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“It’s Not If, It’s When” – Managing Anxiety for Parents of Kids with Chronic Illnesses

You’re not worried if the bridge is going to collapse while driving. 

You’re not losing sleep about if all the pillows are lined up straight downstairs on the couch. 

You’re not worried about catching a life threatening illness from using a public washroom.

You’re worried when your next hospital trip is going to be. 

You’re wondering how many more Christmases you will have with your child.

You’re losing sleep waiting to see if insurance will approve all the needed medication and services your child needs to survive. 

 

Most books and speakers on anxiety will tell you the majority of your worries and concerns will not happen. We work through and problem solve to see what is “rational” and “irrational” and then game plan from there. But when your child has a chronic physical or mental illness… Many of your worries will happen. They will come to fruition. You will have to face the harsh reality of seeing your worst fears come to life. 

I hear you. 

You are not crazy. 

You are living in a really difficult reality that conventional anxiety management methods may not work for you. Let’s go through some common areas together that might hit a chord with you and what you are going through.

Psychosomatic Symptom 

Check here first. Anxiety comes from spikes of adrenaline and cortisol in our systems, so let us check to see if there is anything outside of your child that could be causing those spikes. Have you had too little sleep with too much caffeine? Did traffic just wear on every last nerve? Are you overstimulated and maybe need to turn off the music and background noise in the house? Dehydration headache? Have you not eaten today and your blood sugar is low? 

These concerns seem small but they make everything else so much harder to handle. Let’s bring this down and control the things we can first before jumping to bigger things.

 

Knowledge/Practical Concerns

Are there things you are still unsure about? Don’t know? Did your child just get this diagnosis? That is one of the scariest times, when you are faced with a mountain of information and it’s difficult to know where to start and what is the “most” important when really, it’s all important. 

Start small. Ask questions of the doctor. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul, you will make mistakes and that’s ok. Do you have a hospital go bag? For you? For your kid? For siblings? Spouse? See if there are local support groups on social media. Look for non-local ones as well. Both can be a wealth of resources, support and knowledge, even just by the reminder that you are not alone.

 

Rational Fears

Lastly, some of your anxieties will come to fruition. You will go to the hospital, you will have the sleepless nights, you will watch your child’s quality of life change, in some cases… end. Nothing I say is going to change those things. Accepting that this is reality is one of the most difficult things, and acceptance can look differently for every person. I’m not going to tell you what is normal or not, because there is no normal in these situations. But we can make the best out of the abnormal situation you are in. The “best” may be different than others, but that’s ok. This is your life, your journey and your story. Let us write it together using the resources you’ve been given.

Walking this journey is incredibly difficult. I know the majority of your resources go towards your child, but taking care of yourself in this process is just as important. Just as your child’s illness isn’t short term, neither are these struggles and you need to support so you can support your child to the best of your ability. Give Amy Wine Counseling a call at 832.421.8714, set up an appointment and we can work together to make this journey as manageable as possible. I can’t promise you a pot of gold but we can try to find the rainbows in the storm. 

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Alyssa Webb-McCune

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