8 years ago when I gave birth to my beautiful ‘big’ baby boy and I became a mum for the very first time, I was calm, relaxed, the happiest I’d ever felt. I didn’t have a care in the world as my baby boy was such an amazing baby who fed and slept so peacefully…little did we know the ride we were in for!
Meet our baby boy…his name is Bailey, he is 8 years old and on Tuesday he was formally diagnosed with anxiety! I know some of you that know Bailey would be thinking really?? I guess you can never judge a book by its cover!
Anxiety…this word is tossed around so frequently now. It worries me that so many people in this world suffer mental health disorders and as someone who doesn’t, I’m sad for them as it stops them from enjoying some of the most precious things in life and leaves them feeling like they constantly have a monkey on their back!
Since the age of 18 months, Bailey has always been hard work. As a special education teacher, like my mother would say ‘you know too much’, I have always thought Bailey presented with a lot of ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) tendencies. He has always had major meltdowns when things don’t go his way, he doesn’t cope well with sudden change, he obsesses over particularly things, he can be highly emotional and sensitive, he worries over specific things, he’s sensitive to certain materials, he needs time to process information, but has never had any issues socially.
By the time he reached school age I knew it was going to be the crossroads of knowing whether to take him to a paediatrician or not. I held off taking it any further as he has never struggled in any area at school. He has always fitted in well and been the best behaved child. He has the ability to keep it together when he has to and loses his s$&t when he gets home.
I feel for parents who don’t have the necessary skills to cope with children who present with challenging behaviours. I am so grateful for my experience that I’ve gained from teaching, this has helped me immensely over the years. I remember having many days where I felt so alone and trapped in a bubble. Even though I knew what I was dealing with and how to deal with it, it’s so different when the shoe is on the other foot. Being a teacher to children with special needs is one thing, but being the mother is a whole new ball game!
Life with Bailey leaves us leading such a rollercoaster ride, there are so many ups and downs in our days. We always start each day fresh and we know the type of day it’s going to be right from the moment he wakes up. He can go days and be fantastic and then it only takes a late night, lack of sleep or a virus and he tires so quickly that he loses his ability to rationalise situations. He then becomes very oppositional and loses all inhibitions at his worst.
Our recent hurdle we’ve hit, which is what lead us to taking things further and seeing a paediatrician, is Bailey has developed a nervous twitch or what is called a tic. He has both a motor and vocal tic which can be so severe at times it’s quite distressing to see. I knew straight away this had taken his anxiety to a new level and felt that it was time to get him the help that he needed. This all started in conjunction with getting lost at the Ekka’s baby animal petting zoo last August. Over time things have manifested and spiralled to this point.
When I walked through the paediatrician’s door on Tuesday I thought to myself…”8 years it’s taken, I was wondering how long it would take to get here!” I went in with my 4 pages of notes (not a teacher at all lol) and felt so at ease about everything as the doctor we saw was amazing. I highly recommend Dr Anita Cohn at the Mater Hospital. She was very informative and straight to the point. She spoke about treatments and what would be best for Bailey.
Our plan for the near future is to get Bay the help he needs to deal with his anxiety. In terms of his tics, at this stage we are treating the underlying issue or the cause of them (anxiety) therefore Bay will start seeing a child psychologist in two weeks time. This will be an ongoing thing until we resolve some issues. We are back to our paediatrician in march for a review!
It’s been such a long road to get to this point in time. It’s been a huge learning curve for everyone who is involved in Bailey’s life on a daily basis. We are so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing, loving and influential people who no one has ever made Bay feel less about himself.
Admitting there is something wrong with your child isn’t easy and then taking the next step to get help can sometimes be just as hard. But I urge anyone of you who is reading this post, if you know that your little person may need help, do everyone a favour and ask. We are our children’s advocate and it’s up to us to make sure our babies, who we carried and nurtured into this world, are equipped with the skills to cope in this big bad world!
My advice for anyone who is living the same life…enjoy the highs and hold on tight during the lows….remember with a low there always comes a high. Be consistent, follow through and always talk through a situation once your child has calmed down. Reassure them they are loved and ok. Encourage them to try new thing and provide challenges for them. Don’t stress, keep calm as they feed off whatever mood you’re in. Be there to pick up the pieces and give them that hug that they so desire once the anxiety goes from verbal diarrhea to a sobbing mess.
In saying all of this, we as parents are only human – we have moments where our tiredness gets the better of us, we may feel sick or hormonal! I’m the first to admit I’m not parent of year and make my fair share of mistakes. Everything is easier said then done, but it really does make a difference when we are on our game and so worth it for a positive outcome. Running has definitely helped me keep me on my game!
It’s been very difficult to see Bailey hit the level of anxiety he has. But like anything that has been thrown our way, together my husband and I shed tears when he’s not looking, debrief with each other every day and work together as a team in order to help Bay become the best person he can be!
Anxiety aside, my son is amazing! He is funny, caring, lovable, smart and very empathetic. He gives the best cuddles and always comes and says good morning to me before he starts the day. He is never shy to cuddle me in front of his friends and always seeks me out to tell me anything exciting that has happened or things that are worrying him. He is so good at sport! This is what he lives for and it’s great to seem him thrive at what he loves. He is a gentle giant that everyone loves to love!
We will get through this…this will not define my baby boy. This is a bump in his road that will make him stronger and more resilient. But for now I will keep being his mum to the best of my ability and be there to celebrate the awesome stuff and pick up the pieces when the train derails!