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06-21-2014 07:14 AM
AquariusHome Would love to talk about more holistic approaches to managing anxiety. What things have you tried? What has worked? What hasn't?


We are not having the success we want with medication and CBT (although admittedly despite being on this road now for several months we haven't gotten very far into either), but do see possible side effects that we're not crazy about. And being more naturally inclined anyway, I would love to get DS2 off meds and manage his symptoms in some other way.
05-13-2014 03:02 PM
AquariusHome

Here's an update on us, fwiw....

 

We saw the CBT today for our treatment plan meeting.  According to DS's assessments, he has one of the most severe cases of anxiety this therapist (who we waited 3 months to see because she is the expert on anxiety) has ever worked with.  gloomy.gif  On one hand this is really baffling to me, and on the other expected.  There are moments, such as on Sunday night, when I think we're all doomed to a lifetime of severe and persistent mental illness ruling every moment.  DS's anxiety kicked in Friday night and grew through the weekend - there was a school event Monday that he's been worried about for weeks combined with DH leaving on a business trip.  He hardly ate anything all weekend and spent most of the weekend lying around on the couch complaining of a stomach ache.  By Sunday night he was writhing on the floor crying and begging us to take him to the E.R. so someone would help him.  My mom, who was in town visiting and hasn't witness this before, thought we were crazy not to rush him to the E.R.  There was something clearly seriously wrong with the child.  She couldn't understand that there was nothing that a doctor in the E.R. could do for him.

 

On the other hand, the majority of the time he is functioning pretty well.  I don't know what to say to the school principal who looks to me to explain to him why he has to come out to the car to retrieve my child who is balled up in the backseat in the fetal position terrified to walk into the building and a few hours later is on stage cracking the room up with jokes while he practices his comedy skit for the school talent show.   Anxious and depressed kids don't put themselves out there like that (is what he's thinking, and I kind of thought too).  Kids who are terrified of school don't get straight A's, right?

 

This is the kid who has decided climbing to the tip top of the tree in our yard is his new favorite pastime.  Apparently no fear of heights.

 

It's perplexing.  Like he has literally a switch in his head that is either on or off and we don't know which it is going to be at any given moment.  We can predict situations that will be difficult but not whether he will be able to cope when it actually happens.  It makes it difficult to commit ourselves to anything.  I have no idea whether we'll be able to carry out plans from the most mundane to things like vacations when the time actually comes.

 

The psychologist recommended making an appointment with a psychiatrist, and seeing her as often as we can get an appointment, which unfortunately is only 3 times through the end of June.  So frustrating how difficult it is to get help....

 

I'm going to try a shotgun approach.  CBT, meds, family therapy, some energy work, and diet manipulation (thanks to smon for that article which lit a fire under me on the diet side).

 

How did this happen?  How did my child, who was this incredibly talented, hard-working, confident person become one of the most severely anxious children the therapist has ever met in the course of 3 months?  We're not a perfect family by any means, but we're fairly functional.  We love each other, we don't have any major issues - we're stable, loving, supportive, have a strong support system.  I just really don't understand it.

 

Anyhow, that's our update.  I would love to hear the update on others...

04-30-2014 06:05 PM
AquariusHome Thank you smon. Yes, absolutely I agree that DS finding his new nitch would be a huge help. We're trying to get there but just aren't there yet. He enjoys baseball. Some days, like tonight, he is in his element playing ball. Other days, like Saturday, it was touch and go on whether we could help him manage his anxiety enough to even warm up. Hopefully we can find the thing soon and he will realize that the bad boy thing isn't for him.

More on allergies later, but I am hoping to have someone with experience in this tell me what are the qualifications for an inpatient hospitalization in the pediatric psych unit. There have been a few times I've thought about going to the ER for help but then convinced myself they wouldn't do anything. It would be good to know the next time whether I'm right or not.
04-28-2014 05:45 PM
smon

I'm so sorry to hear that you are still having problems with your son! I know it is so frustrating when you child has anxiety and allergy issues, and it just seems like you go from doctor to doctor.

 

I was wondering if you son had any other hobbies that he enjoyed besides gymnastics. I had one "bad boy" friend who became very inspired by an art class and stopped doing drugs, etc. - really cleaned up his act because he felt that he was good at something. I had two other friends who were into drugs, etc., and became born again Christians and led prayer circles; they stopped doing drugs, etc.. My daughter loves bird watching and feels a sense of accomplishment when she takes photographs of birds and identifies them. Everyone is different. Maybe your son needs something where he can feel important or a sense of accomplishment, but he doesn't have to deal with the competition aspect, even from other classmates. I personally didn't care for gymnastics or sports unless I was just doing it for fun. Or hey, maybe your son could help teach other little kids how to do basic gymnastics moves; he might be able to feel less personal pressure if he had to focus on helping someone else but would still get to do something he loved.

 

Wanted to say that his stomach ache could be an ulcer or pre-ulcer from stress, but pepto can actually give you vitamin deficiencies, so might want to have him checked out just to be safe. My daughter has many allergies, and we're trying to have her tested for 5 of them with a saliva test because she can't take a blood test. Her allergies can affect her ability to concentrate and think clearly, so we're hoping to at least get some helpful information. Since we're limited in what we can test her for, we keep a reaction diary. We have an appointment with a naturopath, and hope that she can give us some ideas to help her with her anxiety problems.

 

I hope all goes well with your son!

04-27-2014 09:10 PM
AquariusHome

Thank you smon!  I think food is such a huge part of both physical and mental health.  I know our diets are not as good as they could be.  When DD was a baby she had a lot of food sensitivities and we were very good about what we ate, but as she improved we have slid backward in that respect.  It's on my list to fix....

 

I haven't read the link yet but intend to soon.

 

The trial back at the gym was a disaster.  DS wanted to go back but hasn't yet, through 2 therapists, been given any strategies to use to try to manage his anxiety.  Despite DH and I trying to set the expectation that it wasn't going to be as easy as just walking in the door and everything was back to normal I still think that's what DS2 was hoping or expecting would happen.  Of course it didn't.  So we're back to a pretty bad place in a very short period of time.

 

Our appointment with the CBT is tomorrow.  Therapist #3 in as many months.  We're keeping therapist # 2 as a family therapist - hopefully help the rest of us cope with this roller coaster a little better. 

