Taking control of chaos


March 2016


It has always been incredibly difficult for me to admit I need help, probably because, for most of my life, help wasn’t forthcoming. Right now, I am unable to manage any single part of my life, and I don’t know how to fix it. I am completely overwhelmed, and it seems much easier to simply curl into a ball until everything passes by. I have been living each day in survival mode, simply attempting to exist until bedtime.

While Dom is making some progress in his speech-language and social skills, he has backslid in his self-care and independence skills. Self-advocacy has always been an issue, but it seems to be a much larger problem the older he gets. While other kids his age are learning to prepare simple meals, Dom sits starving until I ask if he’s hungry. If anyone else asks, his answer is no. If I don’t ask, he remains hungry until he gets sick. Simple chores require Herculean effort, as he regularly forgets how to do them, even when there are directions posted.  After five years of dressing himself, he still has trouble remembering all of the steps involved in that process.

His progress with social interactions has increased dramatically, but last Saturday we were back at Step 1 when his normal social skills therapist was out. Despite two weeks of planning and the inclusion of the substitute in those two weeks of work, Dom still refused to interact with the substitute at all when his normal therapist was not present. That day’s therapy session was a waste of time, and it served as a reminder that he still has so far to go.

Between Dom and some problems with other family members, I am an anxious wreck myself. As a result, I go through teach day in a fog, just trying to put one foot in front of the other.

I am in the midst of an ongoing battle with our insurance company to get Dom’s ABA therapy approved. Carefirst says the mental health insurance company is responsible, and that company says Carefirst is responsible, and the end result is that we wait. More time passes without Dom getting help he needs, and I get more anxious as that time passes by.

Today, as I spilled my guts and tears all over my mentor teacher, she asked me, “Isn’t there anyone willing to help?” My answer was, unequivocally, “Yes, but…” Her response was, “If you try to do it all, you’re going to kill yourself, and then there will be nobody to do any of it.”

I don’t know what parts of this chaos anyone could help with. I don’t know how I could foist Dom off on anyone, knowing that his reaction could be swift and severe. What I do know is that I’m going to break if things don’t change for the better soon, so if you can do nothing else, please pray.

To Worry or Not to Worry

I am a worrier. I have high anxiety and have always spent my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I worry about money, car breakdowns, unemployment, illness, my kids, my kids’ illnesses, allergies, and on and on…endlessly. I worry even in the face of all logical reassurances. I worry even when I know I don’t really need to worry at all.

Today, I saw someone with a tattoo that said simply, “Choose Joy.” It took a bit for that to settle.

When it comes down to the most basic atoms of my worry, I choose it. Sure, I have an anxiety disorder that sometimes completely takes over and removes the choice from my hands. But my regular, day-to-day worries? Those are me choosing to worry, instead of pushing the worry out of my mind, where it belongs. Instead, I need to choose joy.

I am going to do a small trial…when I start to worry about things that are completely out of my control, I am going to start doing something instead that brings me joy. Whether that means spending time with my family, reading a good book, or getting lost in a Netflix binge, I am going to do my best to choose joy.

I don’t expect this to be easy at first. I am, after all, wired for worry after a lifetime of wrapping it around me. There will still be days when worry overtakes my life. But if I can have fewer of those days, if I can choose joy on some days, what a difference that would make to my life!

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