The Anxious 5 Year Old: Boo-Boos You Can’t Kiss

29 Feb

Forewarning: This post isn’t humorous in the slightest. I am hurt, sad, pissed off, yet–hopeful.

Some of you have messaged me on twitter or commented on here to check on Sugar and her anxiety, so I thought I’d give a quick update. She was diagnosed with anxiety, with possible OCD–but her psychiatrist doesn’t want to pin that on her yet. She started taking Zoloft a few weeks ago, but had a bad reaction to it (bouncing off the walls, hardly sleeping, destroying everything she came in contact with, and laughing in our faces if we tried to talk to her about it or give her consequences–oy!). Monday, she went back to the psychiatrist and was prescribed Prozac. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with it yet. Still researching, but may go ahead and give it a shot. Yesterday, she started therapy. She did really well. She talked to the therapist alone for a while and expressed sadness that her friend moved away, excitement about moving back to our home state, and said she loved BBQ chicken! ha! The therapist suggested using 1-2-3 Magic with her, so I ordered that last night. Disciplining her has been a challenge.. one I have not been capable of conquering (see Winning At Discipline!). I am at a loss, especially considering I am battling a bad case of anxiety, as well. I am on edge, worn out, worried, sad for my little girl, and just a mess most days, to be honest.

Yesterday, on the way home from the therapist, Sugar says, “Mommy, I have been praying to the Lord every night that my fears will go away, but they aren’t. Why isn’t the Lord listening?” I said, “He is. Just keep praying.” She wasn’t satisfied. “But I been praying a million and a million and a million of times and He isn’t making them go away. Why not? Can He not hear me?” I don’t even remember my response…I was just trying to reassure her while trying not to cry and thinking, “So have I..”. Honestly, I got angry. I was pissed. Why isn’t He listening? Are we not praying hard enough? Are we not worthy enough to have our prayers heard? Do we not attend church often enough? Is it because I swear too much or drink? Surely, God wouldn’t punish my child for my behaviors, but I don’t get it. I still have faith and I know I shouldn’t question God, but things just keep happening that I don’t understand. I’ve put every ounce of faith I have into praying that she will get better, and nothing is happening. I have believed whole-heartedly that she would be healed by His hands, and nothing is happening. So,again, why isn’t He listening?? She is 5 years old, for crying out loud. She doesn’t doesn’t deserve this. She deserves to be a carefree, innocent child. This is where those “Everything Happens For A Reason” bullshit responses come in. Give me a fucking break..no, actually, give me one good “reason” she should suffer. I’m going to keep praying, but please, don’t tell me that it’s happening for a reason..unless you can give me a good one.

My little Sugarbear is a beautiful, kind, gentle, and loving little girl who worries about EVERYTHING. She also does things she knows she shouldn’t do because, according to her, if she doesn’t, “her neck will hurt”. She tells me that her brain is crazy and she just needs to go to the hospital to get a new one. She cries about her brain. When she does things she isn’t supposed to, it’s obvious that she feels guilty. She cries that she doesn’t understand why she does things and that she doesn’t mean to, she just feels like she HAS to. Her brain tells her she has to do those things, her brain “is stupid”, “is broken”, “is crazy”…and nothing I say can assure her that her brain is just perfect.

I’m struggling with the fact that this isn’t a boo-boo I can kiss, put a band-aid on, give her a big hug, and make it all better. I struggle with the fact that, sometimes, I just get so frustrated that I freak out. That makes me feel tremendously guilty. When your daughter sneaks a tea bag out of the pantry, goes to “potty”, tears the bag open, pours the grounds into a hairspray lid, mixes them with water, then splashes it all over your sand-textured bathroom walls.. well, it is really hard to not freak out! Do you know how hard it is to clean ANYTHING off of sand-textured bathroom walls? I tell you what, that is one painting mistake I will not be making again! Anyway, back to the guilt.. yes, it is hard not to freak out, but the guilt remains. Even her psychiatrist has said that it’s all a part of her “problem” and something we will struggle with until she is medicated.

I don’t want to medicate my baby. I don’t. I flat out asked the psychiatrist if the meds could affect her producing those chemicals (the ones they help regulate) on her own later in life. His answer? “Possibly. We don’t REALLY know, yet. There are a lot of theories on how these medicines even work, so it would be hard to determine how they will affect the brain long-term.” Awesome. Fucking Awesome.

