Just Breathe

I say this far too often on a daily basis. Before, I would say it to myself. Now, I have to say this to myself and my youngest son. Sometimes, when I use this affirmation for both of us when I’m trying to pass it off as using it just for him. I’m okay with that if you are. When breathing doesn’t work, I shrug it off until I get my 15 minutes alone in the shower after my workout. Crying in the shower is the most effective approach. If anyone asks, I could say I just got soap or shampoo in my eye again. It happens a lot naturally, so it’s pretty perfect. I’m a clumsy person.

My son doesn’t have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. He has a “sensory integration disorder”. I’m certain that if I mentioned it to my doctor, which will probably happen at his yearly, that he would get the diagnosis. My own experiences, in addition to everything I learned in college in my child development/teaching/psych classes, make me very certain of it. He picks his eyelashes and eyebrows out and sometimes pinches himself. After suggesting that he didn’t do these things, he started to obsessively pick his nose. As disgusting as that was, it was better than the alternative. I chose to pick my battles. He freaks out over seemingly bizarre things, like when we were fixing a light in the house he suddenly thought that the house was falling and going to explode. (Anxious with an active imagination? He is my boy.) I answer “What happens if…” questions all day long. I’m not an expert, but the signs seem pretty clear to me.

In the past, he had crying fits that, no exaggeration, could last for up to 4 hours. Sometimes longer. The original thought was these were caused by his inability to communicate with us. (In my book, “A Special Place for Noah”, these parts were true.) It was stressful. If my husband and I didn’t have a strong bond before having kids, I think this would have easily broken us. He had another neuropsych eval, got a diagnosis of sensory integration disorder, and that was that. It was never mentioned again. His anxiety was just caused by being overwhelmed by his surroundings. He’d grow out of it when he was around 6 or 8 they said.

He’s 6 now. The past few days have been rough. Going to school causes tears suddenly, reverting him back to those fits from back in preschool. He won’t let go of my leg. I’m no longer allowed to walk with him behind the school due to “safety concerns for the other kids” (which is funny considering they cut back on attendants outside) so I have to leave him right before the back. Instead of leaving, I stand there while my 6 year old cries and won’t let go of me. This has caused the new part-time VP and one of the paraprofessionals to have to take him back for me. Every day he’s fine until that point. He has focusing issues in school and has had more of these moments in class.

This leaves me in a terrible position. I know this needs to be addressed. My worry is that too many doctors jump straight to drugging my child. I’d rather solve the problem as much as possible without medicine. I’m not anti-science. I’m pro-vaccination. I’m anti-potentially giving my child medicines that could actually alter his brain’s chemical makeup while it is still developing. How many studies have been done on the end result of medicating young children? I mostly manage my own anxiety issues through my work and through my hobbies, like exercising and knitting/crafting/art things. Being able to focus on those things occupies my mind so I don’t have to medicate. I don’t want a zombie for a child. I want my child to be as active as he’s supposed to be. I want to do whatever I can for him. But I’m at such a loss right now.

Now, it’s a waiting game. I have to meet with the teacher, scrounging up what I can from his old IEP in case she couldn’t find it in his records. Maybe listening to her and figuring out what his trigger is to help him cope better with it. (It’s my experience that you can’t avoid everything that makes you anxious, though I do this as often as I can get away with. I’m an emotionally unhealthy person. I’m okay with this too.) His physical is scheduled late due to a new system at the office, which caused me to be too late to schedule his appointment even though it was 6 months out like normal. Hopefully he lasts until November. I have to hope that maybe a switch will just flip again like last time, where it suddenly stopped happening. Instead, I have to sit around worrying about what I’ve done wrong. Did I not give him enough attention? Do I spoil him with too much attention? Was I too strict? Was I not strict enough? That’s what we do as parents, isn’t it? We sit there and blame ourselves when it’s really just how they are. We all have to adjust. In fact, parenting is equal parts constantly adjusting and psychological warfare (which I also say is a huge part of marriage as well).

The point is… all of our kids have their own issues. You could sit down quietly about it and pretend your kid is perfect on social media and feel alone about it. Or you could talk about it as much as possible. My kid may not have issues as serious as others, but he has them. He’s smart, sarcastic, lovable, and funny but he’s anxious and compulsive and impulsive. He may get judged for his actions. But he’s mine. And I love him.

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