Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mother or Therapist

Sometimes I wonder if I am the Mom or the therapist. You see, I have a child that struggles with anxiety and being nervous. And to be totally honest, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. There is some family history on both sides of worrying. In fact, we all worry about different things in our lives.

But sometimes I feel like fear or worry over takes my little one. I saw examples of it yesterday that made me realize this is something we need to keep working on. Not only does she feel nervous about a variety of things, but the worry escalates and can often cause fainting. In general, I am a pretty patient and understanding parent. I know that this child was given to me, for I know how to teach her to cope with it (results of being raised as a counselor's daughter). What do you do when you give your child the skills to succeed and they don't choose to use them?

I can't really understand why she has such worries in her life. Compared to most children she has nothing to worry about. She has her basic needs met, she lives in a loving home, she doesn't have to ride the bus to school with bullies (she is home with me for homeschooling). I wonder if her worries are rooted in the fainting. The feeling of having her body do something that she can't control.

One of her triggers is TV/movies/videos. She is afraid of watching something that will scare her. My kids haven't been desensitized by TV. We haven't done the typical Disney movies (lots of scary characters) or other kids shows. They are 8 and 9 and still find joy in simple shows (Peep, Curious George, Max and Ruby). We don't do them because they end up in tears when it is bed time afraid of bad dreams. All that to say she was worked up about going to a birthday party where they might show a movie/video. She was in tears about it before we got there. She felt fainting when we arrived after she saw the blankets in front of the TV. I had given her ways to handle the situation. {Tell herself the truth, bring a book just in case you don't want to watch it, I even asked the Mom what they were going to show...} But her fear "got the better side of her".

I also saw her fear take over yesterday with school. She got so worked up about something she couldn't focus or concentrate. Almost to the point of a panic attack. It is like it swarms in like a cloud of bees and consumes my child. I hate to see this happen. Especially at a young age for such simple worries. I did what I could to help her cope. Which is why I often feel like the therapist. Reminding her how to handle life and deal with it the best way that she can.

I am not sure my purpose of posting this. Whether it is to get advice or just process my motherhood frustration for the week. I have to pray that God works in her life. And that all these years of instilling the right tools in her life will pay off someday.

10 comments:

Rachael said...

Oh, poor little thing. It must be hard on a mother's heart to see her struggle like that. It sounds like you are doing the right thing by teaching her the skills to cope (even if she doesn't always use them...yet), when I'm sure you really just want to swoop in and protect her (as would any mom, I imagine.)

My daughter has a friend who has some anxiety issues too. We are good friends with her partents, and we've babysat her before, and I've had to talk her through some panic attacks, even though her home is very familiar to her. It can be very unsettling to see them so frightened over something that to our adult eyes seems so trivial.

Salzwedel Family said...

This would be tough! I am not a worrier by nature, but my hubby is. I'm sure your nurturing is very comforting to her.

DebiH. said...

Our oldest daughter also struggles in a similar way. She has never managed anxiety or tension of any kind very well. She went through a phase in preschool years that we could not use the word "die" in front of her at all, she would completely melt down :( Usually it is simple things that I just don't understand. Things that would panic me (like being on stage in a talent show ) don't bother her at all. Riding Peter Pan at Disney was a traumatic event. I can sometimes let if frustrate me but I have also concluded that she is a unique individual...as we all are. God will use her sensitivities in special ways. I don't always understand her but I always try to remind her that she is special for who she is. With an occassional push toward things that are out of her comfort area :) I hope Tissy had a nice time last night.

crispy said...

Debi, your comment made me laugh. The part about the Peter Pan ride. I can understand. Though Tissy does like that ride.

And she did have a nice time. I knew she would. She just needs to work on the process of getting to the fun part.

Rachel said...

We need to talk one day...
My Madison struggles with anxiety and as a parent with a mental health background I find myself very lost when it comes to my own child. Just as you say...I can give her the tools but she has to choose to use them. Very disheartening...

Annie said...

I sympathize with you. The really nice thing is that you are there for her. For some odd reason I could never share my fears with my parents. It seemed really important to handle it all myself. Maybe it is because I understood on some subconscious level that our basic fear is death - which we do have to handle alone - and that is that. I remember being afraid of death at a very early age - 4 or 5, before many children understand it at all. My other fears usually were separation anxiety. I read a book years ago "Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker, who theorizes that the basis of ALL fear and all psychosis is fear of death.

