I never seen you lookin’ so bad, my funky one

You say your superfine mind has come undone

I can tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do

You can try to run but you can’t hide from what’s inside of you

Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you, my friend

Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again

When the demons are at your door

In the morning they won’t be there no more

Any major dude will tell you

~ Steely Dan, Any Major Dude


My sweet friend,

I know how much you’re hurting. I so desperately wish I could lift you from this place.

You’re not alone. Please hear that. Really, truly HEAR it.


I say that because I know how lonely that place feels. Especially when the people within arm’s reach don’t get it.

But I do. I get it. I promise you, I do.

We push and we push and we push and God, we push some more, don’t we? And sometimes we have absolutely no idea how we can possibly keep pushing. Sometimes we can’t.

Do you remember Sisyphus from the Greek myths? Poor schmuck was punished by the Gods – for what I don’t remember – and his penance was that for the rest of his life he was to push a boulder up a hill. Every time he pushed it, he managed to get just a little bit closer to the top. And every time he got incrementally closer than he had on the last run, the damn thing came rolling down. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

So let’s review – Herculean effort. Barely perceptible progress. Dramatic fall. Dust off. Start again.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And sometimes – sometimes – the pushing is just too damned much to bear. And we sit for a moment. We try to breathe. And then we find ourselves paralyzed at the bottom of that hill.

We chide ourselves because we know better than to stop moving. It’s the mantra of this club, isn’t it? Never Stop Moving. So we slap a palm to our forehead and shout to the heavens, “How could I have let myself stop moving?” And the guilt and the shame cement our feet to the ground. And now, no matter how much we may want to, we CAN’T move.

And then it starts. A pebble here, a pebble there. The business of life begins to fall to the ground. A rock and then a bigger rock. The stuff that simply must be done to keep ourselves, our family, our children moving forward. The ground is littered with What We Just Can Not Do Right Now.

And while we try to catch the falling rocks, there’s still this business of the godforsaken boulder. And the feet cemented to the ground.

There’s a low rumble, then a deafening roar as the avalanche begins. And really? There’s nowhere to hide. We duck and cover the best we can.


We all have moments that flatten us, my friend. And sometimes those moments are days and sometimes those days are weeks. But when the weeks turn to months and the rocks are piling up so high that they are threatening to destroy us, it’s time to get some help. Some REAL help.

And I know that there’s no easy fix. I know what it means to ‘get help.’ It means sifting through the rubble. It means facing down the demons that you’ve worked so hard and for so long to stuff away. And it’s terrifying.

I get that. Far more than I’d like to admit. I get that.

But here’s the thing. You’re facing down those demons every day whether you acknowledge them or not. They’re riding shotgun, sister. Always. And they’re sucking the life out of you.

Saying their name doesn’t make them real. They’re already plenty real. So say their name. Stare them down. Take back the power that you’ve given them. Release yourself from their strangle hold. It’s time.

You can do this.

First thing – Β Step out of the shoes that are stuck to the ground. Walk away from the guilt and the shame. You don’t need them anymore. You never did.

Ask for help. REAL help.

Walk in and say, “I’m ready.” If you don’t feel it, LIE.

Because the rocks don’t stop falling. The business of life simply doesn’t cease. The boulder has to be rolled up the hill. Our kids demand that we be whole and healthy and present.

And we deserve a life. A life with joy. A life with manageable demons.

It’s too much to do alone. Those dang demons are well-fed after all these years. But it CAN be done.

I’m here.

I’ll help in whatever way I can. I’ll even keep an eye on the boulder while you do what you need to do.


Take care of you.

With love,


67 thoughts on “avalanche

  1. OUCH! That hit home, no puns intended! I felt like you had been watching me and my house for the last 3 weeks and especially last night as I beat myself up and face impossible demons today. You are so eloquent, Jess. Thank you for writing.

  2. I know this will resonate with each and every one of your readers, Jess. Once again, you’ve said it all so beautifully and generously. Thank you!

    Love you,

  3. to all those facing demons, you are never alone and while depression robs you of the ability to ask for help, it is the very thing you have to do. I mean HAVE to do. I used to say to the patients entering the rehab, fake it to you make it. same principle here, get in the office, confessional, where ever and start unburgeoning yourself. get in the game, please.

