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Thread: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    The internet is being unhelpful right now, and quite frankly, the idea of getting on a mothering forum makes me want to hurt someone.

    As some of you know, I'm pretty sure I have issues with anxiety. I think I have since I was a kid. For that matter...I think my mother does, too. Part of why she homeschooled me and my siblings was because she hit a point where she hated to leave the house most days. By the time I was 8 or 9 if a phone call had to happen, I was the one who had to make it about 75% of the time. I'm hitting a point, seeing my daughter at this age, where I'm seriously starting to question whether my mother and I set off each other's anxiety issues, and that was why there was extreme yelling most of my childhood. In any case, I think the way my mom dealt with me made it much worse for me then it otherwise would have been.

    I've been trying to do things differently with my daughter...I've been trying really hard, and there are some days when it's easier then others, especially if she really pushes my buttons, or I am already having a very anxiety-prone day (heart racing about leaving the house, or numb and crying because I had to deal with someone, or needing to pull over to the side of the road mid-drive). I try to hug her and support her, be consistent, and listen to her. She's a lot like me as a kid, though. Ever since she was a baby she's been very high-strung. Whatever emotions she's having are very strong and right at the surface...it can be exhausting to deal with.

    She was getting bullied in school, and so I pulled her out. So far the homeschooling is going well, but she misses having other kids to play with every day...even though she was getting picked on to the point that she was wetting her pants at school (1st grade), or going and lying face down until someone got her at the end of recess(her teacher's response was to punish her). She is engaged, and she's smart--I think she was acting up out of boredom.

    If she doesn't want to do something, though, it's impossible. I'm willing to work around a lot, wait until she wants to do something, or find a more attractive way to go about it (or rewards, I'm fine with those! we have a cool ticket system we've started doing at it works great). Some things, though, I put my foot down on, like cleaning up her own toys. She needs the responsibility lesson. Lately, when we get to things like picking up toys, she will start to hit and slap herself, and I am beside myself. I don't know what to do about it! She didn't do it when younger--I think she did it once or twice for attention as a toddler, and I didn't react, so she never did it again. I am really not proud of myself right now: earlier this week, she did it again and I spanked her. Great logic there, mom...

    I turned to the internet, and everything is about scary shit like autism spectrum disorders(or the sort of people who see anything wrong and immediately assume a kid's been abused), but I don't see that in her. Given me as a kid, and her as a 6 year old, I could potentially see ADHD or anxiety, but I'm finding little about either that is useful, and I as nervous as I am about seeing a doctor for me, the idea of going and having a doctor put pressure on me to medicate a tiny kid puts me through the roof. I remember being that age, and having the emotions get so HUGE sometimes, it felt like I'd explode...by the time I was 12 I started binge eating, and it turned into bulimia. I had friends who had similar problems and self-harmed.

    Can anyone think of something I'm missing here? A possible blind spot? Ideas? It makes me ill to see her and worry that she'll turn to more serious self harm when she gets bigger unless I find a way to help her.

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    Eldritch Priestess Willow's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    So I have to ask, what age are we discussing here? Symptoms tend to vary in type and severity based on the developmental age/maturity and the things that person is going through at the time. If she's still in single digits, it could be more frustration-related than not, if teens it could be acceptance or past experiences coming to the forefront. The problem with being human is that sometimes we aren't even aware of why we're feeling what we're feeling, and that in itself is the worst part of coping with something like this.

    I would strongly recommend taking her to a counselor or a therapist, not a doctor. A therapist, especially a cognitive therapist, will try to root out the problem verbally rather than using medications. It does sound like an anxiety root, but it could be a lot of things and it's better to get a real handle on what symptoms there are in full and to what extreme before you start digging into causes and coping methods.

    Another problem is that when we endure something as a child that a parent instills in us, and we try not to duplicate that behavior, by keeping it in the forefront of our minds we tend to repeat it simply because that's what comes to mind. Reading parenting forums doesn't make you a bad parent, but it could help you to gain a new perspective on different methods or behaviors and why they do or don't work. Even just knowing how certain behaviors come across to someone of a different age can help you develop new methods/techniques/whatever.

    Do you know if she has any specific triggers that cause her to act out worse than normally? If you can identify those, then it would be easier to identify the underlying cause of it and therefore allow you to find ways to address that issue.

