Naturally having a child with special needs is very stressful. In truth everything about it is stressful.
It impacts on my abilities as a parent and it highlights my deficits as a parent. Not to mention the impact it has on me as a person. These deficits make me constantly reassess my life and my self.
It impacts my other children and family in general. Many psychologists are of the opinion that siblings of children with special needs themselves have special needs. This is due to what they are exposed to, the lack of attention they may receive, how special needs in the family affects siblings’ emotions and anxiety, the family environment that ensues as a result of a special needs child. The effect of special needs on siblings cannot be underestimated, some siblings develop close bonds with their special needs siblings and others cannot wait to break ties and get away from them and all they represent. There are interesting research papers done on how many children with special needs siblings end up working as doctors, nurses or in a general industry of helping others. As a parent I have to be aware of what my neuro-typical children see, and sense, hear and feel and what the long-term impacts of our situation and how we deal with it daily, impacts them as well.
Then of course there is the worry about my special needs child. The list is endless. In the short- term; will he be okay today, be well behaved today, have no meltdowns today. The medium term; will he manage, cope, make friends, what school will he go to, what is best for him. The long term sometimes holds scary thoughts for me. Will he be on medication forever, what other issues will we be faced with, will he deteriorate, will he feel like an outcast, the list is endless and I try not go there. I rather try to keep positive and keep it limited to will he succeed at school, will he succeed in life.
Of course there are the tangible concerns of financial pressures, medication and diet. Some days it feels like a constant worry. There is often heaviness in my heart and even in good times and upward periods, I find it hard to totally let go, as I know there will be a downward swing and I can never anticipate what the trigger will be.
As women gain more equality in the world, they tend to take more on themselves. This increases the amount of things they have to get done on a daily basis not only for themselves, but their jobs, their families, their husbands and their homes. Naturally life can be stressful and living with special needs is fraught with additional daily stresses. We all handle stress differently and I know myself, I am A-type personality and I put pressure on myself. I also want to do more and more and my limitations frustrate me. When it comes to my stress, I do also not handle all life throws at me with a breezy and carefree attitude. Even though I have all this tension in my life I think even with my A-type personality I handle it (these two sentences seem contradictory). I eat well, which keeps me healthier from the inside and helps my moods. I exercise frequently, which is a huge stress reliever for me. My husband and I get to spend some really great and quality time together. I have created a support structure, which is pivotal to my sanity.
Yet stress impacts my health. I thought it did not but the last few years have had an effect on me. I run into health problems. Doctor’s comment on what stress is doing to me and tell me I need to get a handle on my stress. My blood counts and stress hormones are in trouble. Yet getting a handle on my stress seems to compound it.. The kind of stress I have in my life cannot simply be walked away from; it is not a job I can go and resign from. I am working on myself to change how things affect me. I have learnt to say No! I have lessened the load. I am following my husband’s advice and where possible only doing, what only I can do. I am trying to make this year the year of recovery for myself and working on improving my blood levels and stress hormones. I also know life, my family, my home, my special needs child and the stress that comes with that are here to stay. As is the person I am. In spite of all this stress I would not change this for the world.
So all I can do is to continue to try my best to manage the situation I have. Focus on my year of recovery. Pray for a break from the chaos and stressful experiences from the last few years. Remember many others have been in the same situation before. And hope it all comes together.