They both have the same color eyes. A pretty hazel. But panic is the only thing visible when anxiety or PTSD takes ahold.
I have two children with anxiety. One is 18,so I won’t speak much about her. The other is 8. But it’s the same feeling as a parent when either one is in the midst of its control. Helpless.
Paige is my 8 year old. She has been clinically diagnosed. She has anxiety and PTSD. I take responsibility for both. She grew up around a lot of domestic violence. That’s where the PTSD came from. The anxiety as well.
She’s a great, loving, kid who just wants to be like everyone else her age. I never predicted how difficult having a child with anxiety could be.
When I started her in counseling, at age 6, the goal was to get her from a 5 (most dramatic) to a 2 (comfortably functional).
In the beginning the triggers were countless, terrifying, and hardly a break between. And anything would set it off.
She’d cling to my side, I couldn’t be out of sight or ear shot. She’d wake me in the night to make sure I was okay. If she saw an altercation, even the most minor between two strangers, I knew it was coming. If someone raised or raises their voice at me, unfortunately this still occurs due to the PTSD, she curls up, eyes full of panic, blocking her ears repeating, more begging, for it to stop.
There are days her little sister is her trigger. She will be doing homework or writing in her journal, and she’ll come in, hysterical.
She has nightmares, daymares. She has anxiety about my health, our financial situation, my marriage to her father, what movie we’ll watch,the store we’re going to, she has anxiety about her anxiety and PTSD. She wants to know if she’s ‘normal’.
It is the most heartbreaking thing as a parent. Especially one who suffers from the same diagnoses, then some. Having a child with anxiety is heartbreaking.
But we’ve come up with ways to manage it, without medication so far.
It usually entails her and I sitting and talking. And along with some anxiety comes extreme anger. I let her squeeze my arm when we can’t find her stress ball (flour tied in a balloon)until the anger subsides. Because when the anger comes, she has anxiety over the anger that she may hurt someone.
So we simply sit and I explain to her it is normal, anxiety, but not to this degree. So when she feels a little coming on, that’s her body’s sign she’s having a ‘normal’ reaction.
We’ve got breathing techniques, journals, coloring therapy works, music, cooking, anything to distract her.
But two things will happen.
She will manage it or she will get worse. Only time will tell.
But this is considered to be a 2? Imagine how detrimental to her, and my health, a 5 was.
She’s starting third grade. I’m hoping school will subside the anxiousness because her brain will be busy all day.
Because to treat a child, YOUR CHILD, with anxiety is one of the most heart wrenching, depressing, devastating jobs a mother can have.
And then to think this all started because of situations she saw while witnessing domestic violence gets my guilt and anxiety going.
And while I’m the one who brought it up, there is no one definition of normal that I have for her. I explain normal is what is acceptable to the people and culture you are surrounded by. So normal here, isn’t normal there. So where can we be normal? It’s when our heart and feelings tell us we are at our most comfortable.
I thought I got them out in time.
I only hope my 5 year old doesn’t have to fight this endless battle.
by Tracy Levine