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Reminding Myself to Never Give Up

Current Mood:hopeful emoticon hopeful

Current Music: “Broken & Beautiful” Kelly Clarkson

I wrote this up on Facebook yesterday and thought I would share here with an update:

Yesterday, after a lot of thought and research into the eventual PCS home, our family decided to go to the stray pet facility on base to see if any of the cats currently awaiting adoption would be a good fit for our first family pet. It was a big deal for me to open myself up to the idea, and we all agreed we would only bring a cat home if it was the perfect storm of qualities for our household needs. Not so playful and vocal it causes issues with our sensory problems, but not too shy or skittish to love on the kids and be patient with their excitement.

We were shown a cat that had been at the kennel for a while but would require eye drops and constantly hid under a table, obviously terrified of the kids. The staff was trying really hard to sell us on this pet that was visibly not meshing with our family. We asked to look at others and found the perfect cat. She is beautiful, sweet, and didn’t mind at all that the kids wanted to constantly be in her face. Out of an entire kennel of strays, she was the only one with the right personality. We fell in love with her.

We asked what the process for adoption would be, and we were told that we would fill out an application and get a call by 3pm so we could pick her up before the end of their free adoption event that was apparently going on this past week. The person we gave the paperwork to made it sound like a done deal and even agreed it would be fine for us to go ahead and take the kids to lunch and supply shopping while we waited for the call. The call never came. We spent all day out and spent a good chunk of change on things we would need before finally calling the kennel ourselves at 3:30pm.

It was at this point we were informed that another family had also put in an application and been chosen over us in a “tough decision”. They had already been notified the cat was theirs. We went back to the kennel and asked what happened. They just said sorry it was their policy to accept multiple applications and choose from them. When we chose the cat we did, and our small children excitedly realized they were going to bring that particular cat home, no one told us this was a possibility. No one, despite knowing we were out shopping for items for this cat, bothered to call and tell us that we were wasting our time, money, and emotional investment. I don’t know that they ever would have called if we hadn’t made contact ourselves.

I’m not going to lie, Anya and I both had an autistic meltdown right there in the building, crying and stimming, that continued long after we were home. Marie was angry and kept saying how mean and rude the staff were to give our cat away, and poor little Ben was so confused when he could see the cat still in her cage and didn’t understand why we weren’t picking her up like we promised. The staff said we could take the other cat we had seen, and I began to feel like we had been purposely bait and switched so they could get rid of this cat they want gone, thinking we would just take any cat we could have if they gave the cat we applied for to the other family. It was obvious they did not expect us to be as upset as we were.

This was a very major event for our family. We didn’t want just any cat; we were willing to adopt because this cat has the perfect qualities to be a pet in our family. Myself and my kids are traumatized by having what already felt like a member of our family ripped from us in an arbitrary decision and then blindsided with the news with no warning. This has kept me up most of the night with panic attacks and nausea. My kids are a wreck. We have to take all these supplies back to the Exchange at some point.

We will NEVER go back to that kennel for anything. Their business practices are unprofessional at best, and, honestly, the way they handled our specific situation was appalling. If this is how they treat special needs families and can sleep at night after having kids that young emotionally devastated in this way, then I pray they develop some empathy.

We will not recover from this like some minor, disappointing setback. It will cause me issues with functioning, sleeping, and eating for weeks. It is keeping me from finishing grad school work that is due this weekend; it will haunt the memories of my kids as a trauma for years, and that really guts me the most. I regret ever going in to look; I wish I could undo it all. I wish I could stop crying. I wish I could stop believing that something in the way myself or my children present our autistic personality traits is the cause of the way we were treated. I just wish the intense pain we all feel was over. 💔

At first, I was so angry that I wanted to give up entirely, but my husband reminded me that we had already now opened the door to the idea that we were getting a pet for the kids. It is only right to keep moving forward and give them a happy ending to this situation. So that night, we e-mailed an application to a local rescue organization that fosters their pets in homes until an adoptive family is available. We have already heard back from them with a recommendation for the cat they think will be a perfect fit for our family, and we will be meeting her later this week to hopefully begin a trial period of her living with us. I will, of course, share more about her and photos once everything is solidified. We learned our lesson from getting too attached too quickly this weekend and are being more cautiously optimistic this time around.

I think having this cat join our family will help us begin to heal from the horrible experience we had with the base kennel. I was sick to my stomach for a good 36 hours afterward and could barely function yesterday as a result. Thankfully, I’m feeling better today, and I think just putting some distance between that day and myself is helping, along with knowing not all hope is lost. We can provide a loving family for another cat who doesn’t yet have a forever home.

