My youngest son, 16, is on the Autism Spectrum. I always try to keep open dialogues with my children, but I am challenged to explain things to my youngest in terms HE can relate to. This time I gave him a name for the way he sometimes feels
My son & I were out & about running errands together. On the way home on a small coastal “major” road I began to have an anxiety attack so I took a detour into a park with sweeping bay views & we talked
Me: Mummy’s just having a moment sweetheart. Let’s look at the water for a while & see if I calm down
Son: What’s it like?
Me: It’s like tight metal bands around my chest making breathing really hard
It’s tears hiding just behind my eyes burning to escape
It’s my heart racing & feeling like it wants to escape my chest
It’s my limbs being heavy, cold, numb, unresponsive
It’s a bone deep shudder that just wont stop
It’s a fear so critical I need to get away, but I don’t know what from
It’s an icy creepy feeling up my back
It’s hairs all over my body standing up like goose bumps
It’s a sweaty, sticky, gross, clammy feeling in my hands, my hair & my feet
It’s a feeling of dread like something really bad is just about to happen, but I don’t know what
Son: Can you really feel all that? What makes it happen to you?
Me: It’s like my brain tells me lots of stories of all the things that could go wrong & they worry me
Son: you can’t stop the stories?
Me: I try very hard to not pay attention to them, but it’s like I have port holes, little boat windows, of reality in my windscreen & mirrors, but all around there are flashes of horrible possibility trying to distract me
Son: What sort of images?
Me: a dog running into the road, a child, a ball, a stroller
Insects crashing guts all over the windscreen, pelican poo, or a bird
Branches falling, rocks flying, pot holes, bridges collapsing
Son: none of that was real
Me: I know it the whole time, but the stress of it makes my body react as if it were real. Adrenalin gets released into my blood stream & I can’t help feeling all the things that real disaster creates in a body
Son: are you ok now?
Me: I’m much better thank you
Son: Why do you thank me?
Me: Because focusing on your questions gave my brain something to do other than panic
Son: I helped you?
Me: More than you could possibly imagine
Son: Can we go home now?
Me: Absolutely! that’s just where I want to be
*quiet moment as we get back on the road*
Son: I feel like that sometimes …