Don't I look so happy in this picture? Well I will let you in on a little secret. I wasn't. I was feeling a little less panicked on this day then I had been a couple of weeks earlier, because I was on prescription drugs. Let me back up a bit. I am well acquainted with depression. The first time it came for me was when I was in my early teens and we all know the kinds of changes that take place. I was a young girl who let every negative word that was ever said sink into my mind and heart, and all of the bad things that had ever been said about me were the words I believed about myself. I didn't like myself or anything about my life, because I didn't understand that today is not the end of the story, and some bad experiences do not make a bad life. A Christian counselor thankfully made me believe the truth that I was made by God on purpose and for a purpose, and for the first time I felt like I was worthy to be alive. I never thought about ending my life again, and over the years, I have typically been a happy person. Every so often, the darkness would find its way back. I was also given a gift I didn't expect when my son was born. After finding out that autism and Fragile X Syndrome would be a part of our story, I accepted my assignment and believed God would provide everything we needed to make Lucas a happy and contributing member of society. But sometimes, the challenges of the days felt like too much to withstand.
It seems the times of transition for Lucas were the worst of times for me. I was happy with the services we had when he was a toddler, and the birth to three therapists had been a great help to me. He was home with me and under my protection. Then the time came to send him to pre-school when he turned three. I can't even go into details for this post because it would take too long, but it was right about then that everything became a mess. I remember a period of about 3 days that I just couldn't stop crying. I cried during all my waking hours, and couldn't stop it even when I was in front of people. But God...He always pulled me out of times like that. I got better. But then I set all these goals that needed to happen before kindergarten for Lucas and not many of them did. My son still never spoke, even though he was 6 years old. He wasn't fully potty trained yet, although we had worked on it for 4 years. The devil made his way into my thoughts. I know now that's what was happening. I thought about how no matter what I poured out into making my son do better, it would never be good enough. He would never be where he needed to be and all of my work was for nothing. Then there was the fact that he was going to public school, and one thing I will mention, is that his first pre-school teacher was abusive to her other non-verbal students in the classroom. Not Lucas, because his TSS always went to school with him, and that is the one reason that I know my son was never mistreated by a person who had clearly chosen the wrong profession. But in these weeks leading up to kindergarten, I thought back to what might have happened if God had not made sure that someone we could trust was at his side. What if? What if the new kindergarten teacher didn't love her job either? What if teaching kids with autism wasn't her true calling and she also was irritated and angry at them? What if the aids were not people who wanted to be in that class room? What if someone hurt my baby? And he couldn't ever tell me about it! How would I find out when I didn't know anyone in his room this time like I did in pre-school? Then it took over...the debilitating fear and anxiety of sending my child to school, and the future ahead of us. The enemy had gotten me to temporarily think that just because he wasn't where I wanted him to be by kindergarten, he wouldn't have a good life. I could feel my breathing become out of control when I tried to lie down and sleep at night, like I wasn't actually ABLE to breathe. I will never forget what an anxiety attack feels like. I get so mad when I hear of it happening to other people because I hate to think they feel the way I did then and it just isn't fair, because there are ways out of it. So after so many nights of tears pouring out and the feeling that I couldn't sleep, or breathe or take the pain of worrying so dreadfully about my son any longer, I went to the doctor. I blamed hormones and told them I thought I might have some sort of health problem, but they did blood work and checked for everything under the sun and told me I was perfectly healthy, The doctor told me most likely the imbalance was in my brain, because I was experiencing depression, and he said most people going through a big challenge know that it is going to come to an end, but for me, with the challenges of raising my son, there was no end in sight. I cried again just because I heard someone pinpoint the way I felt. And I left the office with my prescriptions. I know that prescriptions are sometimes necessary and helpful, and they were to me for a short time, but I have been someone who believes in more natural approaches for years, and personally don't like to take pills for very long. My doctor even knew this about me, and assured me that I could step down from these drugs when I felt ready. I determined in my mind that some day, with God's help, I would GET ready, because I just refused to be on a prescription for a lifetime. It's nothing against anyone who has that need. Please hear me on that. This is just my personal experience and my personal choice.
Looking back, these were the best and cutest pictures I ever got on the first day of school. The day my son became a kindergarten kid was the time he was most cooperative for photos!
The only twinge of sadness I feel now is that my baby still had the baby look in these pictures, and it has long since left him, because he will be in fourth grade this year, at a school that has been a big blessing in our lives. He made the switch half way through his first year in public school. I do sometimes shed a tear over how quickly the time goes, but I have learned the most important factor in being free from the fear.
As it turns out, I am glad I have these beautiful pictures of that first day when I needed a prescription to help me put on a smile. They remind me of how far God has brought my son, and how far he has brought me too. It was within the year that I did step down from those drugs. I used them to get through the winter months, because I do have classic SAD. When spring rolled around, I started the process of coming off the prescriptions, and moving into other methods to help me deal with any sadness or anxiety that came along, God has taught me a lot in the last three years, and has used things that seem so simple to help me overcome depression. And as I said in my first post, I not only "get through" the difficulties because of God, but I have actually learned to enjoy life and be happy while I am waiting for the blessings I believe He will let us see with our eyes in His perfect timing. I want to share 3 of my "happy habits" with you this week. Come back Wednesday to learn what they are!