After all our pre-Easter frivolity last night we all got up early to get ready for church this morning. Today is S’s 14th birthday and our tradition is Krispy Kreme donuts in honor of the occasion. We love celebrating each other’s birthdays!
When S said she couldn’t eat a donut I found out that she was feeling a “little” nauseous and didn’t sleep well last night. For her, this usually means she’s not talking about her feelings or something big is going on. She couldn’t give me any reasons for sleeping poorly so since she wanted to go to church we kept getting ready. She looked a little pale and we decided to take two cars. Tim had to be there since he’s leading worship and I needed to be there since I was singing. My role was less important so just in case S got sick we were prepared.
As we started down the road I asked my daughter if there was anything big going on and she said she just didn’t feel very well. At that precise moment I could see it coming. I turned the car around and she promptly got sick (nothing to throw up in, of course) and was trying desperately to roll the window down. We were at a stop light and I told her to open the door (as in, lean out and throw up outside) and she got out of the car. As I fussed at her to get back into the car we took off for home again. I blindly saw a red light, stopped and then went right through it. Yes, by God’s grace I managed to swerve and miss two cars. It was totally my fault, but my mind was just on getting home as fast as possible. I guess it’s not only our kids whose brains freeze up at times.
You see, my S suffers from anxiety like her brother but it looks different for her. When she doesn’t sleep she is prone to having a panic attack and throwing up. The few slumber parties she has been to were disasters that resulted in me picking her up in the middle of the night or early, early morning because she was sick. Her anxiety keeps her from sleeping (as well as the chaos and excess food at girls slumber parties). Her first real, identifiable panic attack was the day before her oldest sister’s graduation from our homeschool. It got her a visit to the emergency room because of her behaviors. Yet, it wasn’t until several months later that we associated “big feelings” and “secrets” with the panic attacks.
For my S, when she doesn’t deal with her fears (change, ie. her sister graduating);
secrets (behaviors or thoughts that she has indulged in that are detrimental to her well being) and loss (death of family members or pets) her sleep is affected, she gets uncontrollably anxious and then throws up. I know this about her as well as I know myself, but as a teenager now I want her to learn to use her tools (talking to me, getting a hug, physical activity, talking to God) to help her identify when an attack is coming on.
We weren’t able to head this one off but when we got home she and I spent time processing it out. She was so upset that she prevented me from going to church on Easter. There was nothing “big” going on in her life, just many little things. Last night at our family gathering she felt at times uncomfortable and just wanted to be home at our house. She loves her cousins and siblings but she physically draws comfort from our home. Her college brother was home for four days, her married sister spent some time here and we were out of our routine. For most people, those are joyous things, but for a healing RAD child it can sometimes be overload. The next part of healing for my S is helping her realize how change affects her, even positive change, and teaching her how to cope through each experience.
In hindsight I wouldn’t have changed anything about our family time or plans. I would, however, have tried to pick up on any tell-tale signs of anxiety. This is very challenging because S is a teenager and moods can swing back and forth rapidly at times. Sometimes life is just busy, crazy and full and I miss any signs. Through this journey we will all continue to learn about each other. Sometimes we will completely miss the boat and other times we will be able to prevent the anxiety. That’s just life.
Happy 14th birthday my daughter! It will get better, I promise!