Saturday, 26 January 2013

Camp and Meltdowns

Over Christmas break, the stable where Micah and I ride had a camp for adults and kids.  We rode twice a day and listened to a lecture at lunch.  We were at camp two days one week and three days the next week.
I am used to taking a private lesson and learning dressage so it was difficult adjusting to a group who also had a jumping lesson in the afternoon (change, new people, less space = more anxiety).  Some days were better than others for my anxiety in the lesson.  It is hard to find your own space for circles and such when there are several other people in the group.
I enjoyed camp although I think I would only do a half day next time.  I don’t have a lot of energy due to fibromyalgia, low muscle tone, sensory integration disorder, and anxiety.
The only problem with me going to camp was a big change in my routine.  This meant that things I normally do like shopping at a certain time of day and vacuuming on set days of the week didn’t get done at those times, if at all.
One camp day, I knew we would have to go shopping on our way home.  I don’t like to go to the grocery store after 10:00am because the store is too busy.  It didn’t turn out to be that busy so we did the shopping as quickly as possible.
We got home and I had to let the dogs out of their crates and put away the groceries while Micah called her friends across the road.  They aren’t usually home during the day as they are too young to stay alone and have to go to work with their mother.  Since they were coming over, I had to keep the dogs with me while I put food away.  I also had to start planning dinner.  I was quickly becoming overwhelmed- dogs, groceries, loud kids, and dinner decisions.
I started having a meltdown.
I’m good at keeping it in for the most part.  I don’t know if that is a good thing or not.  Good for others I guess but bad for me.  The bits that do come out in front of people usually come out as irritability.  When I can hide a bit, I may cry, bite myself, tug on my hair, and hit my head (just enough to feel it).  If my daughter isn’t around I take one of my anxiety medications.
It is hard dealing with so many things at once.  I don’t even remember what I did for dinner that night.
Much of my anxiety and my meltdown could have been avoided if I didn’t have so many things happening at once. 
I had to shop so we could eat. We did have other food in the house and it actually could have waited except for greens for the tortoise.  I had to let the dogs out so they could get exercise and go to the bathroom.  Not negotiable.  I had to have Micah’s friends over because she doesn’t have many kids to play with and they will play and talk with her on her level.  I try not to say no to her playing with them.
It is hard to allow myself not to do things and there is a certain point where they can’t be put off any longer.
Between the stress of getting things done, barking dogs, noisy kids, and dinner decisions, it was inevitable that I would have a meltdown.
I just wanted to hide.  The problem is that as a mother- more importantly a mother (autistic) of an autistic child, I don’t have that option.  I have to get on with things.  It is important for me to do all that I can so my daughter can be as successful and as anxiety free as possible for her.  Sometimes this means my anxiety is worse.  I just don’t want her to grow up to have anxiety as bad as mine.  I want her to feel safe and that she doesn’t have to be afraid to do or try things.
Overall camp was good.  It was just all the other things I had to get done at the same time that resulted in a meltdown.  In the future, if I do go to camp again, maybe I can plan better so a meltdown doesn’t happen.

Micah with Winter-July 2010