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#31 of 43 Old 03-10-2010, 01:13 AM
 
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Reading your post reminds me so much of myself at that age! I had a time from 11-13 years old, where I had severe anxiety which manifested itself as nausea only at bedtime. I grew up with my Dad and visited my Mom only every other weekend, but I also spent a couple weeks at a time with my grandparents as a young child with no problem.

I have vivid memories of being 12years old at my Nana's house sobbing and crying and wretching because my Dad was leaving for 3 nights! He sat with me and reassured me and held my hand, but ultimately had to go since it was a work trip. Strangely enough, I felt better/less nauseated if I slept on a hard surface like a tile floor, so I used to do that to ease my anxiety.

At one point, I was at a friend's house just up the street from my Mom's house (it was her weekend). I called her sobbing and crying and she would not come get me. She said I was being 'silly' and that I had slept over at this friend's house many times (which I had). I still remember her reaction. I wanted to say your daughter is so very blessed that you are her Mama.

I grew out of this anxiety but I did see a therapist that I found really boring and I only did it because I could tell my Dad wanted me to.

As an aside, I am now fiercely independent and when I was 21, I applied for a practicum for school in the arctic and was accepted and flew across the country alone to an unknown place with no problem I am very close with my Dad and not so much with my Mom. Hope I am not rambling, I didn't read all the replies. I am 28 now and still live 3000 miles away from my entire family and I am doing great!

Hello.
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#32 of 43 Old 03-10-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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So far I'm not exactly impressed with her follow-up, given that I left a message yesterday and haven't heard back yet.
Is the therapist part of a group or an agency? If so -- there may be a separate intake number that you have to call first. Or, maybe she was off yesterday. Or maybe she's swamped. Times are hard -- mental health workers are in high demand!
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#33 of 43 Old 03-11-2010, 02:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to try her again tomorrow. I wonder if maybe she didn't get my message, because it seems unlikely that she wouldn't at least call me back to tell me she's not accepting patients right now.

Got a couple things coming up for DD: another birthday party this weekend, but this one's just an excursion to the movies with a couple close buddies. Unlikely to be a trigger. Then at the end of the month, DH and I have a three-night business trip and the girls are going to spend the weekend with their aunt, uncle and younger cousins. This has been a trigger in the past, but only under very specific and rare circumstances. DD insists she's eager to go and that she'll be fine, but I'm going to have her bone up on the American Girl anxiety book (Inner Spirit, I think it's called) and we've also talked about how it's a safe place for her to try and work through it if she does get hit with any anxiety. Take a few deep breaths and bend her mind in a different direction. Her aunt loves her unconditionally and knows about this little quirk, plus there is nothing that would occur there that would make me feel any need to rush over and pick DD up. Also, DH and I will be within about 45 minutes of their house, so if worst came to worst, we could swoop in. In this instance, though--and I've told DD this--I'll be less inclined to do that, and would try and talk her through it on the phone.
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#34 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 03:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by witch's mom View Post
Thank you all so much for your feedback! The variation among posts is exactly the stuff that's going on in my own head. Why put a sweet and attached girl in therapy just because society insists she should be different? Why not put an anxiety-prone kid in therapy if her attachment makes her anxious in society? I come down so firmly on both sides that it's mind-spinning!
Two thoughts:
First is that her anxiety appears causing her significant distress, at times. It's not just society's expectations.

Second, therapy is not a 'crisis tool'. Therapy works best when there's not an immediate crisis. Therapy is for teaching tools to better work with yourself and the people around you. As such, I would at least consider therapy for a child who has had repeated episodes of anxiety.

I would much rather do therapy than have to medicate because of a crisis. I would see therapy as a way to head off potential crises.

I'll say that I'm biased in this direction because I come from a family with a long history of anxiety. If my parents had had the resources, life would have been easier for me and each one of my 4 siblings. It wouldn't have been easy, but we certainly would had more tools at our disposal. (Disclaimer: I'm not blaming my parents. When we were raised back in the dark ages, there was very little understanding of this.) We all have 'anxious brains'. It's the downside to the great imagination and sensitivity that also runs in the family.

I know it sounds like you have decided to try therapy, but I'd like to offer this analogy: If she had dyslexia, would you be having the same struggles about whether to get her extra help for reading? If you have dyslexia, you are not wrong, but your brain does work differently and you need to learn different strategies for reading.

Well, if you have an 'anxious brain', you are not wrong, but you do need to learn strategies for recognizing and managing stress and anxiety. It sounds to me like her anxiety is related to social situations. That's pretty common. It's also treatable.

One of my friends sent her daughter to therapy at that age with the idea that this person helps girls learn the skills to become young women. Very much like what you presented to your dd.

If you do send her to therapy, under no circumstances send your younger dd! (Yes, I know you were kidding.) Your older dd needs to learn to express her emotions. I too am fairly reserved. Learning to talk about what makes me anxious and getting the words out helps lessen the anxiety a lot. If you think she really won't open up, you might think about art therapy or something that's done around something else.