 

DS's stomach hurts almost all the time.  I'm wondering now if there's more to this than just anxiety.  Maybe there really is something physically wrong with him that has him feeling so terrible.  I've been reluctant to explore this theory because I don't want to feed into this thought in his head and create more anxiety for him.  I think part of this feeling so physically bad is because of the years of taking him to specialists trying to figure out why he has recurrent anemia.  He was on and off GF and dairy free diets, on iron supplements, had colonoscopies, etc....  Poor kid has been through the wringer looking into what's wrong with tummy and I know that has led to some of this anxiety so I have been really careful not to encourage any thinking along those lines.  I don't know how to try to solve it without feeding into it though.  He's been taking tums or pepto like their candy.  There has to be some better way to help him.

 

I think he's beginning to embrace the bad boy image.  disappointed.gif

04-22-2014 12:29 PM
smon

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-mendelson-md/personal-health_b_4533877.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living\

 

The above article talks about bacteria in the gut/intestines that can cause depression and anxiety in people, and the foods that you can eat that can help to improve mood imbalances caused by this. :)

04-22-2014 10:20 AM
smon

I wanted to add that my daughter has food allergies that make her anxiety worse. Bananas, apricots, ham, etc. can make her unable to think and start to cry or become defiant; in essence, it changes her personality. She also had a bad personality change with different vitamin supplements. I saw a talk show once where kids had been diagnosed with autism or a hyperactivity disorder, and they were actually allergic to orange juice! My daughter seems to do better if she has some protein or an instant breakfast vitamin drink or a hot milk. We've been working on trying to control her panic attacks/anxiety.

04-22-2014 10:03 AM
smon

I found the book "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine N. Aron, PhD to be very helpful. It explains that about 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive, and gives advice both to highly sensitive people and to people who deal with them. My daughter is highly sensitive and has anxiety. I came to this website actually to read about other people's experiences with this. 

04-09-2014 07:38 PM
Peony

So glad to see an update. I've been thinking about you. We didn't do CBT. Well, we tried initially but the therapist and DD1 were not a good fit at all. We ended up eventually at a therapist who had none of those certifications but DD1 and her had an amazing connection which in the end, for her, mattered more. 

 

My first instinct when reading about his behavioral issues is that yes, he is feeling better and that this is about control. As in he can't control the anxiety, he can't control his responses and behavior most of the time due to the anxiety but he is doing a little better, perhaps those feelings have been muted some, and he can control stealing a credit card or acting out when the behavior is not related to the anxiety. Perhaps he is not feeling powerless in that aspect. Which is a good sign and yes, always difficult.

 

We had some of that with DD1. And gentle understanding while acknowledging what she was going through went a long way in resolving most of that.

04-09-2014 02:50 PM
AquariusHome
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

Oh Laurie. :HugI am so very sorry to finally check in and see all this. We've been stuck in a housing/moving ordeal that never seems to end. 

 

 

We did miss a lot of school when DD1 would hit bottom. We were completely unable to do one year of school (K when she was younger), and then we pulled her in and out of multiple schools for 4th grade, she changed three times in three months. We were grasping at straws obviously. Trying to do anything to get her into any school that might change the situation. We would out "finishing" the year at our original school but she was averaging going 2-3 times a week. I physically couldn't get her there more. We "repeated" fourth grade at home last summer with a private tutor and then switched to yet another school for 5th grade for a fresh start which has been amazing BTW. No one at her new school knows about her previous history other then the principal. She requested it be that way and we originally agreed on a trial basis but then it worked so there never was any need. After all that, she is now on the honor roll and keeping up entirely with her grade. Not all is lost. :grouphug 

 

 

At this point, I wonder if a school break is warranted for a bit. Even a week? Is spring break close? Maybe it would be enough to take the edge off. I will just say that school work will always be there and it IS possible to catch up when he isn't under so much stress. That can be a very difficult decision to make. If he is this consumed by his anxiety then it is unlikely that he is actually retaining any of the info anyway. He is probably entirely in fight or flight mode. 

 

We saw a difference with meds within two weeks. When DD1 had her first break down, we also couldn't get into anyone. I called my pedi repeatedly and said this was dire. She was not willing to prescribe anything without consulting anyone. She also couldn't get us into anyone sooner but she was able to consult and eventually gave us emergency meds they suggested to try until we could get in. They didn't work BUT maybe this is some sort of an option for you. 


Thank you for this.  I read it and digested it, but didn't have time to respond at the time.  Between DS2's needs and then everyone in the family has been trading illnesses for the past month - I think we've had nearly everything out there and we're typically a pretty healthy family.  Stress, I guess. 

 

Anyhow.  I started to look into taking FMLA from my job so I could keep him home for the rest of the school year and then, just in time, I think the meds started to kick in and we've seen some improvement.  Most days lately we've been able to get him to school although he still visits the nurse's office several times a week.  Stomach aches are still a regular event but he's coping much better.

 

Unfortunately, as the anxiety has been better the behavior issues have gotten worse.  We've had several episodes over the past week of him refusing to comply with things, throwing major temper tantrums, and most recently stealing DH's credit card, creating his own Amazon account, and purchasing a very expensive item that we had told him we would not buy for him because it was too expensive.  I don't understand the acting out.  I don't know how it relates to the anxiety.  Its very upsetting and concerning to me although I will say not as concerning as sinking further and further into anxiety and depression.  I believe he is a good child with a good heart who has been through a very difficult period in his life and is trying to find his way into a new place.  Maybe he's feeling kind of lost....

 

He has set next week as a goal for himself to go back to gym.  I am concerned, but also think maybe it will help with the behavior issues to have something positive to focus his energy on again.  And less free time on his hands is definitely needed.  And a physical outlet....  But I'm afraid it is not going to be quite so easy as he has in his mind.  There's a lot of anxiety in all of us (DS, DH, me) related to gymnastics.

