Today is a different kind of post on the blog. Yesterday was a tough day here. I have mentioned before that our middle daughter who we will call E, struggles with anxiety just like me.
E is a great kid, she has such a soft heart, is so compassionate and is the first kid to give someone in need something of hers. E is super funny, loves to read comics, is a serious student who is really smart and I think she’s secretly the bub’s favorite sister.
She has had a hard time with school ever since she was little, like pre-school age little. She hates being late to anything as she doesn’t want people to look at her when she walks into a room. At one point she wouldn’t eat in restaurants and even had a panic attack while we were eating out. The unwanted attention of large amounts of people on her is something she is worried about. One of her triggers is people throwing up, especially at school. E is quite concerned she will throw up and people will look at her, say things and she will be embarrassed. The worrying manifests itself in the form of stomach aches for her which then make her worry she’s going to throw up which makes the stomach aches worse. This is a vicious cycle and we’ve been dealing with this off and on since she was three years old. Second grade by far was the worst year, she was in the nurse’s office almost every day, she wouldn’t get out of the vehicle to go to school, she would cry every morning and we felt helpless and frustrated. Our pediatrician referred us to a psychologist but it was a very long wait to see her. I sent the paperwork in to the clinic in early March and our fist appointment was in August. After 4 or 5 visits she was doing really well so the psychiatrist felt we didn’t really need to meet anymore. Third grade was much better, it was helpful that our neighbor across the street was her teacher.
When we decided to move, hubs and I were a little nervous how she would do but E was really excited to move. The school year this year so far has been pretty decent, she likes her teacher, she likes her classmates, has friends and is in a gifted reading program. We have had struggles with homework, E expects everything she does to be perfect, once again, just like her me and I hate that. She wants the perfect answer, perfect writing, etc.
Now that the stomach flu season is here, she is back to worrying about throwing up. Almost every morning she tells me her stomach hurts and I have to tell her it’s from worrying. Yesterday she wouldn’t go to the bus stop, there was lots of yelling and frustration all around along with crying. I decided maybe we needed to go to the doctor and see what they had to say, maybe hearing from a doctor that worrying was causing her stomach to hurt would be more helpful than hearing it from me. We do not have an established doctor here but we got in yesterday and the doctor we saw was ok, I wasn’t wild about him but it could have been worse. He listened to everything we had to say, suggested that maybe E could be suffering from some constipation but the most likely culprit was her anxiety. He then strongly suggested we try some medication.
I am not anti-medication as I know that it can be helpful for people but I think that we are very quick in our society to throw medicine at situations without getting down to the root cause of what is wrong. This is how I feel about anxiety, let’s not mask the problem but figure out what’s going on and causing the problem. Medication along with counseling is something I’m not opposed to but just giving me some medicine to numb my kids mind is not the solution I was looking for. We did have the doctor call in the meds but after we got home and the hubby and I talked some more, we have decided to hold off for now. He prescribed Zolaft for her and I’m not sure I want my daughter on it. I have had a few friends on Zolaft who said they were pretty much numb, they couldn’t be mad, couldn’t be sad, couldn’t be happy, they were just there. I also know that suicidal thoughts and paranoia are side effects of this medication. I don’t want my child to be some zombie kid who can’t feel anything but I also don’t want her to be a ball of anxiety either.
Yesterday at the library I checked out a book called What’s Eating Your Child by Kelly Dorfman. I’m really excited to read this book and see what they have to say. This is what Amazon.com has listed as the book description:
Here’s a book for every parent whose child suffers from mood swings, allergies, ear infections, eczema, anxiety, tantrums, ADD/ADHD, picky eating, lack of growth, and a host of other physical, behavioral, or developmental problems.
This is an important book! Written by Kelly Dorfman, a sought-after nutritionist whose typical family in her practice comes to her after already having seen three or more medical specialists, What’s Eating Your Child? brilliantly reveals the hidden connections between nutrition and chronic childhood ailments while giving parents simple, straightforward tools to understand and solve their children’s problems.
Grounded in cutting-edge science and filled with case studies that read like medical thrillers, What’s Eating Your Child? reveals that what children eat affects how they thrive. There’s in-depth information on the surprising problems caused by gluten-intolerance, and—short of full-blown celiac disease—how difficult it is to diagnose. On why artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar, and why soy milk is a poor substitute for cow’s milk. On how to cure sleep disorders with melatonin, hyperactivity with magnesium, anxiety with fish oil. Parents learn quickly how to become their own nutrition detectives, and how to implement the very simple EAT program to recalibrate their children’s diets. They’ll understand, at last, how to talk with a doctor about nutrition; why to choose organic; how to pick quality vitamins, minerals, probiotics and supplements; and how to get their children off drugs—antiobiotics, laxatives, Prozac, Ritalin—and back to a natural state of well-being.
I also checked out What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner. E started reading this book last night and asked if we could buy it for her. She really connected with what the book was saying and it gave her some ideas like having a Worry Time each day where she tells us everything she worries about and we just listen and don’t say anything. It also talks about how worries are like tomato plants and when you water the plant it grows, just like when you focus on your worries they grow.
Our next step is to get a referal from our regular pediatrician to see a psychologist where we are living now. Our insurance does not cover any medical where we currently live and it’s a three hour drive one way to go back to where we are covered. A referral would allow us to see someone here and the visits would be covered by our insurance. If after a month of working through the book, making some changes in her diet and talking with someone professionally we don’t see any changes, then we will consider the medication. For now, we are holding off. I know that some people will disagree with our decision and that’s ok. We are doing what we think is best for our child.