Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We Can All Be Okay

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As the world has learned yesterday, Robin Williams, one of the greatest comedic actors of our time took his own life.  The internet and news media full of remembrance, disbelief and sadness for a well known life lost.   Firefly, a special needs equipment distributor posted a blog article today titled:  Robin Williams was a truly great actor, he spent a lifetime pretending he was okay.  The article can be found here

The article discusses the relationship of this tragic news as it pertains to special needs parents  and those with disabilities being "particularly susceptible" to feelings of depression.  "Nearly three quarters of families with disabled children have experienced anxiety, depression, isolation or family breakdown." 

I'm sure that statistically speaking that estimation could be even greater in number.  Especially in the earlier years when you are trying to adapt to "your new normal."  Still even throughout the special needs journey there are moments when this tremendous sadness can hit and overcome you like the force of a ton of bricks being thrown in your direction.  Pain so difficult it pierces your heart, makes tears come out of nowhere, and makes your feet feel like they could buckle underneath you.  They can be paralyzing moments of grief.  Grieving the loss of the life we thought we'd have, the loss of the life we thought our child would have. 

And outside struggles only compound these already delicate feelings.  Add insurance denials, fights for inclusion, battles to have your voice heard on behalf of your child, and the stigma that comes with being a family who has special needs, could easily intensify how hopeless things sometimes may feel.  Yet I'm convinced that special needs parents hang on extra tight knowing that they can't jump off the planet no matter how difficult things may be or become, because in the end they are all that their child has.

Appearances can be deceiving when it comes to how a special needs parent is truly doing.   We're fabulous about smiling on the outside when we feel like we could die in the inside.  We can appear strong as we're lifting cumbersome and heavy equipment, never letting on that we've injured our back in the process or are covered in bruises.  We can pretend that it doesn't hurt when we're stared at, or cruel comments are made to us.  Or that we're sad that no one invited us to a party.... because our child is so different from the rest.  We are great pretenders displaying that we can handle everything and anything that comes our way.

But that doesn't mean that we all couldn't benefit from a little pick-me-up from time to time.  Usually the universe is fantastic about sending me hope when I'm low on happy fuel.   I get tender messages like the one yesterday from a special needs mom, Grace, that I met at Mother's Tea earlier this year.  A simple card, in the mail.  She started out the letter with "The gentleness of this young lady reminded me so of you."  The tiniest of beautiful gestures can be so uplifting.  Someone that took the time out just for a moment to think of you.  That's sometimes all you really need.  
A beautiful card from my friend, Grace

If you know of a special needs parent in your life or someone close to you living with a disability.  Just take a moment to drop them a note to say hello, call them and tell them one beautiful thing today or ask them to coffee or a lunch date.  Make them feel not so alone.  It's the first step in overcoming the isolation and despair that can sink in on the really difficult days.  We can all be okay.

I recently had the opportunity to guest blog for The Caregiving Space, titled Four Lessons I Learned After Facing My Worst Fear.  If you'd like to read the post it can be found here    

"The best exercise for the human heart is reaching down to lift someone else up.” Tim Russert


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.