’d see on the other side of the door. I wiggled the handle but it was locked. I pushed on it as hard as I could and it popped open. My daughter was in the bathtub full of water, fully clothed with cuts up and down her arm. They were mostly shallow cuts.

My body started shaking. I could only express anger. “What the hell??” I managed to yell at her. She sat there sobbing.

The next hours were spent contemplating hospitalization or something else. We talked to her psychiatrist who said we didn’t need to hospitalize her unless she was unsafe. She wasn’t. We have done this 2 other times, once in a hospital. We knew to hide everything and to watch her like a hawk.

She was angry but wouldn’t say why. I knew that once her anger subsided, we’d be better off but sometimes her anger didn’t go away until the next day. So she treated her dad and I like monsters and then fell asleep. Usually we have approached this with lots of empathy, patience, and coddling but last night, I was done with that. I told her exactly how all of this made her dad and I feel and what would happen to us if she succeeded. She needed to hear it. And I figured all the empathy and egg shell walking hadn’t prevented a thing.

It seemed as if we had jumped back in time to a year ago. Nothing had seemed to improve despite all the damn therapy, drugs, hospitalizations, and doctor visits. We have gone broke trying to make her happy. And I’m sorry if I’m insensitive, but no one gives a fuck about the people who have to deal with this day in and day out. Everyone is concerned for her which they should be! But no one seems to care about the toll it takes on me, on her siblings, or on her dad. No one understands the cloud of shame, the anxiety from being on high alert, the inability to share what really hurts (because who can understand this?), the level of secrecy her siblings must have, and the days where we just don’t function that well. It’s like being in a war zone, all the time. Every counselor we speak to, every social worker, doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist is paid to help her. I’m glad they try. But who is there to help the rest of us?

Our time and energy is spent keeping her alive. We maneuver our lives so she can’t possibly end hers. We deplete ourselves trying to make her happy, but we become miserable. Her pain and agony become ours. There is no individual pain when it comes to mental health. Behind every depressed, suffering person is a family of people who suffer with them. Or die trying.

And yet through all of it, we are told things like we can’t give up hope, we have to fight, we can’t detach, we have to have empathy and show concern, we need to be rocks and never waiver.

Who can do all that, honestly? Who can lose hours of sleep, their own sense of sanity, and not turn bitter, angry, and depressed themselves?

Of course, I keep fighting (for someone who won’t fight for themselves) and trying (even though giving up sounds less painful). But I’m also angry and ridiculously fed up with this game. It’s becoming rather predictable. The ending, I still fear, because that part is always a mystery. I can’t know whether her cries for help are feigned suicide attempts or not. To guess wrong might end up in terrible regret. So I’m a puppet on her string, being pulled this way and that, tossed in a box and pulled back out for the show. This is my reality. It’s how I feel.

And the show must go on. But I don’t know how long I can keep going. It’s nothing but pure emotional torture and I’m exhausted. Sometimes I think a cancer diagnosis would be a relief. Life is hard when you feel like you are not in control of your own life anymore.

My life has become a series of power plays and coercive manipulation. How do I get my life back? How do I do it without causing great harm? That is my cunundrum.

There are no easy answers. I keep looking though.

She is in better spirits today. I sigh. This is the temporary relief in the raging storm of depression. I don’t know if it’s game, but I’m so tired of playing.

50 Versions of the F word

Whenever I’m watching TV or hovering over an online game my son is playing, I notice how the F word gets sanitized with frick , freaking, frock, or some other variation of the word.

While I state my own fair share of expletives from time to time, I know it’s still disrespectful to announce the word “fuck”. It brings back to mind looks of horror and gasps from when my mom heard me say it. I know it’s just a word-no better or worse than saying idiot or stupid, but it’s still not a word I want my kids using as verbs or adjectives. Honestly, the dictionary has a lot more descriptive words I prefer they learn instead of resorting to some language everyone else uses when pissed off.

So my kids try to get away with saying frick or Fook or something. And today I was feeling annoyed at how much I hear it. It could be any word, like “whatever” or “I know, right?”

The redundancy was exhausting my nervous system.

I turned to my son and said that from now on, if I hear that word or any version of it, expect to run around the yard 3x. He blurted out, “What the Frick?”

I said, “looks like you want to run.” He got upset and continued complaining, using F word versions of all kinds until he was up to 12 laps. At this point, his sisters and I were laughing. That’ll learn him, I guess.

