It’s ok to not be ok.

This week is Mental Health Awareness week.

Research has found that parents of Autistic children are twice as likely to suffer from a psychiatric illness.
I do.
A few years ago I had an emotional breakdown.
I hid myself away, I was ashamed….
….but now I stand proud with all the other sufferers, not embarrassed with the stigma attached.
I still struggle. I still have my bad days, I just don’t hide it anymore

Being a parent is a stressful job.
The constant anxiety, worrying you are not doing enough, worried that you should be doing better.
Being a parent of a child with additional needs adds more pressure.

As parents of children with additional needs we spend a huge amounts of time and energy on our children.
Physically and emotionally we put our all into ensuring they are cared for and get what they need.
This goes for any parent, but the constant fight for an Autism parent is draining.

Being an Autism parent does not mean that you will get depression.
I did, but that doesn’t mean you will.
We all manage things differently.
We all come from different backgrounds, and have had other stresses along the way.
Having depression does not mean that you cannot cope.
It simply means that in an effort to provide the best possible care for your child, you neglect your own physical and emotional needs.

The guilt.
The biggest negative feeling we endure daily.
Are all my childs problems my fault?
Did I do something wrong in my pregnancy? Am I a bad parent?
That feeling if never being good enough.
You then feel guilty for feeling the guilt.
This leads to anger, sadness, isolation.
Exhaustion sets in.
Physical and mental exhaustion.
Everything feels more intense.
More consuming.
The negative feelings become relentless.
You fall into a dark place, falling deeper and deeper and you can’t see a way to get out.

You don’t want to tell anyone.
You become in denial.
You smile through the tears.
You have to be happy when you have children.
You have to cope.
You don’t want to show signs of weakness.
You don’t want to ask for help.
It is all too consuming.
No matter how upbeat, energetic and optimistic a parent is, the guilt, exhaustion and isolation can take its toll.

Do you know what?

It is ok to struggle.
It is ok to feel you are not coping.
It is ok to admit it.
Negative feelings are natural.
Normal infact.
It is when they become intense and consuming that you have to ask for help.

Find support.
Talk to friends, family.
Join support groups of parents in the same situation.
Seek respite.
Seek professional help.

Don’t leave it too late like I did.

Through support groups and finally admitting my feelings, I was able to get help.
A support group, Oasis, has been saving grace.
My husband, my rock, my one constant support, has always been there for me.

That help gave me the fight I need to provide for my children…
… be back to putting all my energy to provide the best possible care for them.

I cannot always be happy.
I will never see the positives before the negatives.
I watch my children grow as my anxiety increases, thinking about the future.
….I no longer face it alone.

Don’t ever be alone.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel, be we cannot always reach it without a little help.

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