I wrote this on my plane ride home from North Carolina, trying to process a few days’ worth of a wide range of emotions. Forgive some of the terse grammar (Yes, I realize I’m missing a few pronouns), but this is how I worked out my emotions in my journal. This is how I felt that day, and still do to some extent. Every day is better, but also presents its own new challenges. That’s what life is all about, right? Each day is an adventure! Some more so than others, thankfully.
Jackson diagnosed with ADHD plus depression and anxiety. On my birthday! I expected the ADHD, but not the anxiety and depression. It makes me sad to think he is carrying so much at age five. Too soon. Too early. Too much. That night, I got my birthday gift from Dan: tickets to see my sister in North Carolina. Oh joy! And such sadness, all in the same day. I went to bed overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. The next morning, got kids on school bus and sat in my kitchen and wrote this prayer:
I don’t want anyone to say “It’s gonna be okay” and “It’s not that bad” or “It could be worse.” I want them to say, “It sucks. I’m sorry.” And to sit with me in it for just a little bit, and then we’ll brush ourselves off and continue to live in the Not Yet.
Drove to work. Sat at my desk and finally took my first moments to read Jackson’s evaluation from the counselor. Started crying at my desk. My kind coworkers asked if I was okay, and I said no, but I wasn’t ready to talk yet. Finally, they were all in the office for a weekly meeting and I hijacked the meeting to tell eight of them the news. I said I know in the grand scheme of life, it isn’t a big deal (and may even be a blessing). Yes, I know it could be worse. And then I started crying because it’s my baby this is happening to. They held their tongues. They held my hand. They held my shoulders, and they let me cry. And when I could breathe again, two people in the room said they have had the exact same diagnoses. And I felt my burden shared – not lifted and not easier – but colored with more hope than worry. These eight people drew in close, laid their hands on me, and prayed out loud for me, my son, my husband and daughter, our doctors, our faith, our future, and the regrets we don’t even have yet but we know are unavoidable. They prayed for guidance and that God would help them help me. Oh, Jesus – I felt such love!
Each proceeding minute that day was incrementally filled with a little more hope and a little more joy. I shared my story two more times with two more coworkers before leaving work, and got more encouragement.
I have a church and a job that encourages me. I have one of my best friends whose career is helping kids like my son, and who has been beside me each step of this so far – sending me recommendations for doctors, diets, and research. I have a sister who is a teacher (and my parental surrogate) and knows how to advocate for my son and teaches me how to do so. I have a husband who cries with me and carries the burdens along with me, and knows me better than I know myself. I have a daughter who is amazingly kind and generous and a defender of her little brother. And him? He’s a joy, and a challenge at the same time. He has changed my life and will continue to do so.
I don’t know in what ways our lives will change in the coming year, and I’m sure it will be full of highs and lows, adjustments and lessons. I’ll be bombarded with well-meaning advice, and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all the information I’ll be learning. But today, I have hope: we have a diagnosis. I am thankful for that, because it means we have resources and options.