Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Battle to Function with Anxiety as told to my ASD son

My beautiful youngest son, Master14, is on the Autism Spectrum so I am often having to explain the world in terms he can understand. On this sunny day my Master14 and I were out and about getting things done and running errands together. On the way home on a small coastal “major” road I began to have an anxiety attack so I took a detour into a park with sweeping bay views and we talked.

Master14: you ok mum?

AnxietyMum: Mummy’s just having a moment sweetheart. Let’s look at the water for a while and see if I calm down.

Master14: What’s it like?

AnxietyMum: It’s like tight metal bands around my chest making breathing really hard.
It’s tears hiding just behind my eyes burning to escape.
It’s my heart racing and feeling like it wants to escape my chest.
It’s my limbs being heavy, cold, numb and unresponsive.
It’s a bone deep shudder that just wont stop.
It’s a fear so critical I need to get away, but I don’t know what from.
It’s an icy creepy feeling up my back.
It’s hairs all over my body standing up like goose bumps.
It’s a sweaty, sticky, gross, clammy feeling in my hands, my hair and my feet.
It’s a feeling of dread like something really bad is just about to happen, but I don’t know what.

Master14: Can you really feel all that?

AnxietyMum: Yes baby I can.

Master14: What makes it happen to you?

AnxietyMum: That’s a very good question … It’s like my brain tells me stories, lots of stories, of all the things that could go wrong. The stories are all very possible so they worry me, especially when I drive, because horrible things can always happen on the road.

Master14: you can’t stop the stories?

AnxietyMum: I try very hard to not pay attention to them, but …

Master14: They are like a song stuck in your head?

AnxietyMum: Sort of …
When I am driving it’s like I have port holes, little boat windows, of reality in my windscreen and mirrors, but all around that reality are images, flashes, of horrible possibility trying to make me pay attention.

Master14: What sort of images?

AnxietyMum: a dog running into the road, a child, a ball, a stroller.
I see an insect crashing into the windscreen guts all over the place, or a pelican poo, or a bird.
I see branches falling off trees, rocks flying at me, pot holes and bridges collapsing.
I see your face bloodied, your arms broken, blood everywhere.

Master14: none of that happened, none of it was real …

AnxietyMum: I know darling. I know it the whole time, but the stress of it, all of it, makes my body react to it even as if it were real. Adrenalin gets released into my blood stream and I can’t help feeling all the things that real disaster creates in a body.

Master14: are you ok now?

AnxietyMum: I’m much better thank you

Master14: Why do you thank me?

AnxietyMum: Because focusing on your questions gave my brain something to do other than panic.

Master14: I helped you?

AnxietyMum: More than you could possibly imagine.

Master14: Can we go home now?

AnxietyMum: Absolutely … that’s just where I want to be.

*quiet moment as we get back on the road*

Master14: I feel like that sometimes …

AnxietyMum: You know any time you do you can talk to me about it.

Master14: Because you understand.

AnxietyMum: Boy do I ever!

I don’t think any mother wants to have to explain why they are frail or scared or distressed. I have always tried to keep open dialogues with my children, but I am always challenged to explain things to my youngest in terms HE can relate to. I also managed to gave him a name for the way he sometimes feels. We are closer for it and I have a better understanding of my amazing wee man and myself.