Prior to being prescribed the new medication, we had started gradually cutting casein and gluten out of our diets. Since we haven’t gone cold turkey, I can’t tell if they are really working yet. She has always reacted badly to red dyes in food, so maybe this will help. If only it were easier. The more I try to cut out, the more we crave it. The kids have been begging for mac & cheese for a while now. Hopefully, that will taper off soon and they will get used to the new eating habits. Hopefully, I will too.

I know I am all over the place, but that’s where my emotions are.. all over the place today.

Sorry for being a Debbie-Downer. I have bad days, too.

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36 Responses to “The Anxious 5 Year Old: Boo-Boos You Can’t Kiss”

  1. queenofthecouch February 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Gah! I’m so sorry. It breaks me heart that your sweet girl has such anxiety. I’ll give you a call later this week (I miss talking to you every day!).

    • Undomesticated Housewife February 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      Definitely call me! I miss talking to you everyday, too. I swear, I look at my phone and–usually–the last call made or received..was from “4 days ago”. I’m pathetic.

  2. Kelli February 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Sweet girl….Oh the joys of motherhood and what comes with it!! God does listen and will heal but reach out to others to pray for her healing. God always listens but with everyone praying for her healing it will be alot louder!!! She is a precious little thing and I know it is so hard not to be able to “fix” her. I will reach out to my prayer warriors myself to pray for her healing and your strength to help her through it. I love you doll! Aunt Kelli

  3. Mary. February 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    aww so sad, sorry for you & your baby, i have a 5 year old little girl too, who had a nasty accident recently, i watched it happen & couldnt get to her. I so sympathise with you & read your words with tears in my eyes, some of your words were echoes of my own, especially about wanting to hold & kiss them better. I hope a solution is found soon & happiness finds you & yours. Sending heartfelt best wishes.

    • Undomesticated Housewife February 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      I am so sorry about your daughter. I hope everything turns out well for her! It is heartbreaking when you know you are stuck feeling helpless. Sincere best wishes to you, as well!

  4. Alicia February 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Oh, man. That’s really rough. Poor kiddo (and poor momma!). I’m not religious in the slightest, so I can’t offer anything helpful on that angle, but I can tell you as a mother of a now nearly 12 year old son who has had a plethora of behavioral and physical problems, who still struggles with his ADHD, controlling his behavior, his reactions, his anxiety, his body movements, struggles to control his bladder and bowels…I can empathize. It’s so, SO hard. He had three months of colic as an infant and we’ve been riding a behavior / emotional rollercoaster ever since. We had parent-teacher-councilor-principal (!) meetings in Kindergarten. The red dyes also affect him and it’s very hard to keep the dyes completely out of their diet. A pediatric Urologist finally diagnosed him with Spina Bifida Occulta two years ago (and my younger son has none of these issues) so at least I feel less guilt when people assume I’m just a terrible, ineffective parent who likes to medicate-rather-than-discipline my son (see: the first daycare I removed my children from). I know it doesn’t fix anything… but you are not alone. I hope things get better for her and you very soon.

    • Undomesticated Housewife February 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Thank you. I am sorry you have to deal with all of that. It is rough enough just dealing with Sugar’s anxiety, I can’t imagine all of that on top of it. I hope things can improve for you as well (I don’t know much about those conditions to know potential prognoses to know if that is the type of thing that gets better or worse :-/ ). Thank you for your comment!

  5. Emily February 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    I am so sorry you guys are going through this. It is so hard when their mental pain hurts them physically. It’s hard to watch it happen when you can’t do anything to ‘fix’ it. I definitely understand, we are going through something similar, but not quite so severe. I know if I could, I would take all of Jaxon’s pain and I know you would do the same. It just doesn’t seem fair for them to have to deal with this so young. They are just our innocent babies! I hope everything works out, I’m just a fb message away if you want to talk, a lot of people don’t understand what it’s like to have a child who honestly wants to be good, but just can’t 😦

    • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      Thanks. Em. You are right on. I know you have a lot on your plate, too! I hope things are going well with Jaxon! Appreciate the support!

  6. nikki February 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Ok so 1st of all I completely understand. We have struggled with Tyler for 2-3 years,suspecting that he might have ADHD. We ( including his teacher) tried everything, cutting down on sugar doing certain projects or activities to help but nothing helped. So finally after speaking with his teacher and after him getting several “red notes” for things he couldnt help (she knows he couldnt help it also) Just not paying attention and doing things related to the non-attention we made an appt with a Psychologist. He was diagnosed with ADHD & put on medication. I dont believe this is something anyone can help, ADHD runs in Chris’ family so we werent suprised when he was diagnosed. I struggled with it, feeling very guilty. Like I did something wrong or didnt give it my all but I think that no matter what I did nothing wouldve helped. Its just hereditary. Also I think God tries to test our faith, to see how strong it is & if we are dedicated. There are people that have kids with Cancer or down syndrome or a number of things & I believe that its ok to ask why but I know that no matter what there is a bigger picture and he can always pull us through it. Tyler is doing alot better…. He is making better grades & is alot more calm. We are still working on the dose but we will get there. I know that we all have bad days and sometimes when we get down there is nothing anyone or anything can do to make it better. But I just want you to know if tou need to talk im here…. I love ya & im praying for your sweet sugar!

    • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Thank you, Nikki! We both have ADHD as well, so I am not going to be shocked if that dx ends up in there with one of the kids. It’s really hard for people to understand. Even though Hubby has it, too, he still would get aggravated when mine was bad and I’d be the same way with him. No matter how much you understand about it, it is still hard not to get frustrated sometimes. Thank you for the prayers! Love you.

  7. Rebecca February 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Hi, I’m new to this blog. Have you ever had her tested for steph? There are a lot of people out there who show no symptoms at all of stress other than anxiety and severe OCD. There is hope, I swear. I have suffered from severe anxiety disorder all of my life. One of the best ways for me to deal with my anxiety was to play piano. Any instrument actually. It was a way to escape my mind and do something to distract me from everything. If you can find a therapist willing to do EMDR with her, or find some books on severe anxiety disorder. It has been a HUGE help for me, and maybe it will be for her too.

    • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Thank you for the info! I will look into the testing! Sugar wants to learn a new language, so we are looking into some of those programs for kids that help teach them. Maybe that will help distract her! We are all learning to play guitar, too!

  8. Megan Ellis February 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Hi! I just started following your blog..im severley adhd and my twin sister suffered from anxiety especially in high school..it always used to tear me apart that she felt I couldn’t protect her..the only consolation i can offer is now she is a brilliant engineering student and hasn’t had an episode in a really long time…i really hope that things get better for you and your daughter, good luck!

  9. sonia February 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Much love to you and your girl. Sometimes things happen with no good explanation and despite being hopeful, it just sucks. I imagine it’s hard to see her struggle when she’s so young. I’m glad she is your daughter because it’s obvious that you fight hard for her, even when it’s not a band aid booboo.

  10. housewifedownunder February 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    So sorry to hear about your little girl. I’m also not religious, so can’t offer anything insightful or comforting there. I think you are wise to consider carefully putting your daughter on such powerful drugs. Doctors are so quick to medicate these days instead of taking more time to get to the root of the problem. It may turn out that she really does need those drugs, but maybe not, so good for you for pausing to consider. I hope she can get some peace in her mind soon. What a terrible thing for a child to have to suffer through.

    • A supportive fellow mom February 29, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Unless you yourself have had to medicate your child, or unless you’ve done the research on this issue, please be careful about repeating this idea that “Doctors are so quick to medicate.” For children like Sugar, and my own child, medication can be exactly what they need. Obviously, every family has to make this difficult choice. But no family needs other people second-guessing without adequate information.

      • housewifedownunder February 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

        There was no ‘second guessing’. I did actually say, “It may turn out that she really does need those drugs” and said that it is good that she is asking questions about it. It is, of course, none of my business. But you don’t need to be rude or assume that I don’t know anything about the subject.

      • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:34 am #

        Yes, I am just asking questions. I know Sug may need the meds and I will try them. I just want to make sure that they are not going to negatively affect her growing brain and natural chemical productions before I commit to it. I will look into all options, take the doctor’s advice into serious consideration, research all possible side-effects, and make whatever decision seems best. I will probably try the medication as long as there is nothing extremely worrisome out there!

    • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks! I hope so, too!

  11. A supportive fellow mom February 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    You, and your Sugar, are not alone.

    The way I see it, the Lord did send her help, in the form of a loving mom, a terrifically tuned-in doctor, and Prozac. That combination, and your bravery, is very likely to give you and she back her life.

    My oldest should have been on medicine a long time ago. Once we finally found the right one, and the right dose, she really began LIVING her life, rather than hiding from it. She is 13 years old now, and her brain is clearly GROWING more healthy.

    Here’s the best analogy I can think of: our brains grow by thinking. If your brain is thinking unhelpful, OCD-Anxious sorts of thoughts, that’s the groove that gets worn most deeply. The brain chemicals then create more anxiety, and the brain grows more anxious.

