Autism and Anxiety

June 21st, 2017

I have been quiet for a while as I had been dealing with extreme anxiety and mild depression. Yes, this ever cheerful, optimistic, pushing forward against all odds Autism Mama Bear found herself surrounded by darkness and fear. It is going to be a very personal confession, as I believe it will help other parents out there who struggle with constant guilt, worries and fear…

As you know, our Booboo Bear has been in a runaway mode for a while, which had always been our greatest concern, because he cannot grasp the concept of danger. That’s one of the reasons our house is now more secure than the Alcatraz prison. That being said, anyone who lives in this ASD household automatically becomes the inmate… Saying, that Autism affects just a person on the spectrum could not be further from the truth. It affects the entire family, even community and school. Looking back, when we were in Cyprus, the entire class was deprived of certain art materials, like glue, paint, flour, etc. because of our

boy’s compulsion to eat these things. The teacher, in order to avoid constant tantrums, preferred to hide those when Booboo was around… It broke my heart. At least now he is in the class where pica is present and dealt with accordingly (or so I want to believe).

When I see well-meant comments on social media saying stuff like: “he has so much energy, just take him to the park or swimming pool, let the kid be a kid! You remember when you were his age?”, I feel like screaming. I do remember being his age! However, I did NOT have autism and neither did any of my friends. There were no kids on the spectrum at my school, playground, community or anywhere else, and yet “institutions” were not overcrowded either. This “neurological disorders epidemic” is getting out of hand. I often get to talk to other parents, who go through the same insanity as we do, and I realize how vast of a problem ASD is! Our society is going to face a rather dark future if the trends continue, and the real issue is not addressed and dealt with accordingly.

Last Saturday Booboo was with his grandparents and the rest of our big family (aunties, uncles, cousins…). He always enjoys being with the people he knows and loves and, more importantly, who love him a lot. Alas! Last weekend he managed to master his prison break plan to perfection… He got out of Papa’s room straight to the door and off to the street, running faster than any world record breaker). Uncle almost got him when he found his second wind and sped off, away from the house… Thankfully Yiayia jumped into her car and drove after our boy, saving the day (and Booboo’s life)! Nonetheless, when I found out about this adventure, I could feel my whole body shaking uncontrollably, as if someone plugged me to high voltage power source. Physically I felt like my system was shutting down – I could not breathe, lungs tightened, I almost blacked out, my heart was beating so fast I thought it would jump out of my chest… Cold sweat all over me, overpowering weakness, blackout… Mark wanted to rush me to ER as we both thought it might be a heart attack. But after forcing myself to slower breathing in my closed hands (like with hyperventilation), sitting upwards,  with car windows rolled down, praying and hearing Mark’s calming voice brought me back. Anxiety does not happen overnight. It builds up over time… I kept my emotions and fears inside, because I didn’t want to burden anyone with them, plus I wanted to look tough. After all, I am THE Mama Bear, to whom other parents come for advice and look up to. I could not disappoint all these people, and more so, my own family. So, like a twig, that was bent, under too much pressure on each side, I finally snapped. I lost control. I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t come up.

Seeing my son, who was making such a  huge progress in the last few months, back in pull-ups, having outbursts of aggressive behaviors (leaving my arms and legs covered in bruises), trying to escape from any place we take him to (even his own home), etc. was simply too much to handle. All other pressures of life piled on top of that, making us all quite depressed. It was hard to find joy in anything anymore. Autism reaped plentifully. But through it all, we were never alone! I know God was watching over us, even when we couldn’t feel or hear Him. Recently, when I was studying the Book of Job, it reminded me what I should be doing. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. You will thank me later, ha ha.

It is OK not to be OK! As long as you press on, and are not afraid to admit that sometimes you need help. If you are struggling with anxiety and don’t have anyone to talk to, please send me a message on Facebook. I will gladly listen and help you get back up.

Love you all dearly. Peace!