What says love more than sharing? This year, the rest of the family has jumped into the anxiety and depression pool. It started with my wife who, quite out of the blue, starting having panic attacks. They are so disruptive she has largely stopped driving, except for short distances and never on a freeway. Things got so bad, she finally went to a psychologist who she is working with weekly. The psychologist has her on some medicine that controls the panic attacks, but is not a full anti-depressant. She is working on transitioning her to one, but my wife is so sensitive to medication, finding one that doesn’t create a reaction has been challenging. We are now trying Lexapro! Oh yes, Lexapro, my old friend. My wife’s problems are different than mine as I never had panic attacks. I kind of understand what she is going through but not really. I don’t know what a full blown panic attack feels like.
More like what I went through is my teenage daughter. She is a teenage girl, so there is always drama, but we realized there is something more going on. She has general anxiety that has grown into depression. Hers is not as deep and profound as what I had, but we caught it early. She will soon start with a psychologist as well and possibly get some pharmaceutical help.
Not to be left out of the fun, my 8 year old daughter also has anxiety and what they are called selective mutism. She does not have any depression and no real panic attacks, but her general background anxiety is fairly high and certain situations can send her into a meltdown. She has been getting basic occupational therapy, but needs to move to a child psychologist.
Virtually the whole family is having psychological issues. At this time, I am the most stable among us. This whole period has been incredibly challenging and difficult for us all. The level of stress for me has been very high and I am proud of myself for keeping it together, for the most part. It’s always a running battle with anxiety and depression for me. Right now, I’m winning. Now, I need to shepherd my family through the dark passage.
My son has what they are calling a “sensitivity disorder”. I don’t full understand what this is yet, but clearly he has problems dealing with himself. Somedays are better than others. There are times when he seems to have a tention build up and he needs to expel it. Usually, he does this by throwing things or sweeping everything off the table with out fail swoop. You can just see the tension, almost feel it. Sometimes he shakes his head for side to side violently.
I might not understand what they say he is going through, but I do understand his tension. I know what it’s like to feel constant tension and unease. I’ve felt it all my life. You’re never really comfortable, never at ease. For me, the release of tension always came in the form of a physical tic. I’ve had many other the years, and I’m never without one. Once it was my leg kicking up in a particular way, another time it was stretching my mouth out. These days, I seemed to have settled into a nose wrinkle. Whatever it is, it’s always very noticeable in a physical way. I’m sure I seem pretty weird because of it.
He is only a baby and not talking yet, so I can just hold him, stroke his head and whisper “I know” to him. Nobody ever said I have a sensitivity disorder or autism or anything else, but back when I was a kid, they weren’t so quick to identify you with a disorder. You were just a nervous kid, a little high strung. Whatever, I have learned to deal with it, as best I can. Maybe when he gets older, it will help him to know at least a part of what he is going through we share.
I am completely done with everything now, even regular standard therapy. I can’t afford it and I’m not sure I even want it anymore. At my last session, though, we were starting to get into it and, as usual, it always starts with tell me about growing up. That discussion always revolves around your parents as they are the ones who control your world. Of course I am assuming a regular childhood which I know plenty of people don’t have, but this was my experience so I have nothing else to generalize from.
I got the strong feeling like we were eventually going to come to the conclusion that it is my parents fault. I mean, if they are the ones principally responsible for shaping you, who else’s fault would it be? Again, disregarding chemical imbalance, it all comes down to how you were raised. Just thinking about it for myself I can see my parents did and said things that screwed me up. They didn’t intend to of course, but you can never know the impact of your words and actions. That makes we worry a lot about my kids now. What am I doing to them? Let me proactively say to them, I’m sorry.
There is one other event in my childhood that has nothing to do with my parents that no doubt had a large impact but I am not going to talk about it. Not even in this relatively anonymous blog. Oh, yeah, I hear you, I should go back to the doc and tell her, work it out there. I think I know the general response and what are you going to say to ever make that right? Nothing. No, I wasn’t abused.
As humans, we are the most complex animal on the planet. We get these big brains. These big sophisticated brains. Our greatest strength, and our greatest weakness.