If you follow many blogs about Autism, especially ones that originate from the USA, it's difficult not to have been touched by the story of a mum of an ASD teen who attempted murder suicide. After a final blow, a withdrawal of support, she did the unthinkable. I'm not going to write a lot about the specifics of the case, others have done that. I'm not going to harp on about the need for support, I've done that. I do want to describe being THAT exhausted. I have felt it before, especially in the younger years with Gi Joe. I have seen it before and very recently. It's inevitable.
What does it look like? Different in every person I suspect. It's often the people who you give advice to, they will come back with a frustrating, "tried that, tried that, tried that..." If that is frustrating for you, imagine how frustrating it is for them. The ones who are numb, the ones who stop caring about themselves, the ones who over analyse their situation, the ones who cry a lot, the ones who have given up, the ones who avoid. I have been this person and I have been THAT exhausted. Once I was THAT exhausted I thought about driving my car off the freeway, my son was in the back. I didn't because I saw an out, my partner, my other kids, the special school. The thought went through my head though. This one thought makes me no different from those who followed through. I felt I had an out, but I had the thought. They maybe did not feel like they had an out, had exhausted all their outs. It is hard to know and something we may never know.
What do you do to get through it? In order to help parents feeling this, asking if they are okay might be a good start, but then what? Yes people need to help themselves first before they are any good to their children. How? If you are it? How do you take a break? I am lucky, I'm not it, I can take a break, not always straight away but it happens. I don't really know the answers. It is going to take a lot of vocal hard work to change systems, mind sets, and to promote a greater understanding of the needs of Autism families. I hope that this post might help one person to recognise THAT exhaustion in a friend.