Thursday, March 9, 2017
3/9/17 #sol17 Jacob's voicemail
"Hi, Mom. It's Jacob. Um, so this morning, I had an asthma attack and a panic attack."
These are the words I heard on my voicemail tonight from my 9 year old son. I'm in California for work. He's in Ohio. I am heartbroken that I'm not with him.
Immediately, I called my husband. "Tell me everything," I demanded.
It turns out that our boy woke up this morning and was congested. So congested in fact, that he felt like he had something in his throat that he couldn't get out. His body sent him into a coughing fit, trying to dislodge the phlegm. That coughing somehow sent him into a "what if" spiral that mostly focused on "what if I'm drowning like that commercial warned that sometimes people can drown from fluid in their lungs and what if that's happening to me and what if, what if, what if..."
My husband tried to calm him down, tried to soothe him. He put him in the bathroom and ran a steamy shower. He tried to reason with him. He tried to talk him through it. Finally, Jacob calmed down.
After a visit to the pediatrician and a confirmation that he's healthy and fine and indeed, he had a panic episode, I am left feeling so helpless.
You see, I know this "what if..." spiral too well. I hate it. I know how it can bring you to your knees and despite all rational reasoning, it's voice can loom larger than any other.
Looking back, I realize that I've always struggled with anxiety to some extent, but three years ago a hormonal shift happened in my body and I suddenly couldn't manage it on my own. Where in the past my anxiety manifested in a shortness of breath and a sense of unease, suddenly I was struck with chronic insomnia. Even writing about it gets the anxiety stirring a bit. Luckily the medicine has given me the ability to quiet those stirrings and put them in perspective.
But, now, my son. Ever since the election and the killer clowns he's been having little episodes. We thought he had asthma. Or allergies. Or anything that could explain his shortness of breath. But one night as I laid with him in his bed trying to soothe him with Vix and an inhaler, I saw something familiar.
I don't think he needs medicine. Yet. Right now we'll focus on teaching him mindfulness and helping him work through the moments. But my heart will continue to ache as I try to protect and support him while also trying not to project my own anxiety on him.
And so I'll take deep breaths. Be mindful. Pray more. And thank God for my own anxiety medicine that will help me help him.