Tag: mental health in autism

Lost in “The Spectrum”: Autism and Hope in Mental Illness

Light

I repeat, this is my experience alone. I am not implying that ANYTHING here will apply to you or your loved ones. I write this to hopefully offer comfort, and possibly hope, to those that live with what can be a challenging diagnosis.

In a previous article, “Autism and Mental Health”, I mentioned that now, my son Lucas has chosen to take some medication to help him with some problems that he has been having. It has been a tedious process, but after working with his medical doctors, therapist and psychiatrist to carefully regulate his meds, my son is smiling again! His sense of humor has returned and it’s wonderful. ♥ My witty, wry, sarcastic, incredibly intelligent boy is back.

Walking in Darkness

Lucas has always been challenged by his autism. While some people can thrive with the positive aspects of this diagnosis, it has been an ongoing difficulty for him. He has gifts and abilities that few possess that may be magnified by his autism, but the social and communication issues have been daunting. He was often bullied by children and adults alike that did not understand him. I always intervened and dealt with the issue at hand. Children were reported to the proper authorities and adults were swiftly reprimanded by me. Even though I did all that I could to fend for him, life has still been a bit hard. He maintained his mental health pretty well until his Junior year in college when I began to see some difference. It was not anything significant but looking back, I believe that the stress of getting a college degree as an average person was too stressful and it set the stage for trouble later in his life. Since I am a nurse, when COVID-19 began to devastate the world, the fear of losing me became a burden that was too heavy for him to bear. I am his sole supporter and he depends heavily on me. He has told me that he’s not even sure that he loves me but I am still his lifeline so COVID scared him. He began to have severe, crippling Intrusive Thought.

The Process

One day, he came to me and said, “Mom, I need help!” Although I had tried to get him into counseling for years, he had adamantly refused. For my boy to come to me and tell me that he needed help was quite the anomaly. I knew that it was an emergent situation. I started making calls immediately, striking while the iron was hot. I wanted to get him into counseling while he was ready, before he changed his mind. I immediately called his primary care physician for medication because he was so stressed and began searching for psychological help. His medical doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. We began counseling with a licensed therapist who recommended a psychiatrist. In the meantime, I took him to another medical doctor, due to insurance requirements, for lab work where we found that his Iron levels were low-normal. I increased the Iron in his diet with more red meats and leafy greens and the occasional Iron supplement. His psychiatrist prescribed one medication that was supposed to help with the thoughts but the medication made him a nervous wreck. We were advised to continue both meds and let the new one get into his system and we did. Since it is known to be the best for Intrusive Thought, the doctor increased the dosage, all the while telling me to adjust it as I saw fit since I am a psyche nurse and he knows that I can tell what the med is doing to my son. We worked with that medication, and the one that was prescribed for anxiety, for about four months.

Glimmers of Light

The anxiety medication can be addictive at higher doses so we were limited in how much of that we could give to Lucas. He was taking the lowest doses available for both of his meds and every time that we tried to increase the second med, his anxiety skyrocketed. His therapist and psychiatrist were patient and understanding and very kind, always seeking to help him the very best way possible. They always respected and wanted my input which is very helpful. Lucas always wants my input because he is intelligent and knows that he needs my help. He understands that I am a nurse who gives these meds on a daily basis. After months of two steps forward and one to three steps back, his therapist and psychiatrist discussed the possibility of using a different type of drug for him. It was to be added to his current regimen. This drug would fight depression in a different way and in so-doing, calm his brain. I also began giving him anti-inflammatory supplements. Lucas takes various vitamins and other supplements but these were new, aimed at fighting inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Inflammation is the source of so many diseases and afflictions that some people believe it to be the source of almost all of our physical and mental problems. I had removed added sugar and gluten from his diet months earlier so he was not eating any known inflammatory agents. Within hours of taking the third medication, the clouds began to lift. I know that these meds usually take “time” to work, but I saw a difference immediately. My boy smiled. I had not seen that in at least SIX (6) months! We were definitely on to something.

Details

In the course of these months, Lucas has decided to get rid of media that he thought was detrimental to his mental health. These scary, horror based games and movies had to go. He has chosen to forego a smart phone, tablet or even the internet unless I am with him. Things that are not a threat to others still scare him. He has chosen to stay at home most of the time. Certain situations in the public make him very uncomfortable. Not too long before his mental collapse, the only friend that he has ever had, betrayed him and he fears venturing out these days. I have complied with his wishes. I have removed media from the home that he decided to throw away. Some of it was expensive, but how much is your mind worth? If anything bothered him, including people, they have not been allowed to have access to him. Those are his wishes and I see to it that they are carried out. We are fighting for his mind. We have complied with his doctors to the letter and have been blessed to have good ones. It has been quite the uphill battle but the day that I saw my son smile, it was worth it all.

I strongly encourage you today to keep fighting, keep hoping, keep working towards mental health regardless of your diagnosis or lack thereof. Mental health is not promised. We all have to work for our peace and joy. At David’s Way we teach you to be proactive in your pursuit of health. Do not walk through your life as a spectator. You are in control. Make wise decisions and do not rest until you have a life that you want to live.

Love To All,

Brenda Sue