You Are Not Alone

Francie Khalaf by Francie Khalaf Additional Needs

Francie Khalaf

Francie Khalaf

I am a wife and mother of two children with cerebral palsy. I believe in making lemonade out of lemons

There has been a huge push for mental health awareness in the past few years and rightly so. It’s important to recognize the internal and hidden battles that people face. We can’t possibly know what it is like to be in someone’s body. They may look totally fine on the outside. They may even tell you they are fine, but they could be battling something very hard.

I am a part of many special needs groups in my community. I see mental illness come up on occasion but I don’t think that it is talked about enough.

Having a special needs child comes with its own unique challenges that is different than raising a typical child. Raising children is a challenging and exhausting job. Raising a special needs child is especially challenging emotionally. If you throw in a traumatic birth, pregnancy or NICU stay, then parents are facing even more challenges.

I have written about this before and many of you know of our story, but I will give you a short run down if you haven’t read it before. Sawyer and Quinn were born at 27.2 weeks and were in the NICU a combined 154 days. During that NICU stay they faced many challenges. Each of them became gravely ill and were given small chances of survival.

There were days that we did not know if they would survive. We were forced to make quick and lifesaving decisions on many occasions. At one point they put us in a hospital room and told us not to leave the hospital. Once both of the kids were on their road to recovery and it looked as though they would make it I began having nightmares. I had horrible nightmares and would wake up scared to go back to sleep.

This is how my PTSD diagnosis came, thankfully a nurse saw the signs.

PTSD can come out in many ways. For me, I began having nightmares and was unable to sleep. I was having anxiety during the day and felt like I was drowning. This is common with PTSD and we see it too often in the NICU. I know since then I have been unable to shake the symptoms. I will get to a good spot and then something will come up medically and cause nightmares and anxiety again. I have found the perfect therapies that help me (blogging being one) but each person is unique. What works for one may not work for another.

Parents of children with special needs can go through a grieving process. For me, it is when Sawyer is surrounded by children his own age. I notice the differences and think of what could have been. Did I ever think that my child would need a stair lift? Wheelchair? Speaking device? Feeding tube? Absolutely not. It can be a tough pill to swallow some days.

Thankfully I am able to prevent myself from spiraling out of control. I snap back to seeing what I do have. I focus on the life before me and the joy he brings. He has accomplished so much and he is ALIVE.

I feel fortunate that I have this ability and the help to keep from spiraling but it is easy to get sucked in. I know that I am not alone in this process. I know that YOU are not alone. Many may be feeling the same way you are and there is no reason to be ashamed. Reach out to someone to talk, email me, or talk to a doctor. There is nothing to be ashamed of feeling the way you are.



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