School and other anxieties

Something about going to my son’s middle school orientation has gotten me in a funk. I’m writing this to see if I can figure out why I feel hopeless and anxious (wonderful combination, by the way). Let’s see…

Family was in foul mood on the way to the school. I’d rather not go into the details of why on my blog.

We waited in the long car line to pick up laptop for my son. He wasn’t on the list, which is actually my fault. We didn’t know we needed a laptop til last week (our computer is dying) and filling out the survey a second time last week didn’t work. We’ll have to pick it up sometime next week (school will have already started on Monday, what the heck is he supposed to do in the meantime)?

Okay, that explains some of the anxiety. I don’t want my child to fall behind.

We saw my daughter’s counselor from last year. I didn’t recognize the counselor at first with her mask on. She asked my daughter if she was excited about high school. I felt all the memories come crashing down on me.

Last year, my daughter was having severe panic attacks when entering the school building, dropping to the floor with students moving all around her looking at her like she was insane, while she would cry and not get off the floor. Spending hours in her counselor’s office instead of the classroom. Her refusing to go to school and missing several weeks of school last year. Almost dragging her out of the car. Teachers spending hours upon hours helping her catch up with work.

Months on end of her agitated state. Refusing to go outside. In her better moments I was able to get her into the grocery store. Then she’d need to leave immediately in the middle of shopping with a full-cart because she’d look around with pure terror in her eyes and shake, whimpering, “Please get me outta here.”

“People are watching me. They are too close.” Having breakdowns outside to the point the neighbors confronted us. Telling me in every moment even at home she feels unsafe. It was never dark enough inside. That there is no reason for her to live.

I think seeing the counselor brought these memories, and all the associated emotions, to the surface.

Plus, the uncertainty of what the school year will bring.

My daughter took 3 high school classes last year in 8th grade and passed (amazingly enough, amidst all the turmoil and pure hell). We found out she has to take the classes again this year in the 9th grade as honors courses because she is a specialty program that requires honors courses for certification. No one told either of us this. I inquired with the school when I saw her school schedule and saw she had to take American History again. And it turns out she has to take the other 2 classes again next semester.

Shit. My daughter is NOT happy about this. Understandably.

Memories. All the hours going through her backpack with her. Sitting with her every day constantly helping bring her focus back to her work.

After several months of struggle last school year we got her in to see a child psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed her with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, and Dysthymia (a mild but long-term form of depression). The GAD has greatly reduced, but the ADHD and Dysthymia have stuck around. Yay, chronic mental illness!

I felt agitated myself and so hopeless over my daughter’s issues that (until her meds started to work) I had to quit college. And that led to suicidal thoughts.

This year is different, Quix. It is NOT the same.

I don’t want my daughter to fail. What if she can’t handle the honors courses? She got into this specialty school because of her exam and essay. What if she doesn’t do well if I’m not sitting with her refocusing her because I’m at work?

I wish I would have learned some helpful tips for ADHD students when I was in my occupational therapy program. Does anyone have any tips? Like, should she be listening to music while doing school work? Or organizing it in a particular way? She’s 14. She’s got to learn how to do some of this herself. I just don’t want to see her mental illness get in the way of her academics or future prospects.

Where does the hopelessness come in? I think I feel hopeless knowing my daughter will struggle with her mental illness for the rest of her life. And knowing I’m doing everything I can do and it still not being enough is…difficult, to say the least.

I’ve got to let go a little bit. Of thinking I know how things will be for her.

I’ve got to let go of my anxiety that my kids will fall behind.

I’ve got to let go of the frustration and despair of not knowing when things will get back to normal or if this is the new normal (“this” meaning all the things related to the pandemic).

And, in an unrelated note, but contributing to the hopelessness…I’m thinking about my 40th birthday and how I want to do something special, and am worried that won’t happen because I have no local friends. Only acquaintances I see rarely and not-at-all since the pandemic started.

I’d like to leave the state, primarily to visit my mother in New England, but I can’t. I requested two days off of work for my birthday so I can have a long weekend, at least. But I hate being at home. I do nothing special ever. I have to find a way to make it special. I just have to. Otherwise my birthday will consist of drinking myself into oblivion.

I feel like I’m less in a funk now. Now that I’ve written it out. Now I need to go distract myself with something stupid.