    Whatever you do, don't push. Let her know you're there to listen, to understand, and to support her with whatever she's going through or wants to talk about. But don't force her to sit down and tell you (or anyone else) everything that's going on. She'll just get more stressed out and revert inward. If you can give her the space and the resources (creative outlets?), she may well start coming forward with thoughts, ideas, memories, events, whatever that may be stressing her out.

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    Cannibal Rights Activist Ophidia's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    Dez, does your daughter have any hobbies, or physical activities that she enjoys?

    It's known that people, including kids, who have hobbies are more emotionally resilient, and physical activity can help release some of the nervous energy that builds up with anxiety. Looking for a community center with kids who aren't as likely to be her classmates or kids who know she's been a target of bullying in the past could get her the socialization she's craving. And most community centers are always looking for volunteers, so it wouldn't be like you were throwing your kid to the wolves.

    T-Ball & 'powder puff' Little League helped my oldest niece deal with overwhelming emotions. She had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome when she was born, and had some learning/developmental disabilities (and was mixed race to make sure the bullying from non-immediate family members got thrown in for good measure). By the time she hit 4, she would get so frustrated with things around her that she'd slam herself on the ground & start banging her head against the floor. If she got in trouble for anything, she'd trash her room. I'm not just talking about throwing clothes and toys around, she smashed lamps and damaged walls & stuff. She'd also resort to smacking herself around, to the point of blacking her own eyes or bloodying her own nose (and no, it wasn't my sister saying, "Oh, she hit herself" to hide abuse - I watched the kid give herself a concussion one time - if you tried to hold her down you'd end up w/facial trauma yourself because she'd whip her head around like a battering ram).

    On the grown-up side of things, my husband's got Generalized Anxiety Disorder and has panic attacks every now and again. It's rough to deal with when you don't want to be medicated - he hates all the benzos because they make him feel foggy, and doesn't like the anti-depressants because they've got a myriad of side effects and don't necessarily alleviate his anxiety. He's been working on coping with the symptoms through exercise, cut out caffeine, identifying & avoiding known triggers, and using low-dose Xanax sparingly when things get really bad. It's miserable, but he's learning what works for him and just tries to ride it out. If you've got access to therapists or counselors, it's not a bad idea to take advantage of them. They can give you a toolbox of things you can use when your anxiety gets out of hand - something I'm still trying to convince my ol' man about :P
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  4. #4
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    I think you need to take her to a doctor first--to her pediatrician at least, and then see what sort of specialist they would recommend. Even if you think its anxiety, if its not and you start doing the wrong thing, or not doing enough of the right thing, you will kick yourself as a mom. The specialist can evaluate her, and let you know what your options are. It has been my experience that most docs DON'T want to medicate kids unless they need it to function...its more parents. BUT...I don't think you should dismiss medication outright. And often parents don't understand enough about what is actually going on with current research...particularly with ADHD (which is our issue with Sharkbait), medication alone is better than therapy and medication and therapy together are better than just meds. We put off putting Sharkbait on meds for almost two years in favor of behavioral therapy, until he got kicked out of pre-k. He's on a super low dosage of non-stimulant ADHD meds, and its like the difference between night and day in his behavior. Meds just sort of take the edge off enough that he can focus and the therapy can work.

    I might add too...how much outside time does she get? Like, outdoors in nature, hands in the dirt, green space to run around in, etc time? Because an hour or so a day outside can do wonders for kids in terms of temperament and behavior in general, and more specifically for kids with a number of problems that run the gamut from anxiety to ADHD.
    Last edited by thalassa; 01 Mar 2013 at 04:33.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

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    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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  5. #5
    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    Dez, if you have anxiety issues, and your mom has anxiety issues, then it is almost certain that your daughter does as well. Sorry - genetic. We're all screwed. You should meet my family....

    You've had anxiety issues since you were very young. I have too. I sure wish I'd have gotten treatment as a kid - life would have been much more tolerable.

    My personal advice - Take her to a doctor. Most likely the doctor will have non-drug treatments to try. But, even if drugs are needed, don't be afraid of them (but do research. The drugs have different effects on children. Be sure they are approved for kids). They work pretty well for me. I'd be out of work if not for them, and so would my wife. The side effects for what we are taking are not very bad - some weak stomach in the morning, bowel issues, sleepiness or nervousness until I get adjusted to a new dose...

    But much, much, much better than the alternative, which is to let anxiety run my life - more than it already does.

