"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Do Zombies Cry?

I think I'm turning into a zombie.

I'm "dead" serious.  :)

In the past few years, it seems like I have become emotionally numb to a lot of things that used to bother or upset me. 

It has been 3 years since Derek was diagnosed with autism.  When he was first being evaluated, and in the 6 months or so following the diagnosis, I was a mess.  I cried all the time.  I cried over the child I thought I'd lost.  I cried over the dreams I was giving up.  I cried out of fear and anger and frustration. I cried because I felt alone.  I cried because the future was suddenly uncertain and I didn't know how to help my child.  I cried because I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. 

As we all know, life goes on.  Healing takes time (and I didn't HAVE time)--so I put band-aids on my emotions and pretended I was ok.  Day by day, I did what I had to do to survive.  I became a google junkie and an autism "expert."  I discovered ABA and hired therapists to work with my son.  Derek slowly started to improve.  I also stopped crying.

In three years, life has changed tremendously.  I don't really remember what life was like before autism.  I don't remember the person I used to be, but I'm told I was kind of crazy and fun. 

What am I now?  Numb.

The past year has been a whirlwhind.  SO MANY THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.  Derek had to have dental surgery again.  He also had to have an endoscopy.  He was vomiting in the middle of the night at least once a week for MONTHS on end--turning me into a sleep-deprived maniac.  He was finally diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome.  What exactly is CVS?  Here you go:  it means my child wakes up vomiting in the middle of the night for no real reason at all.  He suddenly sits up and vomit comes spewing out of his mouth.  I run him to the bathroom (he sleeps with me right now so I can help him) to minimize the mess.  Then he vomits uncontrollably for hours on end.  Sometimes it's only 2 hours.  Sometimes it's up to 4.  And sometimes he gets diarrhea with it--explosive diarrhea.  I sit him on the toilet and hold him up (because he is too weak to hold himself up) and he vomits into a towel.  He cries because he doesn't understand what is happening.  He freaks out when he gets vomit on himself.  And what causes CVS?  Who knows.  It could be caused by migraines, but since he's autistic, there's no real way for him to tell me if he's in pain.  So I have no indication when it's going to happen.  It can also be triggered by certain foods and stress.  He is on medicine, which is helping (Thank God).  But I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I don't know when his next attack will hit...


Derek still has to have allergy testing, an MRI and an EEG.  Turns out there is a possibility Derek has epilepsy too.  He's had strange staring spells since he was 2.  He had an EEG in 2009 that was inconclusive because he yanked off all of the electrodes.  This time he will be sedated. 

I'm in survival mode.  In order to get through all of this, I had to turn off my brain.  You know, the part that has normal, every day emotions?  Happy, sad, angry, frustrated, impatient, bored?  Hah.  For the most part I have turned into a zombie.  My "disgust" factor was turned off a long time ago.  When you get yakked on repeatedly, vomit no longer phases you in the slightest.  I also hear about things happening to other people and I think, "Oh, that's supposed to be funny."  But I have trouble laughing.  I hear about babies being born and people getting married and friends getting jobs--and I try to be happy.  I really, truly try.  But I'm beyond exhausted.  I'm at the shut-down point where no emotions exist.  Unless you count numb.  I have too much on my plate to take on anymore--and people with road rage, impatience at the check-out line at the grocery store, and even overly happy people seem ridiculous to me. 

I've turned into "that" person.  The one that people hate.  The one that never calls.  The one that doesn't email back.  I rarely go out anymore, unless it's to go to yet another doctor's appointment. 

Every once in a while, something will happen and actually penetrate my brain.  Something miraculous.  Like Derek recognizing Santa.  He sat on his lap and said "Stanta" and whispered "Ho, ho, ho."  Or when Tyler and Derek sat on opposite sides of the teeter-totter last week for the first time EVER and actually did it correctly.  Both of them were giggling and Derek's eyes were twinkling in the sunshine...moments like that hit me hard.  Then I am hit by a SURGE of emotion and tears cascade down my cheeks like waterfalls.  Yes, zombies cry.  When it really matters. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your experience so openly. Your art work is beautiful!