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#35 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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I suffered from major anxiety that manifested fully in college. I have it mostly under control now, but for me it was inherited (my mother also has anxiety - though I never knew it growing up). What about doing some play therapy as a family? There is a book called Playful Parenting, though while geared to younger kids, it might have good suggestions about coping skills. How to play act situations to get her more comfortable. There is also a technique called EFT - or tapping. People with anxiety can have success with that as well. Anxiety can be a lifelong struggle for some people.

Why not ask your DD what she wants to do (though you say she doesn't talk much)?

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#36 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Therapy is for teaching tools to better work with yourself and the people around you.
I really liked your post!

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It wouldn't have been easy, but we certainly would had more tools at our disposal.
agreed, and that's how I really look at it with my DD. She learns more tools in therapy, and she's also now comfortable with the whole concept of "therapy as a tool," which could serve her well later in life with other problems.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#37 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've hit a couple hitches with seeking therapy. I spoke with three therapists this week, all of whom separately suggested that now is not the best time, developmentally, for DD to seek therapy. In their opinions, a 13-year-old girl is typically in a developmental space that makes her resistant to what would be required. They explained that the "treatment" for anxiety isn't talking stuff through or really doing much navel-gazing, but rather "tool-teaching," or cognitive behavioral therapy. Each agreed to see her if I really wanted to pursue it now, but all three of them said they'd rather see a kid at 12 or 14 rather than 13 and that if we were to wait even six months, we might be making better use of our covered sessions. Especially if, as is the case here, the kid is functional and anxiety is not running her life.

They also each asked me whether DD sees this as a problem, or whether it was just her *parents* who see it as a problem. (This, I suspect, is a common question, particularly in the community where we live, where parents tend to be pretty eager to push their kids to be independent and the ability to orient to peers is regarded as success.)

So after talking to these women, I asked DD point blank whether she saw her episodes of anxiety as a problem. She said she'd actually been thinking about that since we talked last week and she said some really interesting stuff. First of all, no, she doesn't currently see it as a problem. But that she used to, because she really didn't understand *why* she would feel nervous when other kids must not. "When I was little," she said, "I used to wish I could just feel happy at birthday parties where there was some fun thing, like a jumpy house. Or in sixth grade, when everyone else was happy at camp." Then she said something else: "But, Mommy, is it *wrong* for me to feel anxious when I'm someplace where the kids are acting like idiots and there's no adult that is really taking charge?" She then described in greater detail the things that were happening at the birthday party last weekend when she got a headache. Some girls were flicking nail polish at each other. Others were using a lot of the f-word. Another one was rifling through the birthday girl's underwear drawer, "totally invading her privacy and ignoring her when she asked her to stop." The birthday girl's mother was nowhere in the vicinity, for the most part, and when she did come in to check on them, did nothing to discourage the behavior. "I don't like it when the kids are acting like buffoons and no one's stopping them," DD told me. "It makes me nervous and makes me feel like anything could happen and that doesn't seem safe because they're just kids, and they're making bad choices and no one's stopping them. I'd rather just not be there." She then pointed out that she doesn't feel anxiety, even in new situations, when there's an adult in charge who seems on top of things.

She seemed bewildered that I, or anyone, would suggest that her discomfort and wish to escape from uncontrolled, unsupervised chaos was a problem.

I rewound things then, in my own mind, and realized that every single episode of memorable anxiety she's had since age, say, 2, has had a common denominator: out-of-control kids and questionable adult supervision. Birthday parties with overexcited kids and harried parents. Preschool, with a ratio of 2 to 24. Kindergarten, with a ratio of 1 to 30, and a classroom full of challenging 5-year-olds and one old lady who needed to retire. Sixth-grade camp. All of sixth grade, with a teacher inexperienced with the age group and 24 preteen, hormone-raging kids in what was a very chaotic classroom. A swim clinic where kids engaged in unsafe water behavior while a teenaged coach looked on wringing her hands. Even at her aunt and uncle's house, the times she had trouble were when her on-top-of-it aunt was out for the evening and her uncle was in charge--a nice guy, but totally ineffective at getting the younger cousins to quit being out of control or buggy. Or the mall, with large bands of unsupervised teenagers. Does she really need to be comfortable in these situations? Is it even wise to suggest she *should* be?

So I have this kid who is attached to the adults in her life. Her parents, many of her teachers, her aunts and uncles, her grandparents, her friends' parents. She has a lovely group of friends who she's also attached to--although secondarily, because she'll turn to adults before she will kids her own age. She's not as peer-oriented as many of her classmates--nor do I want her to be at 13. She's friendly. She's responsible. She's kind. She gets good grades. She allows new people into her life after she's had a chance to observe them and trust them. She wants to escape from situations where kids are running the show, where adults don't have a heavy presence, where she's unsure of the decisions that might get made.