I guess I just had to suffer through my fears in order to get "better". It sounds like you are doing all the right things - giving great advice, but when it boils down to it, we have to conquer fear on our own. She'll discover the bits of wisdom that help her...for me, one of the first was just the understanding that "if it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger". This is true! Somehow it helps me visualize myself coming out the other side of whatever scary ordeal looms. Then the idea from somewhere that "if we'd been conscious in the womb we would have been afraid to be born".

Here's a funny one. I hung onto the idea that "It's always darkest before the dawn" because I was often really frightened, in a panic, at night. I thought that this phrase was recognizing that EVERYONE felt this way - it was NORMAL to be awake and fearful at 3 in the morning! That made me feel SO MUCH better! It was a bit of a let down to realize many years later that that is NOT what that saying means, at all! But it sure helped me at the time!

What more or less "cured" me was understanding on a real level that we are never alone. Never. The Holy Spirit is right here with us - standing beside us - and will not abandon us, even at the time of our death. How you can help a child understand that, I'm not sure, but I do try with mine.

jandkmoon said...

I am someone who struggled with intense worry and anxiety (fear of death) as a child and young adult. I was terrified at night time...even as a college student alone in my apartment. I could convince myself that I wouldn't make it through the night, because someone was going to attack me (combination of bad TV viewing choices as a kid, and starting school at UF while a serial killer was on the loose). The thing that changed my life (because I could finally calm myself down and sleep) was finding the verses in Scripture that promised the Lord's protection. These are a few that I still will recite to myself on nights when Joel is out of town and I hear strange sounds in the dark: Psalm 4:8, Psalm 3:5-6, Psalm 16:8,Psalm 27:1, Psalm 46:1-3, Psalm 56:3-4, Psalm 121, 2 Tim 1:7. These verses may not all apply to Tissy, but if she can memorize a few that apply to her fears and learn to recite them when she gets anxious, they may do wonders.

Danette said...

I think, and believe you me I am by no means an expert, that these things are built in to us.

What's makes us OCD, or worrisome, or pessimistic, or autistic...the list goes on. I think there is something going on internally that makes us who we are. however, I think as parent we can help or hinder our children. You homeschool, goody for her and you. Can you imagine her in a public school setting. Ick!

Guide her, be there for her, let her know she can be herself. Don't force her do do anything that make sher uncomfortable, especially in public. Now, at home, you can maybe nudge her into trying something new or let her try and push her own envelope. You and her both will know when she has gone far enough, and she may even be comfortable telling you that she has reached her limit.

My son is autisic, I know his limits, and so does he...most of the time. I have a dear friend who has Tourettes ( my heart aches for her) My father-in-law is an extreme pessimist. We all walk to the beat of a different drummer. Be there for her, and hopefully the rest will fall into place. And if not, then you as her loving mother will know if and when it is time to get her some outside help.

Tiffany said...

God gave Tissy to you and He created her with her unique personality, with her tendency to worry and even panic. He has and will continue to give you (and your husband) the skills to love her, challenge her, and teach her to cope. I have a challenging child and I am often reminded tangibly that God game him to me because I was the best mom for him and I CAN do this (with His strength that is). It is hard though, I still sometimes struggle with "why can't he..." often that thought ends with "be like other children." I feel so guilty when I think that, he is uniquely him and God has a plan for his life! Keep seeking God for wisdom and follow your instincts as you love her as her mother and counsel her as her therapist. :0)

Susan said...

Sorry you have to be mommy AND daddy now too, which is extra hard. You are doing the right thing, don't loose hope. I am sure she is learning and growing and handling life a little better each day. "You know who" son of ours struggled with panic attacks about going to school 1-2 years ago...they are really hard to deal with. It's hard for me to know when to be firm and PUSH him and when to GIVE in and let me off. You want to protect him, but you know he has to grow and learn to cope as well. Just yesterday as we were getting on the plane, he was talking about hoping the plane wouldn't crash and was pretty nervous at all the take-off jet engine sounds...even though we just traveled by air 4 months ago. It keeps us totally dependant on God, since it's hard to know how to be a good parent and therapist, huh?? Keep praying and asking for God's wisdom and strength, He will continue to give you what you and your kids need.