Son, I’m Sorry I Gave This to You

I am a 41-year-old mom with three children. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. My mother also suffers from anxiety, and she revealed to me that my grandfather was also known to be an anxious man. It’s in our family, we pass it on to the next generation, like some diseased baton in a relay race. The person in front of us reaches back accepting the gift without even looking behind them. I didn’t volunteer to hand this over to anyone; I’m sure my mom didn’t hand it over to me with ease either. I couldn’t prevent this from happening – well I suppose I could have chosen not to have children. That idea makes my heart ache.

A few weeks ago school started, and we started to see my six-year-old son becoming tearful at night. He asked me if he could be “absent” from school the next day. After some digging in it appears his new teacher (a male) is a rather tall man with a big voice. We believe my son is intimidated by him. I jumped, not brushing this off, and I spoke with the teacher and the school counselor. Both were receptive and helped to make plans to follow up with my son. All parties are seeming eager to understand my son’s feelings of “being sad and nervous” at school. I felt really good about the first step I took. I felt like we were making progress just by opening up lines of communication. I felt like I had given him this ugly scar that he will have to try to hide from others for the rest of his life and I don’t know how to help him because I so often don’t know how to help myself.

He had a soccer game on Saturday, leading up to the game he doubled over in the back seat, crying and telling me his head and stomach hurt. He didn’t want to play. I talked him into sitting on the sideline with me to watch, hoping he would want to join his team when he was ready. Thinking ahead, I brought his gear, and he changed his mind and played. He played with enthusiasm too! The process of leading up to getting him on the field was his first panic attack, at least the first one I have witnessed. He did overcome it, but I know what it is.

My husband and I deliberate for hours after the kids were in bed. What are we doing or what are we NOT doing right? What can we change? What can we do better? Will the other two children be like this too? Surely it has to skip at least one of them?

I know people will read this and say I shouldn’t apologize, but I am. Pardon my writing while I switch to talking directly to my son as if he (a child) could understand everything here.

I’m sorry, son. I know. I know what it’s like to want to do something so badly, but fear holds you back. I know what it’s like to think you can be something great, yet being the center of attention is terrifying. I know what it’s like to feel like no one wants to play with you, and you are too shy to make eye contact or ask others if you can join them. I know what it’s like to lay awake at a sleepover and beg the sunlight to pop through the window so you can feel like you belong with the other kids again. This is a lonely and scary road ahead. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I haven’t figured out how to dig myself out of the deepest crevice I threw myself in years ago. I am more than halfway out, I have overcome so much, but I’m not stupid, I know there is more. There will always be more.

I promise to you that I will be here for you to shake in front of, cry, throw up, or feel like you might poop your pants (yeah, isn’t that one fun). I will be here when you feel like eating in front of people is difficult, so you don’t (that phase passes I promise). I will hold your hand in long lines, tell you it’s okay to take a break and it’s okay to walk away – that’s not all true though.

You see, sometimes you have to shake alone, lose your breath alone, and let your mind race around one topic, alone. Sometimes you have to eat before you go out to dinner, sometimes you have to face the long line (or order it from Amazon), but most importantly you CANNOT always walk away. Sometimes you have to face it head on, and it will suck. It will be hard. It will be harder for you than it is for others and no one (but me) will understand how hard it is.

Seeing you torn up over a school day or a soccer game has stirred some triggers in me. I have sensed this early, so I promise you that I am going to help myself and help you. I am going to look for answers for both of us. This is new territory, but I know there aren’t always going to be answers. When that happens, I will lay in bed with you and read you Creepy Carrots and talk about Lego and Nerf guns. You are a kid. It’s not fair that you feel this way already. I’m sorry that you do. I’m trying to help. I want to get you the help I didn’t get myself until I was older. When you wait to get help it feels like the darkness of anxiety settles in your bones and it’s harder to shake. Maybe there is hope that we can get ahead of that happening. I’m not sure. Right now I want to make this easier for you. I don’t want you to suffer like me. I love you so much. I’m sorry I gave this to you.

Fingers to Sky

Photo Credit Pixabay

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32 Replies to “Son, I’m Sorry I Gave This to You”

  1. Sometimes walking through the hardest parts of our lives teaches us to cope and overcome. Anxiety is hard. Is there something he can focus on when it happens like music or maybe some type of activity. Even mundane tapping a pencil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I met with his teacher and school counselor together, they suggested a few things but one that my son seemed really warm to was the idea of having a picture of his family at his desk so he could look at it when he felt sad or nervous. We tried it today and my son said it really helped him. I am having a photo-keychain made so he can keep that with him all the time. It’s just one of many things we are trying to help him cope with school and the bus.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. At least you know the signs and can try to help. I had no clue what was going down when JES crashed, i was totally lost. Over the years I have learned a lot and I know I will have to keep on learning about his Bi-Polar Life. (jamesedgarskye’s mom). Keep the faith that it will be okay for your kids because they have a mom with knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and adding your comment. It means a lot to hear from another mom. My son is so young, I’m not really sure if this is what I think it is or just a phase. I constantly question if I am over reacting or not reacting enough. I suppose that’s our role, we can’t know all the answers and we can’t help everything all the time. I’ll keep trying though. My son is typically a vibrant, loud kid that loves bugs and fish and pretending to be a ninja. Normal kid stuff. I feel like this came out of nowhere.

