Frustration. I am not talking about the type of frustration that you experience while sitting in a car and the person in the car next to you is blasting the bass that pounds your ears, it is too hot, and the red light just won’t change to green. You can escape from that type of frustration.
I am talking about the type of frustration that is ongoing and seemingly unrelenting. The type of frustration that you can’t escape from, the type that makes you feel stuck and helpless in an intolerable situation that you can’t do anything about. I have been experiencing this type of frustration for far too long.
Here is a video by Charlie McDonnell about him coming out about having anxiety and depression – Anxiety, Depression, and Being a Downer.
I can’t escape it, I can’t make it better, and it is not going to get any better any time soon. I am past the point of “dealing with it”. I am to the point of just trying to survive it. I must endure for mine and my family’s sake. They are stuck in the same frustration that I am, but how we each are experiencing it is unique to each individual.
How do I explain this? Where do I start?
First of all, we are in the process of building a house. Due to weather and financial setbacks we got behind on our building time line. Our lease ended before our house was even close to being able to be lived in. As of tonight, we are on our 26th night living in tents on our building site which is on half of my in-laws’ 160 acres of cleared pasture, but mostly heavily treed land. Three nights ago I was done with tent living.
It is not just the fact that we are living in tents that has gotten me to this place. It is the constant buzzing of insects (lots and lots of yellow jackets), the heat during the day and the cold at night, the dust, the lack of proper bathroom and kitchen facilities, lack of privacy, the lack of sleep, lack of proper nutrition, and lack of money.
As I type this I am struck by my privilege. Here I am typing this on my laptop while sitting in my tent with a bottle of clean water next to me. I am used to having a proper toilet, running water, and a cold refrigerator. I am used to having four solid walls and windows and doors that lock. I am use to having access to the internet on a regular basis. I am use to being in an environment where I can control for the most part how light or dark or cold or hot I want it to be.
I am not used to living in tents. I am used to tents being something you use to go camping in when on vacation, not to live in for a prolonged period of time. I am coming from a place of privilege and I am whining about how frustrating my current situation is. Yes, it could be worse. We could be living out on the street. We are not eating well, but we are not starving. It could be winter instead of summer.
Again, yes, it could be worse. The key here is that I am not accustomed to this type of prolonged living. There is no safe place for me. My body and mind cannot recover from the stress in the way that I need them to and am using so many more “spoons” living in this environment then I would be in the environment that I am accustomed to, the one that is safe for me. I have lived in various states of burnout for years. I know what I need to do in order to replenish my “spoons” so I can function well. I am using way too many “spoons” right now and I am not able to adequately replenish them. I knew it was going to be hard, but it still frustrates me that I am not able to tolerate living in tents to the level that I had hoped I would.
An addition to our stressful living situation is the constant driving that I am doing (my daughter is an outpatient at a facility that is two hours away from where we live now). I am on the road four to eight hours a day depending if I come home or not during the eight and a half hours that my daughter is away. That is A LOT of money being used to pay for gas. I had fuel vouchers, but they were revoked for reasons we still don’t quite understand. What we got out of it was that psychiatric health care is not seen as important as physical health care. It is a long story that I won’t go into here, but just more frustration to add to the mix.
There is also the stress with our pets (one dog, three cats, and two parakeets) and the problems we have had with feral cats trying to get to our house cats that stay in my tent all day. My tent has been slashed open in many places. I sewed it up as best as I could, but the tent is pretty much trashed.
Then there is the big problem of dealing with my husband’s past transgressions and all the choices he made during a three year period of hell when he was self-destructing. For more Information regarding this read Reaching for More, but also Striving for Balance.
My family is still in the process of healing from that and we got hit big time these past few weeks with triggers and the stress of unprocessed pain. We can’t seem to get away from the triggers (i.e. certain individuals that will remain nameless). It has been a particularly difficult time for all of us, but since the pain has been brought forth front and center, it shows what we still need to address. So many unanswered questions, so much confusion, so much hurt.
This all came ahead four nights ago. We had made it 22 nights, then I had a meltdown and my son had an anxiety attack at the same time. That was Sunday night. Tuesday morning my daughter had one of the worst meltdowns she has had in a very long time. Later that day my husband admitted that he was overloaded. He wants out of the tents as well.
Unfortunately, our house still is not livable quite yet. Today is Wednesday and the good news is that the metal roofing is going up on Friday and hopefully will be completed by Monday. We don’t have the money for doors or windows yet, but we have talked about screening up everything and moving some stuff into the house so we and the pets can get out of the tents. With the metal roofing up, we can then start putting in the wiring, then the insulation, then finally the drywall.
We are building this house on our own with the help of friends and family and out of our own pockets. The going is slow and the frustration is high. Why are we doing all of this? Why are we putting ourselves through all of this?
These are the questions I have found myself asking. The answer is we needed a fresh start. A chance to give ourselves a real opportunity to heal and live in a place where it is quiet, where we don’t have to worry about landlords and making rent every month, and struggling to pay bills with our limited income. It is a place where we will have a real chance to finally be able to live instead of just trying to survive each day. With everything with the house, my family has had to really put in the effort to learn how to effectively communicate with each other. We are learning to be a family again through the process of building our house.
As frustrated and helpless that I have been feeling lately with everything, I have to remember that we are all together working on this project and we will see this through. There is no turning back now, no running away from problems. We have to face these problems head on, hand-in-hand, supporting each other through it all.
Surviving means to “continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship”. We have survived this long and I plan to continue enduring our frustrating situation until such time as it begins to improve. My family has been through so much in a relatively short time, one thing after another after another after another. We have survived this far and we will continue to persevere. I am waiting for the day when I can start to live my life, to feel that I am actually thriving, and not feel so burned out all the time.
To me, as an autistic person, to feel comfortable would be a dream come true. There has only been a few times in my life where I could say I felt comfortable and there times were short lived.
Ah, to feel comfortable . . .
My kids have that wish, too. To feel comfortable in an environment that is not constantly bombarding you with sensory input. To feel comfortable in an environment where your anxiety is not always so high, draining you of energy, and keeping you so tense that you actually start to shake under the stress. To feel comfortable means having the ability to finally being able to relax.
I am waiting for that day, the day when I can finally relax both my mind and my body in a safe place that is my own amongst my own things with my beloved husband, children, and pets.
As I have been writing this, I was listening to an album called “The Sound of Rescue”. I found it to be very calming music. I also thought the title was appropriate for how I feel. Rescue from this frustrating situation is coming and I will part of making that rescue happen. In this particular case, the only people that will be rescuing us are ourselves.