 

We found a new therapist who works with children with anxiety regularly and could see us on very short notice.  We've been there 3 times and I think it is good.  She does not do CBT, which seems to be the "Gold standard" of therapy techniques for treating anxiety.  I don't fully understand what makes a treatment CBT vs. something else and why some therapists say they use CBT and others don't if that is what is supposed to be most effective.  Maybe it's a matter of having the formal certification??  Anyone know?  Anyhow, she doesn't use CBT and the pediatrician had said that's what DS needed so I'm reluctant to give up the appointment with the CBT therapist that we have at the end of the month, but don't feel that switching therapists again right now is the right move either.  So I'm not sure how to proceed with that....

04-08-2014 12:57 AM
TabiBrokaw My daughter is almost five but this could be us word for word, avoiding activities, started with gym, then swimming, parenting clapping at ballet class and she dropped, covered her ears and went fetal, we've switched from our first therapist to a psychologist who wants to send us to a new therapist for CBT. I totally feel ya, my daughter has OCD sensory proc and sep anx. Have you tried CBT? It sounds extremely promising...
03-21-2014 07:28 AM
Peony

Oh Laurie. :HugI am so very sorry to finally check in and see all this. We've been stuck in a housing/moving ordeal that never seems to end. 

 

 

We did miss a lot of school when DD1 would hit bottom. We were completely unable to do one year of school (K when she was younger), and then we pulled her in and out of multiple schools for 4th grade, she changed three times in three months. We were grasping at straws obviously. Trying to do anything to get her into any school that might change the situation. We would out "finishing" the year at our original school but she was averaging going 2-3 times a week. I physically couldn't get her there more. We "repeated" fourth grade at home last summer with a private tutor and then switched to yet another school for 5th grade for a fresh start which has been amazing BTW. No one at her new school knows about her previous history other then the principal. She requested it be that way and we originally agreed on a trial basis but then it worked so there never was any need. After all that, she is now on the honor roll and keeping up entirely with her grade. Not all is lost. :grouphug 

 

 

At this point, I wonder if a school break is warranted for a bit. Even a week? Is spring break close? Maybe it would be enough to take the edge off. I will just say that school work will always be there and it IS possible to catch up when he isn't under so much stress. That can be a very difficult decision to make. If he is this consumed by his anxiety then it is unlikely that he is actually retaining any of the info anyway. He is probably entirely in fight or flight mode. 

 

We saw a difference with meds within two weeks. When DD1 had her first break down, we also couldn't get into anyone. I called my pedi repeatedly and said this was dire. She was not willing to prescribe anything without consulting anyone. She also couldn't get us into anyone sooner but she was able to consult and eventually gave us emergency meds they suggested to try until we could get in. They didn't work BUT maybe this is some sort of an option for you. 

03-21-2014 07:05 AM
AquariusHome

I hope we're at rock bottom, although I realize there is a long way below us still to fall.

 

We're having to physically assist/ practically/ partially carry him into school every day.  He's not eating most of his meals.  Evening is the only time we are able to get anything into him (food or drink).  He's too anxious in the mornings about school and convinced he's going to throw up to eat.  Lunch time I'm basing on his reports, but doesn't sound like much is being consumed then either.

 

I've called other therapists in the area - none seem to be the right fit for one reason or another.  Our appt with the childhood anxiety specialist recommended by the pediatrician is still over 5 weeks away.  The therapist we've been working with is on an extended vacation.  Things have not gotten better and in fact are much worse since we started working with her anyway, so I don't have a lot of faith that getting in there is going to miraculously turn things around.  And I'm not sure its really her fault which leads me to think that even once we get in to the new therapist I shouldn't expect any kind of quick improvement.  So it's beginning to look like this might be our reality for months, and that is a very difficult thing to come to terms with.

 

We did start some meds this week.  I understand I shouldn't expect quick results, and that the meds won't take all the anxiety away so I'm trying not to pin my hopes too much on that.  If anyone can share how long it took to see improvement, and how much improvement you saw once starting medications I would appreciate that info, along with any other ideas for improving this situation.

03-18-2014 06:01 AM
AquariusHome

The anxiety has shifted back to school, where it was last spring.  I barely got him to school on Friday.  Yesterday he was in the office complaining of not feeling well within the first hour and eventually came home (he did have a temp in the 99's, and there is a cold going around the family).  Once home he seemed fine, except when the subject of doing homework or going to school came up which immediately led to being doubled over in tummy pain.  It is hard not to feel like there is some manipulation to this, but I know he wouldn't have intentionally given up gymnastics and he behaved the same way for that.  Still, it feels very convenient....

 

Anyway, today its not looking good for getting him there.  I don't know what to do.  We can't keep him home from school for 6 more weeks until we can get into the psychologist.  I don't want to be punitive because I'm trying to have us be ally's in this so that he will open up more about what is bothering him, and if its really 100% anxiety causing this behavior then I don't feel like he should be punished for suffering.

03-16-2014 07:18 AM
AquariusHome

It's interesting you mentioned the phone - we decided last weekend that a phone was a necessity for DS2.  I was previously against getting phones for kids before junior high, but lately had realized that DS1 is missing out on socializing with friends because he didn't have one.  He's already a very shy kid who isn't the type to reach out to his friends so I had been thinking maybe we needed to get him one sooner.  Then with DS2's recent issues and the upcoming slumber party I felt like there was no way we could send him to the party without an escape plan.  So the boys now have a phone that they share.  They both went to the party last night, and as predicted it was a crazy affair that was not a comfortable situation for DS2.  He called for EVAC around 10.  But I'm proud of him for sticking it out that long and trying to make it work, and for deciding that it wasn't going to work and that it was okay to leave.  I know that if he didn't have the phone he might have been able to find a solution that allowed him to stay, but it would have been stressful and possibly resulted in melt downs and stomach aches.  As it was, he says he didn't have a stomach ache at all during the party which amazes me.  His stomach has been hurting every day for weeks, and always gets worse with the littlest hint of something stressful.  But we also have had him cut way back on dairy products in the past few days to see if that helps, so maybe there are multiple factors to the stomach issue.

 

I think we're seeing progress, but sometimes its hard to tell.  As I mentioned, the stomach aches continue (until last night) and were so bad on Friday that I couldn't get him to school until after 11.  That's the first time we've not been able to get him to go.  But I've restricted myself in what strategies I use now that I better understand where the resistance is coming from which makes things much more challenging but more positive.  We still see melt downs pretty often, but they are less intense and shorter - he is able to pull it together and carry on with life a little easier.

