Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Anxiety Bug

It seems that my boy has been bitten by the anxiety bug.  :(  He is seven.

My heart breaks to see him go through the "stages" that I went through.  I can feel what he is feeling.  It wasn't that long ago that I felt them myself.

Last night before his bath, I got him to step on the scale.  He was showing the signs and I was curious.  Down six pounds.  He has barely been eating.  He says it hurts his stomach.  He has always been my best eater.  He will try anything, and usually likes it.  Six pounds is more than ten percent of his body weight.  

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to cry, but I didn't.  I am strong for him.  I did my best to hide my anxiety from my kids.  As I went through it, I told them I was sick; that my body didn't like certain foods (my five year old daughter still tells me that dairy makes me sick, even though it doesn't anymore), but that I went to the doctor and I was getting myself better.  I think I did a good job keeping it from the kids.

But last night I had to tell him.  I laid on my bed with my boy tucked in next to me, and I told him.  

"I had these feelings that you are having.  I know that they are horrible.  It wasn't very long ago that I felt them too.  But you know what?  I got better, and so will you.  We are strong people.  We have people who love us and people who want to help us get better.  And I know how to help you.  You just have to trust me."

I told him that lots of people struggle with anxiety.  Lots of adults and lots of kids.  And people want to help them get better.

My boy slept for 12 hours last night.  I was a little worried when I got up at 7:45 and he was still not awake. He is a 6:00am sort of kid.  

Unfortunately it was a rushrushrush morning for our household.  Hubby had to work at 7:00.  Our oldest had science materials to prepare and bring to school.  Our middle boy was headed out on a field trip at a provincial (?) park, in the rain and mosquitoes and needed to be prepared for the unstable and unreliable weather that our city provides, and needed to bring a lunch and snacks.  Our daughter's morning was double-booked but we committed to do half of the first thing (preschool) and then rush off to her last swimming lesson.  I was committed to washing preschool toys while I waited for her.

My sweet boy did not go to school.  I didn't have the time to spend to get him there in a calm and relaxed manner and I didn't have the heart to rush him through his breathlessness, dizziness and queasy tummy.  He spent the morning in his bed, breathing deep and trying to read since he was not tired, while his daddy worked in the next room.

When I arrived home, I convinced my boy to get out of bed even though he didn't want to.  I convinced him to finish eating his breakfast despite his tummy ache, reminding him that he needs to trust me, and that he is okay.  I made him a banana-avocado-fruit n veggie juice smoothie.  I told him that he could choose to go to school this afternoon, or go to the doctor.

He heard me on the phone with the doctor's office (he has an appointment on Thursday), and made the choice to go to school.  He told me he was afraid he would be hungry at school.  I filled his pocket with two different snacks and told him I'd let his teacher know they were there for him to eat whenever he was ready. He told me that he had to go to the bathroom, and came downstairs and asked me if I knew what he did in the bathroom.  I asked if he'd pooped (which is what he went up for).  He said no, but he DID tell his 'worry brain' to SHUT UP and stop bugging him.

Shut up is not a phrase we use in our house.  If someone says it, they are sternly reminded it is not okay to say that.  However, I have been encouraging my boy to use this phrase to quiet the part of his brain that keeps telling him lies; that he will not be okay.  I think he likes that he has the privilege to say 'shut up' without getting into trouble.

When he came downstairs and told me this, I was SO PROUD of him!  He also said that he could leave his bowl on the couch because now he didn't need it.  He said his worry brain is the one that needed it.  I told him that he should just put his worry brain in the bowl and walk away from it forever.  He laughed at that.  Oh so good to see him smile and see him laugh.

Right now my boy is at school.  His oh-so-very-understanding-angel teacher was at the door to meet us and she smiled and welcomed him in and I told her that he brought snacks in his pocket for just in case he gets hungry and she smiled and said that is perfect.  I am so thankful for her.

And I am so thankful that I got to go through this before my boy so I can understand.  I know I can love him through it.  I know how to answer his questions.  I know that I need to be patient.  And I am thankful that soon school will be done, and that our vacation will bring many more adults around to help with my other three children, that they will get the fun attention they need too, and I can give a little more attention to the one that needs a little more.