Lately I've been very, very tired. It could be a health issue, but I don't think so. I think it's more likely mental exhaustion, maybe masked depression. I know there's nothing more fun that reading about someone else's depression---big sarcasm alert there, of course. I try very hard to stay positive, and on the outside, and even to myself, I can feel that way a good deal of the time. But then there's the tiredness. It's the kind of tiredness where I can sleep what I think is a good eight hours, but then during the next day, I can't think of much else but napping. I can't get work done, or concentrate on much. It's a little much.
This article talks about stress and fatigue in mothers of autistic kids. It's very true. I can't say it's like being a combat soldier---that's probably going a little far. I don't worry about being shot at all the time. But it's a 24 hour a day job. The two extra hours of caregiving a day seems a little low to me. Every single hour except when Janey is at school is an hour of caregiving, and the intense kind. If Janey is out of my sight for more than half a minute, I am alert and going off to find her. It's literally never-ending. At any point, she might decide to cry for hours, and that is a lot like when a baby has colic, I realized the other day. I had two babies with colic, and I found a book about it in which a Vietnam vet said it was worse than anything he's experienced in Vietnam. Again, I don't think it was that bad, but it was pretty hard. It's a child you love so much crying, and you don't know why. When it's colic, it's for couple months. When it's autism, it's forever. When Janey tantrums and cries, I almost always don't know why. And you can't do what they always say to do if you are overwhelmed by a colicky baby. You can't put her in a crib and walk into the next room for a few minutes (not that I ever much was able to do that with babies, either). You have to make sure she doesn't hurt herself, or wreck the house, or try to go out the door. Even when she's happy, the alert doesn't go down. She tries to eat anything. She gets notions to throw things. She gets so happy she gets crazy-happy and can fling things around in excitement.
Writing this, I can understand my own tiredness. But understanding it and letting myself give in to it and rest are two different things. Something in me tells me I have to be productive, that just resting is not an acceptable way to spend time. The opposite impulse, to get the rest I need, overwhelms me often, and that creates guilt. I rest, but I don't relax, as I feel guilty all day I'm not getting more done.
I don't have a solution here. It feels good to write about it, to work it out in my mind a little, but I know it's not going to change any time soon. Maybe that's all I can do---keep writing and reflecting, and possibly someone out there in the similar situation will know they are not alone.