“Even in our darkest hours, it is hope that allows the light to return.”

~ My own words, sent to me by a dear friend last night. 


Last night, for the first time, I said it out loud.

First to Luau.

Then to my Mama friends.

And then in an e-mail to – who else – Dr Dreamy.



Since you’re the only one I know and trust for recommendations, I need a favor. Truthfully, I just don’t know who else to ask. 

I need help. 

Like, for me. 

I’m really struggling and I’m not sure where to turn. 

There’s far too much at stake right now for me to be losing my sh-t, and quite frankly, I feel like I’m falling apart. 

I’d be grateful for any reference or thought you might have as well as (I assume it goes without saying but …) your utmost discretion. 

As a client and a friend,

Thank you. 


PS Have you ever thought of adding adult services? You could be the Family Service Ctr. One stop shopping for the whole family. Drop the kiddo at speech and knock out a therapy session for mom and a sibling. Buy 20 get one free. 

If you do this, I get a cut. Just sayin. 


Yeah, I get funny when confronted with big, scary emotions. Always have. I’m a regular riot at funerals; you should see it. ~ I’m here every Friday, folks. Try the fish.


Last January, I wrote a letter to a friend. I posted it on Diary because it was really a letter, as they always are, to ALL of us. I called the post Avalanche and it went something like this:


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.

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.


Last night, for the first time, I said it out loud.

I need help.

I did nothing more than open the door the tiniest crack.

And already, I can see the beginnings of the light.


Ed note: If you need help too, please talk to someone. If you don’t know where to start, ask your General Practitioner or any other medical professional for a reference. If you can’t afford it, tell them that. There is help. Your kids need you healthy, and you deserve a life. We all do. 

Ed other note: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart to all who wrote/ texted / Facebook messaged, e-mailed, commented and sent smoke signals yesterday offering prayers and love and support for our visit with the doctors. The answer to the question is that there are no easy answers, but we are all on the same page and will continue to work together to figure this all out for our girl. 

Ed other other note: Sending gratitude today to all of our Veterans along with our current servicemen. We will never, ever forget your sacrifice. 

48 thoughts on “help

  1. Thank you so much for sharing and being so transparent. I think by doing this you may help many others take that first step to getting help. I came to a point a few years ago where I HAD to reach out to a counselor, my anxiety over my son’s possible dx was too great. It was petrifying to do so but I am so grateful I did. Thanks again for being real.

  2. I’m so proud of you for opening this door, Jess. You are doing the absolute right thing for yourself, for Luau, for Katie and for Brooke!

    I love you,

  3. Good for you for taking the time to think about your needs, and for addressing them. I think within a short period of time that door will be wide open. I was where you are now after Z was diagnosed, and I’ll never regret realizing I couldn’t cope with all of this on my own anymore. Sending good thoughts your way for all of you!

  4. Good for you DOAM, and by sharing this publicly maybe others who need help but are to afraid to get it will feel free to get the help they need.

  5. Bravo, my love. For recognizing the need, for acting on it and for using it as a teachable moment. I have more but this is what has risen to the top now.

  6. Oh how I wish we had meetings where we could all sit side by side and turn to each other and say over and over “Its not your fault!” until it finally sunk in. Although, I am not a “recovering alcoholic”, I absolutely love the Serenity Prayer
    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    –Reinhold Niebuhr

    We love you Jess!

  7. Mental health is like every other kind; it needs check-ups, and tending, and darn it if the cool eye of a professional isn’t super helpful. Doesn’t it seem like an awfully long time ago when Tipper Gore campaigned for mental and physical health (and we would add, for our kids, behavioral health, neurological health, and on and on) to be treated the same by insurance companies and employers? And yet here we all are, with this immensely challenging day-in and day-out responsibility, the consequences of which are just too immense to contemplate (sometimes I can only peek out of the corner of one eye), and mental health services aren’t part of the regular package for autism families.

    Jess, as in so many other things here in Autismville, you lead by example. Thanks for this post.


  8. Thank you for sharing your words, your struggle, your personal journey. You give voice to those who might think their own is not powerful enough (it is, though!) and you give permission for us to take care of ourselves in the ways that matter most. We shouldn’t really need the permission, but sometimes it’s easier when someone we respect and admire leads the way. Love you, mama. xo

  9. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for posting this today of all days. A few days ago I told my husband that I think I need some help, but I haven’t taken the next step. I feel like I’m being swallowed up by a black hole, and the thought that keeps me clawing for the surface is ‘who will take care of my girl if I can’t?’ I’m questioning my faith and my own instincts which have always been two things I trusted strongly. I hate this place I’m in – thanks for cracking open the door for me (and I’m sure many others) too. I wish you good luck and godspeed in finding what you need for you and your family.

