I hate labels; I think they come with stigmas and restraints that can be self-limiting and sometimes can hold that person back. It is heart breaking to have your child diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 3, it is easy to feel like a failure as a parent. We drown in self-pity and despair, we wonder what happens now?
Not a morning person.
Raising a child with Chronic anxiety, separation anxiety, and Sensory Proprioceptive Disorder is like living with a bi-polar alcoholic. No really, you never what to expect and some days you do not know what to do? You learn their nuances just in time for them to change.
What living with these disorders does teach you is that ALL concerns are serious to your child; from wolves standing on the roof waving at you at night, to all of the food being poisoned. I once heard somewhere that Sensory Proprioceptive Disorder was like falling in a well without walls or a ground, if you think about that kind of loss of control, that’s pretty damn scary.
Audra has been living with the above mentioned disorders since birth, not diagnosed until she was 3. I have been a helpless bystander watching my sweet little girl go through an internal Hell without as much as an understanding of what she was feeling. Your biggest fear for a child with anxiety is for their quality of life, you want to protect them but at the same time understand that you would prevent them from critical learning processes.
I had the most heartbreaking moment with her the other day. She was sitting on her favorite flip chair in her room, her Littlest Pet Shops spread around her, and her pretty curly auburn hair draped over her shoulders. She was obviously distressed and she said “Mom, I now know that I will never be able to leave your house because I know when I am grown up that I cant take care of myself, I will die.” I had to fight back the lump in my throat, I would be lying if I said that I never thought of this myself but I would never reveal that to her. Instead I told her about a statistic I read that said most kids live with their parents until they graduate from college and I don’t mind that and by then she will have learned all of the tools she needs to be successful. It didn’t really seem to resonate so I just sat down next to her and quietly played and we both felt better.
I do the best I can and reach out to all of the resources available and pray that her mind is one day healed. My advice to those who have no experience with high anxiety children. Don’t tell me that my child looks “normal”. Mental illness can be just as crippling as a physical handicap.