I have four children. My oldest will by 19 soon and my youngest is 11. In the realm of parenting, I feel like I am somewhere between the beginning and the middle...not a beginner, but definitely not close to the end. Becoming a mom was the one thing I wanted to do in my life. I didn't care about a career, schooling, or anything else, really. I just wanted to be a mom. Can you blame me when my kids have turned out this cute? Lol.
When everything didn't turn out like I had envisioned...
You know the vision I am talking about.
*You are the parent who patiently talks your kids through a temper tantrum and at the end of the tantrum, there are hugs and kisses and everyone is happy with no lingering emotional scars.
*Every day is filled with bliss because you have family scripture study every morning and you say your family prayers twice a day. There ain't no way Satan's busting through that armor...
*All of your children are well-adjusted, beautiful human beings who love being with each other, share with each other, serve one another, and basically never exhibit any signs of anything being "wrong."
Anyone else rolling their eyes and laughing at this point?
Ya. I know. I was living in dream land. This type of scenario is absolutely, 100% not possible. Why? Because we are human, that's why, and...our kids are human too. We all have weaknesses, frailties, and challenges that affect our thoughts, words, and actions, every single day. No one ever said parenting was going to be easy, and anyone who does say that is either not a parent, or is living in an alternate reality.
Skip to the good part...
Let's get down to it. You are here to learn about parenting an anxious child, not to read/listen to me babble on about how my journey with parenting is completely different than the journey I imagined it would be.
If you'll notice, this post is labeled "The Anxious Child: Part 1" because there is no way I would every be able to cover everything I have learned in one post. As I have pondered how to organize my thoughts for this post, I thought it would be best to start with a brief history of why I have experience with this topic.
Trying to tame the lion.
As Abbie got older, her independence and intense personality became more pronounced and there were some days where I truly did feel like a lion tamer. I loved her to pieces and she was the sweetest little girl, but sometimes I wondered if she had split personalities or if she could be bi-polar. The change from sweet to sassy was in an instant and there seemed to be no regular triggers that we could avoid.
I tried everything I could think of to learn how to be a better mom to her and be better capable of helping her learn how to use her strong spirit in good ways...
Many, many prayers said. Too many to count.
I remember when she was 5 or 6, I had the idea (or revelation from the Spirit who was trying to help me succeed), that I should offer Abbie some "Sweet Pills" when she was having a meltdown. This is one thing that did work for quite some time, so it's something you could definitely try in your own home. The idea was that I had a jar of little candies (I used the tiny Sweet Tart Mini Chewies, which were her favorite) and the only time she could have this candy was when she needed a "sweet pill" to help her chase away the grumpies and be sweet again. It didn't bring her out of every single meltdown, but a good majority of the time, it offered her enough of a distraction to reset to the point where I could at least talk to her without yelling (from me or her.)
Moving forward...and backward.
I say we moved forward and backward because even though we were learning great things during our therapy sessions, the implementation of those things at home was difficult. It took a great deal of patience (which I lack) and persistence (which is hard when you're just plain tired) to use the tools we had been given.
Not only was it hard to remember to use the tools in the heat of the moment, Abbie kept growing up and maturing, which then brought hormones into the game, which...changed the whole game. We decided that it would be in Abbie's best interest to start trying Zoloft as a way to help her brain function properly. When we first started down the therapy road, I did not want to resort to medication. But, as one of Abbie's therapists explained so well, if she was a diabetic, you wouldn't withhold medication from her, would you? No! That's crazy! Of course I wouldn't? So why, then, was it so hard to say, "Yes, let's try some mediation to help"? One word...STIGMA. There is a definite stigma associated with mental health and medication and I had fallen into the trap.
Abbie's brain was not functioning in a manner that was allowing her to face certain situations in a healthy, rational manner. Instead, her brain was forcing her to exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression and there was nothing she could do to stop it. It was highly frustrating for her, who just desperately wanted to be a "normal" kid and not freak out all the time, but she just couldn't, no matter how many tools/exercises she used.
The end and the beginning.
That really leads us to where we are today. Abbie is now 14 years old and has worked so hard to battle these demons in her life. She continues to work hard every day and some days, the fight is just too hard. Those are really hard days and they are difficult to watch. But, she is a fighter, and just like she fought to live when she was born, she will continue to fight her mental illness until the day she dies. She is one of the strongest girls I know and I am so grateful to have her in my life. I have learned a lot of lessons just from being blessed to be her mother.
As I end this post, I leave you with the promise that this is only the beginning. Next week, I will share more information on how we battled each of the stages that I mentioned in this post. Thanks for sticking with me as I introduced Abbie. I felt it was important to share this background with you, in order to successfully relay to you some of the things that have worked (and not worked) for us.
Until next week...
Keep up the good work.
You're doing better than you think.
You've got this.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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