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The Domino Effect

The last few weeks have been difficult to say the least. Heartbreaking, traumatic, confusing, and exhausting.

Our teenager was admitted to the hospital for three weeks following an ER visit in mid-November. They’re home now and doing better, but it has really rocked our family on top of everything else this year.

It took days for a bed in the hospital to open up due to the number of youth who are having extreme difficulties coping right now, and I couldn’t reach any of the mental health professionals we have been seeing for years to help with admission. It was one of the most frustrating and anxious experiences of my life.

I had been calling the counseling office a couple times a week leading up to this, trying to schedule an appointment with Arialle’s therapist. They had been telling me that they needed an appointment, repeatedly. Nobody ever answered the phone. I’d call back and leave another message, then wait a few days and do it again. When I finally got a return voicemail to schedule an appointment, the office never called back to confirm it. The office eventually got in touch with me after great efforts to reach them, but it was too late by then, and we were in crisis management instead of prevention.

The other kids were devastated, and didn’t understand what was going on. They knew that their Sissy was in the hospital because they needed some help, but it didn’t stop the tears.

Missing their big sister for so long on top of missing all of their friends and a normal way of life has been a lot for them. We have had some tough days to work through. Focus and plans have gone out the window. It’s been survival mode, and their happy place is crafting, so that’s what we’ve been doing.

They enjoyed making Christmas decorations, but there was always one piece missing…Sissy.

I was actually more worried about Connor than Arialle before all of this. He’s been acting out more, fidgeting more, and his sensory issues are out of control – worse than they’ve ever been. We have to put up cereal barriers at mealtime now because the sight of certain foods/textures literally makes him gag. I don’t know what to do about this. I’m at my wits’ end. For now I’m just trying to block the stressors from him.

His mood swings are more turbulent and he’s not sleeping at all.

None of them are, in fact. My days are starting at 2am with Willow, who is wide awake and ready to play. Then Connor had a nightmare, now he can’t get back to sleep. It’s 4am. Tyler takes a bath to calm himself down because he’s got intermittent pain from an inguinal hernia we just discovered he needs to have surgery on. Willow still hasn’t fallen back to sleep. How are they even awake???

And still – at least one of them is up at 7:30, ready for breakfast, and the real day begins. This feels like Sleep Wars, and I’m losing, big time.

We’ve kept busy, but haven’t done school work in a long time. I don’t even remember the last time I prepared a lesson. My brain is functioning at max capacity just trying to make sure that my kids are okay. I’m resigned to just riding out the holidays and starting anew in 2021. There really isn’t another option. There are higher priorities right now, and I’m exhausted in every way.

Life is heavy.

We’re trying to get back into the holiday spirit and a routine, but it’s been difficult with all of the sleep disruptions. I feel like I don’t know how to parent anymore. Each one of them has their own set of needs, and they’re all on top of each other. I’ve been trying to focus on mental health and family time and just staying happy recently, but that doesn’t seem to have been working.

I don’t know if I really have a point this week. I’m just trying to get back into the flow of writing again.

I want to discuss more of the issues that led to this crisis, but it’s all very raw and personal and doesn’t feel right to do at this time. I do have my child’s permission to share the details of their hospitalization, and Arialle has and will approve everything before it is published.

For now, we’re going to focus on getting back into healthy sleep habits (if that’s even possible) and enjoying the holidays.


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