    Find a doctor you trust, and also research the things he/she advises for the ups & downs. WebMD is a very good source.
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  6. #6
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    ^What Corbin said! I linked it in the news section, but there is an interesting study about common genetics of depression, bipolar disorder, scizoprehnia, autism, and adhd... A genetic predisposition, combined with additional contributory genes and environmental factors make the difference between the manifestation of one or the other (and as studies continue, I wouldn't be surprised if psychology changes a bit to recognize that people who have one or more of these, really have the same condition, expressed differently).

    The problem with not seeing a specialist though, in not going to the doctor, is that anxiety is part of a number of problems, from PTSD to social anxiety disorder to general anxiety disorder to OCD to panic disorder (totally my supposition here, but possibly some of these are genetically related and we just haven't found that out yet). Some of these things have different treatment plans and ideas. If she was bullied, there is a good chance that she could have PTSD and a genetic predisposition to have a condition in which anxiety is a common and pervasive symptom. Or maybe she has PTSD because she was bullied along with social anxiety disorder. Or maybe she has panic disorder. Really, without seeing someone who specializes in this, particularly in kids, you run the risk of projecting too much of you onto your child, and not getting them the right kid of help (this was The Hubby's issue with Sharkbait and ADHD, since he grew up in the dark ages of Ritalin dosing).
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  7. #7
    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    Thanks very much everyone...

    To clarify, for those who asked questions: My daughter is 6 1/2 (she had just turned 1 when I joined here, can you believe it? Holy cow...). We live in a rather dumpy apartment in mildly scary neighborhood right now(one of the two neighborhoods in my city that have imported gang issues from San Jose, cops pull through 3-4 times every night, no one calls the police if there's a domestic disturbance). This further complicated why my daughter was running into trouble at school (teacher was needing to teach half her class English, she was the only 100% Caucasian kid in her class, etc.). It also means that we have very little in terms of safe space to play. There's no grass, but when it warms up I take them to the community pool 2-3 times per week. The park two blocks away is right next to the homeless shelter, and last time we walked there, I ended up taking them home after about 10-15 minutes because a fight broke out and it wasn't safe, so when I have the car I take them to a park a couple of miles away, in a nicer part of town. I hate walking around our neighborhood...to the market, laundromat, 7-11, because I will get hit on or catcalled even with my kids in tow, and it makes my anxiety go crazy. I have panic attacks about leaving the house some days, especially if I need to go on foot. We're trying to move to that nicer part of town, and we're trying to figure out an after school program or sport to get her into, but right now we can't afford it...me loosing my job at the beginning of January(and the way it tied in with my anxiety, both as part of the reason I was fired in the first place, and how it seems to have made it worse) has made that harder to fix for now...but we're trying.

    I have an appointment with a family doctor who specializes in Obstetrics next Wednesday. L saw her first, and verified that she's nice...and doesn't treat PCOS like a curable illness brought on by sloth and stupidity (can you tell that the OBGYN I saw in January made things worse?). L doesn't have psych insurance through his job...instead, it's some weird nebulous "help hotline". The last three times I've tried to call it, I cried and couldn't get anything done all day, and so I made him promise to call it on speaker with me this weekend. There's a group that offers reduced rates via Stanford, but for our income level, that's still $40 per week...on $15 per hour in the Bay Area for a family of four, I'm honestly not sure we can do that for one person, much less two. Because of budget cuts, there were effectively no resources through the school district for any children younger then second grade before we pulled Miss A out.

    I'm looking at this...the advice you've given and what I've written, and just realized something rather sobering; this is like in a plane when they tell you to get your own darn air mask before helping a child put theirs on. I need to get myself to a better spot if I want to help her. Especially since I keep worrying about it, and I agree about the projection issues. Yeesh...just the effort to write this and my heart is going crazy and I feel like I can't breathe...this is why I've been so absent. I'm going to take a break and come back. I hate the fact that she watches me struggling with this day and and day out...I doubt that helps either.

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    Eldritch Priestess Willow's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    It seems like you're getting a handle on your own root problems, once you're aware of everything affecting your own nerves you can begin to treat it. If you need to vent or anything drop me a pm, I've been coping with PTSD for 8 years now and for the first 3 of those I refused to leave my bedroom alone, talk to anyone new, or even feel my own emotions. It does get better.

