All day long, our tiny little spot on the planet, was blanketed in a heavy fog. It was so magical to look outside and feel like we were hanging in the top of clouds, to walk around in our backyard and feel the microscopic dewdrops as they coated my face and neck. I had intended to get some beautiful shots of the outline of the trees, floating among the fog, but as I was walking around in our backyard, I noticed this crisp fall leaf, covered in the remnant of dew from yesterday’s rains. It seemed to envelope all of what I have felt today (abandonment, fear, confusion, and a few drops of hope), so I decided to use it for my photo of the day instead.
Today, after reading a friend’s post (which more closely resembled her dissertation) on Facebook, which just happened to be a direct response to this post, I realized that I will always be awkward and different. When I wrote my post, late last night, I never even entertained the thought that I might offend someone, especially someone as dear to my heart as this friend. I was merely trying to convey the joy that I have felt in finally realizing that the issues I have been suffering with for my entire life were not all in my head or something that others wouldn’t be able to relate to. Honestly, one of the connectors for Aaron and I was that we both felt all of the symptoms of being Aspies, but had no clue what to call it or had anyone else to share our confusion, alienation, and frustration with….until we found each other. And we still didn’t understand it, until we began thoroughly educating ourselves on autism and Asperger’s this year (and we only began this, because we knew that at least one of our kids exhibited symptoms).
After finally feeling like I am at a point in my life where I have found my voice, that I am okay just the way that I am, I was, again, reminded that I will never be accepted as normal. I will probably never understand how to communicate my feelings in a way that doesn’t hurt someone else or cause others to respond harshly towards me. And in the process of not understanding how to share my joy in our own family’s ability to embrace our differences and deal with all of the judgement that has come and will come with all of the choices we make, I have obviously, without ever intending to, managed to upset one of my dearest friends. And that is probably the most painful part of living with Asperger’s Syndrome, not understanding why what I say is offensive or taboo. I have been dealing with this my entire life, but it is especially painful tonight.
I won’t be taking any drugs to help me to deal with the pain I am feeling right now. I would rather weep, feel empty inside, wrestle with the confusion and work through all of my emotions and disturbances, than to feel numb again. Some may think that I am judgemental and uneducated in my desire to keep our kids off of the drugs that everyone else in our society deems as perfectly safe and even necessary. Just this past year, I have had 5 friends confide in me that they have gone on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds to help them to deal with life. I haven’t discouraged their decisions, but it always makes me sad. Perhaps, they don’t know that I lost my brother to an accidental overdose on anti-anxiety meds or that I have spent the past 20 years, painfully watching a close family member (who suffers from addiction to prescription drugs, and which all began with anti-depressants) slowly disintegrate from a beautiful, compassionate, strong woman into something that more closely resembles Gollum with Dementia. Even though it is completely acceptable in our society, I have decided that I will not give into the popular choice of medicating myself or my kids, unless it is a life or death situation. That is where I stand. I am not apologetic for my belief, just sad that I can’t seem to express my feelings without coming off as rude, ignorant, or uneducated.
Am I adamantly against taking prescription drugs? Nope. I have friends who have severe mental and physical illnesses that depend upon modern medicine to keep them alive and far from insanity. Am I judging anyone who does choose to medicate themselves or their kids? Nope. I am just trying to be a voice of reason for those who are wondering if they really need to medicate their kids in order to allow them to live full lives. I am just trying to share my own observations. I have had several friends and family members who were medicated as children and have grown to resent their parents because of this and they are adamant about not using drugs to help minimize behaviours in their own children. I have heard others talk about losing loved ones because their loved ones felt they had cured their mental illnesses and ended up dying because of going off medications they should have been on. Aaron worked for the State Hospital (which houses many of the mentally ill in our state) for several years and even has a degree in psychology, so he has seen both sides, as well. We understand both sides. I am just trying to share our own experiences and why we choose to raise our kids without medicating them. I don’t even think that there is a medication for Asperger’s Syndrome or autism.
At any rate, I am okay with the different obstacles and hang ups that come with the choice to not medicate. We homeschool our kids, partly, because I know they would be extremely stifled in a public school setting. And we have had to come up with some pretty creative ways of dealing with the many behavioral issues that have manifested with our 6 kids over the past 18+ years. We have and will always make mistakes. I make mistakes on a daily basis. I am sure that I have made several comments in this post that will offend someone. I am imperfect. I am human. I am fragile.
That is what this leaf represents to me.