Last night was a rough one here at the House of AuSome. My son, Liam, got upset with me because he wanted to watch a certain movie, and I told him it was inappropriate for him. He got mad. So mad that he shut himself up in his room to pout. For an hour.
Liam is never too far from me. He won’t stay anywhere. He follows me around the house. You get the idea. So I was shocked. I let him pout. He even wrote me a letter on strips of paper.
It came time for his melatonin dose, and he still wasn’t speaking to me. I waited half an hour for his gummy to kick in, and I told him I was going to bed. He wrote me a note saying he wasn’t talking to me, and he was going to sleep in the living room.
Again, I was flabbergasted because we share a room. He can’t sleep by himself, and for any of us to get any sleep at all, this was our only course of action. I told him I understood. I bent and kissed his forehead and told him I loved him. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.
I walked back to our room. As I was standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I heard the pitter patter of little feet. Then two little arms embraced me with such force, I staggered for a moment.
I looked down to see his face. All red, tears flowing down his cheeks. He started to heave with heavy sobs. I quickly rinsed my mouth and managed to walk him, still grasping me with all his might, over to my bed. We sat, and he immediately climbed into my lap.
My heart sank. He hasn’t cried this hard since his last severe depressive cycle. That was last year. It could come at any time. We’re on pins and needles, fearing it could come every day.
I started softly asking him questions. “Are you OK? Are you still angry with me? Do you understand why I said no? Do you know how much I love you?” He wouldn’t speak, only answering with nods.
You see, if he were having a meltdown, I wouldn’t be barraging him with questions. I know that would only make it worse. With a dual diagnosis of autism and bipolar disorder, it’s usually one or the other, or one making the other worse. (Example, if he has a meltdown and screams nasty things at us, he sometimes then goes into a depressive cycle because he feels bad for his behavior. Or, if he’s in a manic cycle, he is so high energy and stimming off the walls.)
He started pushing against my body to rock him. And so, we rocked like that for a good 40 minutes. The crying became softer and then stopped all together. I took a moment, and I silently thanked God. Seeing your child in a major depressive cycle literally sucks all the life force out of you. I pray every day that it will skip this season, and we won’t have to watch our son in mental agony.
He asked for the Kindle, and we sat and played a few games together. We laughed. We giggled. I kissed his gorgeous forehead. He told me he was sorry. He told me he was sad because he was afraid he hurt my feelings, and he doesn’t like to do that. I smiled and assured him that I too, (believe it or not) was a kid once. And I too, had been in a similar place with my parents.
He handed me the Kindle, snuggled into my arms and fell asleep. I left him like that for a bit. Staring at his peaceful face. Silently wondering how I got so lucky as to be his mom. With all the struggles, the good days and the awful ones, I wouldn’t trade this child — or my life with him — for anything in this world.
By Courtney Barnum for The Mighty
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