The Anxiety Wars

Genetics. It's sort of interesting having kids and watching them grow- you start to see more and more of yourself in them. Sometimes that is a good thing. They share your eyes, your talents, your loves. But then there are those not so good things passed down. It's in their genes. It's like in middle school science class drawing out punnet squares to see what the chance is of having a blue eyed boy as opposed to a brown eyed girl.

I've mentioned a time or 2 about my own struggles as a child and as an adult with anxiety and depression. I have always been a worrier. Struggled to meet new people. Struggled in being the center of attention. Struggled with the unknowns of everyday life. And when I became a mother, I worried. I worried that I would pass on all of this to my children. That they would feel like I did as a kid. That's the job of an anxious person isn't it? To worry?

So I was on the look out for it. Determined to help them fight it. To give it a name for them. To not let them suffer, thinking they were the only ones who ever felt like they do. But then it happened.

It took us all by surprise. Out of nowhere something happened. To cause my anxiety to swell and the anxiety waiting inside one of my boys to pour out. And the thing is, even though I have lived this. I have felt this. I am sort of, some what, most of the time able to contain and control my own anxious brain. I have no clue how to help my child.

This event in his life caused this gate inside him to open. A gate that had previously held back this wealth of worry and distress. I knew it was there in him somewhere, but now all of a sudden it was thrust in all of our faces and we had to sink or swim. And for months we have been trying to stay afloat. And it is getting harder and harder.

I have a child so worried, about everything, that he feels sick near constantly. Then he worries about why he's feeling sick. I have a child who suffers from anxiety attacks that can last hours. Who suffers from insomnia. Who is terrified of the unknowns in life.

And I feel like I can't do anything for him. I talk. I listen. I give advice. Which usually helps for the immediate time- but not long. I am at a loss most of the time for what to do for him, as I see him sink farther and farther. It is so incredibly hard to watch your child in this kind of pain and not be able to do anything to ease it. So I search- for advice from others, available programs, a doctor that may actually help and not ignore the problem- and hope that someday soon we can find a way to help him to learn how to control his anxiety, how to turn and fight his fears instead of letting them win, how to live his life to the fullest without fear.

I went back and forth over whether or not to publish this post. It's a very personal issue, but I also think it is one worth sharing- for all of the people in the world who suffer in silence, who pretend to be fine. And for all other children who feel different, who want their life to go back to normal, who are scared of the world around them. It's important not to feel alone- and know that somewhere out there someone else is going through exactly the same thing as you. It's also important not to bottle things like this inside and allow them to grow and eventually explode in an unhealthy way. And although those who know me and my family personally will know which of my boys I am talking about, I do not plan on disclosing that here.

This post is linked to Things I Can't Say- Pouring Your Heart Out


  1. I also have struggled with anxiety as a child and adult. Mine mainly has been social and I do see one of my children having some of those same traits. It is so hard to not be able to ease a struggle they are having, to protect them not only from others but from themselves. Thank you for sharing such a personal trial.

  2. I'm so sorry you all are going through this! It is SO hard to see our children suffering and feel helpless to do anything for them. I wish I had a magic answer for you. The only thing I can think of right now is to be sure he is supported nutritionally. Lots of proteins and healthy fats to support his brain chemicals. Essential fatty acids and B vitamins, too. In the small amount of time I spent working in a holistic doctors office I saw a number of kids who came in with emotional and mental concerns who had great relief when they got off of allergenic foods. Do you know if he suffers from food allergies?
    And thank you for posting! It is so important to reach out when you need a hand, even if it's a virtual hand.
    Thinking of you and your family!

  3. Great post. I have struggled with anxiety all my life as well and fear passing it on to my kids. So far one of my four children is a worrier. Good for you for addressing the topic!

  4. This is completely familiar territory... as a child I was sick to my stomach almost every morn before heading off to school, sometimes vomiting, but not always. As an adult I found my bearings for a time, but through a series of events I slipped into the deep, dark recesses of panic. Literally hell on earth. While outwardly I seemed in total control and had it all together, inside I was dying each day. Thank God I fell that far though, because when I saw anixiety manifesting in two of my girls, I had some tools (that actually worked) to fall back on. For myself, I tried all of the typical remedies, doctors, books and even medication (which goes against all my beliefs, but I was very desperate). None of them was MY answer. A homeopath provided me with some relief as I found my way through, it is definitely something I would recommend. With them it isn't about hiding, or burying the issue, but about finding the cause and healing it. My oldest daughter had mental anxieties, (fears and worries to the extreme) while one of my other girls had the anxiety manifest physically. Every single morning for many months she would wake up, throwing up. Sometimes our day would begin at 2, or 3. Yes, we were exhausted for quite some time. ;) But I had this deep knowing that if I could just hold on, it would all be okay. So I held on, tightly and we rode it out together. Today they are 15 and almost 14 and in a very, very good place. At this point neither of them experiences the debilitating affects of worry and anxiety anymore. And now when they do present themselves, they know how to handle it. Or, they come to me. ;) The only advice I'll give it not to avoid it, which it doesn't sound like you're doing at all. We picked apart their fears, facing them head on (especially hardest for my oldest) and really thought about the worst case scenario attached to each. Many times the imagining was a hundred times worse than the actual event and over time these deep fears lost their hold. Only once we all stopped avoiding those fears could we move on without them. Patience, love and compassion is what it took, in massive amounts. I'm sorry this was so long, I have so much I could say. I know we're only familiar through the blogland, but please, please feel free to email me if you ever need to. I'll be sending some positive energy your way. :)

  5. Lol ~ sorry, one more thing. I just read through the other comments and definitely agree with Maria. I found out MSG in all its hidden forms (spices, natural flavors) was a trigger for my panic attacks. Definitely worth looking into. :)

  6. Sad for you sweet friend. I will be praying for you & your baby... Not matter how old they are - they are always are babies & it is heartwrenching to see them hurt or struggle *Especially when it is a struggle we share.
    Anxiety & Fear chased throughout my life & I occassionaly face it from time to time now. I see tendencies in my oldest, but more of just constant worrying & questioning his actions ("did I really shut the gates", "is it okay I touched the baby without washing my hands, etc.)
    It can be a life long battle, but just know the Lord picked YOU to be his mama & knew you would have just what it takes. I agree so much with the diet suggestions above & would also recommend Angie Smith's book, "What Women Fear"
    More than anything, know you are not alone & you serve a powerful, healing God who loves that boy dearly.
    You will be in my thoughts & prayers!

  7. At least you are able to be there and know what he is going through, to help him to get through it.