 

On the down side, we see him giving up on things that involve some stress more easily which is hard.  DH was so frustrated because he took DS2 to go rock climbing at the gym and as soon as they got there DS said he couldn't do it, so DH asked him to walk on the track with him so that DH could still get some exercise.  DS walked 1/2 mile and then said he was going to throw up and needed to go home immediately.  Once home DS was in total shut down mode, not willing to consider going back and trying to walk a little further, etc.  DS has started playing baseball (a pretty low-key, not real competitive league) and he's already worried that he won't be able to play if it's hot (and he's calling 65 deg days hot).  I am pretty certain that if his state of mind doesn't improve, the first day the temps are in the 80's is going to be the end of baseball although this is also something he really loves. 

 

So my biggest challenge continues, which is how to be simultaneously supportive so that DS knows we have his back and feels safe that we aren't going to put him in a situation that is more than he can handle, but still encourage and empower him to start taking chances a little bit and not just run away from everything that is a little stressful.  Still 6 weeks to go before our 1st appointment with the anxiety specialist....Feels like forever

 

Other things we're doing -

Omega 3 supplements

Limit screen time to 1 hr a day (school days)

Lots of physical activity and fresh air (thank goodness the weather is improving)

Trying to limit junk food, although it seems like every other day there is some opportunity for junk even though we don't  keep it in the house

 

What should I add to the list?

03-08-2014 03:15 PM
Peony

I only have a few minutes, will have to come back later. I struggle with the how much to allow "regular kid life" to occur as well. We do have code words or phases that really helps. As well as a few other tricks we use. I allow DD1 to go off and do anything she thinks she can handle and I have always made it VERY clear that we would come get her at any moment in time. No matter when or where. We will never get frustrated. This is basically the reason she got her own cell phone at age 9. She takes it everywhere with her. If she is with a friend, she has gone into the bathroom and called me to come get her. I sometimes then make up an excuse to call the other family about why I need to come get her. This eliminates her having to go to an adult and potentially them try to talk her out of it or make the situation worse. She will also say she is tired, headache, stomachache, anything to "save face". If it is something right off the bat that she knows she can not handle, she has free reign to use me as an excuse, as in, "awww, man! I would love to do that but MY mom would never let me.". We also do that if she wants to feel included in a sleepover but not actually sleep over, I'll say it is my rules that she must come home for the night and then I bring her back for breakfast. 

 

So I think you are on the right track. There are things that they are going to over estimate what they can do and you are to, but then there are going to be many times where everyone under estimates what they are capable of and you never know until you try. We make sure and always let DD1 know that we are all in this together. She does have a disorder that she will have to learn how to manage for the rest of her life, but she also needs to know how to safely be able to handle the failures that occur and that just takes time. 

03-08-2014 08:02 AM
AquariusHome
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

Our kids are just too much alike! We have to limit the electronics as well. She can get very self destructive after too much exposure. 

 

I agree with stepping away from the gym as akin to a divorce. It's the loss of his identity as a gymnast, the friends, the structure, the self esteem boost when it was going well and then all those other feelings. Those anxieties that are keeping him from it. It is a lot for a nine year old. Many people don't understand but when you spend so many hours a week there, it is a major part of his life. :Hug I hope you are able to figure out the downtime.  I'm hoping that the anxiety wasn't so focused on the gymnastics just because it was something to focus on and that now that anxiety still will come out in other ways. Does that make sense? 

 

 

I had to go back and read through your initial post to see if you were opposed to medication and saw that it was his psychologist that was opposed because of the gymnastics. I'm just throwing this out there because this was our experience. Age 9 was when I made the decision to medicate DD1. It was not an easy decision. I felt that she was spiraling completely out of control again. She had hit rock bottom previously at age 6 and it took years to recover. I remember walking into a locked psych unit when she was 6 to talk with her then doc about her, with my two week old strapped to me, wondering if this was where we were going to end up soon. When she was 9 and telling me (again) that she wanted to die,  and I was having to physically lay on top of her to prevent her from running out the door at 11pm, I decided a medication trial was in order. 

 

I fully accredit her current stability to her medication. After she stabilized at age 9, she told me that she never ever wanted to go off of meds. That she never wanted to feel like that again. She hated more then anything feeling like that but she couldn't stop it. At age 10.5, with her blessing, we took the entire summer break to slowly wean off her meds. That process took 3 months. It turns out that she requires her medication to function in life. To wake up every day and handle all those anxieties that her mind creates even without sports. We won't try that experiment again. She requires her medication just like my asthmatic child requires her inhaler. It is no different. I wanted to tell you about our experience because life now with her is still a challenge, yes, it always will be. She is not an easy child, she will always be very mentally fragile BUT she can weather life's up and downs now most of the time. With extra help still. Everything has been presented differently to her. I have to parent her differently, I always will. Whether or not medication is right for your child or not, life can get better for him. It won't always be like this and I know it can be so difficult to feel like it can change when you are in the middle of it. 

 

 

Oh and she rocked at Boarder Cross! Kicked some serious butt. It ignited a passion and determination in her that I don't know if she knew she had. She won 2 races, another girl won one. So Dh and her have to head back this weekend for the 4th race to decide who will get to go to Nationals. She wants to train harder next year and really excel at this. She is EVEN considering a overnight summer camp now this summer to work on her big air skills. That is huge. I truly can't tell you how big that it. This is a child that will only not sleep with me if she can sleep with a sibling and she is considering going away for a week just to train harder. 


Thank you so much for sharing your story!  I'm struck by the intensity of what you and your DD have already been through in her young life, but more importantly the message of hope.  It was such a boost to me to read how far your DD has come.   When you said your DD says she hates feeling like she was feeling off meds that really hit home - that's exactly what DS said to us the day we decided to quit gym - the anxiety feels physically so terrible that he wants it stop more than he wants anything else - at that moment if I had a medication (or anything else) that I could have given him to make him stop feeling that way I wouldn't have hesitated. 

 

Congratulations to her on her success at the comps!  That's awesome!