I wasn’t trying to be wise, but I realized I killed two birds with one stone. Not only am I attacking his redundant word usage, but I also got him to exercise, something he’s not overly fond of.

Not sure if he’ll give up his F word variety show, but at least I tried. Parenting these days takes way more creativity. When I was a kid, I got a bar of soap to the mouth. Of course, I don’t agree with that at all but parents never knew how easy they had it.

Anyway, I got tired just watching him run 12 laps so hopefully it taught him something. Next attempt will be to make him memorize words from the dictionary. Haha.

Too Legit to Quit

Life passions are interesting, at least for me. I often feel like my passions fizzle out. I will take up a hobby one year and the next, I’m over it.

It’s amazing I homeschooled as long as I did (12 years to be exact).

I realize that I’m burned out. I probably have been for several years. Currently, I can’t handle a lot emotionally speaking. I turn into a useless ball of tears in the midst of conflict. I don’t hold on to hope. Sometimes I wish I’d get an incurable disease so the decision would be made for me. I just get tired of the fight.

You know… The fight. Always battling the words people say, my own emotions, my introverted and sensitive nature. I often don’t feel fit for such a harsh world. I don’t fit in with most women. I’m 40 and still don’t have a tribe. I’m starting to think that term is BS.

I realize I’m an irrational weirdo but life just has never felt easy. It’s always wrought with conflict. And now my kids have their own and I feel like I have to handle theirs too.

I recently told people I was done homeschooling. The question then becomes, “oh, then what are you doing next year?” I feel a sense of laziness because my plan is to do very little. I’m going to work from home 10 hours a week then pick up my kids from school. That’s about it.

Oh I could go rush back into full time employment but like I said, I’m burned out. I’m cynical, irritable, depressed, and don’t enjoy being around many people. The signs of burn out include isolation and moodiness. The remedy is rest and support. So I’m planning a year of just that.

People don’t realize the emotional toll I’ve had to deal with. I homeschooled one child on the spectrum, another with a mental health problem, and another who got lost in the mix. I didn’t keep up with their schooling and now I feel a sense of failure. I should’ve done more. But I was unable.

The year I had last year included several visits to the ER, mental health therapy on a weekly basis, partial hospitalization, doctor visits, psychiatry visits, physical therapy, surgery, eye and dental visits, and conflict almost everyday. It was comparable to being in combat. I wondered if it would ever end. I still do.

Although things are a little better, I don’t know what this year will bring. But I know my soul has taken a beating. I know I need a break.

I’ve lost any passions I had for life. My motivation for art has dwindled. While I love my kids, I think they stress me out too much. I need to find the things that don’t cause me anxiety. I’m not even sure what that is anymore.

There is guilt in admitting I need a break. In admitting motherhood is a drag. Because I always prided myself on being a mom, it feels like I am losing my identity. They’ll all be away from me next year. I’m scared of what being alone all day might do.

But it’s a phase. I’m hoping after some time, I’ll bounce back. Maybe I’ll find a new hobby. Maybe I’ll meet new people. Maybe I’ll feel hope again.

I’ll still be dealing with stress because life never hands us complete peace. We still have responsibilities. We can’t completely check out. But I know I can’t keep going full speed like I have been either.

It’s ok to quit. Sometimes quitting leads to new adventures. Or so I hope.

Entitlement or Depression

So yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. It happened after another high emotion incident with my teen.

She had been saying she was suicidal so her dad and I contemplated sending her to the hospital. After the last time, I wasn’t overly impressed with that option. It’s basically like an expensive holding area. So I opted to watch her like a hawk, hide all sharp items, and wait until her counseling appointment.

She seemed to lighten up and engage with us the next day so I took her shopping and we were chatting. She also was laughing and playing with her siblings earlier in the day. I asked her if she still felt suicidal and she said more so yesterday.

We went to her counseling. In what I think was an attempt to look sad, she put her hoody on and covered part of her face. Her entire demeanor changed. I went to tell the counselor what was going on. Then my daughter had her session and I waited in the waiting room.

The counselor wanted to speak to me at the end and said, again, she was concerned for her safety and I probably need to send her to the hospital and gave me a pamphlet to a nearby hospitalization program. I said, “so this is what we do? Just keep putting her in the hospital?” Yep. Until she gets better.

