How long does it take to "lose one's mind?" I have always felt as though I were half-mad. I always wondered when I might finally *snap.* People have said I am strong. Stronger than they. I always denied that, because I didn't ask to have these crazy things happen to me. I simply showed up to life, cocked my head to the side and stood there waiting while everyone else scattered. That, my friends, is not strength. That, my friends, is my personal brand of autism.
That's right. I'm autistic. And I have never heard a word used to describe me with more relief.
I think anyone would find if they stuck their necks out or if they just allowed these things to happen to them, they would be "strong" too, because what is the alternative? The alternative is death. We bend and sway with life or she breaks us in two.
And yet we have fragile minds. How long does it take to "go crazy?" Is there a set length of time? Is it different for every person? Are there people on earth who can endure everything and never snap? Are those people stronger than the rest of us? Are those people more valuable?
I don't know. I don't think so. But I will tell you, it took me two weeks to completely lose my mind.
It was February of 2013. On a Friday our hoped for, prayed for adoption fell through while we were on vacation. On Saturday we had to take our littles to the emergency room in a strange town. On Monday we got a call that a couple of kids needed our help. Since we were licensed as a foster home and we wouldn't be bringing a little boy home after all, we said yes.
We opened our arms and our door and in walked two kids in desperate need of love and a safe place to recuperate. In the following two weeks we learned that this particular case was one of the most difficult the case workers had seen. In those two weeks we had record snows that trapped us in our home for days on end several times. All state offices were closed, so there was rarely any help available. We threw our energies at these kids who soaked it up and begged for more and threw more and more loops.
In that time we learned of a very severe addiction that runs along the vein of my most severe trigger that sent me into a spiral. I spent the next two months in complete survival mode. I don't remember many emotions from that time. Horror after horror washed over. Despite watching my foster-daughter and step-daughter get baptized on my birthday, (joy of joys! be still my heart!) I felt no joy in my heart. I survived on knowing we were doing good. I survived on knowing I would be rescued eventually, even if that rescue looked like death.
Corbin spending a week at Children's hospital last March was rough. But honestly the hardest part was not being able to FEEL the pain. All I could do was wait for a rare moment alone to cry out and writhe, but I didn't feel much outside of deep confusion and searing anger. Any emotions I did feel had to be pushed down, so that I didn't freak everyone else out. I had 5 kids riding on my ability to keep my head about me and I couldn't let them down.
And I fell further into the rabbit hole. When Allan got transferred to New York I couldn't leave fast enough. I was terrified but I was so very relieved. I spent the summer shell-shocked. Northern New York woo-ed me, and yet I felt almost nothing the entire time I was there. I was floating. I was drifting. I thought I was re-charging, but when autumn came and Allan left, the thinly veiled calm was gone, too. I think a big part of the reason Disney is such a great memory is that it's such a bright spot amongst so much scorched earth.
***As I was debating publicizing this at all, I confided in a friend that I just didn't want it to sound like I haven't had any happiness in the last year, because I totally have...she described them as the occasional happy dream in a long, hard slumber. So there you have it. Straight from someone who has walked with me through this dreamscape ;) ***
And so the question may not be how long does it take to lose one's mind. The better question for me became "How long will it take until my soul can once again rest?" Once the kids and I got back to Missouri (because there was ZERO way I was going to be able to roadschool or well, do much but survive, frankly...) I found a PTSD counselor and a physical therapist and saw a dozen other doctors about all my stomach issues...not one helped things get any better until finally it clicked that I "get" Violet because we are alike and I sought out a therapist to confirm my suspicions. She said the words, "You are pretty Aspie..." and the world looked like there might be some hope again. But that was back in February...it still took this many more months to feel like I could tackle emotions again.
How's that work? Well, desperate for some help with my serious attitude issues, I finally went to a reiki practitioner. I won't get into it, but basically it's Hippie Dippie stuff and it's right up my alley. I felt good after that session, but the change came the next morning-at 4am-when my son ran into my room and touched my arm and asked if he could *please* lay in my bed with me. I told him to go get his pillow and he ran off to get it.
OH THE JOY FLOODING THROUGH ME for the little pitterpat of my boy. I felt so much love *finally* flowing through me again and I couldn't believe it. It was *then* that I realized I hadn't felt REAL joy in over a year. I had a serious emotional block that I couldn't manage to kick no matter how hard I tried.
And here I am. Still living a very stressful life that most find daunting at best, but embarking on another journey. It's hard. And it's sad sometimes. It's also full of opportunities for joy. And I'm just happy I can feel *all* of those emotions again. The Red Queen is behind me for now and I'm re-learning how to seize every moment. Re-learning grace. I feel as if I'm waking from a slumber.