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This is day 7 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, I’m opening up my blog space for my husband, Russ, who is going to share a little bit of how what’s been going on with Ezra (which I will share about more fully later on in the series) affects him as a disabled combat veteran suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.
I am a special needs dad.
It would be great if my son was just different from other boys and struggled with stuff that should be pretty easy and normal for most kids.
It’s hard because that’s not it. I am also a disabled veteran who suffers from an anxiety disorder. So yeah, our house is lots of fun.
I think the hardest thing for me is that I was away from Ezra for a year starting when he was 4 months old. That, in and of itself, creates this kind of weird vacuum between us. It has taken me a while to adjust to him because of the way I disassociate because of what I deal with, and a lot of times he would rather spend time with Mommy. The mommy who has to deal with him all day long. And who is also the wife that tries to manage and take care of things for me when I’m having what we affectionately call a “bad brain day.”
The absence alone was enough of a hurdle to jump over in thinking about raising Ezra and being a good father. This other stuff he is dealing with…it just makes things so much harder.
We really thought Ezra was pretty much normal, and it wasn’t really until this year (maybe a little before) where we began to see that there was a serious problem with the little reoccurring issues he has. Like crying himself to sleep. Almost every night. Since birth.
It’s hard to know, as a parent, what behavior is something that they will grow out of and what is more indicative of a significant problem. I mean, say your kid wets the bed: ok so you do some more laundry for a while. But after like a year of that maybe you start going, “Is this something we should have him seen for?” There are things with Ezra, for that reason, that we didn’t notice he was doing (pretty much all his life) until this year because of that. What makes it worse is that there are things Ezra does in reaction to stress from me and my wife.
He will get very disturbed if we are arguing, so much so that he has even yelled at us to “Stop fighting!” when we were just having a normal adult conversation in a regular tone. But the point I am heading towards here is that my wife and I are doing ok just having a basic understanding of what troubles and affects me. We know that there are also unseen affects on Ezra because he lives with a daddy who has an anxiety disorder, but that is not the kind of thing you can just put your finger on immediately.
Life with Ezra is pretty scary. I am pretty sure that I will be ok, assuming no more major life disasters decide to come by for an extended visit. I don’t know how my dealing with Ezra while also dealing with anxiety, however, will continue to affect his development. It’s hard to think about what kind of boy and man he will grow up to be because of some of the struggles he has, like his sensory issues. It’s another thing to have to worry about how he will turn out because he was constantly having a negative reaction to my disabilities. And ultimately that creates a storm of junk that we can’t “solve” or heal. We are left just to deal with it from day to day and hope that the end is not as bad as it sometimes appears it may be.
I know that Ezra’s issues are not as bad as other kids who have autism and stuff like that. But the stuff I deal with makes it, I think, just as hard. And certainly it is just as hard on my wife who is the only sane, issue-free person in the house. (Unless we drive her bonkers.)
So if I could hang a nice little puffy cloud moral story to the end of this, it would be this:
Don’t try to prioritize or divide families based on who is special needs-ier. My journey with anxiety so far has given me a deeper respect for families with special needs children. But more importantly it has taught me that every family with special needs children is fighting their own chaotic, drama filled, exhaustingly wonderful war, and they should be commended for the great job they are continuing to do.
Russ, my husband, is a combat veteran who served a combined total of ten years in the Air Force and Army. He’s now starting his life over in the civilian sector, while balancing an anxiety disorder and fatherhood. He is also going back to school and interested in becoming an occupational therapist. He enjoys hiking, playing video games, and cuddling on the couch watching TV shows with his wife.