From my perspective, all this has done has made things worse. I’m not saying this is true of all kids, but I’m saying it’s true of mine.

This news upset me, of course. I had a few words with her but sat in silence all the way home. It was dejavu. I had done this once before and I wasn’t happy about uprooting my life, her siblings life, and doing this again. Last time was hard enough.

I honestly wanted to smash my car into a tree and do us both a favor.

I went home and I was angry. My husband and I argued. I left the house while he babysat her. She continued with her hoody, sad face.

While I was gone, I realized 2 things:

1. My mental health was suffering because of the stress.

2. I was giving her too many of my emotions, so much so, I had none left for anything or anyone else.

I hate to say it, but I think I’m dealing with an entitled brat.

Over the years, the pattern has been that if I didn’t jump high enough to make her happy, she’d run away, leave suicide notes, cut herself, or generally make everyone else pay. My response has always been to try to fix it. Especially the suicide stuff. And she eats it up.

I’m not saying that she doesn’t have depression and I shouldn’t take it seriously, but the thing she’s always had is me. All of me. My time, my energy, my emotions, and even to some degree my marriage. We fight more than ever about her and how my husband elevates her in our relationship.

I feel at this point someone is gonna give me crap, so let me just say that I have run myself ragged trying to help her and I’ve done everything I was told to get her therapy, put her on meds… The whole gamut of help. This is not my first rodeo.

She refuses to help herself. She refuses meds, eating healthy or eating at all, blames all her problems on depression, refuses to take accountability. I rush in and help her.

But yesterday I said no more. I didn’t tell her that but I told myself that.

I will not be sucked into her emotional vortex.

I will not let my day be ruined by her moods.

I will not put my other kids on the back burner.

If she wants to walk this road again, I will admit her to the hospital for a 72 hour hold but I will not cry, plead, beg, or sit up there coddling her.

I’m done having my emotional state resemble hers.

She will lose her job, her ability to get a license, and will be behind in school. She will not get to enter classes where she could have made friends (something really important to her). She will lose her family relationships to a degree. But she will not find the same amount of emotional energy as last time. I refuse to lose myself and my values to help her. I will still help her, be a good parent, but I will not sacrifice my mental sanity for hers.

I will literally emotionally detach. That doesn’t mean I will be mean, but will treat her like a stranger that I met in a grocery store. I will afford her pleasantries and kindness and help, but I will not be her savior.

Why? This might sound a bit harsh to people reading. But here’s the thing. Yesterday she told us she was mad we controlled her. I only did two things that could be viewed as controlling: took her phone away for a time (she got it back) and told her she couldn’t engage with an unhealthy friendship. Oh I’m so controlling!!

Right after that, she started this downward spiral. When I continued to put my foot down, she brought up suicide. Who is controlling who?

I’m not playing her games but I will get her help. Just don’t expect much from me other than rides and more debt. It’s gonna hurt her more than me when she realizes I won’t play into. The only worry I have is she is good at getting therapists to see me as the bad guy. Last time she convinced them that I was to blame and I had to sit through 45 minutes of them asking questions about my brothers suicide. If she can’t control me, she controls how others see me.

I love my daughter but the past five years have sucked me dry. My other kids have suffered. My marriage has too. My husband said to me last night that she seems to want to tear us apart. She is an emotional vampire. I hate saying that about my own child but she’s learned how to fill her pain by manipulating and attention seeking tactics. I won’t give in to them any longer.

I will only own what is mine. I will not go down like this. I’m important too. I hope someday she realizes that self pity and manipulation never works. But until then, I will protect myself from it all.

The Land of Make Believe

There’s a big hole in my heart right now.

For the past 5 years, I’ve been dealing with a daughter who is mentally ill. It is always at different levels. Sometimes it was cutting and suicide notes. Other times it’s lying. Lately, it looks like refusing to take medication and not caring for herself which leads to suicidal thoughts. And in between, she thinks the most important thing for her right now is to make friends. It’s devastating to her to not have someone who is constantly in her ear telling her they love her, but that person will never be her parents. She’s basically pushed us into the corner and glorified the Almighty Friend “who gets me”.