  9. #9
    Newbie OwlCloud's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dez View Post
    I'm looking at this...the advice you've given and what I've written, and just realized something rather sobering; this is like in a plane when they tell you to get your own darn air mask before helping a child put theirs on. I need to get myself to a better spot if I want to help her. Especially since I keep worrying about it, and I agree about the projection issues. Yeesh...just the effort to write this and my heart is going crazy and I feel like I can't breathe...this is why I've been so absent. I'm going to take a break and come back. I hate the fact that she watches me struggling with this day and and day out...I doubt that helps either.
    You hit the nail right on the head, hun. You could be triggering each other, too. Some kids seem to be more sensitive to the world around them in terms of knowing what is going on with the adults, which can feed anxiety. If you aren't able at the moment to help yourself through your issues then helping her will be all the more hard. Easier said than done, I know. I got a deja vu feeling reading through this because my daughter, myself, my mother, grandmother (just keep counting the women) all suffer or suffered from anxiety issues for various reasons. Generally we are just very high strung and throwing off our schedule is like throwing us into a self destructive stress-fire. My daughter has for some years (she's 8 right now) been struggling with extreme panic attacks. She also has ADHD, OCD, and depression. She loves school but refuses to go sometimes and will run out in the middle of the street with no shoes and all out freak the * out. She head butts walls hard enough to knock herself out. She only did that once but omg I was scared. I have made so many ER visits with her. She has to have a rigid schedule or she is a wreck. She also will not bathe/shower without me standing there in the bathroom for what she calls "safety". She refuses to leave the house most days because she says the world gives her a headache (she has migraines as well). She is always clutching her stomach and refusing to eat saying that it hurts too bad from her stomach shaking.

    So I am standing in the pharmacy one day filling my anxiety/migraine/Epilepsy meds and I had an epiphany if you will. I looked down at my daughter and found her looking off at the crowd behind us clutching her stomach, pale as a ghost. I realized I was doing the same things she was doing except I'm always pale. Had to throw in a laugh. So we started with the pediatrician who referred her into counseling/therapy. She has been learning how to work through her issues instead of trying to "get over" them. That has been helping a little but she just had an evaluation and medication is in her future. She still can't eat well and only sleeps about 5 hours a night. I'm an insomniac, too. It took us 2 1/2 years to get to this point for the good and bad but I am glad they didn't start throwing prescriptions at her immediately.

    Of course like therapists do she spotted me a mile away with my issues and told us that we could be fueling each other. If she sees me nervous she will follow suit. If she senses that there is any tension in the house and sees me holding my stomach she's done for. It's hard to remain emotionless just so I don't trigger her because we already have so many other triggers to deal with but I have had to play stone-face to keep her calm. All the breathing exercises and calming music in the world cannot stop us when we are over our reasoning level. There is a point in her episodes where I can intervene and calm her down but that moment is fleeting and if missed could lead to all out chaos for her.

    I thought I would share this with you since some of what you described is similar to what Morgan and I go through on a daily basis. When she sees me fray at the edges she will start to fray as well. She could be having a bad day while my day is going well and she can trigger me. I sit in most days for her therapy appts. so I can learn how to help her best. We have tried soooo many things like worry beads and journaling which have helped a little but nothing can change the fact that we are as we are and have to find ways to keep us from following our triggers that bring us to our breaking points. I'm also sneaky about picking up tips to help myself since I can no longer afford to have both of us in therapy.

    I hope you all can find a helpful way through this that works for you and your family. You will all be in my thoughts, Dez.

  10. #10
    Sr. Member WinterTraditions's Avatar
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    Re: Does my daughter have anxiety issues?

    I have high anxiety levels myself, so if you need any help concerning it, I'm all ears.

    Of course, I take medication for my symptoms. It's not so much worrying in general, than the "Absolute fear and impatience when it comes to future events". Riding in a vehicle is the worst for me. I stare out the window and think up scenarios of utter doom that could happen. "That car is close. What if they drove us off the road?" When we have to pass a crossroad that doesn't have lights, I tense up and grip the chair; fearing that the car up ahead and to the right will try to cut across while we're passing.

    Back when I was in elementary school, I lived a few blocks from the school. The trip to and from was fairly straightforward, except for the fact that I had to cross a four-way intersection midway through. Mind you, it wasn't a busy place because there were only houses, but... If I was walking up to it to cross, and there was a car pulling up/waiting at the intersection... I would turn and continue down the block to avoid crossing the road. I will continue walking back around the block until the cars are gone. Is a car pulling out of the driveway? Nope. I would immediately go to the opposite end of the street and stop so there is a parked car either between myself and it, or a heavy object on the other side of me which (if the car decided to assassinate me) I could duck behind.

    Fun.

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