    With medication, your daughter’s beautiful brain can begin to think itself well. She will need therapy, she will need you to simplify her environment and put up clearer boundaries than other kids need. Medicine alone does some of it, but frankly it is her BRAIN, in the context of a loving and supportive family and school context, that will do its own healing.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself for “medicating” your kid. There is too much damn nonsense out there that ignores the research and the reality. If you have not done so already, get yourself a copy of Judith Warner’s We Have Issues. And, while you are at it, Norman Doidge’s Book, The Brain That Changes Itself.

    And take good care. Trust that when she is feeling better, doing better, her brain is growing stronger, and you are doing the right things. It took me far too long to choose the brave step you have done, and your daughter will be better for it.

    • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      Thank you for this. Maybe the whole “God works in mysterious ways” rings true here..its just hard to see when she is suffering. I will look into the books!

  12. BrokenAngelMom February 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Being the mom of 2 girls, the oldest diagnosed with ADHD at age 5, and the youngest diagnosed a year and a half ago as bi-polar at age 6 (which is very young even by her psychiatrist’s admission), all of the mental, behavioral, and anxiety conditions are very difficult to deal with both before you are aware that it is an actual condition (and not just being a bad parent or having an extremely difficult child) and after determining the cause and deciding if medications are the route that you want to take or not and finding the right medications/dosages if you decide to use them. With my girls, I did decide to medicate once the issues got to the point of affecting their school work and sociability with others because counseling and redirection were no longer working alone. The medications have made a world of difference with my girls and we found the right dosages after some trial and error that do not mellow them out to the point that they lose their true personalities and they both physically feel better because like Sugar, they too would complain about it making their head physically hurt if they didn’t do whichever unacceptable behavior that was the pick of the day. Again, some choose not to use medications, but rather counseling and behavior/diet modifications. The best advice that anyone can give is to research as much as you can about the anxiety condition in children to make the best informed decisions for which ever route you choose. And God does listen and answer prayers even though sometimes his answer may be no or not right now. I fully believe that all of the struggles that we go through are not necessarily to test our own faith but so that we may later show someone else the faith and strength to make it through similar struggles. I will keep you and Sugar in my prayers!

    • Undomesticated Housewife March 1, 2012 at 11:29 am #

      I’m not sure that I knew that y’all were dealing with all of that. I am so sorry, I really hate that! My biggest fear is that medication will change who Sugar is, aside from the anxiety. I am just researching to make sure that I don’t end up damaging her growing brain, but if everything looks safe, we’ll proceed with the meds. I really appreciate your insight! Thank you for the prayers! I hope everything is going well for you and the girls!

  13. ashley rosser March 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Everything does happen for a reason. God has a perfect plan for everyone and everything. My earliest memories are my prayers for God to “just turn my brain off.”When I got older (and it only got worse with age) and saw how you, Mom, and Dad seemed so carefree He seemed even more unfair and cruel. Every single night was a nightmare and daytime brought little relief. I prayed so hard….I was beginning to think that I’d never be normal when Mom and Dad saw the depth of my anxiety a sought help. We tried a few things, one med made my anxiety so much worse, but finally Prozac and clonazopam CHANGED MY LIFE! Looking back, I see God was there all along and that there are reasons he made me like he did. -I praise him for it now. Anyhoo, my point is, don’t be discouraged because one med was bad; just keep working with Sugar’s doctor to find the right one or combination a couple. Please. I still thank God everyday for the prozac that changed my life then and the wellbutrin that helps get me through each day now.I hate seeingGrace suffering the same as I have but I KNOW God will see her through it. Btw. Clean your mouth out with some soap and call me…lol. And tell the kids I love them.

  14. mommybabyspot March 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    So sorry to hear about your troubles. Having a child with special needs — whether that’s some sort of handicap, anxiety or other issues — is tough and stressful. I hope that something is worked out soon and hopefully it won’t involve putting your little angel on a lot of medication. Have you thought about doing a mommy and me yoga class with her? I’ve heard some people have success with that when their little ones are a handful, maybe it could help her chill and reflect? I don’t know, I’ve never done it personally, but it couldn’t hurt and it’s amazing what interests little ones and clicks with them. Maybe a glitter jar would help when she’s doing crazy stuff or is out of control? Anyway, best of luck.

