Raising a child with disabilities is not easy, in fact it is often very overwhelming to be the caretaker. Even moreso with a diagnosis as complicated as FASD: there is always the ADHD lurking about, and impulsivity often overtakes any shred of rationality, there is lack of judgement and no understanding of cause and effect, and there are Asperger characteristics mixed with Autistic tendencies. Nothing is black and white where FASD is involved.
After 7 years of taking my much loved son to doctors and psychiatrists and therapists of every sort…. well, frankly, it was just too much during the month of September. I hit the end of my rope physically, emotionally and spiritually, and its taken me this long to pull myself together. If it weren’t for my dear husband and 3 girlfriends who have kept a tight rein on me, praying and calling and jumping in with my kids, I’d be checked into a mental hospital myself. Instead I began meeting with my own set of professionals and became more transparent with these intimate friends.
So when December 14, 2012 blasted into the forefront of our daily lives, I observed the entire horrific event from a bit different perspective than most.
My mind has been pondering it all: reeling with sorrow for the families; feeling outrage that society/media/advertising has desensitized a generation of young people; hurting for the innocent school children now living in fear; but most of all pondering the nagging “what if’s” in the realm of mental health, especially for those with neurobehavioral disabilities.
I’ve read the viral blog posts, articles written from the Washington Post to the National Inquirer (who knew they still existed??) and the flurry of responses created. I question and ponder. I cry and pray.
You see most of all, my heart grieves not just for Nancy Lanza, but truly for the thousands of mothers like her around the world. A mother who obviously loved her child. Just like me. A mother who at times fears for her child, and at moments is afraid of her child. To look in the eyes of the one you love with such intensity and not be able to reach them or protect them is the most discouraging, hopeless feeling of all.
My heart grieves because I wonder if she felt like I desperately did during the month of September: alone.
Raising a child with disabilities is frightening for so many reasons, but the feeling of being alone is the most despairing of all.
Did she have any friends? The news reports said 25 people came to her funeral. How sad. A mother is gunned down in her sleep by her son who she utterly loves and only 25 people grieve for her?
Where were her friends as she raised her son?
Did she have respite care to give her a break?
Did she have a counselor in which she could confide?
Did she have a relationship with God where she could pour out her heart like water in His presence?
Divorced from her husband, the boy without a much needed healthy male influence, who was there for her to lean on?
As you read this, are you a caretaker who is struggling, who is exhausted and feels alone? Are there moments you cry for your child, feeling no hope? If so, be encouraged. Take hope for 2013.
I am not a professional, I am a mother of a child with neurobehavioral disabilities. I am a caretaker just like you. May I offer hope in the following ways:
- call a local church
- open up the Bible and seek wisdom
- call a local disability network
- tell a friend, dare to be vulnerable & ask for help
- find a support group on Yahoo or Facebook related to your specific disability
- contact ministries on the internet or Facebook such as: Snappin Ministries or Joni and Friends
- write daily in a journal
- contact a local counselor