Saturday, March 21, 2009

When children have panic attacks

Ah, neurological disorders ...

how they flip and flop ...

how they overlap one another ...

how they develop artists and writers and feed creativity ...

how they slurp.

Mac still deals with tics from her Tourettes (some days nothing - other days much). She also has lots of other little "things" which like to screw with her day. If you remember, she had what we KNEW was a panic attack several months ago. Yet, the other night, we were finally able to recognize how she truly does have a panic disorder, and how we blame certain episodes on her "stomach" (acid reflux), when in reality she has recurring panic attacks at different levels. As always, the more I learn about her, the more I learn about myself as I reflect on my own issues over the years.

It was easy to nail the one "major" one - she was able to verbalize how she truly thought she was going to die. I always assumed this was the big symptom of a PA (is that the nickname, cause every neurological disorder has to have one?). Yet, on Wednesday night as she called from her friend's house, unable to stay for the sleepover ... as she came into the house and began crying, stating she thought she was going to throw up ... as she begged me to open the windows (it was COLD and she was in spaghetti straps and shorts) ... as she shook uncontrollably ... it all came together for me.

Her stomach doesn't trigger these reactions. Her anxiety triggers all of it, including the acid reflux. Occasionally she might throw up, but rarely. Typically she just hugs the toilet, shakes, sweats (no fever) ... and it subsides within the hour. Like a stomach virus without the virus.

So, we spent all day yesterday practicing belly breathing, imagery, copying relaxation exercises onto her mp3, and reviewing lots of little tricks to curb panic attacks (ie: when you find yourself in an attack and you are focusing on the symptoms, shift your brain to a math problem - like counting backwards by 7's, starting at 100).

She went back to her friend's house and tried it again last night. No phone call at 9:00 pm. She made it! Said her stomach got kinda' bad at one point, but she just needed to burp. :)



11 comments:

Sara said...

I am both sad and glad that you have the skills and thought to teach her how to stay in control. *hugs*

Story of our Life said...

Bless her little heart. I'm so happy for her that she was able to go back to her friends house for the sleep-over. What a huge step for her and something she should be proud of and you, also.

What a great mommy she has to help her with these things!

T & T Livesay said...

sic em bears

Kristen said...

I am so sorry she is dealing with this! I've had my share of PA - not fun times. She is so lucky that you "get it".

Recovering Noah said...

Hey Mac! Can you come over here and teach your boyfriend Eli how to calm himself down? ;-)

Hope you have a great week! (You, too, Christine. lol)

Parkerchica said...

Sigh. I love this baby. I'm so glad she was finally able to enjoy the sleepover.

Hannah_Rae said...

Christine,

Thanks so much for your sweet comment. Doesn't he just shine "great kid"?!?!? I think so. :)

Where can you find downloadable relaxation techniques? This may come in handy later.

I am so glad you have found the source for the tummy aches. I hope Twitchy Mac can keep getting better and better at controlling them.

Blessings!

Hannah

curlyjo said...

Hmmm...My M complains of tummy aches all the time. She says she feels like she has to throw up. She cries at bedtime, because she's afraid of tornados!?! Anxiety perhaps....curious!?

Christine said...

curlyjo, sounds a lot like the things Mac dealt with in the early days. She does have acid reflux, but we've finally discovered the anxiety gets the acid to boiling.

When I taught the kids how to exit through their bedroom window in case of fire (part of our safety plan during our foster care training), she went into a three-day freak out.

You can start to work with her in little ways. The belly breathing is GREAT, and pretty much anyone can do it. Also, we like to write down or draw pictures of the "scaries" ... then rip them up, burn 'em, tear 'em up (whatever) and redraw or write the truth. This is a basic concept in Cognitive Behavior Therapy that you can do at home in a way your child can understand. Might turn from a drawing of a fire to a drawing of all of our safe wiring in the house, our safety plans, and God giving us a big hug as He cares for us.

Hannah, check out www.drmikemiller.com, the "Self-Help" section. I have also googled stuff like "relaxation downloads" to find free stuff online.

Amy T. S. said...

Have you tried this nifty imagery? Assign a shape to your feeling - say a jagged-edged shape, and then imagine that shape changing into something different - like a soft cloud shape or something. I tried it in labor but went for the epidural instead, though, so maybe it doesn't work. I've used it for headaches with some success.

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