Six months ago tomorrow, I started this blog. October 21, 2011. It was a week, maybe two, after Benjy entered an inpatient psychiatric unit, because his hankering for death had become so strong I no longer felt I could keep him safe on my own. That was a dark, dark time.
Benjy has flirted with suicide, off and on, for a long time. He has had periods, brief and extended, of dysregulation so severe they have thrown our entire household into despair. His disability has challenged my parenting abilities, disrupted my equanimity -- what little I had -- again and again. How do you parent a child who is so frightened of vomiting he literally shakes every time he gets a stomach ache? Who is convinced the word will end, very soon, and we will all be plunged into icy darkness? Who believes said world is filled with miscreants and evil-doers, and that none of us are safe -- no matter how many times you tell him about the doctors and teachers and social workers, and so on, who strive every day to make our world better?
How do you parent a child who does not smile, or laugh, for months on end? Whose despair curls him up in a fetal position on his bed, when he ought to be out riding his bike or shooting hoops? Who cries out in his agony of loneliness, I'm lonely! Help me to not be lonely! and you know there are no kids who would want to be with him, so you can't help him?
Readers, it's hard. It's a heart-rending business, this Asperger's-anxiety-depression-suicidality. Parenting Benjy -- if it all works out -- will be my great work, my magnum opus, the one real achievement in my life. Sure, I've completed a PhD, published in some good places. But those pale in comparison to guiding Ben through life and keeping him safe. I think I've done a decent job of it so far -- and I know my limits, will call in the reinforcements when I need to -- and I hope that will continue.
But here's the beautiful thing: our lives, Ben's and Lars's and Saskia's and mine, have gotten so much better! Maybe it's being on the right meds. I know FOR SURE that being at the right school helps a lot. And finding -- finally! -- some good friends, not many but a few, which is enough. These things have bred optimism in my boy. He smiles now, laughs, is sometimes silly. How happy that makes the rest of us!
A lot has happened in the six months since I started this blog. We hit rock bottom and began our ascent. I stopped working and opened my life up to a measure of peace. We got more information about Saskia's illness -- not enough, but more -- and she had her ups and downs. Wow. What's in store for the next six months?
I don't know, but I've got some stuff to look forward to. I've got a whole bunch of essays and stories out on submission; I suspect there will be good news and bad on those. We have Saskia's voice recital coming up, and I love hearing her sing -- she's a lyric soprano, has a gorgeous classical voice. If she becomes an opera singer someday, which is what she thinks she would like, I will not be remotely surprised. That kid has talent! Things will continue to go swimmingly between Lars and me, of that I am sure. More late-night walks with the Hellacious Hound to look forward to -- I love those!
And then there's Ben. I hope he will continue to get stronger and happier, and fill our lives with his own special radiance. And lots of arcane knowledge, which is his specialty.
Readers, what's changed for you in the past six months, and what are your coming delights?