The last few months have been interesting around here to say the least. Like many other special needs moms I found myself in a downward spiral of depression and anxiety. I felt (am feeling) it to the extent that it was effecting my daily life more than I care to admit. Eventually, I swallowed my pride and admitted I needed help. I asked for prayer from a group of friends from church and sought out a therapist. My mental health was taking a beating in the form of depression and a chronic anxiety disorder.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on my mental health concerns today, because that’s not what this post is about. That, and I’m still figuring it all out myself! Rather, today I wanted to share the fact that through my struggles homeschooling was surprisingly what kept me going.
My Mental Health Decline
To be honest, my mental health struggles have probably been around most of my life. I struggled with depression in college, and for a period of time after Grasshopper was born. I’m coming to realize that my struggles with anxiety have probably always been around as well. Though, this is the first time in my life my anxiety has been this bad.
The worst of it started last fall and it had continuously gotten worse throughout the winter. I was pretty much on a downward spiral. Sleep was alluding me. When I could sleep, I would wake up stress inducing dreams/nightmares that would keep me up for hours. I have certain stress triggers, most associated with being a special needs parent. When I feel these triggers, I shut down. All productivity would be lost for the day. I was making a choice to shut down. I knew it was a conscious decision, but I just didn’t care. Pizza was on the menu more often than I care to admit because I was just done.
How Homeschooling Kept Me Going
My mental health struggles hit an all time low (so far) this past winter. Winter tends to be the time of the year when homeschool moms start to feel burn out. It’s pretty common for us to want to give-up. This is especially true if you live in a cold climate like us.
However; for me, homeschooling is what kept me going. Even in my darkest days homeschooling gave me a purpose to keep up the good fight. Having my son here with me fueled my purpose (unless he had a meltdown brought on by his learning disabilities).
I don’t know exactly this happened. Perhaps it’s because homeschooling was the one thing I could control. I can’t control the insurance company denying claims and the need for another appeal process. I can’t control the changes in services Ladybug receives from her disabilities, or all of the other stress factors that come with special needs parenting. But I could control our homeschool. Maybe that’s why homeschooling kept me going. It was something that I actually have control over in our chaotic life.
Yes, homeschooling can be hard. But, it can also remind you of your purpose in life. To be a mom, raise and educate our children is a pretty awesome calling. Seeing my son go from being a struggling reader (he has dyslexia) to reading with fluency and comprehension is a huge accomplishment. Homeschooling means I get to witness and be a part of the wins in his life on a daily basis. When I can help him achieve a win in his life, it’s like earning a win in my life as well. Trust me, we all need all the wins in life we can get!
Homeschooling has been filled with so many heartwarming moments that helped pull me through my darkest days. Honestly, I wonder where I would be today on the mental health scale if I wasn’t homeschooling.
Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health
Before I wrap up this post, I just want to remind you not to ignore your mental health. I ignored it for far too long. Some of my struggles might have been prevented had I kept my mental health in check these past few years. If you even think your mental health might be suffering, please seek help. As parents it is so easy to ignore our own needs. I know you don’t have time. I know you already have too much to do. But please, don’t ignore your needs. If you do, eventually it will catch up to you like it did with me. Eventually something will give.