Anxiety can be a silent struggle and is too often misunderstood. As a parent, regardless of whether you struggle with anxiety or not, parenting a child with anxiety is a difficult challenge. Sometimes I think struggling with anxiety complicates my decisions on how to parent a child with anxiety even though I have empathy and understanding. For a parent whose never experienced crippling anxiety, I imagine parenting an anxious child would be difficult in a very different way and potentially extremely frustrating. I don’t have the answers. However, I hope this diary entry of a person writing themselves out of panic will provide some insight, a new level of empathy, or at least a different perspective.
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I want to go to the smallest and darkest place I can find. I want to go where no one can find me. There isn’t anywhere. I can’t take a deep enough breath. It’s frustrating. I raise my shoulders with each inhale but it doesn’t help. I feel sick. Like I’m going to vomit. But my mouth is dry and it’s difficult to swallow. Is that because I’m gasping in an attempt to fill my lungs? I’m cold. Despite my jumper. My wrists and ankles hurt like they’re held in vices. Is that the cold? I’m tired but so awake. My mind is racing but my eyes are weary. My muscles are tense and twitchy and relaxing is impossible despite my exhaustion. I’m hot. Yet shivering. I’m exhausted and alone. Alone even though there are people. Alone but want to be further away. Run away and hide. My chest is still tight and I still can’t take a satisfying breath that reaches the floor of my lungs. I’m torn between stretching to satisfy my lungs and curling into a ball and wishing for an invisibility cloak. If I had a super power that’s what I’d hope it would be. Invisibility so I could disappear whenever necessary. So I would be alone. If I know definitively I’m alone, I know I’m safe. I bet I could relax with an invisibility cloak. I wonder if it would allow my mind to relax? I don’t know. Obviously my mind is the problem. That can be difficult to see. Maybe acknowledging that is the first step. Knowing my mind is the issue. Shouldn’t that make control easier to take? Or if my mind is the problem how will it control itself? Something out of control doesn’t very easily get a grip of itself. I know that because this isn’t the first time. And because of that I know control will come. Logic will arrive. There is recognition that there’s a lack of logic but an inability to find logic in irrationality. That’s the problem. The lines have been erased. The line between rational and irrational is gone and there is only possible and impossible. Not much is impossible.
And now I can breathe. I’m acutely aware of how tense I am. Of the bite marks in my cheek and my aching jaw. My white knuckles. The nail marks in my palm. My torn and bleeding fingernail. I look at the ceiling to stretch my neck and realise I’m back in control.