Get relief from stress

Sometimes I feel like if I have to read one more article about autism, I am going to just explode. One more huge meltdown and I am through- I’m going to throw in the towel, get in the car and just drive to some remote town, change my name to Gladys, and become the small town waitress in the diner with the mysterious past. I would never have to deal with anything more complicated than whether or not table 6 wanted fries with that. Occasionally I find myself sitting on the sofa just staring at the wall. I am so drained, I can’t do anything. I think most parents of autistic kids struggle with stress and depression.

What do you do to relieve stress? How do you recharge your batteries after a long day of battling autism? (send me your ideas.) I thought it would be good to make a list of things to do, (and NOT do) when you feel like it is all hopeless. I have found that just getting moving helps. NOTE: If you are the kind of person who is good at taking care of yourself, you will not understand what I am getting at here. This list is for those of us who kill ourselves taking care of other people until we are so sick we can’t get out of bed for three days. You know who you are. The idea here is not to be selfish and let everyone else go hang, but to remember that Mom and Dad have needs too, and they have to be met at least some of the time, or they can’t effectively meet anyone else’s.

What NOT to do:
Just for one day, I decide not to:

Read any articles about autism.

Listen to autism 1 radio.

Talk about autism with a support group.

Bake elaborate GFCF pastries.

Turn on the answering machine, and take no calls from doctors, principals, teachers or interventionists. In fact, I don’t answer the phone at all unless it is my sister who makes me laugh.

Don’t watch mindless TV or surf the internet. I find it makes it worse.

What to do instead:

Sit in a sunny window especially in winter. The vitamin D you get will make you feel better.

Worry about your own diet for a change. Cut out the coffee, pop, or what ever stimulants get you through the day. You will handle stress better without them. Make yourself a decent meal.

Rent some movies that are stupid and funny, especially ones from your youth before the trek with autism started.

Get outside and walk around a park or something. I find it is hard to be depressed if I am moving around. Hard physical labor helps too. Change all the sheets on all the beds, or clean the garage or something. You get the double pick me up of moving and having accomplished something.

Go to church. Pray. Some days take Divine Intervention. Have faith.

Do what makes you laugh. Laughing is very important. Have you noticed that people with autistic or otherwise mentally challenged children have a “look” in their eye? It is the look of someone who knows that life is deadly serious, every day. Being deadly serious every day will crush you. Go buy a “Get Fuzzy” book, read some Terry Pratchett, head over to or Smile sometimes.

Turn on some of the music you listened to in high school, and dance all over the house while you clean up. It is seriously funny to try to be stressed when Frankie is admonishing you to RELAX.

If you can find a babysitter- go out on a date with your spouse. The divorce rate for parents of autistic kids is over 80%. Go to the movies, take a walk- just make sure you talk about anything other than autism for once. Turn in early for a change…know what I mean? Take some couple time and guard it jealously. Your children will need both of their parents, so do the work necessary on your marriage to keep it together.

Take your kids outside and play with them. Build a snowman or fly kites or something. Try to remember that you like them:)

Work on your hobby- you know, that thing you used to do before you focused your entire life on autism? Knit, or paint or build something beautiful. Doing something creative really helps me unwind.

Put the kids to bed early after they ate their nutritious GFCF dinner and order a pizza.

Do something for someone else. This one is powerful medicine, and must be used wisely. Some of us spend every moment of ever waking day serving our child- this may not be helpful for you. But I find I can take my problems off my mind if I focus on serving someone else, like a sister or a friend.

It seems counterintuitive, but it works.

What do you do? Send me your thoughts and I will post them!

One comment

  • I am so unexciting,I tell my 21 year old that she is in charge. I make toast,drink fizzy drinks and lie down in a darkened room and take a nap.I also tell her to screen all phone calls with,’You really want to disturb her? You are a brave person!’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.