13 thoughts on “School and other anxieties

  1. I’m glad you were able to write it out Q!
    I find sometimes saying things – or writing things – can cause the things to lose a bit of the power they have.
    I’m not sure if it’s like that entirely for you. But I hope the hopelessness can dissipate for at least awhile. And I hope the funk becomes fun-ky (as in positive).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Now that Zoom (or Skype) is a thing, a birthday could be celebrated with people out-of-state, with your mother or trusted friends. On the other hand, drinking does…not help anything unless it’s drinking water lol
    Keep writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I likely will not be drinking on my birthday, despite what I say. Every time I pass alcohol in the store I think, Ah, I think this will help me feel better then I realize it won’t and I don’t buy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My youngest has social anxiety, Asperger’s, and ADD. Here’s some of the things that have helped her deal with school:

    Adderall – extended release for the school day. That would wear off by the time she got home, so we also had a short-term fast acting dose available for her to take when she had a lot of homework and felt she needed it. Now that she’s doing college classes, she decides when she needs to take which version. This puts her ability to focus more under her own control.

    As a boost to the Adderall, she’s found that coffee, or some other source of caffeine, is helpful. Apparently caffeine works differently for people with ADD, and can actually calm their racing brains.

    Pacing. We don’t know if this is the ADD or the Asperger’s, but getting up and walking around while listening to music with earbuds seems to help.

    Comfort “animal”. She has a particular animated character she really really likes. In her case it’s a character from her favorite video game, and she finds him very comforting to have around. (She has touch issues. Real people are stressful for her, fictional ones are fine.) We’ve gotten her a body pillow with that character on the cover to snuggle with, a small pocket-size keychain version to carry with her, and I’ve gotten her a custom mousepad with him on it, so she has him for schoolwork as well.

    We also got a real animal when she was in high school, we adopted a fluffy black kitten from the shelter. I’m not sure if your living situation would allow for that. But the cat has been helpful for her over the years. (Except when he goes into murder mode and goes after her ankles. Or barfs up a hairball when she’s trying to concentrate.)

    Back in high school, having a specific counselor, and a teacher or two, that here aware of her issues, and that my daughter liked and could talk to, was also really helpful. She knew she had someone on her side in that chaotic and stressful environment. And at the beginning of each year, I’d request a meeting with all her teachers, to go over the best ways to work with my daughter’s quirks to help her learn, instead of working against them.

    I don’t know if any of that’s helpful for your daughter. We’re still trying to help my daughter work through the anxiety issues, they are pretty debilitating, and the quarantine isn’t helping.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ubi, thanks for your tips! Your youngest daughter does seem to have a lot in common with my daughter in terms of mental health. My daughter takes Vyvanse, which only helps a little and has caused her to lose a lot of weight (she was on the high end of a healthy weight and now she’s on the lower end of healthy weight). We are still trying to find her a new psychiatrist and when we do I’ll ask about Adderall (her old one moved and no one who is available in town will see children).

      My daughter does like to pace around blasting music into her ear. She says it calms her down. I haven’t tried giving her caffeine but I will and see if it helps. I know she likes Mountain Dew, but I rarely let her have it because of the caffeine and sugar content. Though admittedly when she drinks it it does seem to get her out of her funk and she doesn’t hide out in her darkroom (she dislikes light, like a little vampire).

      On Tuesday she’s having her first session in a while with her therapist. I’m going to see if I can get her connected with someone at her school. Maybe if she gets comfortable with the counselor online it will be easier to connect when the kids are finally allowed back in school.

      Again, thanks for all the tips. I think they will help and I’ll keep you updated. How is your youngest doing these days?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She’s doing OK in some things. She’s only able to take 2 or 3 college classes at a time, but her grades are really good and she makes the Dean’s list. Now that she’s not on Adderall every day, her weight is better. (She also had underweight problems while on it. It just killed her appetite.) She can cook a lot of things for herself as well. But she doesn’t have her anxiety under control enough to allow her to learn to drive, or get a job. So, baby steps. With my kids, I have to keep reminding myself that they are maturing on their own schedule, not on mine.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Even just one college course can be challenging so two or three is an accomplishment and making the Dean’s list means she’s doing really well for herself! Yep, baby steps. She’ll get there, Momma 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  4. To me it sounds completely normal that you were triggered by seeing her therapist. It sounds like last year school was a very stressful period of time with your daughter…then you were able to “forget” about it a little while during the summer, and now it’s all hitting you again. Anyone would be triggered that, IMHO. My situation with my son is not as extreme, and I’m having high stress levels just thinking about home schooling again.

