Have you ever had one of those moments when you look at your life and wonder what happened? Is this it?
I have but lets just say they were not moments, they were more like hours, EVERYDAY.
Before I become a Mummy, I was a high-flying corporate executive with big plans for my future. I was earning great money, had travelled the world, invested in property and was a social butterfly. Loving life. Even more so when I met the man who was to become my children’s father and sooner than expected fell pregnant with our first child, our son Billy.
Billy was born with disabilities, a life threatening medical condition and years later was diagnosed with Autism. Those first few years were tough. Here’s us, a young couple, at the beginning of their lives together and dealing with medical terms we struggled to spell, let alone understand.
We also had a beautiful daughter, Sienna who came along when Billy was 20 months old. Sienna was a breath of fresh air and brought some normality back into our lives. We were coping, not always well, but coping. I was extremely busy with therapy, hospital stays, doctor appointments as well as juggling the demands of a mum, wife and friend.
Raising a child with special needs is tough. There isn’t a lot of time or energy left for each other. That is common to any parents however there are extra challenges when you have a special needs child. When Billy was 6 years old, unfortunately our relationship broke down.
Gee and I thought things were tough before!
I knew I needed a bit of help to get through it all. Nervously I took myself off to the doc’s and started some counselling sessions.
The strategies I learnt work!
It takes time and more importantly, it takes commitment and determination to get better. It also takes memory, which isn’t my strongest point haha, so I choose 3 easy yet very effective exercises that WILL help, to share with you.
- Retrain your Brain! Our brains contain neutral pathways. Basically we can train our brains to change our thought patterns. I will explain. I am very busy, but I still had way to much time to think. This is because I am busy alone. So I had to learn to recognise my thoughts, be aware of the negative ones and change them. I did this by focusing on the task I was doing. If I was washing the dishes and I recognised a negative thought, I turned my attention to the water temperature, the bubbles, anything that related to the washing up. It took time, lots actually and I still do this exercise today, but it gets easier and suddenly you realise how positive you feel.
- You Time! You are very important. You have needs, wants and desires. It is important you take the time to invest in yourself, doing something you want to do. Set aside at least half an hour per day for you. The length of time can be whatever you decide you can manage in your caring role. During that time, do an activity you love. It can simply be reading or taking a bubble bath, going for a walk or visiting friends. Don’t forget to train your brain during your time.
- Snapshot your life! It is important to reflect on what we have been through and be proud of ourselves. It’s amazing how much more of an impact it will have when it’s shown visually. Carers are strong, we have been though a lot. All you need to do is take a piece of cardboard, cut-out pics from magazines, or online and paste them on to the cardboard to represent significant events. Also think about where you dream to be in 10yrs and do the same pasting pics on your cardboard. Keep this piece of cardboard somewhere you can see it everyday. It serves as a reminder of your strength and dreams.
These exercises take time and some days you will do them all day, other days not so often. Go at your own pace. I still do them! But it was up to me to make a choice. Did I want to be happy or did I want to be sad and angry? I chose happiness and doing these exercises has given me a steps towards self-worth, determination and hope to reach my dreams.
I hope it does for you too!
Do you have any others to add? let us know by commenting!