  4. And also getting help. After an hour on my knees early this fall, praying, I realized that God wasn’t going to fix what I was capable of changing myself. I made an appointment at my doctor and, large bottle of antidepressants later, I can see straight again. Things appear as they really are, not as the fun-house-mirror lens (are they ever really fun?) of stress made them.

    I hope you also have the support you need – in person, in books, online, pharma, whatever. πŸ™‚ Happy new year.

  5. We are 5 months post diagnosis. Last month I started getting overwhelming anxiety attacks and I felt so much shame for not being able to keep it together. I went to the doctor and started taking daily medication. Thanks for reassuring me that it is ok to ask for help. I am a better me for doing so.

  6. Thank you for posting this. I can relate on so many levels. My analogy is a litle different. I often feel like I’m at the bottom of a hole and as soon as I’ve made some progress out of the hole I slip back down to the bottom and have to start again. I look forward to your posts,they give me hope. I’m recently separated from my husband and doing this alone is hard. Today I have a meeting with the principal at my daughter’s middle school. I feel confident and have documented proof to prove my case. I’m going to go in there and fight to get her everything she’s entitled to and make the necessary changes to help her to be successful.

  7. Thank you so much for always having the right words, you have the ability to keep us with our feet on the floor along with our precious sons, and daughters…….Thank you a million times!!!!

  8. Thanks for the post, even though I am ugly crying right now. I know your super busy, but if you have a few minutes to talk or write could you contact me? I have some questions about therapys you have tried. Thanks!

  9. Well said. We try to keep moving forward, but it’s just non-stop and consuming. It gets difficult to relate to those who aren’t exposed to it EVERY day. You don’t want to be a whiner, but man it’s tiring. Just having to think through every outing, every gathering to make it a ‘success’. EVERYTHING seems to be a struggle, just have to try to focus on the progress. Thanks, and we get it.

  10. Thank you, sometimes I forget there are others out there. Just found out my son hasn’t received OT at all this year, the IEP wasn’t written correctly last year. I hadn’t pushed it enough. I didn’t check up enough. Kindergarten teacher say he doesn’t need it – but we pay for the school day with our home-life, and insurance says its a problem for the schools to deal with – not private OT. Kicking myself. Trying to move forward.
    Time to put on the gloves and learn to fight for my son.

    Perhaps meds would be a good thing, because sometimes the shadow of that damn rock is all I can see, the coldness from the stone is all I can feel. My entire family is squished by that big rock, I often wonder if my husband has ever been warm or happy, and if our home will ever know joy.

    Thank you, as always, for reaching out to those of us in the trenches.

  11. Sisyphus, where have I heard that before? It has been having you as my daughter, and that focus, which slowely wore down my bolder from a heavy weight to warm beach sand. It is perspective and love that takes the overwhelming weight of the rock off your shoulders. Even as a little girl, your love made my world easier to deal with. Now as a grown woman, you make the lives of all you touch much better and enriched because of who you are and have become. You are a little “hero” to so many and a life ring to all.
    Love you,

    • ‘Wearing down that boulder” from a heavy weight to warm beach sand”
      What an amazing goal and a fantastic visual I now have thanks to you.

      Thank you for your daughter.

  12. all,

    i swear i’m not in your homes, nor secretly filming you ala candid camera (or worse, that TLC show, What Not To Wear).

    Again and again, I have found that when we begin to talk about the stuff that we typically keep hidden (the stuffed demons, the showering rocks of What We Simply Can Not Do Right Now, the boulders) that we THINK are so uniquely ours, we find that others are sharing a startling similar experience.

    While we ARE unique – and heaven knows our children sure are – we speak a common language.

    EVERY single time I dive deep, I find that I am NOT alone, that my experience is not nearly as unique as I thought, and that it’s going to be OK. Thank God there’s always someone there whose made it to the other side to say, ‘It’s going to be OK.’

    And it is. It’s going to be OK. But this time, it might just be up to YOU to make it so.

    If this letter really, truly spoke to you, I urge you to seek help from a trained professional. If you don’t know where to begin, talk to your doctor, a social worker, a counselor at your child’s school for help getting started. They will lead you in the right direction.

    I know it seems laughable to schedule one more appointment into your ludicrously busy life, but think of it this way – one appointment is a hell of a lot less to try to arrange than a life with you incapacitated.

    One appointment, one hour – that may just be the beginning of giving YOU back to you, to your children, to those you love.

    You are worth that and so very much more.