 

I am not against medication completely but I do have concerns about it.  If we can manage this situation without meds that would be preferable to me.  We saw DS's pediatrician yesterday and formed a long-term plan.  We're going to switch to a different psychologist -one who is in network with our insurance, closer to home, works closely with our pedi, and specializes in treating anxiety in children with the thought that this issue has been growing for a long time and will take awhile to address.  Unfortunately, we can't get in to see her until the end of April.  In the mean time we're going to try hard to manage DS's time so that he doesn't have a chance to get bogged down in any 1 thing that could become stressful (shorter play times with friends, very limited screen time, etc).  The micromanagement of his schedule is itself likely to be stressful, but with the stress of gym out of the way I'm hopeful this is something he can deal with.  He is less in a state of fight or flight now, and so seems to be a little bit open to things he is told will help.  Hopefully we can start teaching him some relaxation techniques and other strategies in advance of that appointment.  I'm still feeling uncertain of how protective to be with him.  For example, he was invited to a friend's birthday party (slumber party with several other boys) next weekend.  My gut reaction was to say he can't spend the night - maybe he could just go for a few hours the night before and again in the morning.  But that same friend, who has a pretty intense personality, ended up spending the night here last night (against my judgement - a "daddy said it was ok" situation) and it went much better than I would have guessed so maybe I'm under-estimating DS.  I just really don't want him in a situation where he's feeling out of control and we're not available to "rescue" him.  His stomach is still hurting most all day every day, even at times when he isn't aware of feeling stressed.  I think we've got a ways to go to settle down his system to a "baseline" where we can start trying to add in more stressful things.

 

I'm feeling now like this whole situation will be a blessing in disguise.  We have an opportunity to teach DS skills that will help him through his entire life.  He will never stop being a perfectionist, a very driven person with the tendency to be obsessive - these are parts of his core personality and I think positive traits if he can learn how to mange his expectations for himself in a healthier way.  Hopefully DH and I will also be better parents because of this - we already understand DS better than we did and triggers to negative thinking.  I imagine this is going to be a long road for us all - we hope to start family therapy once DS's immediate crisis is past so that we can all interact better and have a healthier balance.  

03-05-2014 04:18 PM
Peony

Our kids are just too much alike! We have to limit the electronics as well. She can get very self destructive after too much exposure. 

 

I agree with stepping away from the gym as akin to a divorce. It's the loss of his identity as a gymnast, the friends, the structure, the self esteem boost when it was going well and then all those other feelings. Those anxieties that are keeping him from it. It is a lot for a nine year old. Many people don't understand but when you spend so many hours a week there, it is a major part of his life. :Hug I hope you are able to figure out the downtime.  I'm hoping that the anxiety wasn't so focused on the gymnastics just because it was something to focus on and that now that anxiety still will come out in other ways. Does that make sense? 

 

 

I had to go back and read through your initial post to see if you were opposed to medication and saw that it was his psychologist that was opposed because of the gymnastics. I'm just throwing this out there because this was our experience. Age 9 was when I made the decision to medicate DD1. It was not an easy decision. I felt that she was spiraling completely out of control again. She had hit rock bottom previously at age 6 and it took years to recover. I remember walking into a locked psych unit when she was 6 to talk with her then doc about her, with my two week old strapped to me, wondering if this was where we were going to end up soon. When she was 9 and telling me (again) that she wanted to die,  and I was having to physically lay on top of her to prevent her from running out the door at 11pm, I decided a medication trial was in order. 

 

I fully accredit her current stability to her medication. After she stabilized at age 9, she told me that she never ever wanted to go off of meds. That she never wanted to feel like that again. She hated more then anything feeling like that but she couldn't stop it. At age 10.5, with her blessing, we took the entire summer break to slowly wean off her meds. That process took 3 months. It turns out that she requires her medication to function in life. To wake up every day and handle all those anxieties that her mind creates even without sports. We won't try that experiment again. She requires her medication just like my asthmatic child requires her inhaler. It is no different. I wanted to tell you about our experience because life now with her is still a challenge, yes, it always will be. She is not an easy child, she will always be very mentally fragile BUT she can weather life's up and downs now most of the time. With extra help still. Everything has been presented differently to her. I have to parent her differently, I always will. Whether or not medication is right for your child or not, life can get better for him. It won't always be like this and I know it can be so difficult to feel like it can change when you are in the middle of it. 

 

 

Oh and she rocked at Boarder Cross! Kicked some serious butt. It ignited a passion and determination in her that I don't know if she knew she had. She won 2 races, another girl won one. So Dh and her have to head back this weekend for the 4th race to decide who will get to go to Nationals. She wants to train harder next year and really excel at this. She is EVEN considering a overnight summer camp now this summer to work on her big air skills. That is huge. I truly can't tell you how big that it. This is a child that will only not sleep with me if she can sleep with a sibling and she is considering going away for a week just to train harder. 

03-05-2014 12:29 PM
AquariusHome
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

 

 

Does he have anything other interests or passions? I am slightly worried about what is going to fill that downtime he would then have. Or least I would be worried about DD1, her obsessions, fears, and worries drastically increase with downtime.

 

How was yesterday?

His other passion is video games, too much of which leads to a noticeable decline in mood and behavior.  This is my biggest concern.  DS has shown time and time again that too much down time is not a good thing.  If the weather were better at least getting outside would be easier.  Please, spring, come quickly.

 

Yesterday was a pretty good day - his teachers were able to keep his stomach ache to a low roar during the school day and we didn't ask anything stressful of him after school - no disagreements with friends, expectation of chores, places we wanted him to go, etc to stress him out.

 

We made the decision this morning to step away from gymnastics.  DS is terribly sad about it, but I think resolved to the fact that it's for the best for now.  I'm convinced he isn't trying to sabotage this.  He just really can't do it right now.  That breaks my heart, to know that there is this kind of obscure, hidden obstacle inside of him that keeps him from things he loves.  I want so badly to be able to fix it, and quickly, but when I am trying to be positive and optimistic and talk about how we can fix it I end up causing him more anxiety.  I think he knows its a lot more complicated than that.  Separating himself from the gym is akin to going through a divorce or some other major life change.  Its not just the time void, but the end of a dream, separation from relationships that have been a huge part of his life for years, a sense of failure,...  His best buddies will still be busy there and not free to hang out with him.  It's just incredibly sad and hard....

