Raising anxious children is my Everest

This morning as Truman screamed at me to fix his train tracks (which I had just rebuilt for him), I shut my bedroom door, locked it, and curled up in the armchair with my fingers in my ears.

This was how I prayed for patience to handle my preschooler today.

I’ve been kind of blue for awhile, not in a major, nonfunctioning kind of way, but enough that I’m lethargic, snippy, and prone to fall to pieces when people cram muffins between the couch cushions.

Currently, it’s daytime and light outside and my belly is filled with croissants, so I feel I can effectively examine this demon that is plaguing me.

I am content with the progress we as a family are making, so why am I so crabby? I’m getting enough sleep, so why am I so sleepy? Basically, what is my problem?

I’m not sure, but I may have figured it out. And, as usual, it comes back to fear.

I’m fearful that Truman’s anxiety is going to do me in. I’m afraid of what it is going to take to potty-train this anxious four-year-old. I fear how anxiety which manifests so cripplingly in a preschooler will play out as the boy ages. What will this mean for him and, by extension, me?

And the big one: can I handle yet another mental health issue in this household? Because my metabolism and my mood are telling me no.

This is difficult for me to talk about. Weirdly, I feel like I should hide the fact that my youngest son also has a diagnosis and that it, like all his brothers’ diagnoses before him, is killing me softly. Because it is just anxiety doesn’t make it easy. Of course it is much less consuming than Jack’s pervasive cognitive delays and communication deficits. And according to the psychiatrist, it isn’t autism, or even a super great cause for alarm.

It’s just anxiety. And yet I’m unraveling because of it, just as I did with Jack’s M-CMTC diagnosis and Charlie’s autism/anxiety diagnosis.

Despite my inward struggle, I have identified some things I am doing differently with this new behavioral health challenge for my youngest son:

  1. I’m less panicky about time and it’s passage. I’m not so concerned about how long it will take to work through Truman’s anxiety issues. My perspective of how time moves has changed. Seasons ebb and flow, and, thankfully, do not last forever.
  2. I’m exceptionally good at getting in to the right doctors, who can hook us up with the right meds. And I’m really good at ignoring pharmaceutical non-believers.
  3. I more readily give myself permission to chill on the afternoons when Truman goes to preschool, and by “chill” I mean climbing under my electric blanket and down comforter, silencing my phone, and sleeping deeply.

So there it is. Jack is less violent and more content, yet still entirely a full-time job. Charlie is making progress but is still anxious and still on the spectrum. And Truman faces mountains of his own to climb. It feels better to just say it. Because “it” is real, and really difficult.

  5 comments for “Raising anxious children is my Everest

  1. Jennifer
    January 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I am loving you a whole lot right now–I hope you can feel it. I am understanding deeply that JUST ANXIETY also means JUST A LITTLE TOO MUCH TO DEAL WITH RIGHT NOW. But I see how your wise, brave soul knows that this isn’t small or insignificant. It will be hard and it might be forever. But it also knows that you know how all of this works. I pray you continue to find strength when you need it–whether that comes from an afternoon nap, a load of carbs, Jesus or a far away friend who understands. I love you!

  2. January 9, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Oh gosh, this is hard. It just is. It’s funny how certain things can feel less significant but at the same time THEY are the ones that bring you to your breaking point. We have upcoming tests to find out if Betty has Celiac and I just feel like I cannot handle that. It should pale in comparison to the rest of what she and we deal with, but right now it feels like the worst thing ever.

    And anxiety is an especially tough beast. Sending lots of love!

  3. January 10, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Hey–just wanted to say I love you and am so honored to know and even be related to you. You are an inspiration to me because of your beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength that you so openly share with the world. Just know that even though we don’t see each other often, you and your dear family are in my heart and prayers. Give Jeff my love too.

  4. January 10, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    You guys need spring

  5. Allison
    January 12, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Have you ever seen http://www.heysigmund.com? It has some great articles about kids and anxiety.

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