We had been battling anxiety with my son for years. Jackson is a very bright, introspective boy who could melt into a puddle of thrashing goo on the floor in the blink of the eye. As part of his therapy we had been working really hard to help him learn to identify his feelings and articulate them. Anxiety is such a tough beast to battle. It’s strong and all encompassing, and in such a small body I knew it was overwhelming for him at times, especially when he was still in school.
But I didn’t realize how devastatingly hard it was until he told me.
One day as we were driving home from school. He was very quiet, his expression focused and serious as he sat in the back seat. I know he often needs quiet time, so I didn’t pester him, but waited for him to initiate a conversation about his day. This is what happened next.
“Mom, I need to tell you something,” he said, his voice had a hitch to it but was strong and thoughtful.
“Yes, Honey, you know you can tell me anything,” I responded, my eyes flickering from the road ahead to the rear view mirror where I could see him staring intently out the window.
“Some days it’s really hard being me. It’s like I’m falling into a deep, dark void. That never ends. It’s swirling and sucking me down and I can’t get out.”
“That sounds really hard,” my voice cracked slightly, but I cleared my throat, determined to be strong for my son. “Is there anything that causes that void to open up?”
“It happens a lot, especially when I go to school. I fall and fall all day long. The void just keeps sucking me down.”
At this point we pulled up to our house. I jumped out of the car. He, in his usual busy way, was already jumping out of the car, ready to move on after rocking me with this massive revelation and glimpse into his spirit. I gave him a big hug.
“Thank you so much for telling me that. It must have been hard.”
He smiled. “Yeah, I just wanted to tell you so you know what it feels like to be me. I’m going to go play now.”
And off he went.
That conversation happened when my son was only 7 years old. 7!!! Can you imagine feeling that way at 7? It was after that moment we started our journey towards homeschooling. We knew he had been struggling, but the immensity of that struggle hit us that day.
Do you suffer from anxiety? How would you describe it?