There's stress - and then there's STRESS

What do WE do? LAUGH!!!

Does Anyone Ever Say No?

Today, I went to see a neurologist who is a headache specialist in the hopes that she can help with the migraines and tension headaches that have become a part of my daily routine.  As she went over my medical history, she came to the standard question that most docs ask:  “Do you have any stress in your life?”

I laughed and said, “does anyone ever say no to that question?”  She told me that she has had a few people deny stress on occasion, but quickly added, “I don’t believe them!”

Stress as Baseline Normal

In our household, we have a child with high functioning autism (Asperger’s) and a child with epilepsy, so stress is a member of the family that moved in years ago!  Just last week, we made two trips to the ER, one via ambulance, and spent the night in the hospital one night.  It was stressful, for sure, but the fear and anxiety that comes with these types of events is second nature to me now.

A friend called to say she had been thinking about us, and offered to come sit with me at the hospital.  This friend has a son with bipolar disorder, and she understood all too well how being really stressed is just “baseline” for me!

In contrast, I had lunch with another very good friend this week who does not have any special needs kids.  She is a wonderful friend who has supported me through many a challenging time.  During lunch, she mentioned to me that her 17 yr old son was having his wisdom teeth removed and that she would be taking half a day off from work to drive him, etc.  On the day of his dental visit, I texted her to see how he was doing and to jokingly ask if she’d gotten any good cell phone videos of him coming off the laughing gas!  She texted me back that he was doing well, but she added, “I’m so glad I took half a day off from work – this has been SO emotional for me!”

I love my friend dearly, but I honestly had to laugh!!  I wasn’t laughing at her, exactly.  I know that she genuinely felt emotionally drained from seeing her son go through the procedure, but it really hit home how much bigger our family’s stressor are than the average family.  We deal with small procedures like this on the fly – for example, my husband is having knee surgery tomorrow, and I just asked him today what hospital he’ll be in.

Laughter Truly is the Best Medicine

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, mothers with autistic kids have stress levels similar to combat soldiers.  I believe it!  The question of when the next crisis will occur is always in the air.  Of course, our threats are not usually life-threatening….not USUALLY!  However, my daughter’s poor sense of danger leaves me constantly wondering when she’ll come up with an idea that gets her or her brother killed (like the time last year when she had him climbing a 20 ft rock bank in our back yard with a cast on his right arm!!)

When stress levels are as high as ours, it’s so very important to have an outlet – a pressure release valve for all that negative energy.  In our family, we laugh.  We laugh hard!  My aspie daughter actually has a great sense of humor even though she sometimes misses the joke.  Her cackling laugh that comes all the way from deep in her gut is contagious and can be heard for miles!

My friend was horrified at the thought of recording a video of her son being silly on laughing gas, but that is EXACTLY what our family would do!  And we’d watch it over and over and laugh until we wet our pants.  We’d probably put it on YouTube like other families have done so we could share our laugh with others.

If you’re an autism family, I hope you’ve found a way to release all of your stress.  Although I’m partial to laughter, there are other methods, and it’s important that you find the one that is best for you.  Some of my friends exercise, read fiction novels, or watch movies.  It doesn’t matter – what’s important is that you release all that stress!