    Just my thoughts on your daughter’s classes, which you are free to take or leave as you see fit: if your daughter is taking honors classes, you might want to seriously consider going back to regular classes at this time. Your daughter is having trouble coping, has been newly diagnosed with a mental illness that she has to learn to adjust to, and you also have serious amounts of stress as well…there’s no shame in just trying to get through regular classes without trying to reach for the stars, so to speak.

    I had a little breakdown myself because my son is starting homeschool soon and we have no computer for him (the 10 year old computer he used in the spring just blew up….like it had smoke coming out of it!). Our schools don’t hand them out and we’re expected to buy one. Of course all the cheap chromebooks are sold out and the only ones available are $600! This is not something we can afford but we have no choice but to buy it.

    My son is in regular 4th grade classes and needs extensive amounts of supervision to do his work…which all falls on me. That means 5-7 hours a day of one on one teaching for me. Last spring the only way I could cope with the stress was by drinking (after only ever having one glass of wine a year on Xmas). This time I’ll be homeschooling in some fashion for the next 9 months and I’m not sure I can get through this without becoming an alcoholic.

    Happy birthday, Quixie. I never get to do anything special either (any extra money we have goes to celebrating my son’s b-day…all three of us have our birthdays in a 2 week period). Just know I’m happy you were born 40 years ago!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I really appreciate your input, Violet. I gave some thought to your suggestion that my daughter take regular classes instead of honors classes. We may end up having to go that route, though this year she got into this particular school based on her performance, and I know she’d be disappointed if she couldn’t continue in it. That said, there is no shame in taking regular classes and I’m going to be sure she knows how I’m proud of her no matter what. I’ve told her numerous times how proud of her I am that she was able to pass and get decent grades despite her mental health crisis last year.

    As far as home schooling your son, from what you said it sounds like your school is not giving you the resources you need. It’s been very hard on you and so I hope you are able to find some resources for self-care. My advice is to try to problem solve how you can find a way to make this happen. You are important, Violet!

    And, of course, as I’ve said previously you just have to do what you have to do sometimes. I know this doesn’t help too much, but eventually, the pandemic will come to an end and we can get back to regular schooling. Right? I sure hope so! My kids’ school is going to reevaluate in 9 weeks going to Plan B, which will include 1 week in person and two weeks at home. Does your kids’ school have a plan for easing back into normality?

    Thanks for wishing me a happy birthday. I’m glad you’re around too ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I missed this reply, as for some reason they don’t always show up in my notifications…WP must be having glitches or something.

      Our district is planning to homeschool this entire school year, and they’re talking about doing it for all of next school year too (through spring of 2022). To me that feels like an unending period of time. I’m thinking I need to set some very strong boundaries with these teachers. Like maybe I’ll agree to do 3 hours of 1:1 instruction per day and that’s it. Or maybe I’ll have my kid do whatever he can independently and just not do much 1:1 instruction at all. We have been informed that the kids will be graded the same as usual, so there is a risk he might not pass on to the next grade at the end of the year. Perhaps that’s simply a risk I need to take. I did look at pulling him out of public schooling and doing a proper homeschooling program, which is only 3-4 hours of work a day…but the problem is I can only find religious ones. That shit ain’t happening!

      Either way I’m going to have to find some solutions. My initial inclination when the pandemic first hit last spring was to be compliant with whatever the school wanted to do, but since we’re talking 2 years of them abdicating their duties, that plan needs to change. Our teachers to not do any actual online instruction, they just send us links to online schooling like Kahn Academy, and then I’m expected to personally do ALL the instruction.

      Another thing that gets me: why aren’t employers expected to accommodate parents who now need to be full time teachers too? My husband’s job demands he works 12+ hours a day from home, so he can’t contribute even one tiny thing to our son’s education. Also, there have been studies that are showing homeschool teaching is being done 85% the moms (not dads). The pandemic is giving us some very complicated problems, but to me it seems like some of the pain could be spread around instead of just dumping everything on mothers. Alas, this is the way of the world.

      Hope you’re holding up ok and surviving. I suppose this too shall pass at some point…though I might be a couple notches crazier when it finally does.

      Like

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About Quixie

Hi! I go by "Quixie." Quixie is a shortened version of "quixotic," which means: "exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical." It's how I described my evangelical Christian faith when I started blogging 5 years ago. Now I'm an agnostic atheist who is trying to find a balance between idealism and reality. I write primarily about my mental health journey (I have bipolar disorder), and I also discuss my deconversion, mindfulness, exercise, music, reading, and other cultural topics.