 

We're checking in with his PCP Friday - she knows nothing of all this.  Maybe she can help.

 

@Peony - How did the Boarder Cross comps go?

03-05-2014 08:24 AM
Peony

Laura,

That is a difficult one. If he was clearly getting benefits from the gymnastics, then I'd agree with sticking with it. But seems iffy if he really is. The mental cost appears to outweigh the benefits. With my gymnast, the benefits are greater then cost. She has difficulty holding herself together during her regular life but her sports is the only time where I feel she is mostly free from her disorder so for us the mental cost is worth it. The self esteem boost is huge for her. That wasn't the case when she was younger though. And if I had to do what you are currently having to go through to get him INTO the gym, then I would saying we need to take a break until perhaps his mental health improves. 

 

Does he have anything other interests or passions? I am slightly worried about what is going to fill that downtime he would then have. Or least I would be worried about DD1, her obsessions, fears, and worries drastically increase with downtime.

 

How was yesterday?

03-04-2014 06:06 PM
AquariusHome
Quote:
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post

That sounds so hard. I'm sorry that it's been such a difficult weekend.
Again, I'm coming from being a mama to a much younger child (5), but after reading your latest post, I think I would take him out of gymnastics. It doesn't sound like a supportive place for a kid dealing with his issues right now, and it doesn't sound like they can accommodate his unique needs. That might change, once he gains some coping mechanisms, but for now it just sounds like it's time to take a break.
My child goes to one short class one morning a week, and her experience being positive there is entirely shaped by the head teacher, who happened to be away yesterday. Several meltdowns ensued, which reminded me how key the people are in what we choose to let her participate in.
If the head teacher is gone again next week, we'll keep her home. The other (very well-meaning teachers) just don't have the skills and experience to deal with a child in the throws of OCD/anxiety. But again, my child is only five, and we do carefully construct her world still.

A few thoughts:
 
  • I wonder if he's subconsciously sabotaging gymnastics so that you'll pull him out, thereby letting him 'save face' by not quitting? I did that as a child, with ballet.
  • I wonder if it's time to let his mental health trump all else and do something entirely different than that you have been doing (ie, pull him out of all activities, homeschool him for a while, family roadtrip to shake off the daily drudgery, a naturopath, give him a paid job, have him join a choir, have him volunteer at the SPCA, ... just ideas, not suggestions, BTW). SOMETHING that will kick him in a new direction. The degree of anxiety and upset gymnastics is causing sounds entirely unhealthy at this point. There is plenty of time to learn perseverance. He's still little, at nine.
  • If you do pull him out and he gets worse initially, I think that makes sense. I imagine it's like kids who are pulled from school for disruptive behaviour ... they need a 'deschool' time before they can fully move into the new way of doing things.
  • I'd also look more closely at diet (I can't remember how much you do this or not). We don't allow any artificial colouring, for example, and very limited sugar.
  • If you persist wit gymnastics (and again, I wouldn't at this point), I wonder about a calming ritual (this is tricky with my kid because she ends up very OCD about things very easily) for before practice, ie. Listen to an inspiring playlist with headphones, as he gets ready, a set of calming yoga breaths, a dose of Rescue Remedy

I have often wondered about him sabotaging gymnastics.  Sometimes I feel that's it, and other times I don't.  I have tried so many times to ask, in the most caring and understanding and accepting way possible, if he wants out and he says no.  I have tried to make the decision for him by saying he's done, and he appears genuinely heartbroken.  I'm not saying this isn't what is going on, just that it is confusing.  DH has asked him a zillion times as well, as has his coach and his psychologist.  He gives us all the same answer and appears very truthful.  But regardless of what he wants, I agree that it does not seem to be a positive place for him at the moment.

Thanks for the example of the "deschool" time.  I hadn't considered that.

Re: calming strategies - he will not allow us to teach him these things.  The very mention of it creates negative behavior.  As near as I can figure, thinking about being anxious causes anxiety.  I had hoped his psychologist would go this route but at our last appointment she didn't feel that was what he needed.

I like your list of ideas.  Something new to go in a more positive direction...

 

I think tomorrow will be the end, at least for now.  I'm not going to force him to go.  I'm going to let him know when it's time but if he doesn't want to go I will not insist.  I don't have it in me any more.  I want our relationship to be less about fighting and more about support.  I want him to be spending his time doing things that make him happy.  That last one is perplexing, because he seems to me even in the past few weeks to be the happiest of any point at the end of a practice when he realizes what he was able to do that he didn't believe a few hours earlier he could.  He is truly giddy after practices, but by the next practice he seems to forget that feeling and be back to being convinced that he can't do anything.  The longer he goes between practices the worse he feels about what he can't do.  So it feels like being there, despite the challenges, helps.  But I'm willing to stop pushing it and let him make the decision for himself, and help him find something else to fill that void if he decides to walk away.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mazamet View Post
 

 

I'm curious whether or not you have asked him straight out- in a quiet moment - if he wanted to quit. I remember agreeing to playing a musical instrument simply to please my parents at age 9. I took lessons for years, sometimes doing well, sometimes sabotaging the situation. I played in an orchestra, chamber music club, and did several other music-related things. My whole week revolved around it. So, you would never guess on the surface that I did not like playing this instrument and the lessons I needed to take. Six years into it, I did not practise for a concert (again) and this, finally, got my mother to say - in an accepting way - that I should quit. This was such a huge relief. I just feel that if your DS is having so much anxiety over gymnastics that he should not be there.

 

Yes, I have - lot of times.  I think his feelings about gymnastics are very complicated.  I don't think he does really want to quit, but maybe he wants it to be different than it is in some way that isn't possible....  Maybe he wants the friendships, or the status, or some other part of it without having to put in the work.  IDK....

03-04-2014 04:51 PM
Mazamet
Quote:
 

 

If DS said he wanted to quit I would be relieved.  But he doesn't want to quit gymnastics.  He loves it.  He just wants to not feel so scared and rotten.  bawling.gif

 

 

I'm curious whether or not you have asked him straight out- in a quiet moment - if he wanted to quit. I remember agreeing to playing a musical instrument simply to please my parents at age 9. I took lessons for years, sometimes doing well, sometimes sabotaging the situation. I played in an orchestra, chamber music club, and did several other music-related things. My whole week revolved around it. So, you would never guess on the surface that I did not like playing this instrument and the lessons I needed to take. Six years into it, I did not practise for a concert (again) and this, finally, got my mother to say - in an accepting way - that I should quit. This was such a huge relief. I just feel that if your DS is having so much anxiety over gymnastics that he should not be there.

