Before I get into the nitty gritty, I should probably start with a little background. Jake is an anxious kid. Looking back, he has always been anxious. He has always thrived with routine, predictability, and familiarity.
Back in 2012 when we were handed his ADHD diagnosis, the doctor noted his anxiety. It is likely a bi-product of his ADHD and speech/language disorder. He is aware that he is different from his peers. He is aware that he does not always understand what others are discussing, nor does he know quite how to respond. He knows that he doesn’t have a ton of friends (and of course, that breaks my heart).
When we went to a psychiatrist to help address Jake’s neurology, we had a choice. We could try focus medications to help with the attention deficit. We could try to address the anxiety through medication. Or we could do both. The psychiatrist and we decided that at age 8, the best choice was to try to address the focus and attention, and that if we could help Jake control that, then maybe we could mediate his anxiety.
For a while, that plan seemed to work. Midway through third grade we had some issues with Jake and his anxiety beast. That ugly, horrid thing was threatening Jake’s calm. It made him fearful, and a walking basket of nerves. He had breakdowns in the middle of the day, occasionally, and would shut down. We worked closely with the doctor, his team at school, and added a social group. It helped, and Jake was better able to cope.
In fourth grade, Jake was coping better with his anxiety and stress. He found a little group of friends who were good for him. He seemed to be settling into a good groove. We stopped doing social group. Then the bully incident occurred. He was a wreck. He was so anxious that he couldn’t function. He didn’t want to go to school. He would shut down and just robotically go through his day. He was thisclose to being put in a self-contained classroom.
We worked through the anxiety and the bully issue. He started to see a psychologist. We didn’t add any medications or change any other treatment. He really seemed to be utilizing his coping strategies successfully. The end of fourth grade was okay. He was happy to be done with the school year, and handled the transition fairly well to summer.
This summer, he has been participating in a social group “camp” one day a week with the psychologist. He is in a group of 10 boys who are very similar to him. He has been LOVING this camp. It is 4 hours every Tuesday night. They do music therapy, they do one hour with a trainer to get exercise, they do art therapy, and group. He looks forward to going every week.
Last night, the group did an anti-bully exercise. It was a great program on how to “bully-proof” themselves. Naturally, in doing this exercise, some of the old demons from the school year started to haunt Jake. The group segued into a discussion about school starting soon. Jake had a panic attack.
The psychologists pulled me aside to talk about what they saw, and what precipitated the attack. Turns out, episodes that I was convinced were probable asthma, have in fact, been panic attacks. I’ve been giving him allergy meds and made a doctor appointment. Sign me up for “Mom of the Year”. How did I not think that it was a panic attack?!
Anyway, the psychologists were glad that they were able to see how his panic looks, and they were able to walk him through a meditation routine and helped him find his calm. His psychologist recommended squeezing in an individual appointment before schools starts, so we can work on some coping strategies with her. He’ll also do the last 3 sessions of camp, and they’ll monitor him there, as well. The team also recommended talking to our psychiatrist about medication.
Now I feel dreadful. My kiddo is struggling, and I thought it was a different issue. I am so tired of it always being something else. I wish that I could ignore the problem and that it would go away. I wish that I could put him in sports and have it miraculously be this fabulous outlet for him that chases away the anxiety. I wish we could go gluten-free and have it “fix” everything. But no. It appears that we may have to try the medication route. *sigh*
I would take this from him if I could. I deal with mild anxiety, and it is a bear. It is awful to have that spinning out of control feeling, and to feel like you are always behind the eight ball. But, I can’t take it from him, and I can only help him work through it.
So, we will start yet another chapter in this saga called parenting. I hope I have the strength for this next challenge.