This afternoon I let out a deep breath that I didn’t know I had been holding. I think I had been holding on to this breath since September, but particularly the last two weeks as our family went through a very tough two weeks coming to terms with personal and family stress. We had not had any time to turn off any of our stressors, so our whole family was on high alert. I remembered the social worker at the hospital telling me that a lot of family with a diabetic child end up developing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and to remember to take time out to care for myself and my partner to care for himself. When I told her about how both of us suffered from anxiety, and were pretty intense already and had strategies in place to manage our stress most of the time, she told me that it was good. We would probably fare better than most, as we were realistic about our strengths and limits. Still, the last two weeks I really felt like I was experiencing PTSD and wondered to myself, how could I bounce back from this?
That was when I decided to control what I could control. I reminded myself to only do what was necessary to survive. The rest would wait until I felt stronger again in my own skin. I would meditate and do yoga no matter where I squeezed it in. I would write and attend my writers’ meeting. I would make sure to sleep enough. I would make time to talk to my partner even if just five minutes a day. I would connect to other people even when my body wanted to run away. I would reach out to others knowing that that is the best way to get better-let others know you are out there. And then I prayed. I asked God for strength. I asked the Universe to lead me to the right people to help me, to help Michael, to help Dad, to help us all. I realized that even on our worst days, many things still worked out for the best. Beautiful things happened to me during the day with the kids I work with. Michael got an award at school for his bravery in handling his new diagnosis. Dad got some personal appreciation at his job and a friend reached out. Good is out there. We only have to look for it and believe things will get better.
What was harder to do was stay optimistic through all Michael’s tantrums and testing the last two weeks. The aggression was gone, but the attitude and disrespect was there. This weekend when I decided to calmly address his feelings and mine while he pulled out his strategies and we talked about using them, I was reminded that he was also acting out due to feeling powerless. So this weekend Dad and I responded with giving him some power with conditions, explaining what we expected and letting him handle the consequences of those actions, good or bad. And it worked. The weekend was a success! It reminded me of what weekends were like prior to diabetes coming into our life. I reminded me we could find our way as a family again. It reminded me to have hope. I had been scared to hope that things would improve until the winter. I was wrong. One baby step at a time with self care, respect for others, and using positive strategies and we are all getting back on track. Dad and I even managed a short in house date night yesterday!
Exceptional Parents, how often are you stuck in your family life with worry, stress and problems? How often have you lost hope that things will improve? If you have, remember you are not alone. Take things one step at a time. Eliminate anything but the essentials, and remember to put people, sleep and health above everything else. Also remember to trust that you know your body, your child and how your family needs to proceed better than anyone else. Things will improve. Don’t forget to celebrate the little joys even during the hard times. Your family is not exceptional for nothing. You will come through it. Until next time.