  10. I have seen a wonderful doctor who has triplets with special needs. She gets it. She is in a nearby suburb and takes insurance. Please let me know if you would like her contact information.

  11. It takes such courage-such strength to say those four letters- help.
    I too had to learn to use those four letters. I think there is a reason that help and hope both start with the same letter. I think on this journey of autism the two words have to walk hand in hand. I do not believe the two, help and hope, can stand apart. For within the help and the hope we can find another beautiful “h” word healing.
    And a few more final “h” words….a big “high five” and “hug” for asking for help and showing others that asking for help is okay.

  12. I cannot stop tearing up about this. You have evolved so much since I met you and it moves me so. I love, love, LOVE that you shared this because I used to worry so much about how you help everyone else but then keep some of the hardest shit to yourself – not allowing others to know let alone help. So while I hate that circumstances have you in this place in life, I find myself letting out a big exhale. Because there is no going back now. To everyone else in a similar place, FOLLOW JESS. Seriously, just do it . . . LET IT OUT.

  13. I am so glad you realize that you need support. Sometimes we need someone to support us while we support our kids. This is just another tool in the ol’ tool box.

  14. Jess,
    I reached that same breaking point in June and getting help made all the difference. It didn’t even take that much to help me pull it all together. Very wise decision.

  15. Love you. So glad you are reaching out and that you are sharing this real life experience with others. People who have been there will rally for you and those who are struggling may just reach out for some professional help because of your honesty. There is no shame in putting yourself on the list mama. xo

  16. It takes courage to know when to say “when”. I have found tremendous strength in conversations with a social worker. Sometimes we need mental health checkups so we can continue to be fully there for our kids. Good luck and hugs for you.

  17. I opened that door last March after reading this – And it was the best thing I have done for myself. I started sobbing as I told the doctor that I did not know how to ask for help. And her response was awesome, “Oh honey, you do need help and you’re here now!” Glad you took that step especially since you are one of many that helped me get there. {{{hugs}}}

  18. I cannot even tell you how timely your post is!!! I had my breakdown yesterday. Had the talk with my husband about how I need to get help. A realization that has been a long time coming. I feel like a failure, because I can’t seem to handle/accept it all…and I know that is wrong, but I still feel it.
    Best of luck to you….I hope you find what you need to help you hold on. The search for my sanity is on…

    • Valerie, I was feeling so alone in feeling this way too, I was CERTAIN I was the only one feeling this way. I’m sorry that you feel this way too, but so glad I’m not alone, what a relief that it’s not just me. Makes me feel like I’m not such a failure afterall. Maybe we all do need help sometimes. Why are we so programmed to feel like there’s something wrong with us if we feel this way? I hope you get the help you need too. Remember you are not alone in how you feel, I’m right there with you.

  19. When I was at my darkest, my worst and lowest, as well-intentioned as they were…can anyone know what it is to be in that hole? Misery was consuming me and I wanted one person (really just one!) to connect to – I just needed a bridge with someone who got it! Who else could know…everything? Luckily, I started searching online and stumbled across Avalanche. Lifesaver? Absolutely! I found my footing and my connection and then I found my strength. Thanks Jesse, thank you so very much for the peace of mind you offer every day.

  20. It’s hard to admit that we need help. I have trouble doing it. I worried that I’d be viewed as a fraud, that the strong super mom facade I’d been showing all these years would be revealed. Somedays we just have to remove our super mom capes and do something for ourselves. Please take care of yourself Jess!

  21. I made this same call about two months ago. Picking up that phone was the hardest thing I have done in a long time. As moms, we give and do for others over ourselves all the time. It is nice to have some time to work out our own stuff. Good luck in your journey.

  22. We all need a little help sometimes. I feel like this place is like a group therapy session everyday, with a one on one for anyone who needs it! Thank you for always looking out for everyone else and offering help whenever someone asks. You are amazing! I hope you find some relief and someone amazing to help you. Take care of you so you can take care of your beautiful family! xxoo

  23. You’ve taken the hardest step. And you have a husband who you can talk to/lean on/will support you. It doesn’t get easy from here, but at least it gets easier. Good for you for not taking as long as a lot of us do to admit it; it’s a lot healthier for all 4 of you. Hugs 🙂

  24. I recently made the same decision and while things at home haven’t changed much, the way I deal with them has. I am very proud of you hermana and am sending you my love.

