Tag Archives: Depression

Perspectives. we are NOT one big “autism family”. Still…

Two days ago, I blogged about Isabelle Stapleton.

Incidentally, there were elections in Australia with the (expected) outcome of a new government that, to be honest, has me worry A LOT about the future where health, education and the general welfare of my family are concerned. While following the events of election day, I also followed the reaction of “the autism community” (parents with autistic children, autistic adults, advocates) to the attempted murder-suicide in the Stapleton family. The ‘community’ is “reeling”. It is also divided.

In brief, some focus on the act committed by the mother (as I did in my post) others have sympathy with her and blame “the system”, ie lack of support. And now the different blocks leash out at each other.

I am writing this as a reminder for myself of what I have already previously observed : we are all different. There is no such thing as ‘the autism community’. Let’s stop pretending there is.

With the stats being what they are (let’s say 1:100 to have an international, not gender specific value), there is no way I have much in common with ALL of the autism parents out there. Other than being a parent to a child with autism, that is.
You don’t know me. We are not “in it together”.

And although I honestly appreciate the insightful blogs of adult autistics, they are not only extremely different than me, but also most probably are very different than my autistic son will ever be when he is their age.

We are all different. We see things different.
We have been through different things in our very different lives. One may feel the pressure of raising a special needs kid getting to them, others might have known the mother from the blog or IRL, so they might think “This could be me one day” (in this case GET HELP). But the other side might feel the grip of fear that eugenics is still a spectre on the horizon and the understanding that parents worldwide kill their own children with special needs is unsupportable for them – because they could be the  victims themselves.

Now as it happened, I too felt some sort of lose connection to it, and the need to comment, to reflect on it, to appeal to parents to stop seek justification for what is an act of crazy non-explainable attempted murder. Psychosis is the only explanation and for anyone who has come close to this, it has nothing to do with the reasons, but all with psyche, trust me.
And I am now over it. I can’t help the Stapleton family. Of course not. I could not then, and I cannot now. Out of respect to Issy, this should not become a political case. Her life has been too public for too long already. Think of her and her family, or pray if you do, her life is still in danger from what i know.

So we are not one big “autism family”. And that’s ok.
Let’s stop judging each other for reactions to what has happened. Look out for those who are close to you, right there and now, and maybe just ask them, are you ok? Be attentive, truly listen, find out how others really feel. Also be honest about it yourself. It is ok to say “I can’t go on no more”. Please keep talking.

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That the best we can all do.

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The a.card or how not to make friends.

I am not ok. yeah, #fml !
Lots of stuff has happened already this year, health things, money things, no-job-for-me things, and I feel that it’s getting all a bit much.

I know it sounds whingey, but after soldiering on for well over a decade now, at the moment, I feel my life has simply a little bit too many obstacles to be an adventure. And I feel alone.

Yes, I know, the best remedy for some of my problems would be to MINGLE, make friends, get out.. but, unfortunately, that’s not that easy for me.

In my mother tongue, there is an expression for a situation where you are somewhat handicapped so you can only lose :

you have been handed the “arsehole card.”

three_acesThe origin isn’t quite clear, maybe soccer, maybe card games.. For really desperate cases, people will sometimes say : that’s a double a-card !
Well, let me present you :
my personal TRIPLE arsehole card pack!

1. I am foreign. That isn’t a problem as such, it makes for a good conversation starter. But expatriated twice now I have found confirmed what expats told me before and it was the same in the first country I lived. Here is how it goes : You meet new people. First it’s kind of exotic that you are foreign and they want to know lots of stuff. You tell. (Europe is very far and different for Australians). THEN people get used to you and get back to talking about other things. Now you need to find something concrete that you have in common with your new friends (parenthood alone doesn’t usually cut it), or you drop out of the gang. Because you cannot relate. You do not share the collective memories they have, you are not fond of those particular cookies, you don’t know that tv series!  You might throw in an anecdote about your stuff and your memories.. but their interest  only goes so far and in reality, now you create more distance. You might unintentionally criticize something they cherish since their childhood. You start to get those empty glances that mean “don’t know, don’t care”. Retreat.

2. I have been into hell and back.
Now without trying to sound dramatic, and certainly without giving any details, I had some VERY extreme life experiences in the past, in the context of and following domestic violence.
I have ‘survived’ ,as they say, long-term physical and mental abuse. I also have PTSD.
When we make friends (or try to) at first, we basically keep it a bit light and casual, and as I said under point 1. already that isn’t without difficulties for me.

But then, sometimes, I just can.not.small.talk.

I will make a “friend” one day, then see her again and, while she might be open for another chat or maybe even wants to have a coffee somewhere – my on-board mood regulator being instable as it is, I won’t be able to deal with it, and will back out, hide away, cancel.
Or I will just talk a LOT, and I mean TOO MUCH, so that I don’t have to really talk, if you know what i mean. Either way, I am not extremely good, or simply no company at all.

finally, 3. My child has autism.
Please don’t think that i am BLAMING my son – who obviously struggles with social interactions – for my own failure to connect with MY peers. But! I am desperately trying to get at least some loose friendships going with mothers of kids in his grade so that HE can also profit from it. Don’t all kids find friends in school ? Sadly, this just doesn’t work, as in addition to my own problems (a-cards 1 and 2) the kids aren’t overly keen to hang out with Nemo either. Oh, he has really progressed with peer integration during the last year and spends his lunch break with a group of boys he calls friends. I am thrilled about that. But there are still incidents on a daily basis. I have been exchanging mobile numbers like a needy teenager with some of the mums, and honestly, without much result.
No child is begging their mum to have my son over after school or for a sleepover. We do not get invited for birthdays or barbeques.
This is actually why I hurt most.

