We have all been there at some point or another.
You know what I am talking about.
If you're a teacher, it's that moment that a student in your room has a full on break down because they "think" they can't do the work.
If you're the parent, it's that moment of a homework assignment or the last minute of a project being due and your child falls apart because again they "think" they can't do the work.
In actuality this is happening a lot more often than it should. Children are STRESSED to the max. Anxiety is now the fastest growing diagnosis among children.
What does this tell us? Why is this happening?
Everyone has anxiety. We are all programed with that fight or flight in our brain. We are wired to recognize danger. Anxiety is not new. It is REAL. The difference is that for some people they can not shut off that section of the brain that is in fight or flight. Literally, they are stuck in this part of the brain and it is firing off warnings to them about everything and anything. I am not a medical doctor or a psychiatrist or a psychologist so I am not using all the medical terms associated with anxiety in this blog. BUT I am including below a wonderful link to a wonderful documentary ANGST.
I had the benefit of going to the second national screening here in my backyard in Maitland. I am so grateful to the Winter Park Health Foundation and our Winter Park High School PTSA for putting this on.
This movie touches on this problem we have with anxiety. And I say the problem WE have, because there are many layers here. One, many people don't believe it's real and feel that it's all in your head, get over it. Two, there is a social stigma for dealing with "head" issues, or as the movie put it, any thing above the neck. Three, the problem is growing and more children are diagnosed with this and more adults are living with this. This movie takes the opportunity to interview students of all ages, parents, and therapists/doctors. Angst brings this topic to the forefront and gives some incredibly detailed explanations in scientific and medical terms yet relaying it to us laymen.
I was prompted to write this blog for a few reasons. I am alarmed at how careless people are with their words today. People will write anything on a blog, social media account or even on a text or email and be very judgmental. I have decided to be a voice for my students, friends, and family who suffer with clinically diagnosed ANXIETY. Until you have experienced it, lived through it, dealt with it and felt helpless and hopeless because of it YOU HAVE NO SAY.
You can not and should not pass judgement on someone who is diagnosed or a parent of someone diagnosed with anxiety. No one wants to feel this way. I don't know how it feels to have severe anxiety. But I do know what it's like to see someone, teach someone, love someone with clinically diagnosed ANXIETY. And it's heartbreaking. And it's hard. You can not sit back and judge a course of treatment. You should not make someone feel bad because they have to be on medication. I would never tell someone not treat an illness. It is not my place to pass that judgement nor is it anyone elses.
In fact the opposite is true, be supportive. Be encouraging. Don't be afraid to ask someone how are you doing? Invite them to Yoga, a cup of coffee, a walk, or just to sit on a bench and catch up.
So I digress back to our kiddos in the classroom. Why are we seeing more anxiety in children? People want to blame us the educators for expecting too much and too early. Educators will want to blame the parents for over scheduling their kids. It's like a dog chasing it's tail.
As the psychologist in the movie stated, anxiety was always there, we just didn't name it and diagnose it. But everyone can go back and think of a family member who might be a bit compulsive, OCD, etc..
There are some new contributors to anxiety. In the last 9 years many scholarly articles have been showing that technology is contributing to more anxiety in our children. Environmental factors have always been a cause of anxiety so it makes sense that for children who are growing up digital that this would be a contributor. Especially with social media and how young these children are using them. Does a 9 year old really need Instagram? I could fill up pages on other factors. But I will leave this here with you.
If you can get to a screening of Angst, go. If you can't, then get your local school involved and see if you can bring it to your area. Be open to the possibility that you may not know everything about who, how or why on anxiety. And that possibly you could do something to help someone. Maybe even someone you love.
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner