It was a rainy, stormy Sunday afternoon and I was on the phone to the ADHD counsellor. I had been frantically trying to reach her for a few days, so I was so relieved that she called me that day.
At the time, I had no idea how to parent or help my daughter as she struggled with ADHD and Anxiety. Panic attacks were a daily occurrence in our family life, although it wasn't my husband and I that were having panic attacks, it was our seven-year-old daughter, Sarah*.
"I think you need to consider sending your daughter to see a psychiatrist", said the counsellor.
"Okay, whatever you think, I just want to help her, we can't go on like this", I replied.
"The only thing is Susy, most of the child psychiatrists have closed their books, they simply can't take any more children, but I will see what I can do", she said.
How could they have closed their books? What was wrong with all of the children? I thanked her for her time, put the phone down and cried so hard that I thought my tears would run dry. The counsellor never called me back. I don't know why? Maybe she felt she couldn't help me? We had tried various medications; we had seen various experts and things were getting worse, much worse.
Shortly after that day, a whole heap of events took place and changed the course of our lives. An old friend called me with some words of wisdom, the school (politely) asked us to leave, and my husband had a life threatening injury and almost died. Although it felt like we were in hell, we came to learn that it was far from it. A miracle was happening and everything started to change for the better.
That was over a year ago, and I am happy to say, deliriously happy, that Sarah is no longer suffering from anxiety. From time to time she still gets anxious, and we have noticed that this happens whenever there is a change. She still has ADHD and always will, but we have learned how to help her channel it, and to be proud that she has a race car for a brain. They say ADHD often goes hand in hand with anxiety, although it seems now that so many children are suffering from it.
These are ten things that we do to help Sarah when her Anxiety Cloud comes to visit;
1. We recognise that there is a change in her world, and we reassure her that it's okay to feel different when things change
2. We take things out of her diary that day or that week - if she misses swimming or gymnastics, for us, it's not the end of the world
3. We give her oodles of love, cuddles and tell her how proud we are of her. We talk about all the positives about her personality and her life (even through gritted teeth at times)
4. I massively step it up to remember things for her, as when she gets anxious she forgets everything. Her homework, her school bag, she loses shoes, clothes, you name it!
5. I run her a bath, light some candles and pop in some essential oils to relax her
6. When she gets really anxious and panicky, I count backwards with her really slowly from 10 to 0, when we reach 0, we start again
7. We do big belly breaths - in through the nose until her tummy rises and then out through the mouth slowly
8. I do 'light touch massage' on her - It releases endorphins (happy hormones). I use the end of my fingertips and very slowly and lightly stroke up and down on her arms, neck and face. It works wonders for Sarah; she says it makes her feel calm and happy
9. I make her laugh. We talk about something silly, or I tickle her (although I wait until she is calm until I do this). Tickling her when she is in the middle of a meltdown would not be a good idea ☺
10. And I love her some more (again through gritted teeth). At times when she is having a complete breakdown, this is so hard, but I have learned that LOVE does amazing things (apparently it can thaw a frozen heart according to the film Frozen)!
I am not sure it does that for us, but it certainly helps the Anxiety Cloud to blow away. Her Anxiety Cloud sometimes only last minutes, other times it's days, but it always passes. I don't worry about it or over-analyse it anymore - it is what it is. I have learned to accept it and just go with it.
I hope that some of these things work for your child and help blow away their Anxiety Cloud too!
With Love & Light,
* Name has been changed