A Mom With Special Needs, Parenting a Special Needs Child. By Nicole Neal

Nash’s Note: I’ve known Nicole and her family for over four years now, but mostly because of their son, Jude, who’s constantly facing heart complications and surgeries. We’re always rooting for little Jude, but this story allows me to look closer, at the entire family, and more specifically, Nicole. The life-threatening battle that baby Jude continues to fight is constantly on my mind, but this look behind the curtain helps me understand that the battle goes much deeper than just his little heart. Nicole tells a story that’s filled with anxiety, depression, and several other medical conditions. And still, through all of what they’ve been through, and continue to go through, it’s their faith that keeps them going. This guest post explains it all for us.

A Mom With Special Needs, Parenting a Special Needs Child

Hello, my name is Nicole Neal, and I am honored to be writing a guest post. I think what Nash is doing is amazing. I came across his work on Facebook, and just knew I wanted to be a part of it. I feel my story has value and I’m glad I can share it here.

As long as I can remember

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. I come from a childhood background of abuse and abandonment, which led me to teenage/young adult years of using alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity as coping mechanisms and self-medication. I jumped from one bad relationship to another. Collecting shame and pain as a trophy from every single one. I went to court-appointed counseling and was recommended to use an antidepressant medication. Looking back, I do see that it helped. I would stop using it to drink alcohol though. It wasn’t my most shining moment.


In 2007, I met my husband, started a family and finally started going to church again. In 2012, we had our daughter. About three months later, when I had a raging meltdown, I thought I may have postpartum depression, so I saw my doctor. Come to find out, it was actually a condition called PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) which, in a nutshell, is very severe PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome). I want to stop here and say it is real, it is crippling, and it is wise to seek God, counseling, and medicine for this disorder. It caused my already present, but well-hidden, anxiety and depression to kick into high gear. It’s a hormonal imbalance that effects your body and brain. It is now actually considered a mental illness. So I started taking antidepressants again; this time, staying on them. They most definitely have helped.


In 2014. Now married with one biological daughter, my husband got promoted in his job and we moved to Houma, LA. It was an exciting time that ended up being the best, yet hardest thing we had ever done at the time. We had been in Houma for about 5 months, not going to church, but drinking again, because we were lonely and bored (to be honest). It ended up exploding into something ugly that year, in August, and decisions were made. Either go back home (Lake Charles) or we find a church. Church won, thank God! And it was, of course, Cross Church at the AMC Theater.

By that November, we found out we were having another child. It was devastating for a few hours. We were not prepared nor trying to have more kids. Depression started to settle in again. I’ll be transparent and tell you why. See, coming from an abusive background, I had never actually wanted children. And for Dad, he already had three of his own. God had pricked our hearts when we decided for our daughter, but that’s all we wanted. Plus we had my two stepdaughters, who lived out of town. Eventually, the depression subsided and things looked up. Cross Church and its people were our saving grace. They had no clue how much more they would help us in the coming future.


In August of 2015, our son was born. That’s when our lives were forever changed. Long story short, he was born with four heart defects that required emergency open heart surgery. Then we found out he had a very rare genetic disorder that was chronic and incurable. All of a sudden we were thrust into the world of special needs parenting a medically-complex child. That has definitely been the hardest, but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. But also with it, comes. (yep, you guessed it) ANXIETY and DEPRESSION. Anxiety from being scared your child can die at any moment, from having to constantly be on guard and watchful for signs of distress. This has caused PTSD in myself, his dad, and his sister. Granted, anyone can die at any time, but this is a completely different ball game. You have to be in our shoes or close proximity to fully understand. Depression sets in when you feel there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help your child when they are suffering. Medications & surgeries are awesome but only go so far. Depression comes when you’re always in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices, instead of on family vacations or celebrating holidays. It comes from rarely having time to care for yourself or have time for other siblings or spouse. It’s EXHAUSTING. And those are just a few examples.

Now, unfortunately, I also have several more disorders that bring on that depression as well: PMDD, Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune disorder that attacks the Thyroid where hormones are regulated), adrenal dysfunction and adult ADHD. If I let it, I can fall into that proverbial pit of despair.


