Let’s talk about anxiety. Seriously. Why is this a secret?

Spent time with Benno today. 

It is amazing how he walks in this world. Everyone enchanted. Uber drivers to strangers in the elevator, just enchanted. “How old is he?” The question always asked. Followed by “Did he just say XXX?” with bursts of laughter.

Benno knows all catchphrases or idioms (sophisticated ones) and uses them well. I remember when Salek Brodsky pointed this out to Steve and I when Benno was 5. “He just times them perfectly.” He slides those zingers in as if he is in his late 60’s and been using them all his life. In a Sinatra like way. He is just so remarkable and so freaking smart.

Do you have a child that is like an “only child?” Or could have been an “only child” very easily? I’ve met so many families who talk about this with me. I know this is common. That child who just wants to hang with the adults?

I’ve noticed that “only child” children, at least the ones I know of, are always really wise and have exposure the rest don’t. Only child children are privy to things. There is no “younger child” to always be concerned about speaking in front of and you would rather not put your “only child” by him or herself when you need to talk “adult. ” They tag along for the ride. Some of our best friends are only children. They are pretty wise.

Benno is that child. Don’t get me wrong he loves to play with his brother and they really get along well, he is just that child that thrives with adults. He loves to be with us. He loves to snuggle. Hear that future spouse. You have the cuddliest person ever. Your welcome.

And boy do adults love him. How can you not? He is the room. He doesn’t light it up, he is it.

But I can’t even imagine what it must be like in there, in Benno. Steve usually can understand him a bit better, but even Steve can’t fathom it now.

This is a lot to process. 

Benno has an anxiety disorder. This is a real thing and I don’t understand why we don’t talk about these things out loud. I just don’t. Maybe because I have a different perspective? Maybe because I got to work with large sample sizes of student populations that I feel more comfortable to talk about such topics? I know how relevant it is.

How VERY likely that anxiety is somewhere in your family. Its just basic math. 

The odds are…YES. 

Anxiety is the NUMBER ONE most afflicted disorder for adults. One out of twenty children and teens suffer from it. So why is this hid in shame? And why still? When we know so much about it.

Do we think its a reflection of parenting? Well I can tell you that’s bullshit. I have my own control study going, I have two kids. Jacob does not suffer from anxiety and considering what we are going through, thank you LORD for that.

So what’s the fear? 

And if this is something that so many people are suffering from why aren’t we valuing the problem? At least treating it equal to y = mx + b, because that makes into every school curriculum. 

Here’s a factoid: 

Do you know what the average graduation time is for college students (nationally)? 

SIX years. 

Yes. 6 years. Not 4. 

So keep on saving over there Nursery parents…your savings calculations are a teensy bit off. Double it. I said average. Some are taking longer.

There are numerous reasons at to why, but up in the top five…mental health breaks. Kids are having to leave college/ take time off for mental health issues. They have physical manifestations and feel their world crumbling in. Or they are simply overwhelmed and need to come home. This is very real and happening ALL around the nation. Including (if not more so) the best schools in the nation, even the one you went to.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS!

We need to be teaching the ENTIRE student. Equality to the mind and body. I do believe it needs to start early, but a HUGE push when children are teens and metacognitively aware. We need to be teaching them the chemistry/biology of anxiety to know how it physically manifests in the body and how to identify it. We need to expose them to all research-informed methods for alleviating anxiety which includes meditation, exercise, talking, etc. Let each child find what works for him/her/

Because what works for you, may not work for me. For example I still have yet to experience this “runners high.”

Yes…no runners high…not even in the marathon with all the cheering, I’m at mile 2…nothing. Nada. 

Its core to our mission at Mind the Gap. It’s line number five in our mission statement.

WE WILL MIND the body. We develop the whole person, teaching wellness skills with an emphasis on tools for anxiety and stress.

And I would argue that it is crucial and essential to any education. MTG IS going to solve that. That feels good to say. Ahhh…we’re going to solve that. 

Haven’t been able to say that word in a while. Solve.

We can solve it because it’s easy to solve. There isn’t anything to “cure” but rather to channel. *and this might include medications for some of you.

Anxiety is not necessarily a BAD thing. 

Steve suffers from crazy anxiety. And I won’t name but my MOST brilliant friends do too. Super smart.

Anxiety is an asset. A gift. It is an evolutionary advantage. You anxious people are more likely to live, but you need to know how to channel it. There are no predators at every turn anymore. The world is safer, but you body is still in the stone age.

I mean my husband is the freaking best. He can do anything and knows everything. He understands how his body works and can control it. So freaking jealous. And all of that is due to his own anxiety. He studied himself with such OCD precision, so he can be in control, even of his own anxiety. 

Snap.

 Literally. I just snapped in the air. lol.

