I can’t think of a better day to discuss mental health, than on #BellLetsTalk day. When it comes to parenting/caregiving children with extraordinary needs and various degrees of medical fragility, traumas that impact you, aren’t often discussed. Instead, if you are like me, you fall into an almost robotic mode, building a protective wall around your emotions because let’s face it, when your child is fighting for their life, your only focus is them!
I got so use to building my wall higher and higher that I didn’t see it beginning to crumble beneath me.
It’s ironic though, thinking back now, here I was, an advocate for sharing and connecting….and I did…but, I couldn’t release the worst emotions I had held deep for so, so long.
I have written before, in a previous blog, the complex emotional acceptance of living in today, but always having the weighing fear of death lingering in the back of your mind. That weight coupled with experienced emotional traumas of witnessing your child in the worst possible circumstances, moments in which you try to convince yourself this can’t possibly be happening…your worst possible nightmare can not be today’s reality, it’s here where my wall began to crumble.
I couldn’t identify the dire emotional state I was in, straight away though. I recall a vacation we took a few years back, to my hometown. My husband and I decided to take our kids for a walk around my old neighborhood. The sun was shining, the street was quiet; an absolutely stunning day! Then all of a sudden I experienced numbness in my face followed by a pounding feeling in my chest. Shortness of breath followed soon after; I thought I was having a heart attack. This experience was the first of several to follow. What I was experiencing were panic attacks.
Panic attacks were the first sign, then came the nightmares. Visions so clear and terrifying that I would wake and never return to sleep.
The mental health of caregivers/parents raising children with extraordinary needs is such an important discussion to have. If it weren’t for the incredible counseling I received and the support from my family, I wouldn’t have had the courage to speak out now. Please don’t be afraid to share, lean on a close friend or family member, or reach out to a mental health provider today. You deserve peace of mind and always know, you are never alone!