My son Gabe is ten years old now. He is very much like me. He prefers reading to playing outside. He gives up his recess time at school to help in the library. I still remember doing the exact same thing when I was in fifth grade. Unfortunately he also got my anxiety. He has good days and bad, but recently he’s been having an especially hard time. I am able to understand what he’s going through and so I feel like I can provide some help but I also know just how hard it can be to change the way your brain works. He told me last night that they were having a discussion in class about diseases and kids were talking about the ones they were familiar with. Gabe raised his hand and brought up chronic anxiety. Many of the kids didn’t know what that even was. I asked how he handled that and he told me how he explained it to them.
He said that everyone has fears and worries. He said everyone also has a big filing cabinet in their head full of all the information they need to make themselves feel better. For example he told them that someone might worry about an earthquake but then they would find the “E” section in their filing cabinet and read all the information about the rarity of earthquakes and how being prepared can help. Then they would feel better and stop worrying about it. Gabe told the kids that people with anxiety have a filing cabinet but it’s all unorganized and papers are all over the place. These people he said can’t ever find anything they need to stop worrying. They get scared of something and then just cry and cry because they can’t feel better but they also get frustrated because they know they have the information they need to feel better but they can’t get to it.
I was sad because I knew exactly what he meant and I was also proud because that was such a fantastic explanation. He said afterwards some kids came up to him asking more questions because they really didn’t understand what it meant to have chronic anxiety and how it can be so debilitating. Lots of kids just told him to think about good stuff instead and he told me how frustrating that was. I explained that it isn’t all their fault. They honestly can’t understand how it feels. I told him how proud I was of him for talking about it with his class and how that was the best thing he could do.
I just wanted to make a post today and say that if you are hurting, you should talk to a doctor. It doesn’t matter if the hurt is in your head. It’s very likely that folks are telling you to suck it up or that other people have it worse off than you. Don’t listen to this bullshit. I didn’t get help until I was thirty years old but I am convinced it saved my life. It wasn’t until I had a very real conversation with a friend who had the same problems. He convinced me to see my doctor.
Well I’m your friend, and we are having that conversation. I know exactly how you feel and I want you to feel better. Call your doctor today.