Being a Parent With Depression to a Child on the Autism Spectrum
I can’t get off my couch. My depression is weighing heavily on me today.
I know I have things that need to get done. Dishes need to be washed. Laundry needs to be folded, but I am frozen, completely submerged into my couch.
I have a daughter with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She takes a lot of my energy just to get her through the day. I have to stay positive for her and be happy so she can stay calm.
Do you know how hard that is when I feel like my insides are being ripped out?
My anxiety is so sharp I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. I feel a heavy weight that is pushing me farther into the couch. It feels as though I am chained and lock up to myself and there is no key. My skin tingles as though it wants to get up and walk around, but my mind shuts that down.
My daughter craves routine, and structure. As someone who battles depression and anxiety every day, structure and routine can be hard for me. I lack this ability in myself. How am I supposed to do this for my child? Then the failure thoughts rush in — that I am not enough for her, that she would be better off with someone who can keep a house clean, someone who could keep their hair washed.
I don’t know how I get her through her life. She is clean and fed. Her clothes get washed. Somehow, we keep going.
Somehow we keep making it to therapies and school. We get to all of her appointments. We get there. I push through and we get there, even though my own mind is fighting against me to get back into bed.
Even though my brain is telling me I can’t do anything, and I should just close my eyes.
Somehow, some way, I get done what I need too. It may not be right away. I also struggle with time management. I panic once it starts to get to the deadline of some paperwork I need to get filled out, and there is always paperwork. I panic at the fact my child isn’t at home, that she is away from me in school and I have no idea what she is doing. It’s not that she is unsafe, but my brain likes to believe she isn’t.
I get panic attacks thinking she is going to be like me; that she is going to have to deal with mental illness, and she already is. My anxieties get validated and I become more anxious.
Even though I am weighed down by my depression every day…
Even though I am constantly fighting a battle inside of my head every day…
I get up.
I keep going.
She wouldn’t be better off without me; she just needs me.
Go away, voices.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
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Getty Images photo via Martinan