Pins and Needles, Needles and Pins……

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How many people nowadays suffer from anxiety? *Raises hand* In today’s society it feels like so many people, young and old, suffer from anxiety. It can be triggered by pressure in school, work, home, relationships of every form. Anxiety is a universal thing that everyone has felt at some point in life. Although, some people handle anxiety far better than others. Some of us tend to be high strung and react negatively when the pressure is on, while others thrive at the thought of it and actually excel quite nicely with a little anxiety motivating things. In some people anxiety can trigger behaviors such as substance abuse, alcoholism, or health problems. Regardless of the effect, anxiety is something that has played a role in everyone’s life at some point.

My 13 year old daughter suffers from anxiety. Her father ceased visitation with her about 6 months ago, and since then her anxiety and now depression have increased exponentially. My gut reaction, aside from wanting to throttle him, was to put her in therapy. I experienced something similar with my father, and I spent years in therapy. I do not want to see her struggle through the teen years like I did, not because of this issue. She is slowly learning techniques and being given tools to manage her anxiety. She is utilizing things like guided imagery to help calm the constant flow of thoughts in her brain.

My 4 year old also has anxiety issues, can you see the trend here? Her anxiety stems from a different place, but a similar one as her oldest sister. Helping a young child deal with anxiety is rather difficult I am finding. First of all, I have had to tap into patience on a level I never knew I could be capable of exhibiting. I try to understand her reactions, as irrational as they often seem. More importantly, I try to be proactive in preventing an anxious meltdown, and react well when they do occur in order to return her to normal as soon as possible. Regardless, it is something we deal with regularly. Although with the younger child it is more difficult considering she cannot just be told she is anxious and how to handle herself. She requires lots of age appropriate conversation and guidance, and that patience I mentioned earlier.

Anxiety can be beneficial to a certain degree as well. My oldest daughter as an example, loves to be challenged academically. She thrives on the pressure of achieving grades and winning academic competitions. It drives her immensely. In this way, anxiety serves her well. It seems to me that when anxiety comes in small doses it gives a controllable amount of adrenaline that works for us, but upset the delicate balance and we find ourselves hyperventilating and unable to stop the hamster running in the proverbial wheel in our minds. Easing the pressure while maintaining the drive, that seems to be the ultimate goal.

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