Friday, January 13, 2012

The pyramid of crazy

If you are a parent of a child with autism, you quickly realize that there are new levels of crazy you have never experienced before. If you are a woman, this intensifies the situation. This topic came up the other day when I was in a mood. I had a headache that suddenly appeared and was escalating fast, my boys were driving me nuts, and, well, I was hormonal and felt like crap.

I had a full car as we headed off to therapy. In addition to my kids, I also had my husband and Miss C with me. Instead of the adults staying to participate in the therapy session, we dropped the boys off and got back in the car since I needed headache medicine in the form of a hot, caffeinated beverage. Miss C made an off-hand comment on our way to Starbucks. Sensing my mood before we left for the appointment, she chose not to say anything at the time because she knew I would likely maim her in some fashion. She was right. So, in the relative safety of the car (and the protection of my hubby) she shared her little quip about how she had been afraid to say something to me earlier that afternoon and instead chose to shut her trap for fear of the bodily harm I might have done to her.
My hubby laughed. Loudly. I whipped my head around to glare at him. He immediately changed his body posture and looked back at me timidly. I made some stern remark about how I was hormonal, I had cramps, I had a headache, I was in a pissy mood and you better not mess with me. (You should know that I’m really not as mean as I make myself sound…I had a humorous glint in my eye and a smile on my face while I was laying down the law.) Titan, sensing the mood was clearing a bit, replied with something to the effect of, “Yes, dear. Okay, dear. Anything you say, honey. I luuuuuv you.” With that we all broke into laughter.
Somehow this interchange started us in the direction of the different kinds of crazy we have observed. I got to talking about how you don’t want to mess with an autism mommy because she will cut you if you talk smack about her kids. We starting coming up with some hilarious anecdotes and we were all laughing very hard. Laughter is good medicine for headaches. And, coffee helps, too! I mentioned that all the talk about crazy would make a great topic for a blog post and I tucked it away in my brain for later.
Well, it does make a great topic for a blog post! I got to thinking about the conversation we had in the car and let my mind wander and funny stuff starting popping into my head. I actually cracked myself up and began laughing out loud while I was pondering what I would write about. I was imagining a diagram of crazy, much like you might see with the USDA’s Food Pyramid. Coming up with the names of the levels practically made me cry with laughter, so I knew I had to write about it. I crack myself up sometimes. And, here it is…the pyramid of crazy:

(It's kind of hard to read when it's so small... You can click on the image to make it larger.)
Would you like a little explanation?
Level 1: Tired, Hormonal, and/or Uncaffeinated crazy
This is the most common form of crazy and we’ve probably all been there quite often. Some autism moms can be afflicted by this form of crazy every day, to varying degrees. Lack of sleep, chronic stress, wacked out hormones and always being in need of caffeine is part of the job description. And yes, it does make you crazy one day at a time.  
Level 2: Gird your loins, I may cut you crazy
This is affectionately known as the Tonya Harding level of crazy. I can say that because I grew up in Oregon and worked at the mall where she practiced before she became all famous. I feel a little bit entitled to use her name for my gain, especially after her crazy unleashed itself at the Olympics and later in the wrestling ring. Anyway…this level is achieved when you have been at level 1 for too long, or if you have multiple forms of level 1 happening at the same time. Tired, hormonal AND uncaffeinated? That is a situation ripe with “I may cut you” potential! And, if your hubby is reason you are going crazy and you have the desire to whack him, you might warn him to gird his loins. They could become a target if he’s not careful!  
Level 3: Rubber room, reservation for 1 crazy
If after being at level 1 and possibly level 2 for an entire day (or an hour, depending on how predisposed to crazy you are), you may find yourself with the intense desire to go hide in your bedroom, lock the door, rock gently in the corner, and hum, “Soft Kitty” to yourself (thank you Sheldon Cooper for a song of comfort). You may feel the urge to escape your child with autism because they won’t stop scripting {insert the name of the cartoon you most loathe here}, stimming and/or melting down and you are about to snap or start the ugly sobbing that won’t stop without copious amounts of chocolate or alcohol.
Level 4: Batsh*t/Killer rabbit crazy
This level is known as Batsh*t crazy for most of you, but for the hardcore Monty Python fans (like we are at my house), the preferred name is Killer rabbit crazy. The Killer rabbit comes from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I love what Wikipedia says about this character: “The rabbit is now used as a metaphor for something ostensibly harmless which is, in fact, deadly.” I can tell you from personal experience that if I have worked up to the Rubber room level and my emotions are raw from a rough day (or several days in a row of full-blown autism at its finest), this level is unavoidable as you become like an exposed nerve that can turn into full, insane crazy at the drop of a hat.  
Level 5: Blue-faced warrior crazy 
Do you remember the scene at the end of the movie Braveheart when Mel Gibson’s character is standing at the top of a hill making his big speech about them never taking away his freedom, and then he proceeds to fight with his army to the bitter, bloody end? Now imagine that your child with autism is a target of some idiot that decided to judge you as a bad parent and your child as a snot-nosed brat because they are having a meltdown while standing in line at a store. You will move easily up to Blue-faced warrior as you defend your child with a savage verbal attack before you feel compelled to go cry in the car. Have you ever seen a mob of autism mommies form out of thin air to circle the wagons around a family that has been harmed in some way as a direct result of their child’s autism? We are a vicious bunch when we are angry and have climbed the levels of crazy. Let me tell you…we are a force to be reckoned with. I think the blue paint would be an added bonus, given that blue is often associated as the color of autism. Can you imagine us running down that hill in our warrior paint screaming at the top of our lungs as we attack the stupid people? It’s an awesome visual, isn’t it?
Level 6: Shotgun crazy
The best way to describe this level of crazy is the picture from my Shotgun Mama post. If you’ve had a particularly rough time recently with your child and you are at the end of your rope, you may do like I do and call your husband to warn him that if he doesn’t start heading home from work the kids may not survive. When you’ve reached the top level of the crazy pyramid you may feel like if one more crappy thing happens people are gonna die. You know that I say this in jest. Jail just doesn’t fit in with my boys’ therapy schedule! Some autism mommies I know will take a vacation day away from their kids. I’d say that’s a good plan if you can swing some time away from your precious angels. Before going postal, you might consider talking with a mental health professional. I’m just sayin’.  
One last thing about the pyramid of crazy:
You don’t have to move through each level in succession. It is possible to be in more than 1 level at a time or to skip levels as you work through your particular brand of crazy.
We all have some sort of crazy inside of us, and autism has a way of magnifying that. You are not alone in your crazy. We are all right there with you. Revel in it and claim your level!
Take a deep, cleansing breath. Happy thoughts. J   
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