  25. Thanks for sharing this, Jess. I can remember the first time I took an anti-anxietal. I was terrified that I would become a soulless, empty-headed Stepford wife, which would not be okay since I needed to be present to figure out what was going on with my son (this was 6 months pre-ASD diagnosis, so a lot of confusion and fear all around), my mother was having her first mastectomy (just so you know, the second one is much easier emotionally on all involved!), and I was the spouse with the higher income/better benefits job that was intense and so much more demanding than a 40-hour week. I remember asking my doctor if this anti-anxietal was really necessary, since we were already trying a new anti-depressant and I was already in talk therapy. I’ll never forget her direct approach that the anxiety I was experiencing is what was NOT necessary. It was more than “normal” anxiety and the goal was to bring my body down to a normal level — not to make me feel nothing. She was right…the medication did not allow me to forget everything that was weighing on me (oh, how I had hoped it might). But it did allow me to carry on and stay present during a challenging period of my life. Wishing the best for you!

  26. SO glad…I’ve been reading though haven’t been able to comment bc there’s usually a baby in my arms. In my prayers as always xoxo

  27. Oh Jess, I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment from Wednesday, “while I am grateful that so many people find comfort in the fact that that they see themselves in my family’s stories, so too it breaks my heart that so many people see themselves in stories like today’s. i thank god for this community while cursing its very existence. our kids don’t deserve to hurt.” Today’s post “help” just goes to show how true and applicable this sentiment is, as I am right there with you both fortunately & unfortunately. After reading “help” I thought you had sneaked into my house (again) and heard my conversation with my husband, through the tears, exhaustion, pain & stress. I felt so alone in how I feel. I feel like such a failure at times. I feel like I must be doing something wrong. I feel like I should be stronger; I feel like I should just be able to handle ALL of this, everyone else seems to be able to, what is wrong with me, why am I complaining? Why am I not as strong? Am I missing a vital part of my mother DNA sequence? And then as if to pull me from the depths of my despair and anguish, one simple word from my autism mom crush – “help” and once again, I KNOW I am not alone. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing, and helping others, even in your time of need. I hope we all get the help we so desperately need so that we can continue to help those that count on us for everything.

  28. So many things to say, but not here and not now. What I do have to share with you is that getting help will help you find the answers that reside inside of you. The help is not outside but the talented outside will guide you to tease it out from within.
    I’m so sorry for the storm that seems so overwhelming. I have been there and know that it takes time and effort but there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and it won’t be just another train coming at you.
    Love you,

  29. I love how “for real” you are Jess. It’s so hard to put ourselves first when our kids need so much from us. Your post came at a great time as we are cujrrently weaning our son off Zoloft in hopes of starting Abilify in a few days. The environment around here has been less than “healthy” lately. I think I need to put my mask on first before assisting my child!

  30. To echo the wisdom of others here, it takes courage to admit when we can’t take any more. My particular SSRI has been a God send to me. Bless you, Jess, for continuing to write even though you are going through this. My prayers, as always, are with you. gail

  31. It takes tremendous courage to step out and say it out loud. It takes more courage to share with others in the hopes that it will help and encourage them too. I’m sorry you are in this place, but so glad you are seeing a glimmer of light. Many hopes you get the help you need…

  32. It’s important to take care of yourself too. A year and a half into my daughter’s diagnosis of PDD/NOS I finally sought a therapist for myself… after my husband’s urging. It was affecting my relationship with both of them and when I went to see the therapist it was like a floodgate opening and the waters rushing at breakneck speed. Who knew? I am a much better mom and wife, hell, person for it. Wishing you all the best.

  33. We all have a responsibility for each other and that is why instead of just reading your post, I must respond to it.
    I only know you through your posts and can only understand the demons that you are facing by what you are sharing with us. Please reach deep inside – REALLY DEEP INSIDE and understand the power that you have been given. For it is you that has saved many of us. Moms who are on a similiar path. Moms who needed to read, cry, laugh, learn and gather strength from your words.
    One of your greatest gifts is your ability to write. My hope is that your written words will offer you solace during your time of need. Your words will give you the strength and power to forge on.
    With what you have written and shared already, I know that you will bask in the beauty of the light again.

  34. There’s no shame in asking for help. I hope Dr. D can suggest someone to help you work through and dig out of the avalanche. Although we want to, we cannot do it all, alone, as mothers (or wives, partners, or caregivers). We’re only human, and all of us have our breaking points. Find someone safe and wise to really, deeply talk to. You’ll be healthier, and in the long run so will your family.

    Many blessings to you – and peace, hope, and joy. Don’t forget, you’re already loved!

