I don’t have anxiety. But I worry and I can find myself perseverating on issues, but it’s not all the time. Or at least I don’t think I do. But my older kid and I just had a conversation about anxiety and how I don’t understand what it’s like.
“It’s like a train that criss-crosses the country and never stops. I wake up with it. I can’t sleep because of it. I think I have ADHD. There’s only one thing I’ve found that helps it and you don’t approve because it’s not legal yet here.”
In typical Janie fashion, I want to sit and talk with him about it. But he stomps off in a huff because I question that the only relief he’s stating that helps is 420 and he knows I’m against that being used. I offer counseling. I offer a trip to his doctor. He emphatically refuses. (And yes, he’s tried anxiety meds and stopped them a year ago because both he and his Dr agreed that they were making him too lethargic and he didn’t like them.)
I ask what he’s anxious about because my thought process is if we could talk about what’s making him anxious, then we could come up with some solutions that would help him. But he won’t/can’t tell me what his thoughts are and tells me in no uncertain terms that I just don’t understand because I don’t have anxiety. And he’s right. I don’t. But I do know my kid and when he’s scared or feeling low self-worth, he’s got a typical reaction and that’s what he’s doing.
I think he’s anxious about getting a job after university graduation and how that will affect his life. I’ve had friends in his chosen career field offer to talk with him and to help him find a job, but he refuses to meet with them citing that they’re strangers and old so what could they do to help him? My answer is that they have connections and were willingly to help him get his foot in the door in his chosen field. They wanted to share their experiences and talk with him in order to guide him, help him, but he wants none of it. I understand he’s scared. He feels the pressure of getting a job and he’s running away citing anxiety as his trump card.
“I can’t do this because I have anxiety and you don’t understand.”
He doesn’t want to dig into what the anxiety is, but I think it’s the above situation that is making him act this way. He’s unsure about his future and holds the guilt of not always doing his best in school so he’s acting out. His chosen career path would require him to take more courses and exams to further his career and I think he doesn’t want to do it anymore. Which is fine because I believe you should find a job that speaks to you and either way, once he has his degree, he can choose whatever career path he wants whether it’s using his major or not.
But he stomped away again. And I didn’t pursue him because when he acts like this, he’s not listening. I did question him that he thinks the only relief is using that to relax him. Perhaps I don’t understand, but in my mind doing that only relaxes you for a bit, but the anxiety still is there and one needs to deal with the issue/thoughts that are causing the anxiety instead of using as a temporary bandage to an obvious problem that you’re having. Again, I was told I don’t understand. So I suggested that perhaps a move to another state where that was legal was an option so that he could do that if he chose. I was met with the angry stare as he walked away and I stayed quiet. And yes, I poked the bear knowing that he would be angry at me. And I’m ok with it.
Maybe you think I was a lousy parent in the above scenario and maybe I am. But I’ve found that reverse psychology of: ok, you want to use that because you feel it helps you, then move somewhere where it’s legal – makes him mad because I just gave him the answer he wasn’t expecting. I gave him the ok to do it if that’s what he’s claiming so adamantly that it helps him. Ok. Go ahead, but do it somewhere that’s legal. And I know he hated it. But giving him that push usually has him later on able to get over his anger with me in order to clear the air and talk about it in a different way. Because the dynamic mom’s support outweighs it all and by saying that, I’ve just given you my support. Even though he knows I am not a fan of that.
And the thing is, while I think he can feel anxious, I also think that he doesn’t really have anxiety at the level he’s claiming because normally there’s no talk of anxiety nor any signs of it. What started this morning was a direct result of my repeating the request about meeting with my friends to get a job after graduation. I am hearing about all of his friends who are already interviewing and getting jobs lined up for after graduation and I am sure he’s feeling the pressure so I was hoping to help him. But it backfired.
I have chosen to back off. I am a resource and not a helicopter mom after all.