Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Today, we want to introduce you to Lisa Ireland, our Military Spouse of the Day. She is a Coast Guard spouse, currently stationed in Atlantic City.
Lisa says her best experience in military life has, by far, been getting an education about the world around her. “I have always loved traveling and military life has given me an incredible opportunity to grow.” She grew up in a very small, old, coal-region town, nestled in the Pennsylvania Appalachian Mountains, which can create a parochial outlook in life. “While reading is important to learning, there is nothing like being immersed in a culture, even within the US, that is completely outside your comfort zone. It can teach you about struggles, celebrations, traditions, cuisine, etc. The personal growth that coincides with that understanding is unparalleled and you begin to foster a love for trying new things and empathizing with others with a genuinely open mind.”
The biggest special needs obstacle that Lisa and her family has overcome has been depression. Lisa says, “It’s such a taboo subject, and I’ve been very private about this, but I’d be remised if I didn’t use this opportunity to talk about it. It’s a beast and it’s scary; It can sneak up on you when you least expect it.” She continues, “The “what ifs” that plagued me as a special needs mom were/are debilitating. It is a fight every single day and some days you win the battle and some days you lose that battle. The onset of her son Jaxon’s injury that caused his special needs happened so quickly. One minute I was feeling like I was having a rough week in my pregnancy, the next minute, my water broke and I was having a 32 week preemie, who was a very sick little boy. There was no time to just process and grieve, so the self-inflicted guilt and the sadness for loss of the child I expected to have just seemed to take over everything. My family is my rock and my counselor is amazing. Without them I would not be winning the majority of the battles.”
We asked Lisa how she de-stress, and her answer was like so many of ours. “I giggled when I first read this question, because it’s not really possible. Managing my stress is key. We are in the process of renovating our house room by room. Putting holes in the walls and kicking down old drywall is incredibly cathartic. I’m learning that I can’t always control everything- like when Jaxon’s mood in physical therapy is not cooperative or something along those lines. So when I get frustrated with that, I take on a project I can control, like prepping the walls for paint, or gardening, refinishing a piece of furniture.”
Lisa is re-learning how to take care of herself, now that she is a parent. She had to find her “reset button.” Despite living in a house full of boys and two dogs, Lisa loves to feel girly. So, the occasional pedicure and trip to her favorite stylist at the salon helps bridge the gaps. In the meantime, Lisa has started my own LuLaRoe business to have fun with clothes, meet new people, and create an opportunity for financial stability for my family.
Lisa’s best advice for families that are new to the special needs in the military world is, “Ask, speak up, and advocate. Understand everything you can about the diagnosis. There’s nothing stupid that you ask. Medical professionals often forget that even though they see this all the time, this is likely the first time you’re experiencing this. A gentle reminder to them will usually spark more thorough care and explanations for you and your loved one. Speak up if you see something that may not be right about the care of your loved one. For example, my son wasn’t properly strapped in on the bus and it took a lot of speaking up in order to get him safely secured to the bus. Advocate for your loved one but also for yourself. If you or your loved one need something, say something. You’re not bothering schools, doctors, therapists, caregivers, etc. It’s their JOB to assist you in the care of your loved one.”
The Military Special Needs Network honors and salutes Lisa Ireland, our Military Spouse of the Day. We thank you for being such a wonderful military spouse and an amazing advocate.
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