Monday, August 28, 2017

Exhausting Year At The Crux Home



I settled in to write this blog post, and suddenly banshee screams filled the house. I went to see what was wrong. Nothing. Nothing at all. Alex—my autistic 4 year-old son—was screaming his head off for no discernible reason. Sometimes he can talk, a little, but he much prefers constant screaming. So far I've tried everything I know of to help calm him down—made sure his tablet is working, gave him reassuring hugs, comforted him—but forty minutes later there's no sign of slowing down.

This is a pretty normal day for me now.

I know I've fallen off the face of the Earth again. My YouTube channel abruptly died, there's been no word from me on social media, and that book that's been "almost finished" for a year is in that same, stranded condition.

It hasn't exactly been a fun year, but it's time I explain what I've been up to (and—with any luck—what you can expect in the future)

What happened?

About a year ago, things were going pretty good. My YouTube channel was being met with moderate success, a had a great new book on the way, and I was making slow but steady progress towards my goals.

But as most of you know, life has a way of throwing curve balls. Haha, I should know better than most—how many twists and challenging do I throw at characters in my books? (Spoilers: a lot). They usually come out stronger at the end of it, and I expect I will as well.

So it's time to get down to explaining what's kept me away for so long.

Matthew as a (very small & very red) newborn.

Kids with special needs

Long time fans might already know, but my oldest son Matthew has had more than his fair share of medical problems. Born at 24 weeks and 3 days into the pregnancy, he was a micro-preemie and, honestly, no one thought he would survive. 11 years later and he is doing better than ever, and I couldn't be prouder of that kid. He still has some lingering issues, and is on the autism spectrum, but for the most part he is a healthy little guy. Still, it has always been a more challenging experience taking care of a kid with special needs.

Which leads to the next real curve ball in my life; Alex, my youngest son (who you might recognize from this blog's intro). Unlike his brother, Alex had a full, healthy pregnancy, and his early life was blissfully "normal." After the traumatic beginning for Matthew, something as simple as a healthy baby feels like a miracle. But as Alex got older, it became increasingly apparent that he had more in common with his brother than we thought.

Alex as a (perfectly normal & healthy) baby.


Alex is also autistic. And for the last year and a half (intensifying over the last few months), he has become a handful. He doesn't really talk, the smallest things can set him off, and everything in his routine has to be exactly perfect to get through it without a meltdown.

Now don't get me wrong; Alex is also one of the sweetest little humans I've ever known. He can be a joy to be around and a pleasure to play with. Except... when he isn't. Alex lives in extremes, and will swing from happy and silly to full-on rage on the turn of a dime. He can't help it—his brain is wired differently, and he has a hard time coping with things that would be easy for "normal" kids. I don't blame him, and I use all my compassion to comfort and calm him down during these fits. But... it is exhausting. Getting him calm again during one of these meltdowns takes all the energy I have, leaving me emotionally drained for hours afterwards. And you never know when they will come.

The point is this; I love my boys—but they are a lot of work. Which leads into... 

Wife working full-time

I have the most incredible wife in the world. She's my best friend, the strongest person I know, and filled with immeasurable compassion. We've been married over 5 years, and with each passing day I love her more.

One of her dreams has been to become a nurse, and after years of working towards that goal she has finally reached it. She started working in this new position at the start of the year, and has been rocking it ever since. I couldn't be prouder.

But it's a full-time job, and lately she's been working the night shift. It ends up that she is almost always working, which leaves me watching the kids nearly 24/7. Our kids are home schooled (a difficult decision, but one that allows them to flourish better with their individual needs), so they aren't even away for school time each day.

This is probably the biggest reason for my lack of progress. I am always taking care of the kids. Which can be great, and most of the time it is. But I have to be ready to drop everything at a moment's notice, all day, every day. It's not a good situation to make videos, and makes concentrating on editing a book difficult. 

Battling Depression

Can I be real with you? Over this last year I've been an emotional wreck. I've always been a pretty stable and persistently-happy guy, but I've been falling apart bit by bit for awhile now and the cracks are really showing.

I don't want to talk about this too much, because I know there are plenty of others who have it far worse than I do. I can't even decide if "depression" is the right word for me; I tend to swing between immense frustration at what I can't do, to feeling defeated and hopeless. The frustration is more common though, and I think that's good—it means I've still got some fight in me.

I want to be doing things; I have so many dreams and goals I desperately want to pursue. But, right now, life has other plans for me. My kids need me, my wife needs me, and my needs have to come last right now. I'll get through it. This won't be forever. But for the time being, it's a rocky ride. 

What To Expect Moving Forward

So what does this mean? Have I given up, curled into a ball and decided to let my dreams pass me by?

Hell no.

It's true that I haven't made much progress on the things I want to accomplish. The going is slow
 But you know what? I keep moving forward. I might be crawling forward, but I'm not turning back.

That being said, I'm not here to say things will suddenly change all that much. There's only so much I can do right now, and my top priority is always going to be taking care of my family. But there are still things I can do, and that's what I'm going to focus on.

Let's Play Videos are, in all likelihood, not coming back for awhile still. Two reasons; the time issue that I said before, and my computer is in desperate need of an upgrade. It's at least 6 years old now, and it's a laptop. The quality of videos was getting pretty choppy, and it limited me to only playing games old enough that it could handle. At some point I'll be upgrading my computer, and then who knows? I do miss making videos, and when the opportunity presents itself I will eagerly get back on with that. But this one is on the back burner, for now.

Writing is the one thing I can do best in this circumstance. I can stop and go a hundred times an hour if need be, the sound of screams in the background won't ruin it (in fact, it might actually set the mood for those scary scenes!), and it is flexible enough that I can adjust it to meet the needs of any family obligations. Again, I can't expect progress to be fast; but it will keep moving, at least. So expect to see the highly-anticipated Tale of the Mothman's Return coming out in the near future. Here's hoping it lives up to an extra year of hype! Haha.

Another thing I want to do is stay social. This one serves two purposes; it let's me keep a dialogue with my awesome fans, and it keeps me from trying to shut the world out when that nagging depression tries to creep in. I intend to be more active on Facebook and Twitter, and make a blog post of some kind at least once a week. I might even experiment with more vlogs from time to time, although they have never been as much my style, haha.

And that's that, for now! If you want to keep in touch, make sure to Like my Author Page on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and Subscribe on YouTube! And don't be shy about leaving a comment on this blog, either; it's something I'm still getting used to, so your help keeping the conversation going would be great =)

Here's to Moving Forward