Just when summer ended, it didn’t….
Not only have warmer temperatures hung in the air the past month, but for the first time in about twenty years, there is no back to school for my family.
While to some that may be cause for celebration, it is not the case with us. That’s because all the structure and supports that have been around for years have suddenly disappeared.
With autism this is called “aging out.” It happens when your child turns twenty-one and is no longer is able to attend programs that she or he previously participated in. Because children never grow out of autism, stripping them of their supports is incredibly hard for parents and children alike (watch Dateline episode, On The Brink, on this issue). While some states like New Jersey offer what they call “supports programs” or waivers for services funded by Medicaid, they can not accommodate all the adults with autism and waiting lists are long.
Even though we knew the aging out transition was coming for Kelly, somehow it still took us by surprise, hitting harder than expected.
There’s no question that a big part of the impact came from the drama of moving, with most of our energy focused on packing, unpacking and establishing life in a new home, new town and new state. For several months, we all felt out of place, turned upside down, hovering in some sort of time warp.
While I told myself it will just take time to work things out, I still felt guilty for taking so much time off and for not having “it” all figured out.
At the same time, I also felt incredible gratitude for where we were, and that Kelly still continues to find The Bright Side of everything. After all, it could be so much worse, I’d remind myself…..
While these circumstances were quite unusual, perhaps you can still relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed, stuck, confused or alone (or like me, all of the above!)
Whether it’s a day to day thing or a bigger event life event like changing jobs, moving, losing a loved one, I thought I’d share a few lessons from dealing with overwhelm. Please feel free to add your own thoughts or ideas to the list by leaving a comment below 🙂
- Breathe. This is seriously one of the very best things you can do to help reduce stress. Try it right now – take 3 long deep breaths. Doesn’t that feel good? Do this again throughout the day.
- No matter how lonely or alienated you may feel, remember you are never alone.
- Explore your feelings from a place of curiosity. Write them down in a journal or on a piece of paper that you can later throw away or burn. If you don’t like writing, then share with a trusted friend.
- Break down whatever the task or goal is that is overwhelming you into small steps. Take one step at a time.
- Practice mindfulness, staying in the present as much as possible
- At the end of every day, write down everything that was good about your day. Then write down what your goals are for the following day.
- Retreat to a place where you find peace (unplugged), go for a walk in nature, take a epsom salt and lavender bath then cuddle with your furry friends or loved ones before dozing off to sleep.
- Keep the big picture in mind.
- Ask yourself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
Life is our greatest teacher. If we can learn to find the message in what’s happening, especially the unexpected and frustrating things, that is when we are able to shine our own light brightly out into the world.