    Step out of the guilt and the shame. You don’t need them anymore. You never did.

    Wishing you all love, strength and joy.


    KKR ~ This needs to go up with your “welcome to the club” letter.

    THS ~ This is my ever present truth. Lucky for me I have a great “help”,and who knows where I would be if I didn’t have it, but even sometimes that help is not enough.But it feels good to go and dump out some rocks.

    LM ~ I agree with KKR. That needs to be part of the DOAM catalog. I spent time at the bottom cemented and buried, and this message would have made me feel less alone. It’s funny how life weeds out “friends” when you hit ‘rock bottom’, and strangers take up their place to put your life back together.

    DR ~ I agree. This does need to go with the “Welcome to the Club” letter! This was so helpful to me. I live in MI and there is no easy way to get help, get assistance. A parent of a ASD child or anything involved with ASD has to fight for every assistance and every little tiny piece of help out there and there is not much out for us. ASD is viewed as a mental condition, not a neurological condition and so is not covered by insurance unless it can be given a code for a different condition that is covered. Lately, I have been buried and having a hard time getting unburied and stop beating myself up and keep moving uphill. I would have thought you had a webcam in my house, this hit me square between the eyes and made me feel less alone. Thanks so much for posting!

    CMG ~ For some reason, I feel the need to share a link with you guys. Please feel free to remove if you don’t like urls shared in threads. Have a great day everyone! http://cgregoryrun.blogspot.com/2010/12/for-caregivers.html

    DS ~ absolutely beautifully put β™₯

    AS ~ Ty.

    SSB ~ U are such a wonder with words hermana….I needed to read this today.

    TCW ~ It’s amazing how a stranger with a blog knows my life and heart better than anyone in my life….

    Thank you for everything you do.

    LACW ~ …if my soul itself could write what it’s been through & how it’s felt over the past few months – this would be it. I’ve climbed out from under the rubble & now stand on top of it, belting out my rebel yell πŸ˜‰

    TM ~ So fitting today.

    KC ~ Thank You for understanding

    MHK ~ β€Ž@DR – I am in MI. You are not alone, sister.

    @Jess – I republished/ linked this piece on my own blog and my FB page. I hope that’s ok. I think these feelings are universal. Lately, I’ve struggled with a feeling of disenfranchisement, of lacking any control and having my hands tied, of falling down a well and not being able to claw my way out of it. Silent screams, hot tears, chest suffocating the heart (and also the self) within.

    This reminded me that while I may lack control of many things (my son’s condition, my ability to get what he needs, the place in which my husband can find work), I can control my attitude, my happiness, and the love I show to my family and model for my son.

    Thank you. That is all.

    HH ~ I wish I could give you the biggest hug for this post! We are a newly diagnosed family, & it has been rough. Real rough. We are slowly getting where we need to be.. your post was something I needed. Thank you!

  14. I thought as my son became older the rocks would stop falling – but you are right they dont.
    The only difference these days i dont just ask for help i activly seek it out.
    And sometimes it come along by chance but you do have to be ready to grab it πŸ™‚

  15. Our autism community is often so divided which only adds to the isolation. Thank you so much for being such a uniting force. No matter where your child is on the spectrum, everyone can relate to this post.

  16. Thank you for your words. I am a mother of a son with high functioning autism and sometimes I forget that their are others who are fighting their own battles. I needed to know that I am not alone. You are an amazing woman and mother. Thank you!

  17. Now I know. I am Sisyphus. Like many others, more today than ever, I needed to know it’s ok to fall, and fail. Yesterday my 15 year old ASD son told me then when I yelled at him, I broke him. I yelled at him because he lied, he never lies. I yelled because he then yelled at me “OH, now you’re gonna make me leave?” (i dont know where he gets this from) I said no, I love you! He yelled you cant love me if you argue with me! And I yelled, with all my mothers heart “YES I CAAAAAAN!”

    and that, broke my sons heart. And I am beside myself. I rolled back down that hill with a thunderous crash. It’s going to be hard to start back up…but thanks to you, I know I can. ((hugs))

  18. Thanks Jess! I needed that. So much anxiety, guilt and shame. Some days it is hard to keep going. Thanks for the vote of confidence

  19. I think it a shame that because of the lack of any REAL help (or for insurance reasons REAL help is not covered…) many families find themselves on medication(s). Please remember that drugs are not the answer…. it is not the help you need in the long run. It will not cure anything. They just may possibly make the unacceptable acceptable for a period of time. Please if you go the medication route, Please get some REAL help also.