  35. I am a mom of twin 17-year-old daughters with Cerebral Palsy, as well as a 22-year-old daughter who thankfully is healthy. My life is falling apart! I am in finacial ruins my one daughters medical condition has been a roller coaster for the past 17 years, a bit more so this past year. The stress that I am under is literally killing me. I have just spent a couple of days in the hospital for chest pains, am short of breath by the time I get to the end of sentence. I have a kidney disease, out of control blood pressure, and various other medical issues, and no medical insurance. I know I need to be healthy for my kids and I feel like I am trying but just can’t seem to get a hold of it. In my head I know everything I need to do, most importantly to put myself on the to do list. Realisticly there just does not seem to be enough time in the day. Someone always needs something, laundry that needs to be done, dishes in the sink, doctors appointments that need to be taken care of. I am also a full-time college student and am 6 months away from graduating. I want and need to get a handle on things, but honestly without medical insurance it seems hopeless. I do not qualify for any state help due to the fact that I am on unemployment and this income is counted diffrently because it is seen as unearned income. However with all of that being said I find comfort in your words. I will continue to look for the light I need!

    • Jennifer, I am sorry things are so stressful for you right now. Obviously, I do not know anything about your life or your family so what follows may or may not be applicable. I hope at least some of it is useful.

      If you haven’t already, you can contact several resources to inquire about respite programs, temporary assistance, grants, etc. I would start with UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) and Easter Seals in your area. If you aren’t sure how to contact them, go here: and here:

      Also, the fact that you are collecting unemployment should not make you ineligible for programs such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — hate the name, good program) and some others. If your daughters are in school they may have a case manager or social worker assigned to them; if so, check with that person and ask for help finding resources. Also, every state has FREE mental health services available…you just have to look for them. Start with your states DHSS (Dept of Health and Human Services; it may have a different name in some states so check your state’s website for links: where xx=your state). Look for the following Assistance, Children and Families, Health and Wellness, Disability Services. You may not get the right one on the first try but they should be able to direct you.

      Ask your children’s doctor for recommendations of state-run programs for which you or your children may be eligible. Finally, you can also try the ARC in your state or the Parent-to-Parent Network ( P2P is a fantastic organization with resources and support available to help parents in situations such as yours.

      I know it feels utterly overwhelming and impossible to even know where to start. Do what Jess so often advises…start in the middle. Just START and keep asking for help; it gets easier the more you do it and the more you let people help. Sending you good thoughts.

      • Thank you Niksmom so much, I will look into some of the resources you have suggested. I have looked into some of them all to no avail. Believe it or not being on unemployment does work against us in the state of NJ. Governor Christie has made so many cuts to programs for the girls, that they are now sadly a thing of the past.Our biggest help used to come from the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and ARC, sadly these programs are struggling to stay afloat and are unable to help. As far as TANF we own our own business, Although business is slow it keeps us just over the amount to qualify for assistance. Despite all of this I am asking for help wherever I can. I do have a social worker helping me and will continue to pursue all avenues. I have made it this far, I know things will get better. My husband being the proud man that he is finds it very difficult to ask for help, however, he is starting to come around. I am proud of my husband and am so thankful for his determination and pride, but as I have told him, sometimes we have to swallow our pride and reach out for help for the girls sake. I also want to thank you for a place where I find it easy to vent and know that others understand what it is I am going through. So again THANK YOU!!!

  36. Jess,
    I applaud your sharing this. I am a mom of a child with a disablility and a mental health professional. I found it extreemly difficult to ask for help, as I am usually the help. I found a good therapist and both antidepressants and antianxiety medications help. The best thing about a therapist is you can tell them anything, you can turn off the filter and don’t have to worry about their feelings as you may with a spouse or friend.
    Mo’s mom

  37. For Jennifer, OUCH. I’m sorry it’s been so tough. I know well the paradox of barely getting by but being told you make too much money or have too many resources to qualify for very badly needed assistance. It shouldn’t have to be this hard. We shouldn’t have to spend away our savings for our future, our children’s futures —or, God forbid, emergencies— just to scrape by. Why is there no permission for families with disabled children to have a shot at the Great American Dream? *sigh*

    • Again thank you…I am just feeling very blessed to have found a place where I am understood. Just to say these things, (or write them), helps so much!! Family and friends are so important to me and I am again very blessed, and so very grateful for those who are in my life. The reality is although they are understanding and supportive they honestly do not get it. Unless you have a child with a disability, you really can never fully understand the depth of the loss you feel for the child you dreamed for. However, with that being said… over the past 17 years I have come to realize that it is not about the dream I had or have for my life and/or my children, it is about the dream and/or purpose something bigger than me has for me.

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