I'm back in school, and up to my eyeballs in research for a history paper due in a few weeks.
It's a blessing and a curse.

As I am discovering for the nth time (seriously, I can't even remember how many times I've started and stopped at this school thing), it is everything I love and everything I hate combined.
And in this discovering and rediscovering process, I'm becoming more and more aware of how many things in life are tied together in that way -
A thing we love to a thing we hate.

So as I'm watching all the social media posts churning out this month because it's Autism Awareness Month, I am painfully aware of another thing I hate attached to something I love.
More specifically, something I hate to someone I love.
Someone being my brother, James.

James crashing a girls' night with one of my sisters
a few years ago.

There have been days this month where I've thought about putting up an away notice on my profile picture and disappearing for a while.
Or temporarily deactivating my accounts.
While I am all for people becoming more aware of what autism is, and the stories that surface in a month like this of others with autism who are defying the odds are amazing, and I am thankful for the families that are unabashedly sharing their love for their autistic family member...
There are some days where what I need to hear is that it's hard for other families, too.
Not that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Because it doesn't usually feel safe, even though it would be honest, to admit that there are days other than the good days -
Days where even a slightly angry tone to your voices sends him into a rage, and nothing is safe,
Where doors and windows and walls are struck so hard, you wonder if they are finally going to break this time around,
When the light switch gets flipped on and off so many times, you question how it hasn't fallen off, When the knobs on the stove are clicked and turned so many times you start asking yourself where a ticking bomb could be hidden,
Where the sound of his fist slamming into his chest makes you brings,
And the death grip he has on you as he pulls your fingers and pushes your joints in directions they were never meant to bend in makes you yell and cry and fight to stem the stream of curses running through your head because you are in so much pain.

While the good days do make it worth getting through the bad (TRUST me, they do with my brother), it doesn't change the reality that the bad days happen, too.
Or that there are some families that don't see as many good days as we do.
Some that never see a good day, and are entirely at the mercy of a scale that only registers more or less bad.

Social media makes it so easy to only share the fantastic moments I have with my brother and paint a picture where everything is wonderful, but that doesn't feel right in this month that is supposed to be raising awareness about his biggest struggles.
Honestly about it does, so that's my contribution to the latter half of Autism Awareness Month.

If what autism is or isn't confuses you, here's some information from the National Autism Association to help you out - Autism Fact Sheet.

And if you're reading this as someone in a family that is affected by autism, and you need someone to hear your story, email me -
The one thing I can promise is an open ear.
Well, technically an open pair of eyes, but who is quibbling?
My heart goes out to you, either way.