Last week I reposted a blog I had written last year about changing my beliefs on vaccines.
I received several messages this week about that blog, so this has me thinking about all of the decisions I have made for Zion in the many years of him living with autism.
So I am going to be even more transparent today.
We have tried so many things to make the autism go away.
Gluten and casein free diet.
No Red Dye #40.
Bentonite clay consumption and baths.
Sensory integration therapy.
Mercury detox supplements.
If it exists, we have tried it. If you had told me that bathing him in unicorn tears would have taken away the autism, I would have soaked him in it and scrubbed his skin for days.
But life doesn’t work that way.
And sometimes we just have to face that the very thing we want to go away, is the thing that is making us who we were meant to be.
I have learned so many lessons from my son.
Probably the most poignant for me lately is that every single one of us is different.
I cannot allow myself to jump to conclusions and rule out a course of treatment for one person, just because it didn’t work for another.
Enter my son’s brief relationship with medications.
He took Focalin and Risperdal for the better part of 2 years.
And I watched my beautiful, rowdy son turn into a lifeless stoner. He was such a zombie. He didn’t react to me at all. He would sit in a trance for hours on end.
It was like watching Cheech and Chong; The toddler years.
But then we discovered ABA therapy. And those therapists gave me hope that we could find a Zion that wasn’t drugged. So I weaned him off of those medications, against the advice of his psychiatrist. And I’m so glad we did. Because what we discovered is a delightful, intelligent, and extremely active child who didn’t need prescription drugs or public school or IEPs.
What he needed is a place he can be free to be himself.
This has been wonderful for Zion.
But unfortunately it has made me anti-medication for everyone in our family.
This is a problem, because for years I have struggled with anxiety. As a single mom of two tweens, one of whom has autism, it is probably easy to understand why. But when I say anxiety, I mean I get this painful nervousness in the pit of my stomach like I’m about to go on stage. And most of the time, it happens for no apparent reason.
In the middle of the night.
Mid-afternoon at work.
During Sunday dinner.
When I’m having sushi with a friend.
Consequently, for years I have also thought I was a little nutsy. But I also thought I should be strong enough to overcome it on my own. I have tried so many different things.
Drinking vats of wine.
But regardless, the anxiety has just been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
And until recently, it hadn’t been affecting my health.
Or so I thought.
The past year I have gained a considerable amount of weight. My blood pressure has skyrocketed. I can’t sleep. I’m always on edge. Somedays I have felt so overwhelmed that I really thought my head was going to explode.
So two weeks ago, I decided the martyr look wasn’t working for me anymore, so I asked for help.
I went to see my doctor, and I asked her to help me.
(I thought she was going to pass out.)
She put me on an anti-anxiety medication called Lexapro.
And can I tell you something?
Without sounding like a commercial, I feel like I’m getting my life back. She said it would take two weeks to start working, but I could tell a difference right away. The past two weeks have been heavenly. Everyone around me has noticed a shift in my demeanor.
I feel calm.
I am sleeping again. I haven’t been binge eating out of anxiety. I am laughing at things that really aren’t even funny.
Truly stressful situations don’t seem like that big of a deal anymore.
So let me say again that every person is different. EVERY person is different.
Just because Lexapro works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. For that matter, just because Lexapro works for me now, doesn’t mean it will work for me forever.
Perhaps your child can take Risperdal and thrive. Excellent. That is good. For your child. That doesn’t mean everyone should take it.
Vaccines are made to protect the population. That doesn’t mean a 1 year old baby should get 4 of them at one time. Perhaps your child handled it just fine. Let the next person space their vaccines out, if it gives them peace of mind.
The lesson here for all of us as parents and humans should be to seek what is best for our own child. Advocate for what you feel is best, and accept that regardless of what you feel and believe right now, at some point your stance may change.
And that’s okay.
It’s called growth.
Medication wasn’t the answer for Zion.
But for now, it is working for me.
At least so far.
And today I feel so good. Soooooooo good.
I am looking forward to many, many more years of being wrong.