Monday, December 17, 2018

Where have I been? Time for a new start....

Hi guys. I know, it's been months since I last wrote a blog post and the main reason being, I haven't had much time to sit down, process my thoughts or reflect. I've been far too busy and mentally occupied, that unfortunately I've been feeling burned out, just like I was at the end of last year. I won't go into details, but at one point, I got so 'good' at putting my thoughts and feelings aside, that whenever there was a quiet moment, tears would suddenly roll down my cheeks, seemingly for no apparent reason.

I wasn't sad or depressed (or was I?). My feelings weren't hurt. But why was I crying? I wasn't able to stop the tears... they just kept rolling down until they stopped. This happened so often, that I began to realise that something was wrong with me. I was suppressing things, pushing myself too hard (without realising it), I had no self-care routine and I wasn't in a happy place. I was NUMB.

Things needed to change, and so I started retreating from the world. I needed time to gather my thoughts, feel emotions, care about myself and reflect. While searching the web for some idea on why I was feeling the way I was, I came across an article on Very Well Health about Mothers of Autistic Children and Depression, and every word seemed far too familiar.

So how did I arrive in a place where I never wanted to be in again? Where did I go wrong?

After burning out at the end of 2017, at the start of this year, I made a conscious decision to drastically reduce my freelance jobs so that I wouldn't be too burdened with the workload. I let go of a big retainer job and if you're a freelancer, you know how difficult this was to do. This, of course, meant that I earned much less than before. But I made adjustments and took it in my stride. I also got quite good at saying "no" to projects that I knew I couldn't handle, because of the conflicts that they would cause to my daily schedule. I really didn't want to bite off more than I could chew.

But unfortunately, as time passed, I found it harder and harder to continue being highly productive in my work, while trying to manage things on the home front. After all, taking care of a household, cooking meals and getting the kids ready for things and appointments is a full-time job in itself. And let's face it, being the main caregiver of a child with special needs has its own set of challenges. On top of everything, I was trying to efficiently conduct my own home intervention programme for Arif. In short, I had way too much on my plate. Something had to give.

So at the start of December, I carved a bit more time for me to reflect, and I've decided that I would have to reduce my work commitments even further come 2019. I would only take on a minimal amount of work whenever I could, but my main focus next year will be on my boys. This means that our family would be surviving largely on a single income, which is undoubtedly a scary thing for us. I'm sure there'll need to be a lot of transitions and adjustments.

But, I think it will all be worth it. Here's why. Amir, my eldest, will be sitting for his PMR exam next year. He will need all the support and encouragement that I can give him. And Arif, my youngest, who has non-verbal autism, has been showing remarkable progress in his connection and communication with me. He has also shown a keen interest in learning at home. So I must strike while the iron is hot. I must seize this chance to fully dedicate myself to my kids, especially Arif's developments. This window of opportunity won't last forever, so the time is now, or never.

So yeah, I'm ready for a new start. I'm now more determined than ever to develop a more mindful self. And you know what? Quite a few people have told me that I should write on, or give a talk about my experiences as an autism parent, which they think would be encouraging to others. In the past, I had felt that I wasn't ready to do that since I haven't gone very far in my journey into the world of autism. I'm neither an expert on the subject nor a parent who has it 'all figured out.' I'm also hesitant about opening up portions of our private lives to public scrutiny and criticism.

But after discussing things with my husband, I think I will start sharing some of my experiences in a more in-depth way here on my blog. It will be a practice for me to be mindful, as I go about my daily life and challenges. Also, there may be others out there who are going through the same thing and feel the way I do. Maybe I can help someone feel that they're not alone and perhaps even shed some light through my stories. 

You know what 2018 has taught me? Sometimes you think you know things, but in reality, you don't. Life will keep throwing you curve balls, and you'll have to keep figuring things out. But at this moment, I'm grateful for the realisations and reflections that I've had this month, and for the opportunity that I have to go forward with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. I hope that if you're feeling as tired and worn out with the world as I've felt, that you'll be able to take some time to retreat, realise and reflect. You deserve it.

But before you go, I want to share a couple of articles with you:

How do you know if you're burning out? Check out this article on Forbes - 10 Signs You're Burning Out and What To Do About It.

Here's another good article I recently read on What Does It Mean To Be Mindful from the Huffington Post.

Note: This post contains links to articles that I've found helpful. They are not affiliated links.

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