Years ago I set out to write this blog, mostly for my own therapy, to reflect on what it’s like to raise a child with various mental health wellness issues. It was cathartic. It allowed me an opportunity to pour out my soul which, at the time, was going through the wringer. It gave friends and family many kilometres away an update on things going on in the life of our family, and particularly, how life was playing out for our son. My hope was that it might help others in a similar situation. Some along for the journey shared the posts on various social media sites. If 30 people viewed the article I felt like a celebrity, which tells you I don’t have very high standards. Monetized sites won’t even give you a sniff if you have less than thousands of followers. I only have a few. But maybe, just maybe, it might help that one person that comes along. In any case, the traction of the articles was less important to me than the opportunity to reflect, rant and write.
Over time, things settled down. At least for a while. So I stopped writing. I thought I stopped writing because I became too busy, things were well enough I didn’t need to write, or I made the excuse that I ran out of ideas in a moment of writer’s block. Truthfully, I started re-reading the articles I posted and more often than not it made me recoil in horror. Why? Because I sounded like a whiner. At least, that’s how I read things. “Woe is me” would have been a better title over “Confessions of a R.A.D. dad.” If I became a meme, the best caption would be the old joke, “would you like some wine with that cheese?” So I stopped writing. I stopped wanting to sound like a whiner. I stopped wanting to give empty platitudes to people to say, “it’s okay, you’ll get through it.” I don’t know if that’s true. You might not. I might not. Contrary to popular misinterpretation of the Bible, sometimes we are given more than we can handle. It became too much to handle.
I’ve kept the link in my bookmarks on my Mac. Every now and then I’d see it and wonder… is the site even there anymore? Does anyone look at it? Should I write some kind of update? But, until now, that’s as far as I would get. (And only a couple of people have visited in the past 8 months, in case you’re wondering.) Until now, I have not visited the site. But here I am, twenty five months after my last post, opening the site to write this confession. Maybe it’s the wrap up that never happened, or maybe it will be a chance to wade back into the water. Either way, I felt compelled to write something. Anything. Nothing. Perhaps it was just the need to get things off my chest once again that spurred interest. After all, the worldwide pandemic has wreaked havoc on life once again ; anxieties raised, fear heightened, and the really long time away from school and socialization have knocked us back a long ways as a family unit. We’re all two years older and in the case of our son, adult-sized now, two years that seem like five.
We’re among the lucky ones. We have a diagnosis, even though it does not really say much, but it is more than some get: Reactive Attachment Disorder, Separation Anxiety, General Anxiety and static encephalopathy which, as one website defines it, “is a fancy phrase used by neurologists in recent years to refer to chronic nonprogressive brain disorders in children, primarily.” (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/516751). In other words, our son’s brain doesn’t work in typical fashion due to some unknown causes because the details of his first ten months of life are unknown. It’s not really much of a diagnosis because we want clearer answers, but it’s the best we have for now. And we’re among the lucky ones. I say “lucky” because, regardless of how we might feel about the diagnosis, there is a team of people around him trying to help him succeed in life. Teachers, counsellors, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, respite workers and friends and family. Some, in similar situations, have none of that, not even the support of family or friends. But we have a lot. And while I don’t believe in “luck” in the conventional fashion as many would define it, I do believe that we are fortunate to be surrounded by help, even at times when it feels like we’re drowning in a sea of hopelessness and helplessness.
For now, though, I keep looking for the life ring someone might want to throw our way and rescue us from the turbulent waters we tread daily, and all the more as this pandemic lingers. I know it’s there, somewhere. I just don’t want to sound like a whiner about it.