— Anais Nin
For two days this week, Soren's anxiety has been rubbed raw. He's had meltdowns in the mornings like I've never seen; "meltdown" is not even the right word, since it sounds like a kid's naughty response to not getting what he wants. This is a panic attack, with deep sobs and gasps and stomping of feet. He is deeply anguished by or terrified of something, and I don't know what or why. Like his anxiety was in the past, this has come out of the blue. And he's inconsolable. He seems to want to be totally alone in his pain.
Here's what I'm doing wrong about it: I'm panicking. I'm going to the worst scenario. I'm assuming this will be a constant. And I am taking on his anxiety as my own. My inner dialogue goes something like:
i knew it would come back. so much for his easy transition to school. why can't i figure out the cause of this? i'm completely ineffective as his parent. this is awful. my heart is racing. god i feel like i'm suffocating.
I know I look shocked and stricken when he's in the midst of an attack. It's because I feel his anxiety viscerally. It's become mine. I notice I'm not breathing. And oddly, because nothing I do seems to help (and talking to Soren often exacerbates his crying), I have moments of complete dissociation.
As a footnote, today was a good day with only a few minutes of quiet crying. So maybe this was just a fluke. But I'm still thinking about ways to keep my emotional health if and when this crops up again.