After a couple weeks of stewing on this, and after talking to three therapists, and listening to my DD (who despite not talking a lot actually has plenty to say and plenty of confidence in her own intuition and powers of observation), I guess I'm back to my original question: Is this truly a case of potentially crippling anxiety, or is this a kid who's actually listening to her intuition and showing good judgment?
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#38 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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I only read the last post, not the OP. BUT - While I think its normal for a child to be anxious in those situations, it *could* be the beginnings of anxiety issues.

Why not sign her up for some leadership development type stuff? That way, when she finds herself in a group with poor leadership she might feel comfortable taking the lead? For example - a b-day party where girls are invading another girls privacy, why not suggest a fun game that everyone will like? When at the pool, why not suggest an organized game, and then help to run it? She's still a little on the young side for alot of leadership development stuff, but she might really like it.

And, has she been back to camp? Not with school, but to a real summer camp complete with a counselor or 2 per cabin? (for a week or 2, I'm not talking all summer) Thats a great place to start learning leadership skills! And, your dd seems like she's sees where the leadership is needed so she's way ahead of most of the kids her age who think all these inappropriate acting is "cool".

Good luck!

ETA - after reading most of the rest of the thread, I think that leadership development type activities might give your DD some confidence with which to work through these anxiety triggers. Therapy could be another useful tool. But the leadership development might give her some "control" over what happens in a large group. I say this as a young woman, who has done tons of leadership development, and it gave me so much confidence in myself as a teen, and continues to give me confidence even now. Just something to think about along with everything else!
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#39 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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yeah, I wouldn't want my kid at a mall doing a scavenger hunt, they will be racing along, someone could get lost, one kid could steal and they may all get held by security etc... It would be ok if they went to one place for a particular party experience or to the movies but I wouldn't like a scavenger hunt.
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#40 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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"But, Mommy, is it *wrong* for me to feel anxious when I'm someplace where the kids are acting like idiots and there's no adult that is really taking charge?"
Why didn't she call you to take her home?

My typically developing child has a cell phone for exactly this reason. Sometimes kids are out of control and it's really best to not be there for it.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#41 of 43 Old 03-16-2010, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She did call me to come and get her. That was the whole premise for the original post.
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#42 of 43 Old 03-17-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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She did call me to come and get her. That was the whole premise for the original post.
My bad!

A couple of things don't jive.

<<<the kids are acting like idiots and there's no adult that is really taking charge?" She then described in greater detail the things that were happening at the birthday party last weekend when she got a headache. Some girls were flicking nail polish at each other. Others were using a lot of the f-word. Another one was rifling through the birthday girl's underwear drawer, "totally invading her privacy and ignoring her when she asked her to stop." >>>

Why didn't she tell you this that night? Something is wrong in this story. Either she doesn't talk to you about what is going on, she is making stuff up, or her reactions are out of wack with what is happening. (I'm guessing the first or the last or a combination of the two).

To want to come home from someplace where kids are out of control is normal and good, to be freaked out and not talking about it isn't.

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She seemed bewildered that I, or anyone, would suggest that her discomfort and wish to escape from uncontrolled, unsupervised chaos was a problem.
Wanting to escape from things by making one's self ill isn't healthy! Getting headaches to get out of uncomfortable situations *works* for her, but at a cost.

The technical term is 'somatic complaints.' If she gets better at you, you won't even know when she is stressed because you'll just see her as sick.

If she had just said she wanted to come home, told you what had happened, and been fine at home, then there wouldn't be a problem. That's not what happened at all.

Quote:
So I have this kid who is attached to the adults in her life
then why didn't she tell you what the other kids were up to? There's something a little off in the communication between the two of you.


From your first post:
Quote:
crying all day long on days she went to school.
From your last post:
Quote:
I asked DD point blank whether she saw her episodes of anxiety as a problem. She said she'd actually been thinking about that since we talked last week and she said some really interesting stuff. First of all, no, she doesn't currently see it as a problem.
I understand that the crying all day was in the past, but your child has a problem that is more complex than "she doesn't like it when kids are out of control."

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I've hit a couple hitches with seeking therapy. I spoke with three therapists this week, all of whom separately suggested that now is not the best time, developmentally, for DD to seek therapy. In their opinions, a 13-year-old girl is typically in a developmental space that makes her resistant to what would be required. They explained that the "treatment" for anxiety isn't talking stuff through or really doing much navel-gazing, but rather "tool-teaching," or cognitive behavioral therapy.
I'm not buying what they are saying AT ALL, but a lot of people really don't like to work with kids this age because it isn't easy. I'd keep looking for someone who likes working with adolescents. You might ask the school social worker for some recommendations.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#43 of 43 Old 03-17-2010, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm going to exit this thread now because I've decided that the Internet is no place to try and explain complex communications and psychological issues without coming away feeling at least somewhat judged or misunderstood. What I'm taking away from this is that one person's psychological problem is another's personality trait, and that the degrees and nuances in between create too vast a gray area to ever describe adequately in an online forum.

I appreciate everybody's feedback and attempts to help me work this out in my head. Some of you have had some really valuable insight for me and you've all given me a lot of think about.
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