03-04-2014 08:10 AM
starling&diesel That sounds so hard. I'm sorry that it's been such a difficult weekend.
Again, I'm coming from being a mama to a much younger child (5), but after reading your latest post, I think I would take him out of gymnastics. It doesn't sound like a supportive place for a kid dealing with his issues right now, and it doesn't sound like they can accommodate his unique needs. That might change, once he gains some coping mechanisms, but for now it just sounds like it's time to take a break.
My child goes to one short class one morning a week, and her experience being positive there is entirely shaped by the head teacher, who happened to be away yesterday. Several meltdowns ensued, which reminded me how key the people are in what we choose to let her participate in.
If the head teacher is gone again next week, we'll keep her home. The other (very well-meaning teachers) just don't have the skills and experience to deal with a child in the throws of OCD/anxiety. But again, my child is only five, and we do carefully construct her world still.

A few thoughts:

  • I wonder if he's subconsciously sabotaging gymnastics so that you'll pull him out, thereby letting him 'save face' by not quitting? I did that as a child, with ballet.
  • I wonder if it's time to let his mental health trump all else and do something entirely different than that you have been doing (ie, pull him out of all activities, homeschool him for a while, family roadtrip to shake off the daily drudgery, a naturopath, give him a paid job, have him join a choir, have him volunteer at the SPCA, ... just ideas, not suggestions, BTW). SOMETHING that will kick him in a new direction. The degree of anxiety and upset gymnastics is causing sounds entirely unhealthy at this point. There is plenty of time to learn perseverance. He's still little, at nine.
  • If you do pull him out and he gets worse initially, I think that makes sense. I imagine it's like kids who are pulled from school for disruptive behaviour ... they need a 'deschool' time before they can fully move into the new way of doing things.
  • I'd also look more closely at diet (I can't remember how much you do this or not). We don't allow any artificial colouring, for example, and very limited sugar.
  • If you persist wit gymnastics (and again, I wouldn't at this point), I wonder about a calming ritual (this is tricky with my kid because she ends up very OCD about things very easily) for before practice, ie. Listen to an inspiring playlist with headphones, as he gets ready, a set of calming yoga breaths, a dose of Rescue Remedy
03-04-2014 06:53 AM
AquariusHome

gloomy.gif

Letting DS2 miss gym practice all weekend was a major mistake.  I could see his good mood gradually going downhill.  School was cancelled yesterday so yet more time of just hanging around with too much idle time.  Fights broke out between brothers and friends - not a good set up leading into gym practice.  It was truly impossible to get him to go without physically forcing him, which I stopped just short of doing.  I don't know how the psychologist thinks I can get this kid to go and deal with these hard feelings (which as I understand it is an essential part of the treatment plan) but not have him feel pressured by me.  It is impossible.  I have to push him - he won't do it otherwise.  Feeling a little irritated with this plan....

 

Anyhow, he did not go to practice (despite 2 hours of negotiating in the car outside the building which involved lots of tears and lots of DS talking about how unloved he is) but we did do a 1 on 1 with the coach after practice.  DS was definitely in a better mood after the 1 on 1 but he is just so far from where he was.  He's scared to do things he learned 3 years ago.  The coach basically said the season is over for DS.  He didn't enter him in any of the meets for the rest of this season and told me he isn't going to be ready and even if he seemed ready the coach doesn't trust him to actually be able to pull it off.  I understand why he feels that way, but I feel like he's given up on DS.  Trying to salvage this season is the only thing keeping my motivation going to push DS to go to practice.  Its agonizing to watch him struggle, and to be a part of the emotional and dramatic scenes that lead up to getting him there.  I can't take it much more, and if the season is over anyway why are we doing this?  I understand the psychology of not giving up on things you love because they are scary but nobody except for me (DS, his coach, DH, grandparents....) actually believes he can do it and I only believe that because the psych said so, but I don't really fully believe in her anymore either.  On the other hand, he seems to get worse every time he doesn't go.  Idle time is no good either....

 

If DS said he wanted to quit I would be relieved.  But he doesn't want to quit gymnastics.  He loves it.  He just wants to not feel so scared and rotten.  bawling.gif

 

This morning it was 45 minutes of intense work with him to get him to school.  Standardized testing week.  They told the kids not to come if they don't feel well because if a test is started it can't be finished later.  Definitely a sure fire way to make sure DS doesn't feel well. 

 

DH and I are exhausted.  We need more support.  We need to be doing something more.  Positive attitudes are not enough to pull this kid up from the depths where he is.  Forcing him to keep going to something where he is already not able to function just doesn't seem like its going to work.

03-02-2014 04:10 PM
Mazamet

Big hugs and sympathy to the moms with anxious children. We are definitely cluing in to the fact that we have an anxious child. DS(5) had a massive anxiety attack last week. There have been other instances of resistance to activities/medical procedures. We have come to the conclusion that it is best for DS to not bring him to activities which he has huge anxiety about. It makes his world smaller and definitely very different from most kids. But, he likes things like fishing, or going to the local coffee shop. He is active, social, inquisitive, and he is otherwise healthy.

 

I have also educated myself on what type of things I can do and teach him to mitigate his anxiety. For example, with the anxiety attack last week, we went for a walk right away. Change of scenes. I did not care that he was in PJs and that he was crying loudly. We walked for a bit more than half an hour and the attack was over. I also teach him relaxation techniques. I teach him breathing techniques. I teach him to go to a quiet place in his mind.

 

We work on not taking on his energy as he is getting upset/anxious. We try to remain calm. This is a process, but it has been going much better recently.

 

I recognize anxiety. It runs in our family. I think that once children become more mature, they can slowly learn to challenge situations which give them anxiety.

