My cell phone rang a couple of hours ago. I glanced down to see who was calling, and felt a pit in my stomach when I saw the call was from my kids’ school. In the past the first thought would have been, “I wonder which one of them is sick.” Today my first thought was “Oh no. It happened again.”
“It” being a panic attack. On Monday, my son came home from school and told me he had a panic attack in class. Yesterday, he came home and told me it had happened again. Even with the increased frequency and severity of his panic attacks, school had continued to be a safe place. We had hoped that would continue, but were not surprised when it did not.
The bad news is, his anxiety and panic are chipping away at the places that used to feel safe to him. The good news is, he is recognizing an attack when it begins and is able to breathe through the attack until he regains some equilibrium – that would not have been the case even just a couple of weeks ago.
The phone call today was not from his teacher, or the nurse, or even from my son. The phone call today was my daughter telling me that track practice had been cancelled so I should pick them up right after school. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I heard her voice on the other end. Even so, I am now dreading the moment when the voice on the other end of the phone is somebody telling me that my son’s anxiety and panic got the better of him. We are working hard with his psychologist, psychiatrist and teacher to try to ensure that does not happen, but there are no guarantees. Part of parenting a child is dealing with the unknowns. In a child with a mental disorder the unknowns are exponentially larger, and the known possibilities are even scarier than the unknowns.
We are giving my son every tool we possibly can to battle his anxiety and panic, and we will continue to do so. Most days he is able to overcome the panic. That does not mean he is going to win every battle. It is the known possibility of those days that fill me with dread, and the reason for the pit in the my stomach when I saw the caller ID on that phone call. It is also the reason I will hug him just a little bit tighter when I pick him up from school, and hope that the love in that hug gives him some fuel to fight his next battle.