Wednesday, 6 April 2016
Day 6 @Rjscott_author Autism Month and Competition #Giveaway Blog Hop #AutismAwareness
I'm honoured to once again join RJ Scott and a host of other wonderful authors in RJ's Annual blog hop highlighting World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd and National Autism Awareness Month. This year the month long hop focuses on the five senses or what we may consider other 'senses', not only pertaining to autism but also other *sometimes silent* mental health issues. Each author taking part will share a fact, a post and a prize.
A Mother's Sense...
I've suffered from anxiety for... it seems like forever. Even from my earliest memory. (I know some will scoff and think that is impossible) Back then it manifested as separation anxiety. I had trouble going to school. I missed a lot of kindergarten and the primary grades because the thought of being away from my mother was almost crippling. Every time she dropped me off I had this overwhelming feeling of loss and I was afraid she wouldn't come back for me or that something bad might happen to her and I'd never see her again. To this day, I've no idea why I was so frightened of her being out of my sight. She'd never given me any reason to think these things. She was always there for me and my brother and sisters. We were a close-knit, loving, church-going, hard-working, average family.
In my adolescence, I struggled with anxiety but then, as I guess teenage years do for a lot of people, it presented as self-esteem issues. Too much, I worried about what other people thought. And you would think by this time, I would have outgrown the fear of losing my mum but sadly, I hadn't.
During my teens, my father also travelled a lot and I started having dreams about him dying. And because of his travel, my father drank a lot, to combat his own loneliness and of course, once he was home, the drinking continued. There are several other factors and events here but you get the picture.
And in my adult years, I have dealt with depression. Here again, there are other factors, including our first born dealing with chronic health problems.
I've spent weeks in bed. Hiding from life, seeking the oblivion sleep provides rather than let my thoughts strangle me, or lead me to those dark places that call; promising peace, the forever kind.
I've self-medicated. Though I didn't know that's what I was doing at the time. Turned to alcohol at times but it made me feel even more like shit but sometimes mind-numbing of any kind is preferable to the alternative. And I lost myself in books, books, books, that took me out of my own head and blessedly let me live another's life.(and then I found writing, but that's another story).
I've done things I'm not proud of. Hurt my family. Cut off friends. Neglected my kids. Not in the abusive way, but somedays when they got home from school, I could not drag myself from my bed to be the mum they deserve.
It wasn't until my father did pass that I had to seek real help. Then I walked around in a fog of medication. Feeling numb. Which at times, is so much better than existing with the noise in your head, the doubts, the fear, the self-loathing. For anyone who has struggled, you know, finding the right medication and regimen can also be a long and arduous process as well. Building up to the right dosage only to find out that drug doesn't work for you, then you have to wean yourself off that one before starting something else. Then the cycle starts again. It's frustrating and makes you wonder if you will ever be well. Maybe you are unhelpable. That's not true, it's part of the illness. It's just finding the right balance for you. Medication, exercise, therapy, vitamins, diet. Whatever... It took me half my life to figure out what was wrong with me, it will probably take me the rest to get a handle on it.
Then I was blindsided ...
... when my daughter came to me and said, "Mom, I think I have anxiety."
"I've been reading up on it and I have almost all the symptoms...."
She was right. It's not that she hid what was going on. And she's never had a problem coming and talking to me. But Goddamnit, through all my own experience how could I have missed the signs. Where was that innate Mother's Sense that my child was in danger? That protective instinct to fight off any enemy stalking her? Or was I just in denial?
Or worse, I could have prevented this by being stronger, addressing my own issues so much sooner so that she didn't see it.
We never talked about what was wrong with me. She'd grown up with it, never questioned it. At least, she didn't question me about it. To her, that was just the way mum was and she loved me anyway.
We went to the doctor and my daughter has been on anxiety medication for several years now. She fights it, she takes the illness by the horns and she tells it who's in charge. Yes, she struggles but she goes at it with determination. She has a weak moment. She rants and raves or sleeps. She gets up, she dusts herself off and she goes at it again. She never gives up. A credit to her and her own fortitude, she never let her grades slip, she graduated high school with honours and was valedictorian. Yes, the girl with anxiety got up and addressed an entire auditorium full of people. Now she is in college, her first year away from home and she is doing very well. Something I never had the courage to do.
But once she was diagnosed, I came clean with her. I told her everything. About my past, my childhood. My father's alcoholism and his own depression and the fallout that became our lives. (It's all a vicious circle). But as I spoke to her, it was as if a lightbulb went off, as if she saw me, the real me, for the first time and it all made sense. That jagged piece that was always missing finally fell into the puzzle and she understood where it was that I came from and maybe where she fit into it too. And again, bless her heart, she loved me anyway.
We tackle our illness in such different ways. I hide, staying at home as much as I can whereas she is out there living life on her own terms. She's upfront and open to people about everything. My daughter has anxiety but it doesn't have her.
I have learned so much more from watching her deal with this and how she lives her life, than I ever did on my own. Before I didn't care to learn the whys of how I came to be what I am. But now I want to know. I have to know. So I can help her and help myself as we figure it out. Though, so far, she has helped me so much more than I have her. I often wonder who is the mother in all this. :) But I continue to learn, through her. She is a great advocate for mental health awareness. I'm learning brain chemistry is a complicated thing and very sensitive to even the slightest imbalance. Maybe some day, she'll help other people who deal with the same things we do.
Though I still often blame myself for what she is going through, she is the first one to shoot that self-blame down. She doesn't hold me accountable. This is an illness. Genetic. Environmental. In some cases, consequence of circumstance. Sometimes a combination of them all. It is what it is, and we have to be proactive in it. Deal with it. Keep moving forward.
My daughter strongly believes that everything happens for a reason. And although I hate that I have passed this horrible mind-muddle on to her, perhaps this did.
We are more than mother and daughter, we are sisters in this battle to be masters of our own minds. I am better, stronger and hopeful because of her.
Thank you for stopping by. For anyone struggling, don't give up. There is help out there. You don't have to do it alone.
Bell Let's Talk
Bell Let's Talk Facebook Page
Canadian Mental Health Association
Children's Mental Health - Ontario
Kid's Help Phone (Canada)
I'll be giving away a free ebook from my backlist and a $10 Evernight Publishing Gift Certificate to one lucky winner. To enter the rafflecopter you can like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or If you have a helpful mental health link or if there is a bit of advice you could share that helped you or someone you know through a particularly tough time, please share it in the comments section below. The contest runs until the end of April. (you don't have to fulfill all the options to enter, unless you feel like it) Cheers and blessings.
a Rafflecopter giveaway