  20. Thing is I keep seeking help, then I do it over and over and over again. That darned rock keeps rolling down hill again and again! I keep wondering when is it my turn? I keep letting her get to me, she rolls all over me and she’s only 7. My world explodes and I’m right back where I started before I got the help the first time, the second time, the third time…etc. Darned rock! When is someone gonna help her?

  21. Unbelievably moving…you have such a way with words and have captured and summed up exactly how I have been feeling. Thank you for the cup of comfort.

  22. I loved this post! Tonight is our local mom group for mom’s of special needs kids and I’ve been searching for something to share because it is my turn to bring the topic of discussion. This it PERFECT!! I know many mom’s that will be blessed by this and it will be such a wonderful catalyst to get us talking about the issues we as mom’s are facing. So excited Thank You!!

  23. Its like your in my head and knew exactly what im feeling…. we are 4 months into this diagnoses and im just trying to figure this out…. im so scared i will not do enough or not be enough for her… just now found these wonderful web sites where i can see that its not just me… thank you sooooo muccchhhh…

  24. Pingback: Teen Autism » Blog Archive » Not Alone

  25. Exactly 10 years ago when my son was diagnosed with ASD and since then our lives were never the same again…words can describe our feelings of sadness, boredom, depression and so on but at the end of the day it’s still a though decision to say I’m okay and I’m tough and where do I get my strenght??? prayers and more prayers…bargaining with our Creator is my constant prayers that HE keeps me in shape to continue to care for my special kid…who else will have the unconditional service but us parents specifically moms (no offense to all the dads)…reading your article meant a lot cause there will always be times when we definitely need to be assured that life is not all that bad and there’s still genuine humanly concerned individuals our Creator sends from above!!!

  26. This is so good. I am bookmarking it. Many times moms come to me on my blog, or through other social sites and tell me they have just started the diagnosis process, or they are deciding to acknowledge something is wrong, and I can only tell them my story. I tell them how we picked ourselves up and got help. I also tell them how far we’ve come. How much has changed since getting help and staring at this ASD thing head on. But your words are prefect. I can not also point them your way.

  27. A friend linked me with this blog entry….she said, “I thought you could possibly relate.” I sobbed. Absolutely sobbed. Just needed to read it….when I needed to read it. I’m trying to heal from my son’s cancer, and in treatment….thank you for writing this.

  28. Pingback: Sanctuary « Autism Mommy-Therapist

  29. Thank you Jess for all of your blogs. This one really hits home though. Not enough words to express my feelings except Thank You.

  30. Pingback: ASD and PTSD by MOM-NOS « To Sleep, Or Not to Sleep…

  31. Pingback: Happy 8th Birthday, Asher! | Going-On.com

  32. Pingback: avalanche | Oxygen Mask Project

  33. Funny this was posted on January 7….tough day for me as it marks the anniversary of my mother’s death. It has been 2 years now. I have been re-reading this everday since. I am struggling, struggling so hard to make the changes I need to make within myself in order to be the best me and the mom my daughters deserve. I have twin 17 year old daughters who suffer from cerbral palsy. I have been through the anger, sadness, dispair, lonliness, loss of what should have been, and every other emotion that comes with being the parent of a child that has special needs. Problem is I have so many demons in my closet to face in order to come to the acceptance place I need to be at. Yes I do give myself a lot of credit, becuase I have come a long way, (after 5 years I am about to graduate from college) however I still have a ways to go. Problem is I have no medical insurance. I have a ton of medical problems along with many emotional challenges. We are that family that is stuck in the middle and are unable to qaulify for assistance. With all of this and finacial issues I am so overwhelmed I do not know where to start. So I have been reaching out via the internet, and today I know I am not alone. Thank you Jess, I look forward to your words everyday!! Thank you for sharing them!!!

  34. Thanks Jess. I needed to here this right now. I am struggling at the moment. I feel like my son is just so angry all the time. Meltdowns everyday and it is putting so much pressure on us all as a family. He is getting stronger and harder to calm down and it is so hard. My daughter was just diagnosed with selective mutism as well and it’s all just getting very overwhelming. So greatful for your posts. It’s so nice to know that others get it and go through similar struggles. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s