*This isn’t comedy or meant to be funny so if you are here to laugh or for something silly, check out another post :)*
I was 10 years old and he was just 1 month shy of his 4th birthday. “He’s autistic,” the doctor said to my mother. Plainly and honestly, the doctor said something that changed my family’s lives forever. Till then, they stated late development disorder but when he was still not verbal at nearly 4, the diagnosis was inevitable. He didn’t walk until he was 2 and a half years old, had a capable voice but couldn’t articulate words and he couldn’t communicate verbally or otherwise.
What ensued after were a lot tears, anguish, anger and resentment. My mother cried for hours, days and weeks. My father couldn’t
properly mourn the diagnosis because of immense work pressure. My brother went through hours of therapy thereafter. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, behavioral therapy and more, day in and day out. And alI I could do was watch my parents struggle. Struggle to manage a schedule to efficiently accommodate the hours of therapy and running a household. Struggle to face strangers and their hushed whispers or multiple glances at my brother’s incomprehensible mumbling or random hand movements. Struggle to keep their marriage happy when they neither had the time nor the patience for each other. Struggle to devote time and care for the “normal” child, me.
But I was selfish and all I could think was, “What about me?” No, I didn’t want more attention, I knew my brother needed more. All I wanted was for someone to ask me, “How do you feel about your brother’s diagnosis?” Scores of family members and friends would approach my parents to console them and offer their sympathetic sentiments. No one ever came to me. No parent, no family, no friend. Everyone considered it a tragedy for parents when a child is diagnosed with autism but what about the sibling? Did they think I was too young to be affected by my brother’s condition? That I had school and friends and a life out of home that would keep me distracted from my family’s state? My life outside home was my escape, not a distraction.
To those that never asked, I was devastated by the diagnosis too even if I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t understand what autism was and it’s impact on my brother’s development and life. I was young and never educated on mental illness. What I did understand was that I had to let go of the dreams I stubbornly held on to from when he was born till he was nearly 4. I realized that he might never be able to understand the rules of games I wanted to play with him. I realized that he might sit next to me while I watch Pokemon but never be able to tell me if he had a favorite character. I realized we could never complain about our parents to each other and prank them for revenge. And I was depressed for years because instead of letting those dreams go, I held on to the broken remnants while I resented fate.
However, more years after, on this day, I am no longer depressed. It took a few years but my family pulled through and now we are strong and united. We all adjusted to the changes we had to embrace and strengthened our relationships. It took a few years but now I am brave enough to share my feelings with my parents and they treat me as their child, not the “normal” one. My brother hasn’t changed much but he is a gentle, loving and cheerful boy with the most adorable smile. And I have replaced those broken dreams with just one – to never let that smile disappear.
My blog posts usually contain silliness, humour and terrible drawings. I am sorry for the seriousness of today’s post. I experienced a sudden urge to write about this difficult time in the past and express the thoughts I usually hide. I just wanted to share my story of my brother’s diagnosis and the impact it had on my family and I. Going through depression as a pre-teen wasn’t easy but the most difficult part was the initial devastation and that is what I wanted to convey here. After acceptance, you have already started your recovery. If there is anyone out there going through depression or a similar situation, I just want you to know it will be okay and you are never alone. I had stopped looking for happiness but after some time, it found me instead.