There is a lot of words I don’t really want my children to know, or know about. But not necessarily the ones you might think. The A-word I’m referencing in the title of this post is not the one that might accidentally slip out in a fit of road rage. The A-word I’m thinking of today is Anxiety.
I personally have dealt with Anxiety for a number of years, which isn’t strange especially given the finding that 43 % of MS patients suffer from anxiety. It’s unclear whether mental illness is linked with the disease itself or comes as a side effect of dealing with the unpredictable nature of the disease, but either way, it sucks.
Anxiety keeps me awake at 2 a.m. worried about what will happen because of a teeny decision I made. It keeps me from flying because I’m convinced my plane will be hijacked. It keeps me from spending money because I’m convinced I’ll go broke someday. It keeps
me from going out in social situations I worry might be overwhelming. I don’t have a degree in psychology, or an MD, so I’m only able to speak from my own experiences. Those are enough to convince me that anxiety is awful.
But this post isn’t really about my anxiety.
Part of Logan’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is that he deals with some anxiety. Early Thursday morning (5:40 a.m., to be exact) I watched this little man experience what I can only describe as an anxiety attack. It ended in tears for everyone in the room.
Logan’s routine has been a bit off lately. He had a babysitter for bedtime Wednesday night (always throws him). He’s been really tired. The holidays are full of a lot of sensory stimulation. Basically, a lot of things led up to this. What was the catalyst that set him off on Thursday? It was his day to pick the morning television show. He was overwhelmed. He was afraid that Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger would be too scary. He was worried he’d make the wrong decision. He just couldn’t choose.
Logan’s eyes went into a stare. He wouldn’t speak. He held onto me for dear life (when all I wanted to do was go work out…). He just shut down. Maybe not what you think of as the heart-palpitating shortened-breathing panic attack, but it felt familiar enough t me.I’m almost used to Logan’s meltdowns that look like temper tantrums on steroids. Kicking, screaming, biting, propelling heavy objects at my head. This time was different. It was scarier.
The SPD Foundation explains that kids with sensory processing issues are at a higher risk for anxiety and depression, among other things. Life is overwhelming for
little ones in general, so it makes sense to me that it would be especially overwhelming for kids who struggle to make sense of the sensory signals around them.
Anxiety to this degree is not a daily or weekly occurrence for Logan. His fits of rage are far more common than his
episodes of shutting down. I wanted to write about it today because I want this blog to help people. I want people to know that it’s ok if they are struggling with anxiety or if they think their kids might be dealing with anxiety.** I want them to know that they are not alone.
Thursday morning it took a half hour of Bear Hugs, Deep Joint Compressions, Singing Frosty the Snowman (over and over), and a bowl of Panda Puffs to help Logan to feel ok.
It took a chai tea, four days of processing, and an hour to write this post to help me feel ok, too.
**(Of course, talk to your/their doctor! I’m not an MD, just a mom trying to make sense of this world.)