I didn’t know I had anxiety as a child, but I did. As a child, I was extremely shy and didn’t speak to people unless they were my best friend. No one picked up on my anxiety because they just assumed I was extremely shy, and that it was more of a personality trait. It also didn’t help that I never told anyone about how I felt and the fact that my heart would beat fast every time I had to speak to others and my body and mind would numb itself.
When I found out
Getting the phone call
I had received a phone call from my son’s play-school teacher telling me that my son was showing signs of anxiety and that it was best that we see a therapist as soon as possible, as he was having a difficult time adjusting to school. Normally, children take about 2-3 weeks to get adjusted to a new environment, but my son was past this point and the teachers were worried. My initial response, as a mother, was to get help immediately for my child. I knew he had separation anxiety as a baby, and as a result he was attached to me both physically (he wanted to be held day and night and I had to be in his eye’s view at all times) and emotionally as an infant and as a toddler. I thought that he would grow out of this phase as he reached preschool age, but that was not the case it seemed like.
It wasn’t until a therapist was diagnosing my own child, that I realized I had all of the symptoms of anxiety that my child was showing. Before my child’s first therapy appointment, I was given a questionnaire to fill out, this questionnaire would help the therapist diagnose my child. As I was filling out the questionnaire, I couldn’t help but feel like I was filling out my own answers. A part of me was starting to feel guilty; I started to question if I given my anxiety to my child…Perhaps he had picked up on my behaviour and habits without me even knowing and now we both were suffering…
Meeting the therapist
The therapist had agreed with the teachers and had diagnosed my child with an anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism; however, she said she was hopeful he would get better with her help and with the help of his teachers at school. Before she started the therapy sessions, the therapist asked about my history and if I had experienced any anxiety, and that’s when I described my childhood to her. I had told her that I didn’t even know I had anxiety until I started to fill out the questionnaire, but everything made total sense now!
I also informed her that I had improved a lot over the years, but it took me a very long time to get to where I was. In fact, I didn’t start to see a change in myself until I was in my twenties. I then went on to tell the therapist that my biggest fear is my child suffering the same way I did for so long and that I would do anything to get him the help he needed. So, with that, my son’s therapy sessions began and after a year he was a completely different person!
Where I’am today
I would say that my anxiety has improved over the years, but it still exists and affects my daily life. It can be difficult to explain to people how I feel and why I feel this way, especially when they haven’t experienced anxiety themselves. I have learned some techniques to cope with anxiety from my son’s therapist, but sometimes the anxiety takes over and I have no control. I still feel numb and frozen sometimes, and as a result I feel helpless. Having amazing and supportive friends and family surround me makes my life manageable and for that I’m very grateful!