Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Recently my husband and I were at a birthday party for one of his coworkers. I didn't know a single person there, not even the birthday boy. My husband introduced me to the birthday boy and the honored guest introduced us both to everyone at the table. Suddenly, my husband remembered he left the birthday card in the car. He told me he would be right back and went to the car for the card. There I stood, alone, feeling very awkward and uncomfortable. I felt like all the eyes of the other patrons were on me yet I felt all alone at the same time. I'm not a shy person nor do I ever have a lack of words to say but in that moment I was paralyzed. The guest of honor and the other guests had turned away from me to talk to each other. I felt very isolated and just kept looking at the door longing to see my husband appear. I intertwined my fingers, then released them, my blood ran cold, I connected them again and used one thumb to apply pressure to the other one while stroking it, my stomach felt queasy, I curled and uncurled my toes in my shoes, and my mouth went dry. From appearances I probably looked normal, but on the inside a tornado was swirling. Finally my husband walked through the door! The relief, sense of safety, sense of belonging again, being recognized, being accepted again, and peace I felt in that moment was calming. It felt like he had been gone for 2 hours, but thankfully, it had only been about 2 minutes.
Anxiety has plagued me all of my life. It's under control now, but it still pops up and surprises once in a while, like in this instance. Unfortunately, when I was a child there was no such diagnosis. I struggled with almost every aspect of my life. I seemed social, happy, carefree, and was always a "good" kid in school. Inside I was never at peace, I was always trying to please, always thinking those around me didn't like me, I always thought everyone was looking at me and knew all my secrets, and I had stomach issues that were never figured out. My parents took me to the doctor frequently only to be told it "was in my head."
Do you have a child that is often sick with a stomach ache? A child that is always playing with their hair, chewing on their nails, getting in trouble at school, crying for no obvious reason, hates change, has a hard time with change, etc.? Your child could very well have anxiety. Anxiety is a recognized mental illness and could qualify your child for a Section 504 or an IEP if they are still in school. Having the diagnosis could also provide help in college if necessary.