They can't all be light-hearted/funny/entertaining.
The topic itself (as listed) bothers me. So there are a couple things I want to clarify:
1) I know nothing about the challenges of actual diagnosed depression. I get depressed. I don't have depression. Huge difference.
What I DO know is that my advice about how to deal with being depressed about something related to raising a child with special needs should in NO way be construed as valid advice to give someone who struggles with depression...who is raising a child with special needs.
2) I reject the notion that depression "fits along with having a special needs child." Reject it.
I get depressed about a lot of shit (that sounds like I'm constantly depressed and that's poorly communicated. I just mean, on the rare occasions when I'm depressed, it's for any number of reasons)...including my special-needs child. Those issues are not related to special needs. 99% of the time they're related to my inability to master my own expectations. Getting the cart before the horse, if you will. Not accepting where things stand.
I'm so in love with the little girl Lily is. Raising her can be a chore. Sometimes the things she does depress me. Sometimes I need to search my soul to figure out whether the reason they depress me is valid, or whether my attitude is the true issue.
Alright, take the previous paragraph and replace Lily's name with Emma's. It's not special needs-related. It's me. The problem is me.
Unrealistic expectations. Failure to accept my children for what they are/where they are versus what I might have thought they'd be. That expectation could be as minor as..."I thought she'd grasp scientific notation with greater alacrity"...to..."I thought she'd be potty trained by now." In both cases, examination reveals that..."who fucking cares how she struggles with scientific notation. Let her learn at HER pace...not the pace YOU learned when you were in middle school. She is not you. She is different. Accept her. She is an awesome kid. Her mind is more directed to the artsy things you rejected when you pursued engineering." or "Who fucking cares how she struggles with potty training. She's not ready. Her body isn't giving her the signals that her brain is able to decipher as, this feeling means I need to go to the bathroom, i should do that. She's not doing it to spite you. She's doing it because she's just not ready yet. She is an awesome kid. She is bubbly and happy and full of life and energy. She is not her sister. She is not you. Let her be her."
That's me. That's my path. Depression does not come with the Lily package. It might be an option in other children's packages, but depression isn't standard with the Lily model. I can only speak to my path.
I'll say the thing that special needs parents say they hate: "I don't know how you do it." Even though I DO know how you do it.
I don't know how you deal with SIB's (Self-injurious behaviors)
I don't know how you deal with fecal smearing
I don't know how you deal with aggression
I don't know how you deal with non-verbal
I don't know how you deal with melt-downs
I don't know how you deal with elopement
Why? Because I'm not an autism expert. I'm a Lily expert. I know how to deal with Lily. And I know that how you deal with the above (if that's your path) is the same way that I "deal" with Lily's challenges...Love. I love that fucking kid sooooooo much. I'm responsible for her. I will be the best damned dad to Lily that I can be. It's a matter of personal pride, passion and love. Special needs parents hate to be told "I don't know how you deal with _____" because the answer should be obvious...because I love my kid. Duh.
|thoroughly posed picture of me attempting to look frustrated,|
depressed and, quite literally, "blue".
So...to return to the topic (at long last)...
When I am down, when I struggle, when I'm frustrated and at a loss...I remember that Lily is struggling more than I am struggling. I remember that Lily is more frustrated than I am. I remember how much I love that kid and how much I want to help her. I remember that Lily didn't ask for her struggles, she just deals with them as best she can, the only ways she knows how, and that sometimes her way can be rough on me. I remember that she's not doing it out of spite or payback. I remember that I love her unconditionally and that every time I put conditions on how happy I am with where Lily is, I remove the word "unconditionally" from the sentence. And that removing the word unconditionally from the sentence renders it nonsensical, false, abhorrent...I remove the conditions instead. I reboot. I redirect. I refocus. I remember. I love.
If you struggle with depression...not the "my kid is bullied at school and that makes me blue" kind of depression, but actual depression...simply pulling yourself up by the bootstraps isn't an option. You need help that I can't provide. If you're actually depressed and not just down...you don't benefit from rah rah speeches. You need medical/mental health assistance. You owe it to your kid and yourself to get it. To reiterate: None of my "remember love", "refocus", "consider her struggle" advice works if you suffer from diagnosable depression.
But if not...see above.
Saturday and Sunday's installments will be a bit more upbeat and frivolous...nobody reads on Saturday and Sunday anyway. Oreos...then yoga pants...yes.