Today I am going to do something I don't often do, and that is write candidly about my own emotional life. I probably should write more about it, because the parents of kids like B suffer a huge psychological toll. In my last Mandt training course, we were discussing this a bit, the grieving, isolation, fear, and the losses you experience because your peers do not get where you are, and your kid is on a completely different trajectory than you envisioned when you started down the path of parenting. And, of course, the economic realities of having a special needs kid, who not only costs more now, but will need your financial support for their whole life, can just add to your sense of futility.
For the last two years, and the last five months in particular, I have been battling depression. I have done well, I'm active, getting lots of exercise, but I have little to no energy for friends or social situations. I'd rather spend the time with Sparky. Part of it, right now, was getting my hopes up that B would have her testing, she'd get her surgery, and the seizure part of her life would be over. But that didn't happen, and even though she's not had any seizures for a couple of months, I've been here before, and I know they will resurface. It's a waiting game, always a waiting game.
But it is also due to the fact that working seems so difficult right now, and it is really, really hard on me. I worked so hard in school, and planned on working when I graduated, then maybe going on with more schooling. That isn't what happened, and likely won't now. I am $100,000 in debt now, to student loans, and B needs an RDSP . I can't pay both of those things.
What's more, the longer I spend not working, the more I feel incapable of working. And I can intellectualize that all I want, about incurring more debt being worth it, or that I can work when she's older, but none of that helps how I feel. And it makes me angry that if B was in care, the foster parent would get a couple of grand a month to care for her. I'm not knocking foster parents, what they are paid is likely not enough, and it's a hard job, but not supporting the natural parents to at least that same degree makes no sense to me. It's like setting us up for failure. I get $288 a month in disability payments for B. I just finally got respite funding of $188 dollars a month. which is not enough to hire the at home help I would need to pay for someone to be HERE to care for B at home if I worked. It would cover an after school program, but B's day is already from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, and I don't want to make it longer. Further, if I get even a part time job, and make just a few hundred dollars a month, I will lose that funding all together. So any job I get will have to make enough to justify losing the respite and the disability amount. That would only make sense if I got a full time job, but one that still accommodates the flexibility I need.
That is all so convoluted, it hurts my head.
B's Behavioural consultant suggested becoming a behavioural consultant. I have the practical experience, but not really the education for that. But, you know what, my whole life is kid and disability, and I don't want to do it for a living. I'm already burnt out. I'm going to wake up, deal with B's behaviour, take a bus, deal for a couple of hours with a kid with B's problems, then come back home and deal with B? I have other skills, I have a degree, I would like to do something that is not high stress, intensive childcare of a special needs kid.
The good thing that has happened lately is the Mandt training. Mandt was first designed for prisons, to reduce the high death and incident rate that result from the restraints traditionally taught to guards. The fundamental principal, that all behaviour is the result of unmet need, has really helped me re frame B's behaviour. Now, when she acts out, instead of reacting to her violent behaviour, I focus on safety, establishing baseline, and trying to figure out her needs, the ones she can't express. In two weeks, I will have a very specific safety plan in place for her, but already, the incident rate has reduced, and except for a a few bits of behaviour lately, the last couple of weeks have been good.
I am not going to give up fighting the depression. I am going to try to spend as much time as I can with people that understand me, value me, and give back to me the energy I give to them. I've realised lately how important that is, to have friends that make the effort even when I'm down. Especially then. And having that expectation, that my energy will be matched, is a very reasonable one. It's too easy, when you're feeling depressed, to allow yourself to be under valued, which just makes everything worse.