Despite being the type of person who believes that everything happens for a reason, I struggled with accepting it when all of this happened. I was just caught so off guard. Now that I’m able to process it a bit more, I know that maybe it was just meant to be that that cat ended up with the family that she did, and whatever happens with our future pet is exactly what is supposed to happen. It will be alright. My faith has kept me sure of that in much larger, more devastating situations than this. This is small potatoes for God. He always comes through; just not always the way I expect. Thankfully, He is gracious in giving me time to adjust to his plans, no matter how obstinate or ungrateful I am in the meantime.

To Be or Not to Be

Current Mood:anxious emoticon anxious

Current Music: Wake me up by 浜崎あゆみ

Despite the brain fog and chronic pain, I’ve been muddling my way through my grad school courses over the last few months. It’s getting more and more difficult to process the information and produce coherent assignments, which is all the more frightening because typically these things come so very easily to me. It’s like my brain doesn’t even work the same anymore. I’m in the middle of the fifth of twelve classes I have to take to complete the program. It’s a poetry course, and, thankfully, since I can write from a place of emotion and get a little more leeway on technique and academic work, I’ve been able to keep pushing forward. Even so, I lose points in places I don’t think I will, in places I never would have in the past.

I’m extremely nervous about moving into the next class in October. It’s a Shakespeare course, which normally I love so much and was so excited about registering for, but I already know that the materials will require a lot of the brain function I feel I have lost. I don’t know how I’m going to maintain the work required for analytical papers when I’m struggling to pen 10-line poems that meet course criteria now. I’m sure I can complete the classes, even if it means not getting a 4.0 GPA, but for me, the perfectionist and over-achiever, getting anything short of an A in the course is anxiety-inducing and causes me to feel like a failure, if for no other reason than knowing I’m normally capable of it without any worry at all, and it’s taking me days to accomplish what used to take minutes or at the most hours and yield better results. It feels like losing another piece of myself to whatever this is.

I can apply for disability accomodations through the university, but I don’t even know what to ask for. The paperwork requires a bunch of information from my doctors, who obviously are less than helpful already and weren’t the ones to diagnose me with Asperger’s, which is the route I would have to go in order to get the accommodations, even though it’s the mystery chronic illness that is causing me such difficulty. If I take a break now, not only am I unsure of the financial ramifications since I’m using loans to pay for this degree, but I’m also afraid that I won’t make it back if this condition continues to deteriorate my abilities.

As frustrating as it has been to be less physically capable because of how I feel, the loss of mental capacity is much more terrifying. My intellect has been such a large part of what makes me…me. Who am I if it is gone?

Heavy Thoughts from a Rough Morning

Current Mood:exhausted emoticon exhausted

Current Music: “Survivor” by 浜崎あゆみ

It feels so weird and yet so right to be blogging in a diary/journal format again. I held back from posting yesterday, still in the habit of posting snippets on Facebook instead. I’d really like to move away from that some, I think. Social media feels so fake and contrite these days. I’ll obviously still use it, posting Instagram photos and sharing memes and infographics; it’s what I do. But I’m glad to have a little extra space to sort my thoughts and type them out into the abyss, whether anyone else reads much of it or not.

I’m struggling a bit today. Whatever mysterious chronic malady plagues me is seriously affecting my day-to-day ability to function, some days worse than others. Today is one of the worse days. I woke up and had to stay in bed for about an hour, which has become pretty normal, but today my limbs felt especially achy and heavy. My head felt even foggier and groggier than typical; I ended up falling back asleep for a bit which is unusual for me. I’m finally able to get up and move around now, ignoring the constant pain in my arms, legs, hands, feet, hips, and back…basically my entire body. The brain fog is killing me, though. I made it through some reading with the kiddos, enough that they could move on to either playing or their independent work, depending on the kid. I have to rally at some point to make it through my own homework, as I have an assignment due this evening.

It’s really discouraging to know my options for getting medical help may be next to nothing. Right now, they just want me to take an SSRI (fluoxetine/Prozac) and wait for the referral to go through to see a mental health counselor on base. It’s pretty clear to me that they think my illness stems from anxiety and depression, rather than the other way around. Ironically, before my health started to degrade, I was in the best place mental health-wise that I’ve ever been in in my life – since I became a teenager, at the very least. I was feeling so sure of myself and ready to actually live instead of constantly worrying about society’s expectations or continuing to make myself small to please others. It was amazing. The physical problems took me by surprise and began to worsen exponentially about 6 months ago; I rarely have days where I feel remotely decent now. I’m always run down, in pain, and having trouble processing information that once came to me as easily as breathing. It’s infuriating that I’m being brushed off by the medical staff here, and it’s terrifying to feel like there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop the decline in my mental and physical abilities. We are not scheduled to move again for another year and a half, at least. I don’t know how I’m going to make it that long.

