• anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  mental health,  sensory processing

    J is Struggling

    We have a problem with masks. No, not for the political reasons that everyone else seems to have about masks. We have a problem with masks because for the last bazillion months of the pandemic, masks, for the most part, have kept people from getting sick. Not just from COVID but from colds and other respiratory issues. Which means people aren’t coughing. And that’s a really bad thing for J. For 2020 and most of 2021, you’d go to the grocery store and it would be silent. Church was silent. Classrooms? Silent. Almost every public place without a hack or cleared throat. To be honest, I didn’t notice. At all.…

  • 18+,  anxiety,  autism,  home strategies,  strategies

    New Stories

    Confession: I don’t feel qualified to do this kind of parenting. I don’t know if I’ve ever been really qualified to do any kind of parenting–but this phase in life is just strange. I’m not sure how to help J navigate the “neurotypical emerging adult world” because “neurotypical adult world” isn’t made for people who don’t fit the “neurotypical world.” I’ve also been around long enough to know that the “neurotypical world” is kind of a sham: you graduate high school, you go to university, you get a job, you get married, you buy a house, you have kids, you retire. What “neurotypical world” doesn’t tell you is that you…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life

    It takes a village to get a vaccine

    Vaccines have always been a tricky thing with J. No, not in the “do vaccines cause autism way” (just to clarify for the umpteen millionth time VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM. THEY DON’T. PERIOD.), J has a lot of anxiety over needles. There was a stretch in his vaccine schedule where J was able to master his mindfulness techniques and aced those vaccines with a few deep breaths, but this last October J wasn’t able to channel those skills well enough to be successful. J and I sat in a cramped room in the clinic with our masks on for a full hour, practicing those breathing skills, taking short walking…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  family,  high school,  motherhood

    The world has to stop spinning first

    Sometimes I get a glimpse into what I think it might be like to experience the world like J. Not often, but sometimes. About a week and a half ago I had one of those times. I was on the couch with Steve sitting with a 386-page draft of my novel in my lap, discussing with Steve some of the problems I was having with it. I had 4 chapters that needed substantial revision near the tail end of the novel and I had spent the entire day untangling them, trying to figure out where to start again. 386 pages is a lot of story to be managing in your…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  cross-country,  high school

    Just relax and shake out

    I don’t know why an ice cream truck pulled up right before the JV2 boys race started, but I can tell you that I didn’t appreciate Fur Elise belted out in ice cream truck tones at a frenetic tempo on repeat. I’m guessing the truck didn’t set J in the best state of mind either, although I’m not sure if he was processing the ice cream truck or background noise before the air horn started the race. I suspect he had been ruminating in his anxiety long before we pulled into Grand Forks for his meet. J started out of the gate at a decent pace, making sure to keep…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  medication,  mental health

    Sertraline

    Take the syringe, watch the calibration carefully as you pull the clear, bitter liquid out from the bottle. That bitterness is why you need lemonade. Orange juice works too. The acidity will offset the bitterness. Wipe the bottle clean before you place it back in the cupboard. Any medication that spills along the sides will be sticky. J is 5 when we start this regiment, hoping that the sertraline prescription will do enough to keep his anxiety and OCD-like symptoms manageable. We were nervous to start. Anti-anxiety medication for a five year old? But the anxiety is debelitating for him. We feel like we don’t have any other choice. “Don’t…

  • anxiety,  COVID life,  motherhood

    Did I go through hell for nothing?

    One week ago was Father’s Day. Instead of the immense sadness I thought I’d be feeling over the loss of my dad, I was angry. Like raging angry. I haven’t been this angry in a very long time. I’ve been slowly realizing that COVID and my dad’s passing have been and will be forever intertwined, and because we’re still experiencing the effects of the COVID pandemic, I feel like I am still stuck–no stalled–in the grieving process. I’m still waiting to be physically with my family, so we can cry and hold each other like we should have been able to do at my dad’s funeral. Instead, the closure of…

  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  high school,  mental health,  special education

    COVID Rules

    Monday morning, J and I sit in front of his school-issued laptop while we chat with his special ed teacher, para, and speech therapist in our little “small talk” session and suddenly J bursts into a complete meltdown. Not just meltdown–I’m pretty sure it’s a panic attack because there’s hyperventilation and big ugly-cry sobs. We try to keep him on camera to help talk him through it–to assure him that things will not just be fine, things will be great, but he can’t do it and he needs to leave the room. It’s a very big reaction to (what we thought) was a pretty benign question: When is quarantine over?…

  • anxiety,  COVID life,  mental health,  motherhood

    Yes, we are blessed. And yes, we are struggling.

    I don’t know what day of quarantine we’re on without looking at a calendar. Time feels so different right now. The days kind of blur into each other, but at the same time they’re so different. Some days I wake up motivated, I’m on top of things (as in interacting with my kids so they’re on screens for 5 hours instead of say, 6 that day). Some days I wake up and it’s a struggle–sometimes with my kids and Steve, sometimes just with myself. It’s like I wake up every morning to a new Sarah Beck and I have to figure out what the new head space looks like for…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  motherhood

    The world keeps changing every 2 hours

    Just as I started to write this post, my phone rang with an automated Fargo Public School message regarding school breakfast and lunch for low income families: from Wednesday to Friday this week, students can walk up or drive up to designated school pick up locations for their meal. Two hours ago, I checked my phone and the front headline said that the CDC now recommends we congregate in groups no larger than 10 people. Three hours before that announcement, the Fargo Marathon was postponed. It will be held August 29 instead of May 9. And today’s only Monday. The world keeps changing drastically every 2 hours in the last…