I think I can … I think I can …

Today is not a terrible day, but one of neutrality. I’m not feeling great nor am I feeling bad. It feels like my body is going through all my day to day tasks, but my brain is on autopilot.

My daughter has been experiencing depression for the last few months, which is a complex enough matter for any adult to comprehend, let alone a 12-year-old child. Needless to say to those of you walking in similar shoes, repetition has not been only “the word of the day” for weeks now, but my nemesis as well.

By the word repetition, I mean I must repeat the same answers over and over again. When she asks “When will the doctor call back?” my answer is “I don’t know for certain, but I trust it will be sooner than later.” When she asks “When will I feel better?”  I answer “I don’t know for certain, but I trust it will be sooner than later.”  When she asks “When will I notice an improvement from the increase in my medicine?” I repeat the same thing, knowing its not the last time.

Out of curiosity I googled  mental health of parents of children with special needs to see if I was alone in my emotional exhaustion. I found this article written by Seth Meyers and Katie Gilbert entitled “Pity the parents of special needs-Part one” (The demands of having special needs children have a definite effect on parents.) What an insight it was to hear my emotions mirrored in, not only a parent of a child with special needs, but a clinical psychologist none the less.

This excerpt from his article put a bit of wind back into my sails. It also reiterated the importance of  training mental health workers to sympathise, empathise and better understand not only the emotions of the youth they are attending to, but those of their caregivers as well:

The moods of the parents of SN (special needs) kids suffer in a major way because the daily home environment is so demanding.

Elgar and colleagues (2004) found that being the mother of a child with mental illness is associated with high levels of distress and depression. In addition, Barkley and colleagues (1992) found that mothers of children with mental illness were two to three times more likely to be depressed than mothers of healthy children. Well, this research comes as no surprise to me. Half the time, I don’t know if I’m exhausted, frustrated or depressed—I just know I’m not myself. When you are a working adult without kids, you have the ability to come home after work and unwind. When you work and come home to kids, there’s always work to do. But when you come home to SN kids, there’s rarely a moment of peace until it’s time for bed—if you’re lucky.

How true.

Read the full article here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-is-2020/201310/pity-the-parents-special-needs-children-part-one

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