Category: Emotional Resilience

It’s Almost Impossible To Escape

October is a really shitty month for me. A difficult, sad and stressful month. The 23rd October brings around again the anniversary of my Dad dying, followed by his birthday on the 24th. A double whammy.

When I’m talking about Emotional Resilience, on here, Facebook or at my workshops, I am usually referencing it with regard to having a child with Special Needs. However, something I share is that it is also something I have been practicing in other areas of my life. Often that resilience is needed to cope with the big life events like watching your father die and at other times it’s dealing with smaller situations or perhaps how you allow others to make you feel.

Nine years on and in many ways, it doesn’t feel any easier. I’m not sure it ever will. However, I know the signs better now and have strategies to see me through. I arrived home from school drop off and walking the dog on wednesday morning. Ollie just knew, straight away, that I was crumbling. I hadn’t really been thinking about Dad or feeling sad but suddenly the swirl of emotion started to bubble up from deep inside. I totally believe having a god cry is essential. Let it all out and start again. Although, I hate crying because honestly, I don’t look or feel good for it. I’m one of those red, blotchy, puffy frog eye types of criers. Not attractive and requires multiple re-applications of make-up to look reasonable.

 

Can’t resist a cheesy 1980’s moustache & psychedelic shorts photo. Me and my Dad at the Duxford Air Show.

Within the Getting Your Voice Heard Workshops, I talk about getting into the right state to cope with upcoming events/meetings etc. Within that practice is understanding that we experience life with all of our senses – taste, sight, touch, smell and sound. This is also how we remember our experiences. That’s often why you will smell a fragrance and be reminded of a loved one or perhaps, like me, the smell of Skips reminds you of the time you ate too many as a child and vomited. Never ate them again I can assure you.

This is what was happening to me. Unfortunately my senses weren’t allowing me to get into a positive state this time. The whole month of October was spent going to and from the hospice on a daily basis. Everything about the month of October reminds me and takes me back to that point. Walking the dog, how the air smells, the mostly sunny days, dew on the grass, cool in the evening, conkers on the floor and the light of the day, the rapidly approaching decay of life and of season into Winter. It’s almost impossible to escape it.

So, although I am often taken by surprise, I am more aware and prepared for it. I advance book to see my Osteo, one of the only ways I can release the tension build up. I spend time with Ollie and the children because apart from the fact that I love them, it’s almost impossible to have two minutes to myself to get caught up in how I’m feeling. I have failed slightly this week but I’m conscious of getting an early night. Everything is so much harder to cope with when sleep deprived. I take big doses of vitamins,  try to eat well (on top of the chocolate for comfort) and drink more water. Seeing friends for Prosecco also seems to help. Who knew? Getting the balance of distraction and rest is key for me.

This is how I cope when I’m dealing with more stressful times with Freddie too, which is why we talk about all of these things to understand what emotional resilience is and why we need it.

The past few weeks have also required me to try to impart some of this to my four year old, Bella, as she started school this September. New environment, new friendship circles, new rules – new everything. It’s mostly extremely positive and exciting so far but unfortunately, there has been an older child who has been ‘picking on’ Bella and her classmates. Nothing particularly serious but a little daunting non the less when you are only four years old. We have talked about how she can handle it and what course of action to take. I too have, of course, raised it with her teacher. I hope I’m giving her the right tools to deal with it, especially if at any point it becomes more serious. Something I am incredibly mindful of though is that children and adults for that matter, rarely act out unless they are struggling. Perhaps the child is unhappy, worried or fearful about something and feels more in control when behaving in this way? Who knows? What I do know is that the child needs compassion and support. The earlier it is spotted and worked through, the better for everyone. I also know how I would feel if it was my child behaving in this way. I would be gutted. It’s possible for any child to start acting out for a whole variety of reasons. I’m conscious that being the sibling of a child with special needs brings with it many emotions and challenges. I can only do my best to give her the resilience tools she needs and hope for the best. If she was ‘picking on’ others I would hope for compassion towards her and to me as her mum until it could be resolved.

Emotional resilience is always a good thing to practice. We are human and humans suffer at times. We need compassion and ways to cope so that we can enjoy life during the fantastic times.

Keep an eye out for the next set of dates in November for both Getting Your Voice Heard – How to be a Velvet Bulldozer and Emotional Resilience – The Ebb & Flow of a Special Needs Parent, in conjunction with Entrust Care Partnership.

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Chronic Sorrow

There is something about that term that really hits home with me. I came across it some time ago but one of my fellow SWAN UK parents shared an article on it again not so long ago. It’s been sitting in my thoughts for a while and then bam it hit me like a sledge hammer yesterday.

I was having an exciting and very purposeful coaching session in the morning and came away feeling fantastic and ready to crack on with more work towards my goal. As I was walking through town to the bank there was an elderly gentleman who’s mobility scooter had failed and he was stranded. Everybody just walked past even though he almost rolled into the road. Anyway, it turned out fine, with the help of two lovely men from a nearby shop we moved him to safety and security were going to help him get home. Positive outcome. 

Chronic Sorrow, you’re wondering where is the sorrow in this story? Well, on my way back to the car, I passed a small group of people in a bit of a commotion and I realised the group comprised of young adults with special needs and their carers. One of the girls was very distressed and everyone was looking confused and worried and passers by were staring.

There it was, smack right in the face, is this the future for my son?

A massive part of my vision for this this community we are building here is not just empowering us as parents and sharing ways of coping and being powerful but to have possibilities in place for our children to have a purpose in life. I’m not saying that the group of young adults I saw had no purpose in their lives but I hope for my son to have employment, friends, respect and a reason for getting up in the morning. To live happily in the community as my other children will. I see our children as children at school and in similar settings, mine are still young, but I don’t see them as adults out in the community very often and this creates a sadness and a worry for me.

Having a child with special needs and disabilities is amazing and rewarding but can often come with that Chronic Sorrow that really makes your heart break because you love them so much. Wishing life could be easier for them and for us as parents and their siblings. You put on the brave face and the warrior parent is active so family and friends and even you don’t always recognise it. Over time, acceptance falls and all of your love and determination kick in but it doesn’t take away that Chronic Sorrow.

That feeling may never go but there is a lot we can do to support each other, educate the world and put actions in place to help provide our children and adults with their own individual purpose.

As Tony Robbins would say, it about taking ‘massive action’ towards the goal. Now that I’ve picked myself up again that’s what I’m doing, taking ‘massive action’.

Susan Ellison Busch talks about Chronic Sorrow in her book, Yearning For Normal.

Photograph courtesy of Ali Ineson xx

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