Friday, September 07, 2018

Kloe Went to Court - Part 2

Kloe's first memory of feeling anxious was on a family vacation to Lake Powell in 2012.  She was 10 years old.

We were trying night fishing for the first time and I started to notice it was getting REALLY dark.  I told Mom it was getting dark and we should go back, but she assured me Dad knew what he was doing. LOL.  We kept fishing anyways and then when we decided to head back, it was really dark, we couldn’t see anything. Jackson had to hold a giant flashlight in front of the boat just so dad could somewhat see what was in front of us.  There were giant rocks in the water to weave around and we had to go really slow. I was so nervous, and scared that I just laid down, closed my eyes, plugged my ears and started humming A Child’s Prayer to get my mind off it. Ever since then I have sang that song in my head whenever I start to worry or feel anxious. 

A couple of years later Kloe was with my parents, her aunts and uncles, and cousins at the family cabin.
After dinner one night she began feeling like she was going to pass out.
She started to think thoughts like...

What if I pass out?
My parents aren't here, what will I do?
Will the people here even know what to do to help me?
Will they actually believe me if I tell them something is wrong?
What if I'm not okay and this is something more serious?
Will I make it through the rest of the day?

As the night wore on she got so dizzy she couldn't think straight.
Kloe eventually told Grandma Jan she wasn't feeling well and grandma gave her some medicine and had her lie down.
Kloe called me after she talked to my Mom and one of the first things I asked her was what she'd eaten that day.  She'd been doing so much with her cousins she'd forgotten to eat.  Other than some candy, she hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch.  I explained that that was probably the reason she'd gotten dizzy, but in the mean time her mind had gone to thoughts of fear, making her even more sick.
Our body believes whatever our minds tell it, so her thoughts were making her feel worse.
Even after our phone call all night she kept thinking--What if something bad happens during the night?

(A blurry picture of Kloe with her cousin Madi at the cabin)

She was scared to go to sleep and just wanted to go home.
We are some of those parents who don't allow their kids to go on sleepovers, but we make exceptions with cousins.  After the cabin she wouldn't sleep over at any of her cousins houses.  She didn't ever feel comfortable to be away from home at night unless me or Kevin were with her and it stayed that way for a long time.

For about a year nothing really happened but when I was in 7th grade the anxious feelings came back and started coming more and more often.  One day, we were watching the news in advisory and they were talking about all the terrorist attacks and all the bad things that had been happening in the world.  I started getting really uncomfortable in my seat.  I remember not being able to sit still.  I started to become very aware of my breathing, I was so focused on it that I messed up my "breathing pattern" or whatever, myself and then I would start panicking that I wasn't breathing right. It's like once you get the ball rolling it doesn't stop. I definitely see now that my thoughts and actions only made things worse, it's almost like I was out to get myself which is whack. But anyways after the news was over the bell rang and I went to math.  I was sitting in Math listening to the teacher when I had a wave of nervousness come over me.  Not about anything specific, I just started to worry, feeling like something bad was going to happen.  I raised my hand and asked if I could call home and I noticed that as soon as I was up and walking I started to calm down and feel better. 

Kloe called me and when I picked her up I asked her what was wrong.  She told me about how she couldn't catch her breath and her heart was racing.  She said she'd been feeling like this a lot lately but that day it was so much worse.
I didn't think anything was seriously wrong but I was concerned about the reoccurring symptoms so I called our pediatrician and explained them to his nurse.  The nurse said it was probably anxiety and that a lot of kids her age experience it.
A light bulb went on for me when she said that.  As I thought back on the few instances I knew about, and all that Kloe had told me, it made perfect sense that she was having anxiety attacks.

When I was in my 20's I had some anxiety triggered by a couple of health issues.  I found that deep breaths, fresh air, walking and telling myself out loud, "You are fine, everything's okay", pulled me out of it.  So that is where we started with Kloe.  I told her the minute she started feeling anxious or scared she needed to take deep breaths.  I bought her some "stress free" oil to rub on her wrists and then she'd breath deeply as she smelled it.  I don't know how much the scent helped but it was a reason to get her breathing, and that did help.  She would talk herself through it, repeating to herself that she was okay.  She'd also pray for help and think the words to the song A Child's Prayer.
She got pretty good at working through them on her own but there were times when the attacks would get really bad and she'd come get me.  I'd sit with her and talk her through it and together we'd pray for help.  The anxiety attacks continued to bother her throughout Jr High, but in doing these things she was able to manage them.

In Part 3 we'll talk about how her anxiety changed when she started High School.

I asked Kloe to send me a picture she liked from 7th grade and here's what she sent.
Thanks Kloe.

Go HERE for Part 3