Saturday, February 4, 2017

Anxiety Aid

Despite medication and years of behavioral therapy, anxiety arises at times. Even though Alex has learned to cope with panic attacks much better, he still has moments when the world suddenly overwhelms him. Yesterday, we had just arrived at one of his favorite restaurants, and he began to panic that he couldn’t remember something from several years ago. Sitting next to him in the booth, I could feel him vibrating in his seat as adrenaline made him shaky, his eyes widened, and he desperately tried to communicate his fears. As Ed and I tried to reassure him and help him remember calming skills, he was trying to get ahold of himself because he really wanted to stay. For the first time ever, I noticed that his neck and face were splotched with red spots, which must have been a physical reaction because they disappeared a few minutes later when we convinced him that going home would be the best option under the circumstances.

Once we arrived home, he was calmer, but he was still a bit worried about his schedule, especially since plans had changed suddenly when we left the restaurant where we had planned to eat. Time schedules have proven very helpful to Alex over the years, allowing him to avoid being taken by surprise because he knows what is coming next. After I wrote a schedule outlining the rest of the evening, he settled down. A little later, he happily informed us that he was able to remember something he thought he had forgotten. Safe at home with a schedule, he was able to overcome the anxiety that panicked him and interfered with his usually unusually acute memory.

Over the years, we have made lists and schedules for Alex in a variety of ways: memo pads, legal pads, composition notebooks, and notes on his iPad. Problems have arisen at times, however, when he misplaced his precious lists intended to calm him and melted down because he couldn’t find the list he needed. To make his lists easier to find, I often use colored index cards. Last weekend, as Alex was carrying around a green index card with the schedule for the day, Ed reminded him to hold onto it tightly as we walked to a basketball game on a windy day. As the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This time the father was the resourceful one, as Ed came up with a great idea.

Thinking of the wristbands baseball catchers and football quarterbacks wear to hold information regarding plays, Ed suggested that Alex could use one to hold his lists. Not only would we not have to worry about Alex losing his lists or having them blow away in the wind, but he would also be comforted to know that his beloved list was literally close at hand. The only problem was that I had no idea what those wristbands are called. A Google search informed me that they are known as wrist coaches. A little more online searching led me to discover that our local Dick’s Sporting Goods store had a variety of styles in stock.

A trip to the sports store was successful as I found one for $9.99: a Cutters mini wrist coach made of soft terry cloth material with the plastic holder on top that keeps the lists secure and dry. We also knew that we could convince Alex that the wrist coach was a great idea because he has seen catchers wear them on television. Yesterday, when he was dealing with his panic attack, I made him a schedule, slipped it into his wrist coach, and put the wrist coach on his arm. Needless to say, it worked like a charm. He kept turning his wrist to see the schedule, reassured that he knew where it was and what the rest of his day would entail. I just wish Ed had thought of this great idea sooner because it would have saved us countless times of frantic searches over the years for a list Alex misplaced.

While we wish Alex didn’t have to struggle with anxiety, we are pleased that he can cope better now, thanks to proper anti-anxiety medication and skills he has learned in therapy. However, we also know that he relies upon us whenever he finds himself overwhelmed, and we are thankful that we, too, have learned tricks and tips to help ease his fears.

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17


Lynette Gebler said...

I hope that I can help you and Alex with the struggle regarding anxiety. My company, Focus Formulations, makes a product called Calm Focus. Taken in a 1/2 dose during the daytime it can naturally combat anxiety. I would love to send you a free sample to try. If you would like to try it please send me your mailing address to:

Be well,

"Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

Pam Byrne said...

Hi Lynette,
Thank you for your kind offer. Can you tell me more about Calm Focus? Because Alex is on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet and takes medications, we have to be very careful about the supplements he takes to ensure there would be no negative side effects from interactions.
Take care,