Of course, I’m angry. I don’t sleep. I have to babysit her and she’s 15. I’ve been in and out of counseling and therapy offices. I’ve been in Emergency Rooms and talked to social workers. I’ve taken her to DBT and admitted her to a month long hospitalization program. I’ve hidden sharp objects, watched her scare her siblings and threaten if they “tell”, and run away from home. The cops have been to our house at least 3 times over the years. It’s embarrassing, shame filled, and leaves me feeling confused most days. Where the hell did I go wrong?

And in between, I tried to treat her like a normal teenager who is able to make decisions. That was my big mistake. Because she isn’t one.

As parents, we have let her make decisions she wanted to make. We sent her to a school she thought was great. She ended up bullied. We warned her about certain friends and now she’s been in at least 3 manipulative relationships, one boarding on predator. When I try to point out the red flags I see, she gets mad and glares at me like I’m the devil. I barely know her anymore. We decided to put a stop to one really bad relationship and it’s like pulling her out of a cult. This girl convinced my daughter that we hated her, we didn’t understand her, and over numerous phone calls, social media chats, and other means, she poisoned my daughter into thinking that their friendship was all that mattered. She’s gone from boy crazy to lesbian to bisexual in a matter of months too because this “friend” is also a bisexual. When I confronted this friend, she acted as if she had a right to my daughter. Don’t tell me lesbians can’t be predators. They sure can. Not to mention this girl is mentally ill herself.

It’s my bad for assuming she is ready for all of this kind of stuff. Of course, I had no idea the lengths they were chatting, the things they were talking about. I didn’t know my daughter would stop taking her medication and refuse to care about herself because she was so wrapped up into another dysfunctional human being. And it’s not about her sexual orientation either. It’s all about how she can’t seem to think for herself–she is always trying to please the person who tells her what she wants to hear and belittle, shit on, and basically degrade anyone who doesn’t. If it was a boy, I’d be equally disgusted with her behavior. No 15 year old should be that wrapped up in another person.

Some days I just can’t believe this is my life.

It makes me wish I had never had children. It makes me feel insane. It makes my mental health feel like it is failing too.

I sit in counseling sessions where they tell me I’m half to blame–or at least they suggest it. They say I need to speak better, detach, not take it personally. They tell me stories of teachers who have to do this at work. The difference is, teachers go home and they don’t have to deal with that same shitty kid. They get a break. They get relief. And once the kid moves to another grade, that kid is no longer their problem. So don’t tell me how to f’ing feel or compare me to a teacher who has to care for some random child.

This is my kid. The baby I held, the girl I watched grow up, the teen I am now uncertain of. I wonder if I’ll be burying her in a few years. I wonder if she will turn a corner. I wonder if I’ll still be here to see my youngest grow old (because of all the stress and health problems I now face). It feels so very lonely.

I keep hearing that people will pray for me. I pray myself. But what does prayer do, I wonder. It seems at times if God takes away and gives and offers no explanation. My daughter could take her life and I’ll have to find some answer like “Only God knows why” or “It was his plan” or some other bull shit. I’ve been through this before with my brother. He took his life and I heard all the Christianese. I heard his decision was based on that “rock music” he listened to, the dad that wasn’t in the picture…anyone can find a reason to blame if they look hard enough.

But I feel guilty for being so fatalistic. Maybe it’s my way of preparing for the worst. I wish I had one of those stories to tell–the ones I hear so often in church about how “God gets the glory”. My life sucked ass but then God came into the picture and swooped in and now my daughter doesn’t have depression anymore! I just can’t let my head go to such fantastical places. They don’t exist. And never have. In fact, most of those stories are made up, if you ask me.

I suffer with depression too, although it seems to be more situational than anything. But I struggle with living each day. I have to pull myself out of that funk and keep going. I don’t know if she knows how to do such things. She says she’s tried all the coping skills she learned in therapy, but her go to is clinging to crazy people and cutting herself. She says the only way it will end is if she dies.

She only speaks what she feels and I can’t blame her for that. But I am angry that my days are becoming less and less my own and more and more something I can’t control. And I’m becoming someone I barely know, sucked into the abyss of therapy appointments, anxiety, and the unknowns. I worry about every decision I make–will it end up like before? Will she attract another narc? Will I have to talk her off the ledge or bring her to the ER again? Will she run off for good this time?

There seems to be no answers, not in prayers and not in life. And I am slipping too. Each day I let go pieces of my own dreams and self. And I’m just waiting my world to stop spinning. If it ever will.