Treading water

I’m not the world’s best swimmer. I can manage – mostly – but I tire easily. Because of this failing, I intimately know that horrible feeling when you’ve swam as far as you can but suddenly … you can’t anymore.

Over the last few many months, I have felt this way. That I was out too far from land, and lacked the strength to swim any further. I was desperately treading water, but every so often faltered, and sank.

Breathe …

Now, I can finally take a breath. I think I can muster enough energy to start swimming, and perhaps, in time, I can do more than just survive.

Everyone has been struggling during Covid, some more than others. When I say “we’re struggling,” that really means nothing at all to most people. I put it far more bluntly to my son’s psychiatrist: “we’re not in crisis mode yet, but we’re almost there.”

Yes. I said my son’s psychiatrist. It’s taken months to find one. It’s taken far longer to find appropriate therapists. You don’t usually think of these in the context of six-year-olds, but for us, that’s our life right now.


Once Covid lock-down and restrictions happened, our lives went south. Badly. What used to look like defiance or temper tantrums escalated into something far worse. Biting, hitting, trying to destroy property, spitting, deliberate meanness, hateful words … these became our normal. And nothing – literally nothing – was working.

His psych thinks it’s anxiety. Severe, but “not very severe,” he reassured me. As if that would make me feel better about the fact that my son actively tries to harm me. And while I don’t want to open “that” subject, I will say that without medication, things would be much worse right now.


Here’s the thing – now that I’m tracking, I’m angry. I’m so astoundingly incandescently angry that I’m surprised I’m not glowing! I’m angry at the system that makes it so hard to find help for a child in a mental crisis. I’m pissed off at a judgmental society that loves to label parents as failures and kids as “bad.” I’m roaring mad at being left without any support structure at all.

I’ve talked to so many people who don’t have a support system. Support: meaning someone to talk to, to ask for help, to slip over and give them a few minutes break, to rely on for child care in emergencies – you name it. What family and friends are for – the mythical “village” of support. It’s tough being a parent. It’s even tougher being a parent of a child with high needs, and having to go it alone with no outside support. Most of us are at burn-out point, with no end in sight.


Analytically speaking, I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum of grief. The mourning of what isn’t, what you thought you had, and what the future might hold. My kid is a great kid. He’s doing better, he’s struggling with something that fells even adults, and he’s trying his best. It’s just that … I don’t want this for my kid! I wanted a better life – an easier life for him!

It’s time for me to start swimming, but I’m drowning in a lake of guilt, stress, emotions, and demands. And let me tell you, Covid life as a high risk individual is NOT helping!

One day at a time. That’s all I can do, and some days it’s too much.

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