Talk about depression : it’s ok to be sad.. sometimes!

I don’t know if it’s really appropriate to publish a link to a blog here, whose gifted and inspiring writer just suffered a heartbreaking tragedy in her family… Those who know who I mean will understand why I felt compelled to post this now. I had this ‘in a drawer’ for a while, obviously I have my own experiences with depression and related illnesses. Please read.

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You wake up in the morning and you want to hide under your blanket, wishing it was still night and you did not have to face another day. And.. people !
All you want is to be alone, right there, under your blanket.
What’s going on ?
Maybe you have had recent grief in the family, or you are dealing with a separation, with sickness or with financial problems. Maybe there is just no particular reason.
You just wake up and it’s there. The sadness. The worry. The fear. Depression?

vincent-van-gogh-final-paintings-1Many more people are concerned with depression and it’s related disorders than we usually think. It’s not just for 18th century painters an emos anymore.
Everybody can be depressive, or will suffer from the symptoms of depression, at least temporarily, once or several times in their life.

But wether you call it ‘your black dog‘ (like Churchill) or melancholy, wether you are blackdog (1)already fully diagnosed and labelled with bi-polar disorder or only have a vague idea of the symptoms and you think that this really has never happened to anyone in your family….
Just talk to someone about it! You are NOT alone. And you can get help.

Of course, we all know ‘problems are unsexy’ and sometimes it is hard to talk about something so confusing and overwhelming to people who are close to you and may already suffer along with you.  But you don’t have to! Talk to your doctor, ANY doctor really, because today, even the GP of a remote village will be somehow schooled in how to deal with mental disorders, depression and the like.

In any case, a doctor will be able to refer you to either more specialized care or organizations in your area that can help you to approach your personal black dog.

Because, you know, he’s not really evil. pic_70950(see?)
But, sometimes, sadness can make you angry, and many people concerned by depression push away others who just try to help. This causes a lot of distress in many families, and can be the root of more obvious problems, like alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence… The extreme fears and confusion felt by some depression patients is what sometimes drives them to do the really ‘insane’, the ‘crazy’ things. Our society needs to make it easier to prevent these things.

Today, we are also  more aware of how depression can affect children at an early age, and for them, just like the older generation, it can be very hard to grasp what their feelings could mean. depression_large
Children naturally just want to be happy and play, elderly people still fear the association with ‘the crazies’ that once stigmatized any mental disorder. It can be very confusing, scaring and very isolating. But times have changed! In the end we all have a little bit of crazy inside us. No should have to deal with their depression alone anymore. It’s ok to be feeling sad and you would be surprised to know how many people do !

Do you know someone who has that sad look in their eyes, even when everyone else is having a ball ? Has one of your friends or relatives more and more retrieved into their own little shell ? Talk to them about it.
Sometimes it’s hard to start a conversation about it. Don’t be too pushy, but show that you are there. Show them it’s ok.
It’s OK to be not OK.
We can’t all be clowns and entertainers everyday. Unfortunately, this is what our society seems to expect us to be though : Shiny happy people !  (not a feelgood song, i believe). Everywhere, indeed.

For some people, the key may be in a change of attitude. So some days may be a bit ‘overhung’ and black. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a happy, fulfilled live. There will always be sun too.
It needs sun and rain to make a rainbow, doesn’t it ?

The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. ~
Carl Gustav Jung (Swiss psychiatrist 1875 – 1961)

Counselling can often help to get through a hard time or deal with light chronic depression. There is no shame to see a “shrink”. Just make sure , that you find the person that is right for you, the one you can talk to, in confidence.
Don’t hesitate to change until you find the One !

For others, medication might just be the better solution.
happy_pills-300x214

Oh, I know! No one wants to be reduced to a happy vegetable or get dependant and slide into drug abuse. But medication for mental disorders have changed a lot in the last decades. Doctors are more careful with doses and see to adapt these to the individual patient. We are talking about supervised, reasonable drug use here, not doctor hopping and pill popping!

Depression is an illness, it can chronic or temporary. You would not go and experiment on acute blood pressure problems with over the counter medication either, so leave it to the professionals. Science and doctors know so much more today about the mechanisms of depression, the chemicals of our brain: medication has improved significantly. Of course, talk to them about how they effect you  during the whole period that you take these pills. Side effects can be huge, but should only be temporary. Not all drugs work on all people, and you can’t just stop them abruptly, either, so listen to any advice.
Again, it may be for a lifetime, or only for a few weeks, but you don’t need to deal with it all alone, there, under your blanket.

The first step is always to talk.
TALK to someone if you are feeling down.
TALK to someone who seems to be down.
Do it Today.   You might even save a life.
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useful links :
just google depression, really. It’s as easy as that.
Add your country/town for local help.
– help to start a conversation “RUOK?”