Just a Mother Sharing How Autism & Mental Illness has Imapcted our Family

Another Ordinary Sunday

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Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be.

~Thomas a Kempis

Sunday… a day for watching football, getting end of the week chores out of the way, or perhaps lazily laying around reading your favorite book, right?  Not exactly, at least not the Sunday in our house yesterday, it played out just a little bit differently.

I knew we were in for an adventurous day when my son woke up that morning and immediately began obsessing over breakfast, followed by obsessively asking if he could phone a friend of his in the hopes that his friend could come over that day.  You might be thinking to yourself  “what’s so out of the norm about that?  A teenager boy wanting food and friends. what’s the big deal?”  Normally, in most families that wouldn’t be a big deal unless you have a child with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, an inability to empathize, and  impulse control challenges. When you combine those challenges together, the small issues (like breakfast), become huge issues in a matter of moments.

When Jordan came downstairs the first words out of his mouth were “I’m hungry, make me breakfast.” I calmly and politely informed him that he should go make himself some cereal or wait for about thirty minutes and I’d make him and my husband cinnamon rolls. Bewildered as to why he should have to wait thirty minutes, Jordan began to whine, complain, and repeatedly express to me how “I should get up off my lazy ass and get in the kitchen and make his breakfast,” (as you can tell, boundaries and respect are not one of my son’s strong suits). I informed him again that I was in the middle of doing something and reminded him of the options I had given him previously. You’d think it would end there, but no, he continued to make remarks about how he was hungry and I needed to attend to his needs immediately.  I chose to ignore the behavior and carry on with what I was working on. When the thirty minutes were up, I made him the cinnamon rolls. Instead of a thank you, I received a ” It’s about time you got off your ass and made my food.”

Immediately after breakfast Jordan wanted to call his friend which wasn’t a problem. I explained that he could call his friend once and only once, after that he’d need to wait for his friend to call him back if he didn’t answer. We love that Jordan has a friend who enjoys spending time with him and doesn’t mind the little idiosyncrasies that may bother another individual. The problem occurs when his friend doesn’t answer the phone. Jordan becomes anxious, frustrated and obsesses over why his friend is not answering the phone.

A few years back Jordan had another friend who had a hard time working through some of my son’s challenges, which is perfectly understandably. Jordan would constantly call this friend, want to go to his house (he lived right next to us), and had a difficult time understanding when this child was unable to spend time with him.  It would cause him to have severe meltdowns at home and exhibit self-deprecating behavior. Unfortunately, in the end, Jordan had ruined the friendship.  Jordan’s friend felt overwhelmed and couldn’t handle Jordan’s persistence in spending time with him.  It was extremely heart-breaking and I knew it caused my son to take a huge hit to his already fragile self-esteem. My husband  and I had tried to prevent him from calling this child repeatedly, but Jordan just logically could not understand why it wasn’t appropriate. In his mind, he saw absolutely nothing wrong with his actions.

Needless to say, my husband and I now try to ensure that Jordan doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past. So when Jordan was unable to reach his friend yesterday morning we were prepared for what the day had in store for us, we’ve gone though it more times than I can count.  Within minutes of hanging up the telephone my son spent every five minutes repeatedly asking to call his friend again and again. He berated himself continuously saying that he feels everyone hates him, he wishes he were dead, and that one day he promises that he will kill himself.  It is an absolute heart-wrenching and painful episode to watch play out. No matter how we try to comfort him, distract him, assure him, none of it makes a difference. He is unable to banish the black obsessive thoughts churning in his mind and the growing darkness creates a mist that blurs the colors of reality and turns his world upside down.  These episodes will continue throughout the day until his friend returns his call, which happened around five that evening.  Once he is able to speak with his friend the mist clears, reality reemerges, and there is once again a small light within the darkness that had enveloped his mind.

At the end of the day my husband and I are mental exhausted and ready for a good nights rest,  only Jordan’s brain has other plan’s.  After spending the day caught in an obsessive thought pattern, his brain is now wired and unable to unwind itself.  I knew at this point, our difficult day, was now segueing into a prolonged and difficult night that was most likely not going to include much sleep on mine or Jordan’s part. Fortunately though, after suggesting he take a long hot shower and listen to some relaxing music on his kindle he was able to finally fall off to sleep around one in the morning. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to not be spending another night being awakened every thirty minutes until six in the morning as I had the weekend before when we had a similar situation.  Now if I could only have gotten my husband to stop snoring I could have had a perfect six hours of sleep, maybe next time.

“I don’t possess these thoughts I have…they possess me. I don’t possess these feeling I have…they obsess me”    ~Ashley Lorenzana 

Author: angeliamarie44

This blog was created to share our experiences and the impact of mental illness and Autism. I believe in the importance of erasing the stigma of mental illness and for that to happen, families such as mine need to speak out, advocate, and provide the real story of what we endure daily. That includes, the struggles and the successes of our daily life and interactions with the health care system, schools, police, and society in general. Mental illness, just like cancer, diabetes, or even the flu is a medical illness and it's past time that we treat it as such. I feel our societies failure to provide treatment and support services for mentally ill individuals and denying hospital care to the mentally ill is setting a separate and unequal standard in our country that the mentally ill are somehow less deserving of medical care and being treated with the same dignity and quality care that any other person facing a medical crisis has the right too. They too have a right to a successful life free from pain and without proper care and understanding their illness could have life threatening consequences. As a mother with a child who has struggled for years with mental illness and Autism, I feel it is my path in life to raise awareness so that we might create the much needed change in this country and end the discrimination facing the millions of mentally ill. "Mental illness is an equal-opportunity illness. Every one of us is impacted by mental illness. One in five adults are dealing with this illness, and many are not seeking help because the stigma prevents that." ~Margaret Larson

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