I was a keen gym goer for a few years. The gym was my second home, time away from being a housewife, homemaker, mum, and dog walker to our Goldendoodle. The gym was a place I could forget what was going on in our hectic life and the demands placed on me by our Aspergers/PDA child.
For a good two years I spent three to four mornings in the gym, I met a good group of friends there and developed a social group. This social group never saw my drop offs and pick ups at school so never knew any of my problems apart from my personal trainer, he became more of my weekly counselor. Some days we didn’t do much exercise and spent an hour over a coffee, I was lucky enough to have a personal trainer that also had Aspergers so he took a deep interest in my child as he could totally relate.
The gym became the place where I could escape, my mind would be free from the worry of our child and his future.
But things got worse at school, I would drop off but then within 30 minutes, the school would call to tell me that my child had an earache, or wasn’t feeling well. I knew he wasn’t unwell that morning, the first sign of my baby boy being unwell and I wouldn’t take him in. I knew on collection he would be fine – within 10 minutes he forgot that he was supposed to be acting poorly and miraculously he was all better again! This happened a number of times.
These “illnesses” were, in fact, was anxiety. Our Aspergers boy can’t lie, that’s one of the wonderful bonuses of our Aspergers child – he is so honest.
Time and time again I would explain this to school, but the school didn’t know how to help. The only way they knew to help was to call me to come and get him.
So now my spare time going to the gym was spent with my phone in one hand waiting for the call to come back to school to collect my child.
A year and a half ago I was the fittest and slimmest I had ever been in my whole life after my weight had yo-yo’ed since I was 21 and had my first born child. I was determined to feel good, maybe it was the only thing I could control – being self-disciplined whilst everything else seemed to crumble around me, no one knew how to control my child. My child was coming home every day with restraint slips from school, but for a year I kept with it, kept strong and fought.
I became weak … not everyone can be a fighter for so long. My gym sessions were all over the place squeezing them in when I could.
I sometimes cancelled sessions as I no longer felt fit, I felt mentally exhausted.
My spare time was taken up by trawling through the list of specialist settings, viewing schools, reviewing the EHCP content and being at the beck and call of the dreaded school phone call.
Restraints were happening daily at school, I couldn’t take it anymore, enough was enough.
My life had to take a back seat. My child needed me, his mental health needed to be saved before his lack of trust with all adults was completely gone.
His mainstream setting had broken down completely, I was even sharing the week with school by flexi-schooling 2 days a week, the school was begging me to take more days but I knew if I took another day, things weren’t going to change. Our child’s anxiety was still going to be there in full force, he needed me.
These days were tough and I take my hat off to any parent that home schools or has a child at home with anxiety. We had days where we had tears and days with such laughter, a good old mixture and I knew it was the right thing to do.
I canceled my gym membership, it broke my heart to cancel the one thing that I loved, the one thing that made me forget about the world for an hour and relieve stress but it had to be done. Time for me ended the day I canceled my membership
Then came the nights that we were dealing with the LA and going through the EHCP with a fine tooth comb after having a long day with my son, the chilled wine in the fridge became a relief, the feeling of exhaustion not wanting to cook, so the local take away would be getting calls more than twice a week as an easy option.
I think you may see my pattern now, I no longer had the gym but also chose wrong eating habits and alcohol to ease my pain and comfort me.
That was a few months ago now, things have changed a lot. A new school and a different child because of it.
Today for the first time I have stepped foot back into the gym – a year later.
I felt horrendous and huge but I can get me back again, just like we’ve got our boy back again.
I remember sobbing at the thought of not being able to go to the gym because I knew all my hard work would go down the drain, but my child was more important than me.
You may be nodding your head with a glass of wine in your hand and just about clutching onto your own sanity at this moment of time, don’t feel guilty that you’re making different choices right now, if you’re reaching out for comfort food, have a chocolate for me.
At this moment in time things may feel exhausting but in time they will pass I promise.
Be kind and gentle on yourself. You will get your time again ..
Today I stepped back into the gym 2 stone heavier, I wanted to hide in the corner but every time I thought this I pictured my child’s smile, I picture the support he has now, I picture what a different little boy he is and how we saved him. It was worth it.
Now its time to save me …. and find me again.