Sick? Or Not Sick? That Is the Question.
It’s here again. Not that it’s ever gone, really, but it’s here again and I am baffled. I am sad. I am deflated. I am at peace. I am resigned. I am a mother of a son who is labeled Asperger’s, high-functioning Autistic, Obsessive Compulsive, Pervasive Developmentally Disordered, etc. It’s an elusive thing for sure. My son LOOKS typical, but tonight he is anything but.
Maybe it’s the anxiety I’m holding around some very challenging legal issues.
Maybe it’s because we’ve weaned him off his meds (definitely this one).
Maybe it’s because his other close relatives do not honor or help with his condition (definitely this one too).
I tend to blame myself first for making him this way . . . oh, wait, I do that because that’s what many of my relatives, his teachers, and society have told me. I know that it’s not my fault. How do I know? I know because my younger son is similar to that of the Buddha, and I’m simply not powerful enough to create one of each. So no, it’s not my fault. But whatever the reason through the tantrum, tonight I am feeling as if I can pathologize my son, that is to say that he is “sick.”
Here’s what “sick” looks like tonight and why I am thinking about this so extensively. I was picking the kids up from their father’s house. Someone handed me some playing cards. Michael thought it was not done the “correct” way. Because of his shattered expectation, he screamed, howled, and cried for about twenty minutes. Michael gasped and yelled threats at me. Some sounded like, “I can’t ever use those cards again.” Others were like, “I will burn all the money in your wallet, even if it is one thousand dollars.”
Crying, screaming, and threats because cards were not handed over properly.
How does this come to be?
Then we came home to my house and all was calm after a short while.
Later, after the silence and calm, we talked about what was really bothering him. The truth came out. He was super nervous about going somewhere new next week. He struggled with some things while away from me. It wasn’t the cards at all. It’s never really the cards, is it? It wasn’t the money in my wallet . . . I think we all know there has probably never been one thousand dollars in there. Sigh.
It seemed to be the anxiety he was holding, with no words or tools to get it out, without screaming about an unrelated event.
So I search deep in my brain and heart. I ask my friends. I journal.
I come to this conclusion in this moment . . . post-thoughts after a major tantrum.
I conclude that my son is not sick. I will simply, and complicatedly, say that I believe my son doesn’t have the tools to understand and work with his enormously overwhelming anxiety. I don’t believe he has the brain ability to handle certain situations that other children his age are able to.
I believe that my son is fine and that he needs patience, respect, and love. I believe that he will better be able to handle these “hiccups” as time goes on. I believe that he needs care and nurturing in those moments where he loses access to his higher level of thinking.
I believe I love my son to the depths of my soul . . . and his.
And in this moment, I send this with truth and with love, from me to you.
I think you have definitely come to the right conclusion–he is fine. He is different, but he is enough, and the fact that you accept him for who he is is incredibly powerful. Your acceptance of him and trying to find out what is really bothering him may be the key to helping him cope as he gets older. He will develop more skills in time. You can’t make the world perfect for him, but in my opinion you are doing everything right under extremely difficult circumstances. I have so much admiration for you. Much love, Pam
Oh, Pam – Thank you so very much for reading, writing and sharing. Yes, he is perfectly enough. And thank you for your wonderful feedback – this is an isolating journey and reflections are more powerful than you can imagine.
I hope you are feeling great!
Huge love and appreciation,