A is for Anxiety.

A is for Anxiety. For her and for me.

It is a strange world our little family of three have been living in, these past few months. The anxiety that has always been underlying Milla’s behaviour, has taken over, to the point where she is in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’.

Her fear of traffic has become so extreme, that we no longer leave the house during the week, except for her appointments and classes. I take her in the pram, as she becomes so blinded by panic that she will just wildly run, and I’m terrified she will run out on the road. Even in the pram, she recoils in fear when we have to cross a road; screaming and crying in fright.

We can no longer use public toilets, due to her fear of hand-dryers. We can’t get her to come in to the disabled toilets or parents room, even when we assure her that no one will use the hand-dryer. If we try and carry her in to show her, she will scream and cry.

Walking from the car to the shopping centre is an ordeal, she jumps a foot whenever a car drives past, and the mere sight of a truck will have her dissolving into tears.

Home should be her safe place, but this is where her anxiety manifests fear from the strangest of places.

The ceilings make her anxious. She will keep staring up at them, growing more and more uneasy, until she has to leave the room. If we try and coax her back in, reassure her that everything is fine, and that there is nothing on the ceiling, she will meltdown, crying and shouting over and over again, NO NO NO. At first it was just in the play room, so I came up with ideas for decorating the ceiling, but it soon spread to other rooms in the house; the lounge, the kitchen, the dining room. There is no explanation as to why she is afraid, and she can’t verbalise her reasons to us. Sometimes sticking pictures up on the ceiling helps, until the next time.

Certain reflective surfaces scare her. The plastic doors on her toy microwave and oven. The stainless steel tap in the bath. Again, she can’t explain why, perhaps because her reflection is distorted? At least these fears are easy to fix, with paper taped over all the surfaces that frighten her.

There are so many other, random things that crop up each day. On Monday, it was milkweed seeds, that float through the air. Other children call them ‘fairys’; Milla runs in fear.

Every day, I walk around with a tight knot of anxiety in my stomach. I dread leaving the house with Milla on my own. I measure every word, every action, in case something I do exposes another fear in my baby girl.People tell me that she will be able to pick up on my anxiety, and that just makes it worse. That is like saying wolves can smell fear, does it make you more or less afraid??

I lay awake at night in bed; worrying, wondering. How can I help her?

That is the saddest thing, the most heartbreaking thing. Milla is three years old. A three year old should not have to carry this anxiety and fear around with her. A three year old should not even know what ‘anxiety’ feels like, let alone live with it, day in and day out.

A beautiful new friend I made recently, said this to me “When our children are having a hard time, it is so much more obvious to us, because unlike the rest of the world, we are FEELING it all. Trying to soak up all their anxiety, stress and upset, so that they can be ‘OK’. “  This rang so true for me.

I so desperately wish I could get inside her head, figure out exactly where her fear is stemming from , and then I could make it go away.

But instead, I take her to see new psychologists, new occupational therapists.

Instead I research sensory processing disorders.

Instead I make daily activity charts and routine charts; to try and remove any uncertainness or confusion.

Instead I have blind faith, that this WILL get better. That this HAS to get better.

Because I know this girl. I know she is meant for amazing things. I know that she is stronger than her fears, than her anxiety. We will get over this hurdle, just like we have all the ones before. Because that’s what we do. We just keep going.

32 comments on “A is for Anxiety.

  • Bec | Mumma Tells , Direct link to comment

    I have tears welling up in my eyes on reading your plight. Yours, and your sweet little girls. I know the all consuming feelings of anxiety, how absolutely debilitating it can be. I hope you find a way through. And soon. X

  • Mez , Direct link to comment

    I am desperately sorry for you all experiencing this situation. Poor little poppet. I can attest to therapy as helpful. My anxiety has eased off remarkably, I only wish I had sought help earlier. You are the doing the absolute best for your girl and I am sending strength and love. If you ever need an ear, drop me a line. Mez xx

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me , Direct link to comment

    Oh Jane, I can’t imagine how hard that is on your daily existence, from when you wake until you (don’t) sleep. I am glad you’ve got a routine chart, I hope that helps. I won’t pretend to know how you are feeling, but I can imagine, and my heart cracks a little. In saying that, you’re smart, you know there is help, financial and emotional, out there for you and your princess. Grab it with both hands. Hugs and kudos to you xxxx

  • Jodi Gibson , Direct link to comment

    I can’t imagine how heartbreaking this is. I have no advice just thoughts, prayers and wishes that there are better days ahead for you and your precious little girl x

  • Neen , Direct link to comment

    I’m struggling to find the right words…. I guess I want you to know you’ve got my support in my online capacity and I think you are an amazing mumma. Anxiety is awful – I have an adult to look after with this and I find it so hard, I can only imagine the difficulty you face each day. Much love to you guys xox

  • Sonia Life Love Hiccups , Direct link to comment

    Oh Jane my heart aches for you and your husband and for Milla. The pain we as parents feel for our kids is almost too much to bear at times isnt it. I just want to hug you and her with all my might and I will hope with all my heart that things improve for her and you really soon xx

  • Lila , Direct link to comment

    I’m so sorry Milla (and you) are going through this. We rarely leave the house because of other issues Eve has and even though it’s not anxiety I completely get just how stressful this is. How helpless you can feel as a parent when your little one is going through something like this.

  • Flick , Direct link to comment

    You’re right, A is for Anxiety, and I can’t imaging how difficult things are for you right now. But A also stands for a bunch of other excellent words which I think you and your beautiful girl represent: Awesome, Adorable, Amazing, Able, Ace. Hang in there, Flick x

  • Tracey , Direct link to comment

    I’m so sorry to read this – I know it must be so hard for all of you. It brings back some memories of difficulties my daughter had – she disliked many things – cried when I cooked because she hated so many aromas etc; bright lights; a lot of different noises; certain clothes etc etc. I am also concerned for you – remember that you are important too and need a break sometimes – I hope that you have some support so that you and your husband can go out sometimes by yourselves and have dinner or you can go and have a coffee with friends. My love and positive thoughts go to you all xxxx

    • Hesitant Housewife , Direct link to comment

      Thank you Tracey. Coincidently my husband and I happened to have a rare night out on Saturday, our first in a long time. It was lovely xx

  • Lisa@RandomActsOfZen , Direct link to comment

    Jane, you sound like such a strong mama, but sometimes it just all gets too much. Recognise this community for what it is, a group of us all with different struggles, and maybe some answers to things you’re going through.
    Milla is so lucky to have you, your dedication is beautiful.
    Take care of you too x

    • Hesitant Housewife , Direct link to comment

      I can’t comment on your blog Bron, but I love that quote, “Some kids are just harder to parent than others.” And I love your thought that it means those children just work through life’s problems a little bit earlier. I believe this too. Milla often appears wiser than her years, as I’m sure Max does too. I will look into the book you recommended also. xx

  • allya , Direct link to comment

    What a tough road you are on at the moment – I feel for you so much.
    I am sure your positive attitude is helping so much though – your little Milla is lucky to have you

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