Saturday, 3 November 2012


One thing I have learnt over the years that I have suffered with depression is that my illness is closely linked to how in control of my life I feel.  The less in control I feel over what is happening in my life, the more depressed and anxious I become.  This correlation has been proven time and again as my life has rollercoastered along.  Making the decision to end my marriage was massive and the hardest thing I have ever had to do but it meant I had taken control of an aspect of my life that was making me more depressed by the day.  The upswing I experienced as a result of making that decision and my ex-husband eventually moving out (an immensely traumatic time for all concerned though this was) led me to believe that my depression had gone forever.  I had a period of several months when I felt in control of my life, happy and free of all symptoms of depression.

Unfortunately this didn't last and the lead up to my father's death saw my symptoms return.  This control issue explains why I find my son's behaviour has such an impact on my mood.  He has an autistic spectrum disorder, possibly pathological demand avoidance syndrome, which means his behaviour is extremely challenging.  He does not understand the different ways people relate to others; for example he would speak to an adult the same way he would speak to a peer, including any and all swear words, terms of derision or contempt and lack of respect.  If you are under any illusion about how difficult this is to live with, just imagine all of your ideas and norms about how a child should treat his mother have been completely disregarded and you're part way there.  I have always thought of myself as a relaxed, laid-back kind of parent but every time he says "f___ you, bitch" it hurts just as much as the first time.  His condition makes me feel that I have little or no control over our home life as his mood dictates the emotional temperature of the household, no matter what strategies I implement.  Thus my depression is being constantly reinforced by this feeling of lack of control.  Another parent of a child similar to mine summed it up perfectly, "walking on eggshells all the time is preferable to a punch in the face".

Whilst certainly preferable to a punch in the face, always tiptoeing around trying to avoid someone else's temper tantrums is not good for one's mental health.  The harder I try not to upset him and to phrase my interactions with him in as gentle and non-provoking way as possible, sometimes just a simple comment can result in a meltdown - which in his case generally means at best a verbal assault or anything up to and including physical assault and destruction of property.  This ongoing reinforcement of my depression is something that leaves professionals at a loss when it comes to supporting me.  My experience has been that they can see that much of what I go through on a day-to-day basis is intolerable and that the therapies they can offer me won't change that.  Advice tends to be to try and "distance" myself from his behaviour so that it doesn't feel so personal; something that I have so far been spectacularly incapable of doing.

My inability to parent my son effectively makes me feel a complete failure, despite the fact that my other two children are responsible teenagers that I am very proud of.  I feel I have let my other two children down by not protecting them from their brother's behaviour, which I know causes them a lot of distress too. 

Control is a major problem in my life at the moment.  My fiance and his son are moving in with us as soon as their house sale completes.  There has been hold up after hold up and with each passing day I can feel myself sliding further downhill.  The lack of certainty is, quite literally, driving me mad.  We cannot afford for them to move in until the house sale is complete and we haven't even got a date yet so my nerves are frayed to bits.  Added to that we now have no transport as both of our cars reached the end of their economic lives within a few months of each other.  We are trying to pick up a cheap car to tide us over until the house is sold but even that seems to be far more complicated than it should be and after a wasted day spent travelling around the county looking at cars that were potential money pits, I am just about ready to crack completely.  The two youngest boys need driven to school on Monday morning so something needs to be sorted out by then!

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