It is about time for me to describe you and how you have impacted my life. First, let me introduce the word anxiety and who you are.
You have been around for centuries. We all know that, biologically, anxiety is an important chemical response to have. Without anxiety, we would be numb as humans. We would not be able to accomplish much in our lives.
Let’s call you a reasonable worry.
For example, a reasonable worry is when we know we have a test tomorrow and need to study, or when we have an important presentation that is due and need to prepare a few days before. An unhealthy worry is when we have a test tomorrow and do not study, or when we cancel the presentation because we tell ourselves, “What’s the point? I’m going to fail anyway.”
In my practice, I like to give these two different examples so people can understand when anxiety has become a concern or taken over their lives.
In younger children, as early as the preschool years, anxiety can be present. It may show itself as separation anxiety, aggressive behavior, and/or physical symptoms. The child may cry for hours on end and cannot be soothed until the parent returns. Another reaction may be vomiting and extreme nausea.
Whether I have a 35-year-old telling me their history on how the anxiety first appeared or the child’s parents recanting their experiences, the symptoms are quite similar in nature. One thing in common is how it takes control of the mind and fuses with it.
I am full of life and want to live life to the fullest, but anxiety tends to creep up and immerse itself so tactfully that I wouldn’t be able to understand the reason behind it.
Dear anxiety, “Why do you have to show up?”
I was so happy, or I thought I was doing well and living a happy life until you arrived. Now, your presence has shaken up everything around in my world. You brought attention to things that I do not know how to handle. Everyone thinks that my reaction to you and my negative behavior is intentional—such as me trying to manipulate the situation.
Yes, at age eight, many professionals have said that I will grow out of you, then 10 came, and you were still there. Then 12 came, and you just completely wrapped my brain, and I felt a loss of control. Others said that I was seeking attention and that I should have been punished.
Now, I know that they did not understand the difference between you and me. They did not understand that there was a you. They did not understand that you were actually a condition.
I would often hear everyone saying, “Well, we all have anxiety. It is normal, and you will get over it.” They say this because they do not understand the invisible power you have over my brain. I am ready now to let you out and put you aside. I am ready to show other people who are struggling with you what they need to do.
I am ready to show all the parents, caregivers, teachers, and the world that you do not need to sit there in my brain. When you come along you like to sit, fester, and take control over people’s lives and minds. You need to know that there is a way to put you gently aside and that you may come by and peek, but you will never take over again. When you show up, you tend to take control over my mind, body, and spirit. You come in the form of what we call fear.
This fear could be any of the following:
>> Fear of separating from my mom or dad.
>> Fear of enclosed spaces.
>> Fear of vomiting.
>> Fear of failing.
>> Fear of heights.
>> Fear of speaking up.
>> Fear of taking tests.
>> Fear of performing, and so on.
You come in so many different ways that it first shows up as fear. Then that fear happens, and the light switch is on, and there you are glowing like a lightbulb. Now, I really believe that you will be there forever, and I will never be myself again.
Yes, I do remember my old self, and that is the one I want to so desperately get back to. I want to show you that the first step in getting rid of you is me taking back control and learning who I am.
Yes, we are all unique, and this is about me being me. We are all creative and unique and when you come in, you take that creativity away. I could be a singer, a dancer, a painter, a public speaker, an artist, a future entrepreneur, but you put a dagger into my dreams through the fear. This is me standing up to that fear—which is you—and helping others overcome it.
I will discuss all about you and then put you in this little box. I know you will never disappear from my life because having you there is healthy in so many ways and making peace with your presence is key.
Every client—whether a child, teen, parent, or adult—who comes through my doors makes me proud that they are willing and want to make a change in their lives. It is not easy to pick up the phone and make an appointment that may change our life.
It is not easy for a child or teen to work on the weaknesses they fear the most. They are always welcomed with praise, encouragement, and healing intentions, but how hard it must be to face the challenges that they want to push down and never look at them again.
Yes, it is hard to face our anxiety or whatever may bring us in. I hope that seeking support brings us awareness, strength, and hope that change can happen.
We, as humans, are the change, no matter how old we are. Support is like walking on a bridge together hand in hand. We may feel like turning back—but will we allow it? Speaking to someone we trust is the first step, and we should feel proud of ourselves that we are willing to create change in our life. If it is our child suffering from anxiety, stress, and/or irritable behaviors, we will also see ourselves within our child’s struggles.
We need to understand what anxiety has become somewhat of an epidemic.
I believe that anxiety has always been there for centuries; the difference today is that as mental health awareness is increasing, social media is a platform for many to talk about it. Hence, it seems like more and more people have anxiety when, in reality, what we are really seeing is more conversation and awareness taking place.
As parents, we should not feel ashamed or fearful of talking about our children struggling as that is the only way to decrease mental health stigma. We need to be able to raise our hands and share our stories. It’s not only about having our children survive their fears and anxieties, it’s about them thriving in this world. Finally, it is about finding the inner strength within ourselves to help them.