There are several common themes in the autism community I’d love to highlight. This post specifically deals with two of them: Anxiety and Depression.
As an autism parent, I admit to having bouts of anxiety when thinking about the long-term needs of my son. This is why I’m reminded regularly to address my own self-care. After all, how can I take care of my family when I’m not taking care of myself.
Over the past decade, I’ve read many blog posts and news reports where parents are dealing with their own excessive worry, irrational fears, and have admitted to having that sense of impending sense of doom.
This type of anxiety isn’t related to those typical sleep problems associated with their child’s poor sleep routine, but rather with insomnia, fear, and trauma. In short, it’s more of an anxiety disorder – and although these moments may be short-term, it’s typically a sign to seek some professional help.
I’m no professional, but I can say I’ve experienced anxiety as an autism parent. Panic attacks, sleep problems, as well as muscle tension, were very common. Recognizing these moments for what they are, and making self-care a priority typically helped me personally. Simple things as taking time for myself, or going for a walk…getting some rest while knowing my family is ok… well, that is always a big help to reduce anxiety.
It’s easy as well to fall into a state of depression. Now I’m not talking about just being sad, I’m talking about that feeling of worthlessness, or guilt… or absolute helplessness.
As an autism parent, we can feel depressed at times. We often don’t know what to do and are looked upon for answers from school systems to other family members. We have to figure this autism parenting thing out on our own, and often other parent’s situations don’t really fit our own.
Do this for over 15 years and that feeling of pessimism creeps in as well as lack of motivation and chronic fatigue.
Some individuals seek an unhealthy outlet to address their depression. Seeking a way out through drugs and/or other addictive substances. Often these individuals need to seek professional help.
But as with anxiety, it’s best to recognize these moments within yourself and to focus on self-care.
So please, as you go about your day, take a few moments for yourself. You are only the best parent and advocate for your child when you are at your best.