- Posted January 26, 2014 by
Cary, North Carolina
This is the story of my middle son's struggles with severe anxiety during his 11th and 12th grade years of high school and how the anxiety worsened when he took an ADD med for the first time. My son's story includes his first encounter with severe anxiety and obsessive thoughts about irrational things he couldn't get out of his head. It wasn't about being nervous or uptight or stressed out as many people think anxiety is; it was an all-encompassing worry and dread with questions about life and existence and one's purpose in this life that can seem so random. He went on an anti-anxiety med and then off of it when he had a bad reaction to it (perhaps serotonin syndrome). He hit rock bottom a few times and was basically not able to function.
After trying supplements and vitamins, he eventually had to go back on another med to battle anxiety, along with prematabolized folic acid (which made a difference because this helps the absorption of the medication for many people). The trick was that teens' hormones fluctuate so much that it's difficult to find the right dosage and balance. This bright, loving, athletically-talented young man was brought to his knees by anxiety, but he persevered and went to school to stay in his routine even on days he didn't feel like going because he knew it would help him. He also saw a psychologist for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition, he turned to our church minister to talk to as well as the high school Young Life group on his campus. He also started exercising more to combat the anxiety symptoms, and over time, all of these things together helped him to battle through it. Yet, we know that the nature of anxiety is that it can return -- sometimes because of a trigger that starts it again or sometimes just because.
As a parent, I was almost overwhemed with my son's anxiety. It took over my life for two years. It was the most draining, exhausting thing I'd ever been through, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I became alarmed at how many young people are affected by severe anxiety, and still how people could write it off as 'just' anxiety. I was also alarmed that 3 of the novels my son read in high school English class involved characters committing suicide; surely, we can include a few uplifting novels in the readings of these vulnerable, impressionable young people. In the essay, I give personal examples of how my son battled through it and how our family battled through it too. It's also a lot about perspective and how one day your son's score on the SAT is all-important, and the next day . . . it doesn't mean anything at all. You just want him to be happy.