03-01-2014 06:51 AM
AquariusHome
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

I sit at a lot of gym meets. Gymnastics meets are my duty, DH and I spilt up the various competitions our kids do. I am always amazed at just how many gym coaches actually seem to hate children or are just not nice at all. We've had nothing but good experiences at our gym but from what I've witnessed, that doesn't seem to be the norm. Calling names is never good!! Is it possible to get him to practice more with the head coach? It does sound like a great idea to skip out on the practices this weekend while the head coach isn't there. I would bring it up privately with the head coach about the name calling. Not make it about your DS per say but rather you heard some name calling and that was concerning to you that this is what is happening in regular practice with this coach.

 

Interestingly enough, I had a conversation on Wed with one of DD1's gymnastics coaches, she is new this season. She was telling me that this has been the most difficult thing for her, was the mental aspect of coaching these girls, not the physical part of it.  I think so many of them are just not aware of the influence, good and bad, that they have on these children that they spent so much time with each week. DD1 is with those coaches 13+ hours a week year around, that is a very close relationship! Or it could be the opposite. 

 

 

Perhaps a trail of night lights in the hallway for your DD? That is what we ended up having to do here. The lights often got turned off by accident but we never had to worry about it with the night lights. 


I just had this same conversation yesterday with a friend who is also a gym mom and a rec coach at the same gym.  These young coaches, many of them in their early 20's with no kids, little life experience, no education related to child development or psychology, are in the position to spend more time with these young boys and girls in terms of waking hours per week than their parents do and they have no idea how important they are in developing self-esteem, or killing it.  And I don't think they are supported much in terms of training in this area.  DS2 is in the gym 15 hours a week and he's been doing this for 4 years (not always this many hours - but still a lot).  That's a lot of time spent under the guidance of a few coaches!  I've seen the kind of coach you are talking about at meets as well.  I'll never forget one boy who, at age 7, was crying in the middle of a meet because he took a small step on a landing and his coach's greeting to this kid after his routine was noticeable cold.  The kid placed 1st all around at the meet as well as most of the individual events but felt like a failure because he didn't get that high 5 he really wanted.  Our coaches have always seemed to me to be much more supportive than that, and I think they are but I just don't think they are aware of the magnitude of their position.  I think for our head coach, who took over just this year as head although he's been DS's coach all along, DS's struggles has been a huge learning experience for him and he's really stepped up to the plate in terms of understanding how he can help.  The other coach is new to the team, doesn't know the boys well, and definitely doesn't understand DS's situation.  Would love to send all the coaches to some sort of training in this area....

03-01-2014 06:29 AM
AquariusHome
Quote:
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post


Thanks for this, @AquariusHome ... that just about nails it.
How much protecting, softening, easing, padding, accommodating is too much? How much is too little? How do we raise resilient children when they come equipped with hair-trigger responses to everyday life? How to promote self-regulation without squashing their sensitivity and brilliance? How to help them integrate into their chosen communities (and encourage new ones) without pushing too hard?

It's all so murky sometimes.

I remember that you mentioned that your son was diagnosed as gifted ... I think this has played into my child's symptoms more than anything else. What I see is that while most other kids are happily typical and typically happy, my eldest is quite literally plagued by a brain that just does not stop. And her interests/concerns set her apart from her peers quite significantly, which makes it hard for her to integrate into social groups. She wants to talk about how she found a purpura pansa mollusk, or how the ebola virus works, and they don't.
It quite literally pains me to watch her struggle.


Yes, exactly.  So hard to know - rather like walking a tightrope in the dark.

 

I, too, believe the gifted piece is a very key player in this.  As we better understand all the forces that converged to get us to this point one of the things that has come up is how much DS2 is analyzing everything around him that other children would not be noticing or would roll off their backs. 

 

I love that your DD wants to talk about purpura pansa mollusks and the ebola virus.  Precious!  I wish there was a way to show these children how beautiful their minds are despite the differences from peers.  But yes, it is so difficult to watch that struggle.

02-28-2014 10:37 AM
Satori

Sounds an awful lot like Pyroluria with Histadelia which is highly treatable naturally. I hope you find some relief soon for your son.

02-28-2014 10:37 AM
Peony

I sit at a lot of gym meets. Gymnastics meets are my duty, DH and I spilt up the various competitions our kids do. I am always amazed at just how many gym coaches actually seem to hate children or are just not nice at all. We've had nothing but good experiences at our gym but from what I've witnessed, that doesn't seem to be the norm. Calling names is never good!! Is it possible to get him to practice more with the head coach? It does sound like a great idea to skip out on the practices this weekend while the head coach isn't there. I would bring it up privately with the head coach about the name calling. Not make it about your DS per say but rather you heard some name calling and that was concerning to you that this is what is happening in regular practice with this coach.

 

Interestingly enough, I had a conversation on Wed with one of DD1's gymnastics coaches, she is new this season. She was telling me that this has been the most difficult thing for her, was the mental aspect of coaching these girls, not the physical part of it.  I think so many of them are just not aware of the influence, good and bad, that they have on these children that they spent so much time with each week. DD1 is with those coaches 13+ hours a week year around, that is a very close relationship! Or it could be the opposite. 

 

 

Perhaps a trail of night lights in the hallway for your DD? That is what we ended up having to do here. The lights often got turned off by accident but we never had to worry about it with the night lights. 

02-28-2014 07:39 AM
starling&diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by AquariusHome View Post


Pondering the balance between facilitating recovery and blocking personal growth....  this parenting this is not for the faint of heart...

Thanks for this, @AquariusHome ... that just about nails it.
How much protecting, softening, easing, padding, accommodating is too much? How much is too little? How do we raise resilient children when they come equipped with hair-trigger responses to everyday life? How to promote self-regulation without squashing their sensitivity and brilliance? How to help them integrate into their chosen communities (and encourage new ones) without pushing too hard?

It's all so murky sometimes.

I remember that you mentioned that your son was diagnosed as gifted ... I think this has played into my child's symptoms more than anything else. What I see is that while most other kids are happily typical and typically happy, my eldest is quite literally plagued by a brain that just does not stop. And her interests/concerns set her apart from her peers quite significantly, which makes it hard for her to integrate into social groups. She wants to talk about how she found a purpura pansa mollusk, or how the ebola virus works, and they don't.
It quite literally pains me to watch her struggle.
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