I feel so angry right now, angry and full of self-pity. It is not a fun stage, not in the least. I am feeling angry that once again our life has been thrown up in the air and our whole family has to deal with another big diagnosis- Type 1 diabetes. Lots has started making sense. I am seeing patterns, like blood sugar highs and lows and temper tantrums in between that Michael has had. I am also seeing how healthier eating will now definitively be a part of our family life. We have no choice unless we want to watch Michael get sick and suffer again. But I also keep reminding myself daily that diabetes is not happening to me. It is happening to Michael. It is his burden to bear, not mine. I am merely an instrument to teach him how to shoulder this new challenge appropriately, as optimistically as he can, and learn how the anxiety management strategies he learned last year can be put into practice. This is not as easy as it seems. I have good days being an Exceptional Mom and not so good days. I have days when crying is what gets me through. Others where I laugh and can see the lighter side of things. More and more what this latest challenge is showing is that life is all about balance. It is about learning how to live by eating right, exercising, treating others with respect ,and living in harmony with the world. This can only be done when you are living in harmony with yourself.
Forgiving ourselves is also at the top of the list. Things don’t happen to us because we did something bad. That was something I thought when I was a kid. Things happen for us, not to us. I am really trying to embody this now in my life and teach it Michael. Our family was struggling for a few years with nutrition and food. Dad and I have both struggled, as do many married couples, with communication as parents and as a couple. Well guess what? When your kid has diabetes all you do is communicate. You have no choice unless you want your kid to get sick. For a lot of couples, when children get sick it destroys the relationship. In our case, when Michael has struggled he has grown stronger, and Dad and I have grown stronger as a couple. With autism, we were brought closer together eventually, though there were lots of ups and downs on the way. I feel the same thing happening with Michael’s diabetes. We are all growing stronger though there are definitively moments of weakness that we are all acknowledging. You can’t grow if you don’t acknowledge and live through pain. It gets easier with time.
In going through this latest challenge, I have been combing my brain remembering how I handled coming to terms with Michael’s autism seven years ago. I am remembering how I went from blame, anger and fear to acceptance, forgiveness and happiness again. I realize that a huge portion of it was due to self-care and compassion towards myself and my child. Here are 7 ways that self-compassion and care to yourself and your child can get you and your child through acceptance of the diagnosis:
- Don’t fight the 7 stages: First things first, do not fight going through all the stages to acceptance no matter how long it takes. For some it is faster than others, but getting to the end will happen just like in any race.
- Make time to laugh and unwind: This is a tricky one especially if you are in the anger or denial stage, but laughter is so important. Watch a funny movie. Read a funny book. Spend time with your partner or a friend that makes you laugh. It will restore your soul as your mind comes to terms with something major.
- Remember your child is still your child-not a diagnosis: It is natural you will be focusing on helping your child handle their new diagnosis. However, remember that this diagnosis is not them, just a part of them.
- Do something for you alone that brings joy: What brings you joy? Is it going for a massage, a workout, a lunch? Is it meeting a friend, going for a walk, curling up with a good book? Do what makes you feel alive to remember even during difficult times you are still alive, inside and out.
- Enjoy doing things with your child that you did before: Don’t let a diagnosis stop you from playing with your child in a fun way, enjoying their quirkiness and doing things like going to the park, baking, watching tv together. They are still your children and you need not change how your treat them.
- Remind your child (if they are old enough) that their diagnosis is not THEM: If a child is old enough to understand, remind them not to use their diagnosis as an excuse not to live a full life. If they are babies, just don’t let their challenges mentally or physically mean they can’t strive for perfection, or what perfection will be for them. We all have a gift and something beautiful to offer the world.
- Seek support as a parent and for your child if they need it: Don’t be afraid to seek support for yourself and for your child if you both need it in dealing with a new diagnosis. Find other parents to talk to and playgroups for your child to attend where they could meet other children like them and form relationships. This is also important for healing purposes.
Exceptional Parents, how have you handled accepting your child’s diagnosis? Where are you now in the process? It’s ok if you are stuck at a stage. In time, you will move to the next one and may bounce around for a while before acceptance. Your child too will be struggling. Be patient with them. Be patient with yourself. You will both find your way if you take it one day at a time and remain kind and compassionate towards yourself and your child. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.
For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.