4/24/2012

Issues That Span Generations

High strung.

Nervous.

Candy-ass (not the nicest way, but one I heard enough to ingrain it and one she will never ever hear).

Anxious.

I tried to hide my vomiting issues as a teenager. Maybe I did well at it so that my parents didn't know, but maybe I didn't. High school was a roller coaster for me, and as soon as I was driving myself to school, I'd stop along side the road and vomit. I repeated this when I taught in North Carolina, in my twenties by then and no better at handling the anxiety.

At one point, at many points, I simply caved, and quit working and stayed home with Bobby. Homeschooling him was for both our sakes--at that point I was in the school with him, and it wasn't good for either of us, and after his stroke, something in me cracked. Faced with a child with a blood clotting disorder who could stroke again, I brought him home. If there were no guarantees of a long life, then we were both by gods going to have a good one together at home. Every doctor's appointment, every evaluation, every dentist appointment left me with crippling anxiety and GI issues that had me writhing in agony. Didn't matter who the appointments were for, either.

They still do. Here, now, in my 40s, still fighting the monsters and making sure I give them the finger as I rush to the bathroom and then out the door to face work, to face appointments, or to the computer to face confrontations I know are coming.

Lily's anxiety issues have been increasing over the last two years. Yesterday, she had a bout of nerves and threw up at school and was sent home where she spent a delightful, non-stressed day watching Phineas and Ferb. Today and tomorrow are the STAAR test. Guess who was up early battling her demons? Lily. I understand, oh so totally and completely what she's feeling, why's she's feeling it, and why that means she absolutely had to go today despite being extremely nauseated and vomiting. She's not sick--she's wracked with nerves over today. And she has to go. I know she does, because I know that when we cave to our anxiety, we make the next time harder to do.

We have to fight it each and every day, sometimes all frakking day long. And we learn that they're just nerves and extra bathroom visits, that physical misery because of a long-set pattern of activation of the sympathetic nervous system does not have the ultimate say in what we can and will accomplish.

I do not want my ten year old daughter to reach my age and still be battling the crippling, agonizing demon of anxiety, even though cognitively the battle was won long ago; the body is still held captive to it. I do not want that for her, and so because I love her and because I understand precisely what's going on in her mind and in her gut, I sent her out the door, letting her know I understood and that was why she was going. And why I immediately emailed her teacher and prepared her. And why I'll be by the phone all morning, all day, ready to run to my daughter, to her aid, to reinforce to her that these demons are won simply by choosing to fight them.

And why, when I am in the midst of a battle, I think of this young lady's delightful performance:




I can face the world with that kind of energy and attitude, and when my Lil is a little older, I'll show it to her, and it can be her internal anthem, too.

5 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

I had anxiety but I wanted to leave more and get away from my brother and my Mother that even to this day thinks he's "soooo hard done by". So, I got a job at 15, I went to camp (started with my cousins but move on to going on my own), I went to N Ont when I was 17 and 18 for 8wks. The first was fun... the 2nd... was an experience (and that's an understatement).

Then I went away to Univ since there was no way I was staying home.

My biggest one was OCD. If I was the least bit startled driving the car I would drive around and around the block looking to see if I'd hit something. It took me a long time to stop it and all willpower.

See, in the 80's too smart for their own good, although reading constantly still having trouble with English class while aceing math, Aspie girls didn't exist.

So, I had to teach myself to deal with the OCD, anxiety and learn appropriate social skills. All of which are still a work in progress, but none rule my life and I don't claim that means I know exactly how my youngest with severe, non-verbal autism "ticks". It's about him and his needs, not about me and my opinion of what those needs should be.

My eldest's anxiety seems to be under control but I won't feed it and never have. Some would claim I'm "cold" but I find dealing with issues flat out... gives him the answers he needs and he moves on. The adderall has help considerably. He's not "stoned", not an angel, still all 12.5yr old boy, but he's regained control of himself.... which was our goal.

autismandoughtisms said...

I have fought rather severe anxiety problems too: I used to suffer from debilitating panic attacks that would leave me curled up in a ball, shaking with fear, when there was nothing ostensibly causing the fear. The knowledge that nothing right there was causing it, often made it worse, because I had no idea what was wrong with me.

These days when my stress levels go high I get physically ill: I break out in itchy patches which require antibiotics, any little thing I have or get during that time escalates to out-of-control infection too.

So often people just don't talk about these challenges, or don't know what to call the problems that they face - they just think it's "life" and happens to everyone. It's valuable to share these experiences and realise that even though we spend most of our time discussing autism, we have our own challenges going on too; humans are complex little things aren't they :)

K Wombles said...

They really are!

So many of us deal with anxiety issues--I know many of us autism moms do, and that they predate being moms.

Panic attacks are terrifying--like being on the edge of an abyss and knowing there's no way to keep from going over.

It's hard to talk about these things because of the stigma, but I think, just as we fight for acceptance for our kids, speaking openly about our issues and working for acceptance is important, too. There is comfort and relief in knowing that others have similar experience.

K Wombles said...

farmwifetwo,

Not cold--who knows better than someone who has lived through it and found a way to adapt? We have to work towards being good enough parents, to know when to back off and when to push, to raise our children to be capable.

It's easy to hold our children too tightly, would have been so easy to keep Lily home today--to send her out still nauseated was hard, but she made it through the day, made it through the testing and learned that she can, indeed, live through the nerves and the discomfort and do what needs to be done. That is an invaluable lesson to learn.

Sounds like you're doing what you need to so that your son also learns that lesson.

Elise said...

Going to show that to my boys right now. Anxiety is a big issue in our home. Overcoming it's debilitating effects takes so much more courage than people can ever imagine.