I remember last year clearly. How could I forget? Facebook likes to remind me daily what occurred this day over the last few years. I did not need the help of the magical Facebook fairies to tell me what day T moved in with us. It was a Sunday, October 26th, 2014. Overcast but warm for a fall day. I can easily picture T and Sophia playing with the leaves on the deck as Jimmy raked them. T was having a blast throwing leaves up and watching them fall on top of him. What 2 1/2 year old little boy wouldn’t? What I didn’t remember, but what those stubborn FB fairies did remind me was the anxiety I had from day 1. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep because I didn’t think T would sleep. I didn’t sleep because I was nervous how T would do the next day, his first day of daycare in his life. Maybe I should have paid attention to those signs, but the dream of having a son, a 2nd child, were too strong and pummeled the anxiety in my head down. My nerves didn’t take over for another 2 months.
I now continue to suffer daily from a Depression so soul sucking that after going on holiday for a few months, it decided to move back into that empty spot in my head and not only reside, but take over. It brings constant images of T back then, Sophia back then, Jimmy back then and the horror of myself from back then… a year ago. It causes me to hate myself, to think of myself as worthless and undeserving of love… undeserving of my husband and my daughter. It brought back that guilt I felt because it was me who had the anxiety and panic that caused T to leave us. It brought back the blame game… the blame that I feel toward myself because I am the one who is Mentally Ill. It brought back the anxiety attacks, the crying fits, the desire to want to remain in my bed and not move. I am immersed in it. I fear the next few months but hope my new therapy will make it somewhat bearable.
Deep in this darkness, though, I am reminded of something my CBT therapist would constantly say to me… “Look what you did for him in those 2 months.”
2 months, 60+ days, 1440+ hours… What I (okay Jimmy and Sophia too) did for him… A Spark in the midst of my current darkness…
1) He began to eat food – In T’s former foster house, the one he was in since birth, his former foster mother gave up with trying to feed him food and decided that several 600+ calorie shakes of rice cereal, milk and banana was the way to go. It was difficult for Birth To Three and us to get him to eat. On Halloween of last year, he wouldn’t even drink. It was scary, so scary, that I didn’t eat. I feared him dying from it. After a few days he began to eat and would try anything we placed in front of him. He began to LOVE food. Within a few weeks, he became a typical toddler and started to reject anything that was vegetable in nature.
2) He began to talk – ALOT! At first it started out with a few words here are there. It mostly revolutionized into repetition of certain objects he would label, “Pumpkin!”, “Penguin, Penguin, Snowman!”, “Christmas Tree!”. In between this there were several melt-my-heart sentences including, “Look! It’s a Mommy!”, as he would point at me.
3) He began to interact with his peers – T was extremely sheltered at his former home. Although there was another child there his age, his foster mom was honestly too old to be handling 2 toddlers with Autism diagnosis’. Whether she took them out of pity and fell in love with them or just did it for the extra money, who knows. The 2 boys barely interacted together and most of the time they were each alone in their own rooms. There were no play dates, nothing. T started daycare on his first weekday with us. He learned to play with these kids and realize that was what he was supposed to do. Toward the end, he learned what to do with toys and how to interact with them with his friends, family and teachers.
4) He began to love – This one truly pulls at me. I am grateful we could teach him what it was like to live in a typical family, where hugs and kisses were a multiple-time-of-day occurrence. I cherish the fact that he finally got to experience a true Thanksgiving, sitting at a table surrounded by family engorging himself on turkey and acorn squash. He got to meet Santa. He experienced a true Christmas morning, learning how to open presents from under the tree. Throughout it all, I held his hand. I would kiss his cheek goodbye when I left him at daycare. I would hug him when I picked him up. He never felt unloved by any one of us.
I hid my issues well with him and Sophia. Jimmy knowing my history and living it several times before knew there was something going on but there were so many factors stopping me from getting help and admitting I was in trouble until it was too late. In my heart, it truly feels as if I have lost a child, as if he died. Even though he is alive and well, he is not with me anymore. I still don’t quite understand these huge emotions as he was only with us for 2 months but I am starting to dissect them. I am starting to realize that as I suffer, I still have this spark of light amongst the constant darkness of my Depression.