Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Stress Management for Special Needs Moms

OK, I'll be blunt. You are in total control on how you deal with your stress as a special needs mom!

I know it sounds crazy and a couple of years ago, I would have yelled at anyone who told me that. But, hear me out.

I get it. I understand what you're going through. I was in your shoes just a couple of years ago. Burned out, exhausted, frustrated, and with no desire left to wake up the next morning to do it all over again. Special needs parenting certainly is a whole different beast that doesn't come with a guide book.
What I learned when I hit rock bottom though was that I was going about it all wrong. I had a victim mentality, you know, the one where everything sucks and it's just not fair. So every day, I questioned why did this have to happen to us and why did life have to be so hard. The real hard truth was though, I was the one who was making it harder than it had to be. I was the control freak who wanted to be everything to everyone, not accepting any help. I was the one who ignored my own needs and even my own marriage. I was the one who was stuck in such a deep negativity hole, I couldn't see the light anymore.

How do I know this? Because last night should have been another awful night. Yet, thanks to all the work I have put in over the last couple of years, it wasn't as bad as I used to perceive it to be. Here's what happened and why your attitude defines the experience:

Wyatt decided to wake up at 220am and I had a choice to make. I can either get grumpy, because I'm usually not a happy camper waking up THIS EARLY. That choice then would have lead to anger building up towards my son as I'm staring at the video monitor waiting for him to fall back asleep, which usually takes 2+hours. (Remember, he's ventilator-dependent during drowsiness/sleep so his life literally depends on me being alert and responsive when he's alligator rolling around and disconnecting himself 5 times a minute!) Or I could choose to accept that it will take him a while to go back to sleep and focus on the things I could control. I had to take my own feelings and exhaustion out of the equation for just a few seconds to see that he was frustrated and having a text-book Autistic meltdown, and that there was nothing I could do about how HE felt. However, I did have control over how I REACTED. If I would have gone up to his level and get just as frustrated as him, it wouldn't have helped either one of us. Instead, I acknowledged that he was struggling and my job as his Mom then was to simply comfort him and ride it out with him. If I stayed calm, he had a much better chance to follow my lead.

You can't control everything that happens in life. As special needs moms, we are under increased daily stress. However, we have all the power to choose how to respond to those stressful situations!

If you need help finding your balance again and creating action steps to manage stress more effectively, please reach out for help so you don't have to hit rock bottom like I did. 

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