  15. MJ, Nonstepmom March 2, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    I’m know you have lots of support & unsolicited advice, but I feel i should say something, going through similar things. My teen son is OCD, but is manageable. My stepdaughter suffers from anxiety – so bad some days she once didnt wnat to pick up a bunch of paper for fear of a paper cut; and every time her father drives away she stands there like a lost puppy and watches. EVERY time, he goes to work, the store, whatever. We know it’s becuase her mother left her years ago, (and is now trying to get back into her life now that shes settled into a new family) but knowing the cause doesnt help an 8 year old. Nor does it explain everything; like why she sleeps with the blankets over her head for fear something might fall on her.She breaks my heart!
    PLEASE be careful when considering the drugs, look at every side effect. I’m saying this out of experience. A side effect we were told “oh, that never happens, drug companies feel they need to cover themselves for worst case scenariios” played out horribly!
    We pray alot too, though we dont hear an answer I do beleive it might be much worse without it.

  16. MA Berg March 2, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    My prayers are with you!

  17. Erin Strong March 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. I am going through something similiar with my daughter. She too is sweet, funny and worries about others more than she should. I hate to see her struggle and wonder why her? She is only 7, what did she do to deserve this? My prayers are with you and your not alone.

  18. Jennifer in Maryland March 3, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    My daughter doesn’t suffer as much as yours does, it’s all the people around her, and that causes plently of stress all by itself. It may help to have her use a journal (taping her entires is fine) so that she can sound off on one had and learn to pinpoint some good things that happen to her too.

    I’ve had major depession since I was 7, when they had no clue what to do about it. Learning as I grew up that I was different actually helped because I could learn to identify when my reactions were not logical. Make no mistake, I’m still learning, but it helped me stop blameing myself all of the time.

    II can sympathise with your daughter’s frustratin with God. You might point out that St. Paul was once in the same boat.God doesn’t do short-term miracles any more, but he does long term ones. Tell her that God will always, not matter what, give her a big spiritual hug when she needs one; that’s a prayer he’ll always answer. Everyone has crosses to bear, but her’s has come very early.

  19. Jennifer in Maryland March 3, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I just posted earlier, but I can’t stop thinking about your daughter. Her tenacity in prayer is astounding. She might have spiritual gifts.

    If you belong to a religious organization, talk to someone in charge. If not, find one. And if they don’t recognize that your daughter has something unique to offer, move on to the next one. Your daughter is special and deserves recognition for it.

    Encourage her to do good deeds, like a card to a sick friend or relative. It doesn’t matter if she writes one word a day for a week, She should go at her own pace.

    One last thing, make sure she knows that God is not angry at her for the times she “misbehaves” because of her ADHD. He knows she’s trying, and that’s all he’ll ever ask of her.

  20. Pistacho March 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    I am 24 year old male. How I got to your post, I don’t even remember. I have suffered from anxiety all of my life. It has definitely affected the quality of my life, and it is only today that I have made the decision to try antidepressants. But here is why. I feel like I am a overly sensitive person. Overly sensitive to stress and all other stimuli. I know that if my life was much more simple, as in, simple job, and no major commitments, I would be just fine, BUT I’m young, and in this day and age I have to establish something for myself so that one day I can afford to go off meds and take it easier in life. I really hope this day comes.

    I am no expert, although I did study psychology and have a great interest in the subject. And I wonder if your daughter may also be highly sensitive. If I had to replace mental illness with one word it would be over-sensitivity. In my opinion, most of the symptoms you see (e.g. anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, etc) are but a result of too much stimulation that one’s mind cannot handle as easily. But this is difficult to see because most people don’t realize what it is they are stressing about that easily. I may have to move soon, and have not found a place yet, and that may cause me to feel anxiety, even while the thought of having to move is no longer in my immediate conscious mind. And I will start to make up other fears just to justify my anxiety. That is what your daughter does now that she doesn’t have or understand the real problems around her, she creates fears that are used to justify her feelings of anxiety.

    Perhaps some of her fears are due to some stress in her environment and her over-sensitivity. Even things you may not think are stressful to her could be, such as inconsistent schedules, or arguments, or too much pressure on learning, who knows, I obviously don’t know your family, but I recommend you try simplifying her life as much as possible and take note on the effect this has on her.

    Good luck, drugs can make a big difference, and maybe even if they do have some negative longterm effects, the gain may much out way the consequences.

    Not religious, so I hope for the best for her 🙂 do you have a picture of her on here somewhere??

  21. Shelby March 12, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Have you also looked into play therapy? I know that some psychiatrists and psychologists will have counselors specialized in this and it can also help in addition to her medication, once you find the right one. I have a cousin who had similar anxiety issues and difficulty with discipline. Her doctor recommended play therapy (she didn’t need medication with her issues) and now she has a better understanding of what’s going on with her. HTH!

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