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Saturday, September 28, 2013

A day I felt lucky

I felt lucky today for two very different reasons.  The first was because of an act of kindness and help, and the other was by comparison, after reading a book that made me realize that things could be worse, much worse.

The kind act was Janey's teacher from last year offering to watch her this afternoon so we could have a break.  Not only did she watch her, but gave her a wonderful time---a long time at a playground, and then a visit to the street fair on her street, complete with a climb on a fire truck and a ride in an old fashioned paddy wagon!  When we went to get Janey, she was running around with a couple kids who were playing football in the street.  A few kids from her school were about, and it was like a scene from a movie of a neighborhood good time, and Janey was part of it.  Janey looked so happy!  She had been reluctant to say goodbye to us when we were leaving, which is fairly new, but is happening a little more lately, but once she saw the playground, there was no looking back!  Tony and I went with Freddy to a nearby restaurant and had a leisurely meal.  None of us were sure if just the three of us had ever done that before.  It was fantastic being able to just concentrate on Freddy.  A little respite goes SUCH a long way, and we are so thankful for it!

The book I read was January First, by Michael Schofield.  It's a memoir about a family dealing with their daughter's childhoood onset schizophrenia.  January was diagnosed at the age of 6, after years of seeing hallucinations and trying to injure herself and others.  She spent time in several unhelpful psychiatric hospitals before finally getting the care she needed at UCLA.  I couldn't believe how hard it was for the family to get help, from anyone, until things got so bad it was pretty much life or death.  Janey is certainly one of the tougher kids out there, but compared to what these parents went through, she seems almost like a piece of cake.  Almost.  It helped me get some perspective to read the book, and also made me understand more why people have said to me quite a few times that they are glad I write about bad times with Janey as well as good.  I truly appreciate the honestly this book showed.  I looked up the author's blog, and saw January is doing very, very well now, which made me so happy, but then I was quite sad to read that her younger brother, who is just a baby in the book, now has some severe mental health issues of his own, including self-injurious behavior.  That made me reflect on the luck of having Janey be the youngest by far in the family, and think more than ever how lucky we are to have her two remarkable brothers.

Of course, Janey doesn't take a break from being Janey when I am basking in good feelings.  She was tough for a while tonight---arm biting, screaming, lots of behaviors out of the blue.  But I managed to stay calm and relaxed, for the most part, and she went to sleep pretty nicely.  Last night, she slept ALL NIGHT---for the first time in I think at least a month, which might also have helped today feel more manageable!  

I am lucky in many ways, and it's important that I remember that.   It's easy to forget that, when things seem dark, but it's true.  Thanks to all you that make it true.


Sabrina Steyling said...

I read January First myself awhile back, and it was one of the most powerful - and powerfully honest - books I've ever read in my lifetime. It filled me with all kinds of emotions, and I, too, was happy to find out that January is thriving, and can only hope that her brother will also be all right.

Shannon said...

I haven't read the book, but have seen both documentaries about January.

People always feel sorry for me when I share with them that my only kids - twin girls - are on the spectrum.

I remind them that there are so many people worse off. Yes, I struggle some days. And yes, I even lose it myself once in a while. But I am so grateful for my girls.