Getting Through the Valley


Getting Through the Valley

By: Michelle VanderHeide, BSW

I’ve just returned to work after having several weeks off for maternity leave. (I have the most fabulous little boy added to my family!) Upon my return, I found that a handful of my families have entered into crisis mode. It’s a hard place to be, and my heart hurts for them. It’s a place in which we all have found ourselves; and when the journey is complete, we always find ourselves in a better place. It’s the “you have to go through the valley to get to the mountains” outlook. In my years of consulting, I’ve seen many families travel through valleys. Development (autism or not) does that! As children grow, they have to find themselves, test the boundaries, and find out where the boundaries lie. It’s hard, very hard to get them through these times; but wow is it cool to see the view on the other side!

There are several things that bring families to these valleys and once we get through the initial hurdles (stress about money, school, children’s behavioral issues, etc.) we are able to move forward and make some beautiful progress! We begin to climb the mountain, and the beauty is already evident. Life is getting better! We’ve already forgotten about how hard life used to be and BAM the child is acting out again, is doing things “we haven’t seen in months!”, and suddenly a family begins the slippery slope back into crisis. So what can you do if you find yourself heading toward or already in crisis?

  • Take some time to sit back and reflect on what’s going on. Is it really worth being in crisis over? Have we been here before? If so, how did we get out of it? Many times we’ve been through similar circumstances and we were resilient to make it through. So guess what? You can and will make it through this valley as well!
  • Talk to a trusted friend or guide. Have them help you to think rationally. It’s very common to enter this time and just start spinning, actually making things worse! Someone who is not a part of your crisis can help you to think rationally and make good decisions, rather than rash, snap judgments.
  • Allow yourself to cry. This is a wonderful way to release some of that built up adrenaline that’s rushing through your body. It’s a great relief and once a good cry takes place you can often get up and start the fight!
  • Journal! Sometimes just getting your thoughts down on paper can help organize the chaos that is continually spinning through your head. Once the chaotic thoughts are organized, you can begin thinking clearly again. It serves as a release to get it out of your system. If you find it helpful, cry while you journal. You may find yourself extremely renewed!
  • If you believe in prayer, take time to pray. It feels good to give your worries to someone else!

On that note, I’m feeling much better and ready to help my families who have found themselves in a valley. Are you heading into a valley? Are you going to respond by letting life get out of control, or take a deep breath and face it head on? Be encouraged that there is always a mountain on the other side of the valley, and anticipate the beauty that mountain holds!