A wise woman once told me that, even as Christians, we should still utilize every option that God gives us to assist in overcoming trauma, abuse, etc., including depression. I now see a Christian counselor and take supplements and medications to help. I take advantage of EVERY church small group that encourages me and helps me deal. I don’t hesitate to ask for help, even when the enemy tells me that I’m being selfish and a burden. I also reach out to those in similar situations. Because I personally know how much it means to have someone in your corner.

I just want to finish with this. I know what the diagnosis says, but I also know what God says. He says his word is NEVER changing. He says He will never leave me nor forsake me. He says I am called for such a time as this. So even at my weakest, I can feel his strength surrounding me.

Luke 13:12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, Woman, you are set free from your infirmity’.”

Psalm 71:20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

More: Guest Posts

Making playlists. Writing a newsletter every Monday morning. Running several miles a day. Getting better at photography. Last updated: March 11th, 2023.

Morning Coffee

Latest Issue: The Beauty of Chapters

Latest Issue: Building a Studio

Latest Issue: The Return of Mixtapes

Latest Issue: The Architect: Crafting a Better Story

Latest Issue: The Shrine Hunter: Exploring Creativity, Fitness, and Adventure

Latest Issue: 15 Months

Latest Issue: My Writing Workflow

Latest Issue: Getting Things Done

Latest Issue: Selective Sync

Latest Issue: The Great Consolidation

Latest Issue: The Year of Depth

Latest Issue: The Story of 2022 (Morning Coffee: December 26th, 2022)

Latest Issue: The Best Of (Morning Coffee: December, 19th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Omni (Morning Coffee: December 12th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Easy Mode (Morning Coffee: December 5th, 2022)

Latest Issue: The Partitions (Morning Coffee: November 28th, 2022)

Latest Issue: What’s Holding All This Together (Morning Coffee: November 21st, 2022)

Latest Issue: Rose Turns One (Morning Coffee: November 14th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Rose Turns One (Morning Coffee: November 14th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Showing Up and Looking Forward (Morning Coffee: November 7th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Robots Painted This (Morning Coffee: October 31st, 2022)

Latest Issue: Sharing Sofa (Morning Coffee: October 24th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Crates and Presets (Morning Coffee: October 17th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Homecoming (Morning Coffee: October 10th, 2022)

Latest Issue: The Traveling Drone (Morning Coffee: October 3rd, 2022)

Latest Issue: System Thinking (Morning Coffee: September 26th)

Latest Issue: On This Day (Morning Coffee: September 19th, 2022)

Latest Issue: On This Day (Morning Coffee: September 19th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Dynamic Island (Morning Coffee: Sept. 12th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Organizing Health (Morning Coffee: Sept. 5th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Up Ahead (Morning Coffee: August 29th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Dancing with the Stars (Morning Coffee: August 22nd, 2022)

Latest Issue: Dancing with the Stars (Morning Coffee: August 22nd, 2022)

Latest Issue: Military Backpack (Morning Coffee: August 15th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Military Backpack (Morning Coffee: August 15th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Space Between Time (Morning Coffee: August 8th, 2022)

Latest Issue: A Tiny Gameboy (Morning Coffee: August 1st, 2022)

Latest Issue: 5,000 Photos (Morning Coffee: July 25th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Upgrading the Newsletter (Morning Coffee: July 18th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Emoji Folders (Monday Coffee: July 11th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Happy 4th of July (Monday Coffee: July 4th, 2022)

Latest Issue: WE ARE THE ENERGY (Monday Coffee: June 27th, 2022)

Latest Issue: My First Father’s Day (Monday Coffee: June 20th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Hard Work Pays Off (Monday Coffee: June 13th, 2022)

Latest Issue: A Lens Blur, A Time Blur (Monday Coffee: June 6, 2022)

Latest Issue: Yelling Into The Void (Monday Coffee: May 30th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Today is my birthday (Monday Coffee: May 23rd, 2022)

Latest Issue: New Motivation (Monday Coffee: May 16th, 2022)

Latest Issue: A Camera Changes Everything (Monday Coffee: May 9, 2022)

Latest Issue: A Camera Changes Everything (Monday Coffee: May 9, 2022)

Latest Issue: Make Gifts (Monday Coffee: May 2nd, 2022)

Latest Issue: Make Gifts (Monday Coffee: May 2nd, 2022)

Latest Issue: A Cheap Projector to Watch the Suns Lose (Monday Coffee: April 25th, 2022)

Latest Issue: Monday Coffee: April 18th, 2022