Anxiety- not just "being a typical teen"
My 14-year old is struggling with anxiety issues lately. She was in therapy a few years back, around the age of 10-11, for OCD behaviors. After about a year of therapy and medications, it seemed to resolve itself. I always knew it could rear its' ugly head again, and it has.
The first time around, she was fearful, had difficulty making decision, and was just acting "weird", for lack of a better word. As a parent, you know your kid, and I knew something was wrong. There were other circumstances during that time (related to my ex and his living situation) that were resolved (he is no longer a part of her life, I know that's not the ideal resolution, but it was completely his choice, because he didn't like what the judge, therapist and guardian ad litem had to say).
The problem I am struggling with this time, is that she is now a TEEN with anxiety. Ages 12 and 13 were really good years, considering what a lot of teens (and parents) go through. At 14, however, she has developed teen characteristics (aka attitude) that work it's way in, in between her being scared, unconfident, paranoid and hysterical at times. For example, she just graduated middle school, and all of the activities associated with it were very difficult to get through. Deciding whether to go to the senior dance, the senior trip, then what to wear. What to wear is a DAILY issue- I'm not exaggerating. But it's not "OMG I don't know what to wear, lol"- it is a serious anxiety inducing experience... DAILY. So, imagine shopping for a dress, shoes, and picking out a hair style (it was a semi-formal event, at a very nice catering hall). Worries about being over-dressed, under-dressed, what will everyone say? I know teens typically worry about this stuff, but what she does to herself is torturous. We spent hours in one store, crying, stuttering, her not believing me when I tell her that this is appropriate. Hours. Then the same with the shoes. Her sitting in the shoe store in tears, and embarrassed that people might be looking at her. Me, being embarrassed that people think I have a typical nasty teen that I cannot control. Well, right now I can't control her. And I can't let her sit in the house and rot. Today is her last official day of school (yes, we love in the corner of the country where school just lingers on forever). While I feel relieved that we won't have to do the daily "what should I wear" game, I am fearful that if given the choice, she will hide in her room all summer. Then,we have to tackle transitioning to high school, which is another chapter in this tale.
She won't have that choice for the whole summer, but she will have some down-time. She is in therapy, and I am in the process of getting a psychiatrist to prescribe her something, the therapist concurs with me that this is beyond age-appropriate behavior, and that some of her thoughts are just not rational. Her life is a series of "what-if" questions. It took her over two months to decide what color iPhone to buy. She had been waiting years for me to give in and get her one. With the help of the therapist (and my ultimatum) she finally got it this week. I hate the ultimatums (who on earth forces their kid to get an iPhone?), but if I do not give her a limit with consequences, she will not do anything. But she goes into severe panic mode when the deadline approaches.
Anyway, I can't say that my words can convey what is really going on here, but I'm hoping I can connect with someone who will just listen, and maybe offer some insight. As parents, we tend to be very quick to judge and blame. I've already blamed myself ten times over for all this- what did I do, what didn't I do was I not strict enough, too strict (for a while I couldn't get her to even answer a question about school, friends, anything random- not an attitude for an answer, but but literally couldn't come up with words). Am I putting too much pressure on her, are my expectations of her ridiculosly high (they are not, btw). I expect her to try hard and actually do her school work, which she did well in this year. Her behavior is appropriate I'm school, which makes me feel even more to blame.
I have a small number of friends I can share this with, because the rest just say stupid things like "welcome to the teen years" or "just wait, it only gets worse". My 'mother and husband (her step father) don't get it either- they try, but their patience is limited. My mom doesn't "get" mental illness, and my husband has his own anxiety issues, and ironically can't relate to others problems. Hopefully there is someone here who gets it...