My youngest is just like me. He is sweet, intelligent, sensitive and he has an anxiety disorder. Lately, his aversion to going to school has gotten worse. He now has anxiety attacks, just as I did with school.
But he has a chance that wasn't available to me at that age. Now, they actually treat children for anxiety disorders. Thirty years ago they did not. So, while my OCD is firmly ingrained in my brain.....we may be able to really improve his. We may even make his anxiety much less or much more manageable. To do this though, he will have to be in situations that make him extremely uncomfortable. Like going to school.
Last night he was crying as he thought about school and I went through a long list of people that love him. I told him how wonderful he is. How important he is. That he can do anything in this world that he wants if he really wants to. And that these feelings that he has are called anxiety. That they feel yucky and scary and they seem impossible to overcome. But just because something seems impossible doesn't mean that it is. I told him that mommy has the same issues and then I explained to him that anxiety is an emotion that is not based in reality. That whatever he is afraid of when leaving me is not the truth. That the scariest thing at school is a possible paper cut or the cafeteria lunch that smells funny and that he can certainly get over those two things easily. Then I reminded him that tomorrow's day at school would be like all of the other days at school and that just like all of the days before it, he will come home and we will do it all again the next day because if he stays home, the anxiety wins. And it can not be allowed to win because it can make him unable to do the things he wants to do and that is unacceptable. Anxiety doesn't get to have that kind of power over him. It can only be powerful if you let it become powerful. I told him that we have to be warriors and that warriors do the scariest things in the world. They stand up. They fight for what is right. They never back down. They are scared when they do these things but they do them anyway because they have to. We are warriors because we battle everyday and sometimes we will not win, but we will always get up the next day a try again because that is what warriors do. They fight. They never give up. They are always battle ready. They are always fierce.
And then I took out one of those rectangular pink erasers that you use for school testing and I drew a large "W" with a sharpie marker on one side. Then I wrote his name on the other side so he could take it school in his pocket and if at anytime it seemed like the anxiety was taking over, he could hold it in his hand and it would remind him that he can do this. He can make it one day at a time. Because he is a warrior and warriors will always prevail.
Everyone has a story and everyone gets the chance to be the hero in their own story. He is the hero of his and in no small way he is also the hero in mine. Because if an eight year old can conquer his greatest fears with the courage of full grown adult armed with only an eraser with a "W" written on it, then I can too. The only thing holding me back is me and my fear and that is also unacceptable because deep down I too am a warrior. We all are.....we just have to stop and remember that sometimes.