Monday, January 9, 2017

Making Personal Health a Priority

As a caregiver for a child with learning differences, you live under significant stress. Ongoing stress takes it's toll on a mom's body. It may not happen over night but it does happen. I am a living testament to that. Life was crazy in the days of pre and early diagnosis. I worked very hard to understand my son's challenges and various interventions. All that stress and work did bring progress! As a family, we settled into a "new normal." This routine was lots better than what we had experienced in the past but it took a lot of energy.

After a few years, I felt lethargic and could barely get the basics of life done. As I talked with my doctor, he explained what was probably happening. Testing confirmed his suspicions. I had developed hypo-thyroid. My doctor explained that when your body has a lot of stress it can wear down certain functions of the body. The problem was that hypo-thyroid wasn't my only medical issue. Within three months, I was diagnosed with Mono, shingles and an auto immune disorder. Stress affected my physical health!

What about stress and it's effect on mental and emotional health? Once again, a mental health professional explained to me how stress works. She told me that when a crisis occurs such as a death, grief, anxiety and stress, , serotonin levels fall. Over time, as life goes forward without additional upheaval, those levels normalize. She shared with me that an ongoing responsibilities of caregiving makes it difficult to emotionally "reset" because the stress never subsides.

How did I deal with these realities, it started by taking care of myself. Just like my son needed strategies to deal with life, so did I! I wasn't going to regain my physical health and deal with the emotional ups and downs of this kind of parenting without some changes.

Next week, I will share one of the discoveries I made during this time. I had to give myself permission to say no to being perfect. Perfectionism comes in all kinds of forms. Come join me as we look at the different faces of perfectionism in a mother of a child with a learning difference.

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