I’m afraid to even message my doctors and confess that I haven’t been taking the meds. (I insisted I wanted to be seeing a therapist first, but somehow they took that to mean I was cool with meds as long as I did eventually also see a counselor. By the end of that appointment, I was so beaten down and upset I couldn’t fight for myself anymore. I just nodded, smiled, and took the prescription home.) There are so many tests that haven’t been run that would make sense to try with my symptoms, but every time I go in suggesting something I feel like it just feeds their theories that I’m a hypochondriac. It’s a very trapped feeling to not be able to take control of my own health because doing so immediately makes doctors assume I am not actually in control of my faculties. This system is so horribly flawed, don’t even get me started. I’ve lost faith that I’ll ever get help, especially out here, and I’m worried about what that could mean. Suffering for at least the next couple of years. Worsening symptoms to the point of permanent damage. Or worse. I really just don’t know what to do, and it feels like there is absolutely nothing I can do. That’s where the anxiety is coming from; that’s why I’m getting depressed. Because they won’t actually help me. They can’t be bothered.

1 in 4

I should have had a baby this week. Our family should’ve grown by one to reach a grand total of six. I should’ve been watching Anya and Marie fawning over a new brother or sister, while Benjamin’s adorable fascination with babies overwhelmed us all with an overload of cute. He would be the sweetest, gentlest of big brothers. And I hope someday he gets to be one; but, unfortunately, that day isn’t today.

Today, I’m grieving the loss of a child I never held or named. One that existed only for a moment in my mind’s eye. The pregnancy was unplanned, but I fell in love the second that pink line appeared. I wasn’t ready for another baby, it’s true…but during the twelve or so hours between that positive test and the first signs of miscarriage, I convinced myself otherwise. I got excited. I daydreamed. I hoped. And then, as quickly as it arrived, that hope vanished.

I spent several weeks in a pretty dark depression, one I posted about online here and there without revealing the reason. I wasn’t ready to share just yet. I usually share everything, but this was my first loss. Every other pregnancy has ended in a beautiful baby placed in my arms and sent home with me to grow into the three amazing children that we already have. I never once for a moment believed that this one would be any different…until it was. It happened in November, just before the Holidays, which I’m sure didn’t help matters.

It still feels surreal that I was pregnant at all, while at the same time it seems impossible that the pregnancy was so short-lived. The kids don’t know; it wouldn’t be right to tell them and put them through this grief, so as parents we are mourning alone. There aren’t any more babies in the cards for us right now; the housing situation and lackluster medical care options available to us here in Okinawa just aren’t something I want to deal with through another pregnancy. My last overseas birth resulted in an intense postpartum depression that kickstarted years of autistic burnout from which I’m still not entirely recovered. My health is an issue, too, and I need to figure out what is going on there before I add anything else to the mix.

But, logic doesn’t sway the longing I feel for another baby or the intense reaction to the loss of this child we weren’t expecting. The kids are always asking when they will get another sibling; they have baby fever worse than I do, it seems. It fills me with joy to know that the love they have for one another is so strong and sure, that the idea of adding another member to their bond is a given to them. There is no fear or jealousy, just…love. And a desire to nurture and care for one another that seems innate to their precious little personalities. Knowing how much it would add to their lives for this child to have become reality makes it that much more difficult for me to process and bear.

I know it’s not the thing I should want right now; that it makes absolutely no sense to even consider it until I am healthier and preferably when we are no longer stationed overseas. I think it scares me a bit to know I’ll be in my mid-30’s by then, and considering the alphabet soup of diagnoses already present in our family that rolling those dice becomes exponentially riskier by then. It makes me feel like a clock is ticking, but life circumstances dictate that I must wait and potentially miss the opportunity to have another child entirely.

I try to convince myself to be content. I have three amazing kids; I need to be okay with this being it for me. They need to be enough. And they are. I had already accepted that three might be all we can handle for a multitude of reasons…but then that test turned positive, and it just completely wrecked all of the delicate scaffolding built through the mental gymnastics of putting the tangible realities ahead of my emotional desires.

I’ve been slowly rebuilding it, knowing that the best thing I can do is concentrate on myself and providing the best possible childhood for Anya, Marie, and Benjamin right now. They are here and need their mother; that keeps me going. I know I am blessed to have never experienced the loss of a pregnancy before now. I know the statistics. But that doesn’t dull the pain of knowing what could have been.