Frosted Flakes previous designed box

Image via Wikipedia

Zachary has an anxiety disorder.  Things upset him that don’t upset other kids.  And he “gets stuck” on something and worries about it constantly and talks about it often — multiple times a day.  He sometimes worries about things that are worth being cautious about. . . but certainly nothing to worry about.  Paul and I then “get stuck” with him and spend time assuring him that he will be okay.

When his medication is regulated, he can think about things, be cautious, have a conversation much on the same level as a kid with no anxiety.  But currently he is in need of a medication increase, I think, so he is stuck into worrying.  Right now he worries about choking on something and dying.

If he eats a cracker for a snack, he needs to know whether or not he can choke and die on a cracker.  If he is swallowing his pills, he needs to know if he can die by choking on medicine.  He has worried about choking while drinking water and dying.  Bread… , jelly… , ice cream… , coke… , egg nog, french fries . . . literally everything he’s put in his mouth for the last few weeks.  We’ve had countless conversations about dying by choking.

This particular anxiety started when he had a cold a few weeks ago.  His throat felt weird — maybe it was a sore throat, maybe he had drainage in his throat, I’m not sure.  But his throat felt weird and he thought he was choking and dying.  He was scared to go to sleep when his throat felt that way for fear that he would die in his sleep.  The look of fear in his wild, wide eyes was pathetic.  This went on for several nights during his cold.

Then when his throat went back to normal, the anxiety and the fear stuck around and still haunts him.  He can’t eat a meal or have a drink without needing to know if he’s in danger of dying.

The trick is — I mean besides not just shaking him and screaming, “I promise you will NOT die from choking on Frosted Flakes!!” — The real trick is to validate his concerns so I don’t belittle him or dismiss his true fears and at the same time try to rid him of any undue worry and stress.

Poor little guy doesn’t need to worry about choking and dying.  He needs to be able to eat a meal and not worry about choking.

Zach is a very medicated child.  The meds which address his anxiety disorder are Trileptal (a seizure med also used for a mood stabilizer – Zach takes it for both) and Prozac (an anti-depressant/ anti-anxiety med).  This combo seems to work well for Zach with not many side effects.  Psyche drugs are so tricky, and the successful combo is different for everyone.  It is often a hit and miss game until the doc finally lands on a winning combo of medicines.  Psyche drugs can be really ugly, but when they work, they can be miracle workers!

Soon we will see his psychiatrist who will adjust Zach’s medicine which will probably solve the problem for a while. . . at least until his next issue, anyway.  Meanwhile, Paul and I will continue to assure Zachary that he’s not going to choke and die today.

“No worries, Baby.  You’re fine.  I promise.”


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