Tipping point. We all have one. That point where enough is enough, where you’ve reached your absolute limit but the pressure keeps building. I think ours is different from most. We already deal with far more than the average family, and only those in similar circumstances can appreciate where I’m coming from. We all have our own stresses and our own ways of coping, but add autism into the mix and you have a whole new level of hell. Anyone who cares for a family member is used to putting their own needs to one side, and dropping everything at a moment’s notice when the shit hits the fan. Autism is a whole new level of stress. The day to day stuff is tough enough, the lack of sleep exacerbating an already crappy situation, but when life throws you lemons, as it has done this weekend, Tom’s lack of capacity means you are pushed right to the edge and beyond. Three eventful days, one on top of the other, have tested our nerves to the limits. Situations which, on their own, would have been stressful but manageable, have honestly made us think This Is It. This is where the point where we collapse, broken and bruised, and call it quits.
Before this weekend’s trials, I had planned to write a blog about Tom’s current mood swings, to be called A Tale of Two Toms. Autism and puberty do not make happy bedfellows, and poor Tom is only just starting out down that road. His emotions are all over the place, and he doesn’t understand why he’s laughing one minute then crying inconsolably the next. He can swing from a fit of uncontrollable giggles to a wailing, head-banging inconsolable meltdown in the blink of an eye. Add to this the craziness of the past few days and you can see it’s a recipe for disaster. Simple jobs become mammoth tasks, and our ability to cope is not what it used to be. Yes, we have family and friends, but we don’t have anyone who can step in and help with Tom. Most people have a relative nearby or even a neighbour who can take the strain, but Tom’sneeds are so complex that we can’t ask anyone to have him for a while, to let us deal with those lemons I mentioned. So we muddle through, and today we have only just scraped by. Tom is in bed and I have inhaled two large glasses of wine. Tomorrow? I can’t even begin to think about tomorrow.