But yes it can be done. It took YEARS, but anxiety can improve your performance and serve you if you have the right tools.

However, Benno is 8. What tools does he have and what tools can he realistically utilize? This is not easy and nothing to wish on a child. Nor easy to watch. It’s hard to parent. He can’t say “I’m anxious!” Instead he gets stuck on thoughts like freaking Nantucket.

Steve can’t fathom dealing with this at that age. Steve didn’t have anxiety this young. He developed it in his teens and Steve didn’t have his brother diagnosed with cancer and everything he’s known to disappear. All his plans. All of his plans. anxious people like plans.

All his plans to sail through the summer with his parents, brother, and dog.

Instead. I went away, Steve went away, Jacob went away. And his dog, Skipper went away (germs). He is completely boundless. He has no consistent structure and when we try, we fail. Something happens like that night we had to rush Jacob to the hospital.

But let me be clear. He will learn like Steve. He has no choice and we will help him. We are here for you Benno! Just like Jacob who has to kill cancer from his body. Benno he will conquer his anxiety and then…

We will all work for Benno. 

Literally all of us.
This is serious.

He has Steve’s anxiety, but he is me too. He has my words.

I’m trying to stay in his good favor, because, this day will come. I can’t promise you good health benefits. He will be a real pain in the ass boss. You will need to punch in and out, but you will respect him because he will know everything about whatever the hell you are talking about. He will know all (or build a machine that does) to feel comfortable in this world.

So today I had to prioritize in order of need and that was Benno.

Jacob is doing GREAT!

He played hide and seek for most of the day in the house. I kid you not! I could not get that kid to sit. And he ATE. He ate for all the days he missed. He ate and he ate and he ate. We have 3 more days with him. 3 more days before the next chemo. We are enjoying him, but still, a bit protective as his immunity is that of a three month old and I CAN’T go back there yet. Need a break from the hospital. So visitors be HEALTHY. The only issue with Jacob is the hair loss. He doesn’t look in mirrors… Waiting for that to accidently happen.

AND OH YEAH! Were back home. Jacob wanted to go home and poof Steve made it happen. Steve got the air tested about a billion times and we are now home. We assumed Jacob would sleep with me because of the bunk bed stairs, but Jacob just scurried up those steps so excited to be in his bed. Saying hello to each of his stuffed animals. And all of the GIFTS!

ALL of the gifts!! 

Which of course Steve let him open while I was out and he threw away the cards. Steve is on a big CLEANSE. Seriously. Everything that has nothing to do with Jacob he will throw out. No room. No distractions. We are purging, to say the least. Valuables hold no meaning anymore. 

However, one gift was obvious:)

I got some Moon Pies from a Southern Belle, Ms. Katie, a fellow sailor. Thank you Ms. Katie. Do you know what one of the songs that turned on shuffle?! You gave it to me. “Shake your booty in the name of Jesus.” I mean that song is the freaking best. It still makes me laugh as if were still at the Florabama.

SORRY SHORT STORY ALERT:

Everyone should know about the Florabama. Link provided for proof!

The Florabama is a bar on the border of Florida and Alabama and every year they have the MULLET contest. AND YES! I KNOW! You thought it was a mullet contest as in the hairstyle, but NO, mullet turns out to be a fish. And they throw that fish across the state lines from Alabama to Florida. I guess who throws it the farthest wins? I honestly don’t remember, but I loved it. Just a bunch of people throwing fish across a state line and getting drunk. Sounds like a community builder to me! We were drinking and shaking our booties in the name of Jesus. Can we do that again? Let’s bring the kids! One year from now! We go and shake our booties and throw some freaking mullet with guys rocking mullets. Sounds like a perfect day. I will mark it down. Send me the date.

I plan to LIVE so HARD when this is over.

Its hard to envision some days, but I have to start making plans. Plans of a life not like this. A life where my children are healthy and getting what they need.

And I believe the rest of the gifts were from the Friends. The greatest friends a Nightwing could have. THANK THANK THANK THANK THANK YOU ALL!

So today we focused on Benno.

Night.

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5 Comments

  1. Beautifully written and happy to hear Jacob is home and able to be a kid for a few days! (Also the Florabama is really the best!!)

    Randi Seigel Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. Mullet Toss. Done! Be here the third weekend in April. We can even secure a slip at the marina and y’all can bring the boat! Or of course stay with us. 😘 Keep Shakin’…you are a warrior. And if you need more moonpies, I’m your girl. Please put Mardi Gras on your list, too.

    Like

  3. Abby-thank you for addressing anxiety as taboo. My daughter is trying to break down the walls and stigma associated with anxiety,depression and all mental health issues. Love to you and the entire Brody family.

    Liked by 1 person

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