I drove over to see family and lunch with them today. The drive is like fifty minutes; not that big of deal. And normally I enjoy the chance to listen to music, sing and think. About half way over today I see a car that looks a lot like the make and model my son drives in a field and the whole back is just demolished. The driver area looks fairly ok, but this car got rear ended by a semi and It ended badly. My brain froze. Logically, I knew that my kid was hours away, has not been to this town in over eight months and that was in no way him and his car.  I wanted to text him but I also didn’t want to be the crazy mom.

I noodled on it a bit. It got to be like that tiny popcorn shell that gets caught in a tooth and no matter how hard you try, you just really need to go home and get floss and get it out. But you cannot stop fussing at it with your tongue or if no one is looking your finger nail. You cannot let it go.

And then the spiral starts. That odd staircase that steps down into the black of your brain. You think of something that you should have done and ponder if things would have happened differently, could you have changed something. You ponder the people you have hurt or that have died. Did you do enough? Could you have changed something? You ponder your own present life. Are you doing enough? What if something happens to you? Have you made appropriate steps that that would not be a burden on others? ARE you a burden on others? Why are you a burden on others? And further and further down into the inky, oily blackness of your anxiety filled brain.

Finally, you stop the descent. You have been here before. You have tricks to get your brain out… sometimes it takes a bit longer than others, but you can get out. You focus on the positive things. Small things you do for others, kindness that have been shown to you and you have shown to others. You focus on color and smells. Focus on other senses besides your brain.  You try to spend less time alone and inside your head and you get back to even.

There are two junior chapter books Slug Days and Penguin Days (I have just read the first one) the main character is a girl on the spectrum and what goes on in her head. They are fascinatingly descriptive, and I felt that I understood what people on the spectrum go through so much better because I read this book (and want to read the other one). Our brains are amazingly wonderful and dark places sometimes. Know you are not alone when you dive deep, even though it feels that way. Focus on the good and reach back for the surface.

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