Thursday, November 13, 2014

Caleb's fight with anxiety

I've mentioned before that Caleb struggles with anxiety. Really he's always been a somewhat anxious kid but it has gotten worse and worse over the last couple of years. We have done all that we could to try and help him. We pray. We read scriptures. We distract. We pray some more. We push him to do things even when he's nervous. We try to give him control when we can. Sometimes those things work, but more often they don't. They are working less and less these days.

It's been incredibly frustrating for all of us. This sweet boy is riddled with anxiety. He doesn't know why. We don't know why. Most of the time, his nervousness makes absolutely no sense. He knows he's worried about things that he shouldn't be. His hands shake. He cries. He won't eat. He throws up.

There aren't words to describe the battle I see raging within him.


It's truly heartbreaking. He's only 9.

We finally tried medicine. We put Caleb on a low-dose of Zoloft. We tried Zoloft for about 8 weeks and this medicine brought Caleb's anxiety to an entirely new level. It was awful. He couldn't leave the house. Even doing things that he would normally enjoy like wheelchair basketball would cause such a fit of anxiety that he just couldn't get past it. We tried to go to a pumpkin carving party at a friend's house. Caleb wouldn't get out of the car. He threw up. The smallest thing would cause significant anxiety. Even a grandparent coming to the house would send Caleb over the edge. The peak of the Zoloft nightmare was Caleb's anxiety got so bad that he couldn't even go out on Halloween. So ya know that awesome Wild Kratt's Createrra I made....well it never got's collecting dust in the garage. Oh the irony.

He's lost 6 pounds. He was already thin.

So we took him off Zoloft because that stuff was making everything way worse. The child barely smiled for weeks. He face was fallen all the time. He had no peace. He was truly miserable. We've all been miserable. He's been off the Zoloft for over a week now and he has improved some. Still anxious of course, but we are closer to his "normal" anxiety and not in the crazy zone anymore.

We met with a counselor this week. I really like her and I'm optimistic that she will be able to help Caleb over time. We may try a new medicine once he's been off the Zoloft for a bit longer. I want to give him whatever tools he needs to fight this. We will fight this. He will get his life back.

This is really hard for me to share. It's been a really rough time for our family. It's so much easier to share the good, the pretty, the perfect. But I know that we don't struggle alone. I know that our honesty and transparency can benefit others. So I'm shining a light on something painful. As a mom, my heart breaks for Caleb. I hate it. I'm frustrated by it. It's maddening.

But we are pressing forward. We are doing what we can to help him. While I feel like our lives are on hold right now, we are still taking one day at a time.

Some of our favorite verses:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6) 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“ (Matt. 6:34)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)


Anonymous said...

Hi Cassie,
I just wanted to share that I also struggle with anxiety, and have since I was a little kid. What you are describing with Caleb sounds so similar to what I went through. Unfortunately, my parents didn't believe in medication for kids, so I didn't get to try anti-anxiety meds until I was 18. They changed my life for the better. I went from being so anxious that anything could throw me over the edge to really being able to cope with most things. So thank you for keeping an open mind and willing to do what ever is necessary for Caleb!!! I found that cognitive behavioral therapy worked much better for me than just talk therapy, because it gave me concrete tools that I could use when I was feeling anxious. Of course, having other medical issues doesn't exactly help, and i'm sure thats rough for Caleb as well. Good luck to you! I will be praying for Caleb and all of you.

Anonymous said...

HI Cassie,
Thank you for this post and sharing about anxiety. You are not alone. At 4 years old we see our daughter with SB showing more anxiety. Much of what you describe sounds like us. Her doctors are aware but we havent had any treatment yet. We dont hear people discussing this topic and I pray more will open up and share what has worked for them and their children. Always in my thoughts and prayers. Lirs

Anonymous said...

We struggle with it too at our house. You are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

Bernadette Redmond said...

Hi Cassie - thanks for being so vulnerable and honest. While I was reading a thought came to mind (take it or leave it) that I'd like to share.

With our son, Nate we've been making it a point lately to point out everytime God answers one of his desires. For example, for 2 yrs. Nate has been asking if he can play football...of course he can't because he's in a wheelchair (so I thought). I made up alot of reasons why he couldn't play hoping to avoid the true reason. I was wrong. This year two brothers from his class invited him to join their flag football team. He went to every game and the last two games they brought him on the field and let him play with the other boys and even score a touchdown. It was awesome. When Nate asked why they let him play we told him that God had heard him and saw his desire and found a way to answer him. We really want Nate to get that God hears him and cares about the things he cares about, that He's real...

Maybe you might try this with Caleb (if you're not already). Point out every event -big or small- that answers some need or desire that he might have or voice. Highlight how God is constantly listening to him and answering him. Our hope is that Nathan will begin to trust God on his own, begin talking to him on his believe and have his own experiences with God.

Perhaps this might work with Caleb too. To practically show him everytime God responds to something he says or does. I'm not saying this is going to take away Caleb's anxiety but perhaps it might help him during an episode - if he really knows, believes and trust that God is right there with him...not because his parents tell him so but because he has his own experiences and friendship with God.

Just a thought, I'll be praying for all of you!


Mary Evelyn said...

Thank you for writing this. I hope you know how much good it does for other parents and families in similar situations. Writing about the hard stuff is just as important as writing about the good stuff and I know that other kids with SB struggle with this too. I struggled with intense anxiety similar to Caleb's but it did not come on so strong until I was in college. I can only imagine how hard it is for you to help him navigate this at such a young age. Keep at it. You're doing all the right things by trying meds, focusing on prayer, and getting him a therapist to talk to (that was a big help for me!). I'll be praying he finds some peace soon.

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Like you I would prefer to share the good, the nice, the perfect. But I know, just like you do, that like isn't always like that. Having the courage to share when things aren't always perfect is brave and courageous. You are doing everything you can to help Caleb. You're a great mom and an inspiration to us.

With love,
Another SB mom

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