Monday, March 19, 2012
I often joke about how if there is ever a natural disaster, I'm sticking with my son. He has all of the survival gear already packed up and ready to go. The part I don't usually mention is that the reason he is ready for the end of the world is because he lives with an incredible amount of anxiety on a daily basis. His world is so unpredictable to him that he feels the need to be ready for anything.
I can remember when I first realized that he was seriously preparing for a major catastrophic event. I was sitting at the end of his bed talking to him when he was about 13 years old. It was winter and my feet were cold. I stuck my feet under his mattress and I felt something hard and cold. Not knowing what to expect, I gently lifted the mattress with my feet so that I could just peek a little and see if I could figure it out. What I saw surprised me. He had knives and shanks under his mattress. He had taken screwdrivers and other metal objects and filed them into points to use as weapons. When I asked him why, he said that it made him feel safe. I, of course, immediately checked him for signs of cutting and promptly reported the discovery to his psychologist. I truly felt a great deal of fear with this discovery. Was I raising a mass murderer? Was he planning to kill me in my sleep? Why would he feel the need to arm himself? Had something horrible happened to him?
After many counseling sessions, it came out that he didn't feel safe in his own home. We didn't live in a bad neighborhood, quite the opposite. Why wouldn't he feel safe? Over the years I have come to understand the anxiety behind his actions. He doesn't feel safe anywhere because he can't predict what others will do. He has limited theory of mind. He can't put himself in someone else's shoes and make a logical assumption of what they might be planning.
He now has a Zombie survival plan. He has a backpack full of rations for his loved ones' to survive for 30 days post apocalypse. He has a solar powered battery source that can be used for running a cell phone or a laptop computer. He has maps of the drainage system for a fast escape route. He knows where the local underground bunkers are located. He even has toilet paper. He makes sure his survival pack is located next to an exterior wall so that he can dig it out if necessary.
I know to most people this will sound crazy, but I can assure you that he is not a danger to anyone. This is what he needs to do because the symptoms of his Autism make life so unpredictable and his anxiety is so strong that he needs to do this in order to feel in control and safe.
Knowing that my 19 year old son has packed a bag and plans to take me with him and keep me safe during a Zombie apocalypse is strangely comforting. How many moms of teenagers can say that?