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  3. This is such an amazing post, and it really touched my heart. I can tell you are an amazing parent, and that you will be able to help your son so much just by understanding what he is going through. He has such a great support system, and I’m sure he will grow up to be an amazing person.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well done on this 😊
    I totally understand you. I have type 1 diabetes and depression and I’m terrified that if I ever manage to have children, they’ll get them both too. It’s horrible 😞.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remind myself that despite my anxiety I do enjoy life. The ups and downs of life have made me wise and strong (or so I tell myself that). If he does have anxiety I also know that it manifests itself differently in everyone. From my mom to me, we both have different ways that it oozes out of us and different ways of coping (or not coping). Unique as a snowflake. If/When you have children, believe that they will be happy, even if they share some of our thorns.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not the tradition I want to be remembered for. Passing on anxiety to younger generations. Hopefully, by talking about it more than my mother talked to me about it, I will be able to help my son early on. I feel like this has to set him up for better success. At least, that’s my hope.

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  5. We have this with our 2 youngest children but just remember try not to give yourself a hard time about it beileve me I know all the thoughts that you feel. Your AWSOME and you can do it despite the anxiety’s one day at a time Thier will be good and harder days but you got this. All he needs is parents that love him and talk to him about it, this really helped our children to know that we felt what they feel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Your comments mean a lot. It feels nice to know I’m not alone and there is a community of support. Wishing you and your babies the best as we travel this journey.

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      1. Thank you my two are not babies now but 13/ 18 they are learning to live with it and find ways to still join in and have a forfilling life. Any time you need some one to talk always around ❤️

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  6. You are not alone! Although I’m not a parent yet, as a thirty- year old woman, I suffer from it as well. Please don’t down yourself. You’re a mother and that in itself is already associated with words such as: hero, super woman, courageous, loving, and bad ass! Continue to do what you’re doing to help your son and yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your post means so much, thank you! Parenting is the hardest and easiest thing I have ever been through. From days that are full of smiles and laughs to the days my son is gripped with fear, I wouldn’t trade it. I just hope to help them prosper and not be held back by things that held me back. I want to intervene early, hopefully, it will help him build some good foundations for success.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Do you blame your parents for “giving” you a mental illness? Probably not. You in no way gave him a mental health condition!! We are all recipients of certain genetic codes, but that did not start with you! Sometimes you win the genetic code lottery and sometimes not. SO, please do not feel bad. You could not have prevented or caused a mental illness that is genetic.

    It is heartbreaking to see your child struggle. But, it isn’t your fault. We still have so much to learn about these illnesses and how they manifest. You are doing great and are brave and strong to be open, involved, and engaged. You have the insight, it will make a HUGE difference!!

    Please be careful not transfer everything you feel onto him and read too much into it. I think sometimes we feel things so strongly and have struggled so hard, we immediately go all the way down the road. And it terrifies us. He might just be going through a phase… or maybe not, so you are right to be cautious.. Either way, I can tell you are one large step ahead of things. Just make sure you aren’t paving the way with your fear as that is easy to do! Take a deep breathe, step back. With your knowledge and desire to help, things will be better!!

    I am sorry you have struggled and I have too with Bipolar, PTSD, GAD, and ADHD! You are brave and strong and because of your awareness and knowledge things will be different.

    Thanks for your post, it is courageous!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So, your first line. Do I blame my parents for giving me anxiety? No, of course not. But I do blame them for other things, like looking the other way when anxiety gripped me so hard I dropped out of college. I didn’t feel the support at the time, though now as an adult I think it might be because they didn’t know how to help me. I think it scared them. I sat with my son’s counselor as she handed me a brochure about helping my child with anxiety. She told me, “I am not diagnosing him, that’s not what I do. There might be helpful information in here for you.” I looked at her and said, “I have anxiety. That word doesn’t scare me.” I said this for the first time in person to a stranger. It felt good in some ways. It is a part of me, it doesn’t define my soul and I will work hard with my son to be sure it doesn’t define his.

      Thank you so much for your post and kind words of encouragement. Also, thank you for the question, it sparked a thought that felt good. Best to you!

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  8. I am so sorry that so many people in your family has had to deal with this. Anxiety is not an easy thing to deal with at all, but it’s good that you have experience with it and know different things to help you and him deal with it. Best of luck to the both of you.

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    1. I think talking to them about it openly lets them feel safe coming to us with questions. I have to say, I get some pretty interesting questions that I don’t always have the answers for. I don’t make up the answers. If I don’t know the answer we talk about it more and maybe look something up. I was recently asked how many babies a fox can have. Thank you Google for an easy answer. I also get asked what happened to Elsa and Anna’s parents on the boat…less fun question.

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      1. 😀 True. I do have to watch what I say though because my oldest was homesick yet told his scout leader he had Depression. *sigh*

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so sorry to hear about your son dear, with love and support of incuragment you can help stim the tide of his anxiety and help him to live a fuller life.

        ❤️✌️
        BY FOR NOW

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so familiar with these feelings, I passed on my variety of disorders to my two daughters. My youngest, who got the worst of it all, made the choice to not have children. My eldest has three boys, and each one of them has some form of whatever has been passed down through the generations. At least you are aware of what’s going on and you have good support. Your children may have difficulties in life, but they will know they are loved.

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  10. What an amazing post! Parenting is the hardest job in the world so no apologizing 🙂 My children do not have anxiety but they do have attitudes that are extremely hard to deal with some days, key words are, some days. I can’t imagine what it would be like to deal with anxiety in a child. I applaud you from a far as a mother and as a person. Dealing with anything out of the ordinary takes major effort. Your clearly giving what you can to your kids, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Your my favourite kind of person, a mother who tries not matter what. Keep going and remember they chose you as a mother because you are perfect for them, you are exactly what they need!!! Love to you, Venya

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think that your son feeling that he is understood, without judgement, is an incredibly important thing. Having grown up in a family where I have always felt that no-one really understood how I felt (they still struggle to now) I always wished they could be more sympathetic about it, instead of just trying to ignore it (or worse just assuming I’m out for attention!).
    Just being there for him is enough and having the experience is a good thing too, even if you don’t have all the answers.

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