I will never forget the day that anxiety came knocking at our door. My 15-year-old was away on a school trip in a rather rough part of town. Imagine my dismay when the leader of her group informed me that she was not with them and had apparently jumped on a train to meet some friends in the city. I would love to tell you that I took a few deep breaths and calmly called her on her cellphone. However, ‘Calm Mum’ didn’t manage to take the lead in this moment. Instead, panic set in. I called her and proceeded to yell. How could you do this? What were you thinking? Where are you going? (You know the drill... some call it the ‘Mum rant’).
What followed was her first panic attack. I remember holding the tension of anger for what she had done with despair for causing her to panic in that way. From out of nowhere I found myself instructing her to use a grounding technique (see below) I had heard of on some health podcast I had listened to.
Tell me what you can see. Now tell me what you can hear... taste... feel.
Somehow, she calmed down enough to exit the train and catch the next train back to her school group. The following months were pretty interesting. As I watched my first-born battling with anxiety, I wrestled with my own anxiety as well as the shame of not being a good enough parent to avoid having an anxious child. There were moments of showing up for her with compassion and understanding, and many other moments of dismissing her feelings as being overly dramatic or just wrong. If any of this story resonates with you, I hope you can take a deep breath and be kind to yourself. That’s certainly the first step in journeying through anxiety with your teen!