I’ve been saying lately that I will write about one of the recent struggles that our family has been dealing with…but finding those words to share really has been tough. I am still in such a learning curve and trying to figure things out that I am not sure what to write. Usually…that is when I write the best so I thought I would just start typing. (FYI…this has NOTHING to do with fitness but EVERYTHING to do with me just being real.)
My 5 year old is a very smart, loud, number thinking and sensitive child. Some of those characteristics are some of his best assets. Some of those characteristics combined with each other seem to bring him to a place that only he can describe.
In all my years of being a mom, of being around other moms and working with kids I have not seen a child quite like my own. I also have not heard of another mother talk about their child who has anxiety.
What exactly are we talking about when we say “anxiety”? This kind of anxiety…it isn’t just because of separation This is more of the severe spectrum, like “I’m going to throw myself on the floor and make myself stop breathing” type of anxiety. We have crying. We have moments where he is perfectly fine but will just burst into tears at random moments. We have had complete days where he would burst into tears about every 30 minutes, get calmed down, go look at books and then burst into tears again and come running at me each time (running is actually a nice word…it was more like charging at me). We also seemed to have just 3 triggers, and we would just be prepared the day prior to those events each week to be ready for his outbursts. There is a lot of negative self-talk and for a 5 year old to be saying some of the things that I hear…it is difficult as a mom, because I didn’t put those words in his mind.
I noticed certain sayings that he would ask which were becoming more frequent and were very time oriented (all centered around his 3 triggers…go figure). I didn’t realize though what all of this meant until we were getting calls from preschool letting us know that he needed to get picked up because they couldn’t calm him down.
My husband and I really were at a loss for words. Here we are, paying for his school, paying for the church activity at night…and he won’t go. He was perfectly fine and now it is like the flood gates open and you just have to be ready for some sort of crying fest to happen if you mention the words “preschool, church or AWANA”.
I was at the point in my job as a mom that I didn’t know what to do. One afternoon I was holding him (for about the 20 thousandth time!) and I saw that he was stopping himself from breathing. It finally dawned on me all the little conversations that he was having with us and I put the pieces together. I knew he had pretty severe anxiety but I didn’t know how to help him. If I wasn’t holding a child at that point I would have physically dropped to my knees because I was not only exhausted from dealing with this all day long but also emotionally numb. This was my child…and I can’t help him.
I texted my husband and told him that we were pulling him out of preschool. I explained what was going on later in a conversation that we had since he wasn’t seeing this…just me. In the next week or so though my husband had his first does of one of the attacks…which were basically panic attacks. Preschool was out and done…and after we told him that he smiled and laughed for the first time in about a month. It was almost like he could relax just a little bit and be happy for a moment. We were going to try to go to church and AWANA but soon that was something he just couldn’t handle either. I would walk my other two kids to their classes and then we would sit by the door to his classroom and he would have a few minutes to decide if he would like to go. We watched all of his friends, all of his leaders walk by and smile. He just wouldn’t go. We switched rooms so he could be with a friend…and he went once while I stayed in the room for some of it. After that…he was done and hasn’t been back.
This week is full of graduations and ceremonies to end all of these fabulous things that kids are part of, including my own. Pre-school graduation was today…and I don’t really care about that honestly. I thought I would get a little frustrated and upset with our situation as I saw people post their pictures of their kids in their little hats. We are so far out of the pre-school scene at this point that it isn’t even phasing us. We are just trying to survive the days that are triggers still.
Our AWANA ceremony was the other night though and that one was a little tougher. There we are, sitting in the seats with our 5 year old, while his class and his brother and sister are up on stage. There are his friends getting their awards and showing him what they got while our youngest has a book that is halfway done. We could see that this was bothering him a bit, just by his actions and how quiet he was, but it is hard to know just how much really. We had a glimmer of hope that maybe this would spark some interest to be part of a group like that again or go to his class at Sunday School again…but, that would be a great big “no”.
I’m not writing for pity. I’m not writing all of this so you can give advice…I have had lots and honestly, I am a bit full right now of hearing what we could try or do. We are actually having some days where we don’t have huge outbursts and we are enjoying that at the moment. We have had so many bad days that it is just nice to have some good days and let him have some joy.
At this moment, we are a bit concerned about what is ahead. We have the big K coming in the fall and it will be a miracle if he actually goes to school. That’s just where we are at.
We are on the next step of this journey though and will be meeting with his doctor in the next few weeks. I am actually scared to know what we should be doing next…because this is not going to be fun. I’ve been dealing with this since late October and I really don’t want to stir up all these emotions and stress for him and see his smile disappear again. I want him to be able to succeed with school though and help him know that he CAN do this. I want him to smile again when we say it is time to go. I want him to not count the days in his mind until the next event. I want him to just enjoy life and not be worried or stressed out about our activities.
I may be a strong woman and am able to lift some heavy stuff but sometimes we are brought to our knees and shown that we truly are not capable of all things on our own. I joke around sometimes and say that I’m praying for his upcoming teacher…but I really am. This is going to be a year a major adjustment and we really need his teacher to understand him and what he truly needs. I might as well start including the bus drivers, the nurse, the principal and all the support staff…cause this child will be needing all of them on his side in order to succeed and get through this very important year of change.
That’s all part of my REAL life…and I am working through this journey is small steps too.