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jkpenney

Babywearing Educator, Parent, Advocate

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Mental Health

Growth After Relevation


A year ago today I sat in a parking lot after a meet up and started drafting a post for tumblr. It was about how babywearing helps me to survive. I never published this post, nor did I finish it. Half way through writing it I broke down in tears. It wasn’t Turing out as I expected it to. Instead I could only focus on how awfully difficult life felt parenting two kids all day long. A year ago today I realized I needed help. 

That following week, I made an appointment with a therapist and started to actively work at becoming myself again. Until this point I was just going through the motions and barely hanging on. Postpartum was not as easy the second time around. Anxiety and depression snuck up on me through the year after A’s birth. I didn’t acknowledge it till she was 13 months old. 

No one tells you to watch for post partum depression much after the first few month. You figure if it’s going to happen that it will be obvious and earlier. That’s not always true. It’s probably not even mostly true. A psychologist referred to my changed mood as adjustment disorder. That’s probably accurate. 

If you feel down, or even just indifferent, talk to someone. As I’ve described it before, sometimes you just stop caring and have a harder time finding patience. Not everyone will feel strong negative emotions. If you feel off, speak up. You don’t have to deal with life alone. 

Progress or Lip Service?

Autism Speaks, the largest and most well known autism resource, has always been terribly problematic. Their mission statement speaks of hardship for caregivers and advocates for “curing” the world of the “global health crisis” that is autism. That is, until today. 

This is their new shiny new mission statement:

“Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions,” reads the update. “Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”

This is a huge step forward, that is if they put their money where their mouth is. A mere 4% of the A$ budget is directed towards family services. Only 4% goes to actually helping the families and individuals they advertise as so helpless and dire. 

How will the 35% of their research budget now be distributed? Will their fear mongering fundraising language change? Will they acknowledge the many voices of adult autistics and stop implying that neurodivergence only occurs in childhood? That once an autist reaches adulthood and can speak for themselves, they no longer matter in the discussion about autism?

Maybe A$ is finally listening to what the #actuallyautistic community has been saying for ages. They do have a new president, recently announced the passing of one of their founding members, and appointed two autistic board members for the first time last December. Maybe they will be better. Maybe not. Time will tell. 

Until then, check out these sites for your autism resources instead. 

Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
Autism Women’s Network
The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
National Autism Association

Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance
And for more information on why Autism Speaks is problematic: 

Why I am Against Autism Speaks (and you should be, too)
There are several other fantastic resources on this topic within that link. 

Getting Back on Track

Some days life is just completely overwhelming. Lately it’s felt like there is so much on my to do list that I can’t figure out where to start. To overcompensate, I do nothing. Procrastination via avoidance of all things productive. It’s not a great habit and tends to result in me feeling worse before I surrender to my to do list. There is always that point that I’ll hit where I’m tired of feeling unaccomplished and lazy. Luckily I’ve recently gotten pat that point. 

The other day I actually made it to the by and ran. Today we checked out a ranch for riding lessons for E, found a dog at the shelter we think will be a fantastic fit, and enjoyed time outside with the girls. I even worked on some very behind drawings. It feels really great doing something creative without any pressure again. The Babywearing conference was really great, but preparing for it was a bit draining. And I wasn’t even all that involved. I can’t imagine how the vendors, presenters, and hosts feel. 

Fingers crossed my motivation continues far into the future. Some day I will figure out how to keep life balanced and avoid the crests in productivity I seem to always hit. If nothing else, hopefully it lasts till Casey returns in a few weeks. It’d be nice for him not to stumble into the disaster I’ve called a living space as of recent. 

A  leaning her face into a stream of water from the sprinkler
A loved playing in the sprinkler

Clarity

Today was part three of the three part ASD assessment I started a while back. Part two was the actually assessment which covered a plethora of things, including an IQ test. My only commentary on the second portion was “wow, they sure ask random questions on an IQ test!”

I can now say with absolute certainty, I am autistic. Official diagnosis is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Level 1, previously referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome. As Casey says “this changes nothing. You’re still the person you’ve always been”, and that is quite true. But that doesn’t mean there is no benefit to having a diagnosis.

Knowing brings clarity to my life. It explains my awkward and sometimes brash mannerisms and speech. I better understand why emotions have always been difficult to express even when I have  many of them. The challenges forming close relationships aren’t just because I’m socially inept.

I am glad to have completed this journey. It’s given me insight into myself and is likely to continue to do so. Welcome to a new chapter of my life. I am excited to see where this goes.

A close up of Jade and E. There is a large rainbow infinty sign overlay to show support for autism acceptance.
Jade and E supporting ASD acceptance

 

My Depression Looks Like …

I know many of us deal with some form of depression or anxiety. I’ve friends step away from everything they were involved in because the pressure was too much and they felt alone in that feeling. 
My depression looks like apathy. An utter lack of interest in my everyday life. Indifference to my children beyond basic care. No desire to do more than exist and go through the motions of the day. I was not sad. I do not fit a stereotype. I was short tempered but not angry. I wasn’t suicidal and I never thought of seriously hurting myself or others. I was fine. 
Fine. Fine is such a terrible word. Society pressures everyone to be fine. Bottle up all deflecting emotions from social norms. Don’t admit to weakness. It does this to the point where everyone feels isolated from everyone, even their dearest friends. Depression is already alienating without society shaming us into silence. 

Friends,

Please don’t stay silent. You are not alone. You don’t have to continue to feel the way you feel. Medication to right a chemical imbalance are okay to take. They can be life changing, even life saving. It’s okay to admit it is more than baby blues or stress. Ask for help. Accept help. You are not alone. You are loved and accepted for everything you are and are not. 

❤ your happily medicated so she can live life fully friend. 

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