I have begun to dread bedtime for my kids and the morning time right before we have to leave the house. Waiting to see if anxiety is going to plague my youngest child and make it impossible for him to go to school. I had once thought that having the same diagnoses and issues would make it easier for me to know how handle this. I now know better. What I have learned through all of this is I now see both sides of the coin. I see what is like to be the parent of a child with extreme anxiety but I also know what it is like to suffer from the extreme anxiety my child suffers from. Neither side is pleasant. I thought it would make it simpler to deal with. That it would offer some unforeseen help in this matter. That I would have a better handle on things because I can relate. It was supposed to make this easier. It doesn't. What I have found, is that I think it in some ways makes it harder. I do not have the luxury of pretending I don't know what he is going through. I do know and it guts me every single day.
The decisions I have to make are like a weight hanging over my head, threatening to crash down on me at any moment. Do I make him go to school through his horrid panic attacks or do I give in? When do I make this decision? What do I do with the disapproval of others thoughts on the matter (the school) that don't have to look at his tiny little face welling up with tears and agony? How do I wade through all of the over emotion and mental baggage while still holding my child's hand as I plaster on a brave face and not get frustrated because I do not have the answers I once thought I would have? How do I do the right thing when I am often unsure of what the right thing is? It feels like every decision I make is of monumental importance and yet has perilous consequences all at the same time. What if I make the wrong choice and it causes more anxiety? What if I home school but it damages his future to be productive because he becomes unable to leave the house at all? What if I force him to go to regular school and it scars him further? What if? What if? What if? Which do I choose? What is the lesser of the two evils?
Where as I am more than comfortable talking about my thirty two year struggle with my OCD, I am left paralyzed by my son's. Frozen with the fear of the things he will go through and the struggles he will have to deal with. I know the suffering too well, too intimately to pretend it does not affect him the way it does. I am crazy not naive. I am frustrated by my lack of being able to help him with something I have immense experience in. It is a great irony that I should know so much about my OCD and yet feel completely helpless on how to help him with his. I am afraid of the anxiety stealing away parts of his life. Small bits at first like it did with me. So small one doesn't pay much attention until it is too late. A day or two of school. Then a few weeks, then months. Having to drop out because you have missed so much or are too overwhelmed to walk out the front door. The slow but deliberate taking of dreams. The loss of going to college, the loss of going out freely in public, the inability to finish any trade school and get a license. The taking of the ability to work part time and then eventually the ability to work at all. The loss of being able to leave the house without a great amount of discomfort and stress. The gross amount of time it took from me, pilfered from my existence, stole out from underneath my clinched hands as I tried so desperately to hold onto it, is not what I want for anyone let alone my own child....I don't think even then, I really appreciated the extent of anxiety''s hunger. It is always waiting, it is never full. Once it gets a taste of your dreams, hopes, and desires it becomes a ravenous beast, devouring everything in it's path.
I go on and try and portray positivity to my son. I make his lunches for school each night and hold back the tears of feeling completely defeated. Will he even be able to get to eat this today? Will he even be able to smile again in the mornings? I miss that. His smile before heading off to school with his friends. Anxiety has stolen that from me as well but even more, it has stolen it from him and that is unacceptable.
We have made appointments for more therapy beyond the school therapist, because the school therapist is not able to help him like he needs, but there is a wait. One for almost a month away and one for an actual month away and I can't help but wonder what we are supposed to do in the mean time. Do we keep going on like there isn't a big pink thieving elephant in the room taking up space in our lives and grasping away bits and pieces of my son's life? Do we just keep calling the school and saying he had a panic attack and couldn't make it in again? I feel so helpless, so stupid, so unprepared. He needs more than what he has right this second and he needs it yesterday, not a month away. What happens when the negative self talk starts in? Because it will. Is he going to think badly of himself because he has this? Is he going to hate himself and think of himself as weak or broken like I did at his age? How do I combat that? How do I stop that from happening to him as we wait for more time pass before we can get the help he needs?
I have been open and honest with him and told him he is like me, we will do this together, he can do it, and how much I love him and yet I feel like a complete failure as a parent. Your one job as a parent is to protect your child and be there for them. To be their champion. The only thing I am the champion of right now is a bunch of unanswered questions and a whole bunch of fears that somehow either path I choose to help him is fraught with disaster. I just need someone to tell me what to do...which is the right path....because there is too much riding on this...it has to be the right one.
Monday he had a two and half hour long panic attack at school and they did not let him go home. I am over this. I have decided to pull him out and have him home schooled for the rest of this year as we get him the help he needs. We can try regular school again next year but he can't go to regular school, which is his biggest trigger, if he doesn't have the therapy and support he needs to get through it. I just hope I am making the right choice for him. I hope I am doing right by him not only as his mother but as a fellow anxiety OCD sufferer. I hope I am picking the right path for him to take.....because it is all about him and what works for him and what helps him. Everyone else's opinion, including the school's, at this point has lost it's validity and is background noise to me. I must do what I feel is best. Just please, please, please God, let this be the right choice....