If you’ve ever taken care of a loved one young or seasoned, you have an idea of how mentally and emotionally challenging the experience can be. For me, what started as a shocking reality check and incredibly challenging life became the most intimate life changing experience. Being a special needs mom improved my quality of life. I found an incredible love, grew an amazing events company and built an amazing blog community.
I had my daughter Sania at the young age of 17. I graduated high school and as a teenage mom was determined to live a healthier lifestyle that wasn’t restricted by a poor mentality (which was my reality growing up). I was on the right track by finding a great full-time job with benefits, being able to afford and move into a great apartment for once in a great neighborhood.
Within a year our realities changed. Sania’s health began to deteriorate and her condition impacted my ability to commit to just about everything. Full time employment included.
Life as a special needs mom became emotionally taxing, challenging and painful. To make matters worst, test after test and a visiting high number of specialists didn’t produce a diagnosis. No one could determine what was wrong with her.
I went from caring for a child who could once walk, talk and groom herself. To providing care to a child who cognitively was equivalent to a 6 month old, or perhaps a 100 year old adult.
Her care is 100% dependent on someone other than herself. This was not at all part of my plan for our lives. This was too much to handle, so naturally depression set in.
This major curveball quickly showed me life is tough…but I also realize I am tougher.
I wondered what would happen if I tried? Try to get help with my anxious isolated state of mind and seek therapy for Sania. Maybe things could change for us.
So the following year I developed in a few key areas that helped me turn my life around one being a plan to seek therapy using my Self Care through Therapy Checklist which you can download here:
My life sucked. I was miserable. I was unhappy. I was hurting. The grief stage was the hardest part for me because I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in anyone so I had to deal with the pain on my own. Which only made me feel more alone. Why me? That was the question I asked once I began to accept my new reality.
Eventually I tired of feeling sorry for myself. At this crossroad I had to decide if I wanted to stay in that mental space or commit to doing the tough work that is change.
And eventually I wanted more. It wasn’t until I accepted my truth that allowed any possible chance at changing it. I had to deal with the pain associated with it in order to grow. What got me in that mental place didn’t have the power to keep me there.
2. Respect The Process
Desire to feel, do and be better became my new obsession. I started with seeking out a therapist for myself because I realized I needed professional help. My therapist helped me grow through an emotionally taxing process of unlearning traumatic experiences since childhood. The journey of unlearning ways and habits to then learn a healthier way to exist is tough and also so necessary. The starting point was the amazing realization that there was someone else out there trained to help me get through this. I explore how and why in my Self Care through Therapy Checklist which you can download here.
Sania developed an intolerance to high fructose corn syrup which is in EVERYTHING processed. I had to omit ALL processed food and basically make foods from scratch. Things like pasta sauce and mashed potatoes required being made from scratch.
Shocked and upset (because why the hell would I not be?) I went through the stage of recognizing this familiar feeling of being hurt and unhappy. The difference was it was familiar so I knew how to respond to it this time around. I created a plan.
I researched healthy eating alternatives and recipes, shopped for the ingredients then cooked the meals the best I could. Until I became great at it. Experience is the best teacher. Eventually along the way we became pescatarians omitting meat from our diets. This ended up impacting our health. Sickness no longer came easy, not even the common cold.
Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise all along.
Onward all whilst battling the maze that is the healthcare industry meant I needed to become a stronger advocate for Sania. I am naturally a lighter more energetic version of my former scorned self, yet a shark in a skirt when my buttons are pushed. This in return helped me learn to how to protect and stand up for myself and for something I believed in. How I showed up every single day mattered.
3. Show up every single day and be your true, unapologetic self.
Now with my newfound freedom, acceptance and growth I was determined to improve other areas of my life. Remember I mentioned I was unemployed? Well I knew I needed to work a job without limitation (like working in an office). Sania was always sick forcing me to keep her home and pick her up from school to help her heal. So I built my company from the ground up. The lessons I learned as a special needs Mom helped me work with an advantage. I had become a great leader, super organized, results driven, systematic developing streamlined processes, compassionate, confident, loving and kind. What business owner or intrapreneur couldn’t benefit from these skills and characteristics?!
4. Take Care Of yourself
So to emphasize self-care. Being sole mom to Sania has taught me to hit the reset button. Often. Take time for myself. LIVE. Have too much fun. Laugh too much. Drink wine. Ecotherapy (time in nature). Yoga & meditation. Therapy with a culturally aware therapist. Essentially I had made my custom wellness cocktail full of what worked for me. So that I can go back to my reality. Renewed. Refreshed. Reset. Happy. Because my cup once again runneth over.
A few truths worthy of mentioning:
This well being impacted the way I showed up and the way I handled myself and my relationships. More importantly, it impacted the way I showed up as a mom. I began to care more about everything. Assessing areas that could use some better energy and improvement, put a plan in place and had at it.
I met the love of my life (after kissing a few frogs) who is incredibly supportive of my world, entrepreneurship, mommy hood and every other aspect of it. He is someone I honestly would not have been the best pair for before the self work and internal growth.
So truthfully speaking, sometimes it is hard to witness and a difficult reality to believe is my own with Sania’s condition (which is still unknown).
Some days are more challenging than others. It’s difficult to watch someone you love lose what impacts their quality of life (and your very own). But then you’re reminded that struggle is a gift. And love and prioritizing self-care is the road to transformation.
Miss Sania inspires me. To give, to love, to be patient, to be understanding, to worry about nothing significant, to love everything and everyone, to smile even when it hurts, to be gentle to myself, to be sensitive to others spaces, to take care of myself and to live a well balanced lifestyle.
I embody these qualities because of my journey with her. I share all of these qualities with you because of a blessed life with her. And I wouldn’t change my reality even if I could.
The goal is to grow. So if you’re interested in joining me on this incredible self-care journey, download my FREE Self Care through Therapy Checklist here