Accidental tourists

So I want to write this post, but first I want to explain why it’s taken so long.

There once was a little girl. We’ll call her M. M was an only child and her parents loved her very much. Her mother had a blog that often featured photos and stories about M: the usual parent-y stuff. That was all fine and good, but M, of course, began to grow up. When she turned 8, her mother thought perhaps she should share a little less about her child. The girl, after all, was her own person. The mother remembered being in second grade very well, and thought perhaps she would not have liked HER mother to have such a platform to blither on about her 8 year old escapades. It is inherently very public, and really, M should get to decide what she shows the world. Don’t you think? But the mother still wanted to blog, and of course M is a major part of the life of the family. So the mother decided that pictures of M were okay, and family vacation photos, and what have you, but mostly, M’s thoughts and so forth would be left off the blog from now on, unless M said it was okay. So began a new chapter in the mother’s blog, but it felt like the right way to go.

Whew. Are you still with me? Yeah, anyway, so all of that applies to us, of course, but I still have one post to write about the girl, because when I told you about this, I  sort of left off the follow up story that it requires. So here we go.

The first few weeks after the accident, V was cautious anytime I was driving. If I so much as touched the median or shoulder strips, she would cry out in terror, and she watched the speed of the car obsessively. And we absolutely had to avoid the interstate, or “fast road” as she calls it, because that was where the accident was. Riding in the car didn’t bother her as much if $haun was driving, or Auntie Jess or Grandma. But I accepted this as normal. I was still shaking, too, frankly, and was happy to have an excuse to stay off the interstate.

But it didn’t get better in time. In fact, it got worse. Every tiny sound was cause for her to cry out “What’s that!?” A month after the accident, the ground was covered in snow and then sand, both of which made wildly different noises, and sometimes even a short drive would make her nearly hyperventilate.

This went on and on. And on. We talked about probability and the cause of the accident; we talked about trusting us to take care of her, and about enjoying our time together, in the car or anyplace. We did deep breathing, stretches, visualization. She had (and still has) three different therapists. All of this helped, some, but in the end she was still white-knuckled, full-out terrified every time we drove any where. It was painful. It was unhealthy.

She’s always been prone to anxiousness, our girl. Perhaps she gets it from her father, whose anxiety can be profound. Likely she gets it from both of us, because, though I don’t usually have anxiety, I have all kinds of depression. Shaun described V once as sort of constantly thrumming, just a vibration of perched anxiety, waiting for it to strike. She struggles with sensory issues, and full-on meltdown tantrums have always been common. But now they were daily. The accident shook something loose, and we could not put her back the way she was.

And so we decided to try medication.

Now, I am a big advocate of medication. I myself have taken Zoloft for over half my life, and have no doubt that it saved me more than once. Most everyone I love takes some sort of antidepressant or anti anxiety med, or has at some point in their life. But when it’s your own baby, this eight year old child for whom you are responsible, it’s a lot to consider. I mean, I don’t want her to use regular deodorant ever because it’s so full of chemicals. Tylenol leads to childhood asthma, so we avoid that. Why on earth would I allow her to be medicated?

Oh, right, because she can’t function. At all.

We started at 12.5 mg of sertraline, and she’s been on 25 mgs for about three months. The difference is astounding. We’re monitoring her closely, and I know it’s not a miracle answer, but she’s back to being a little girl again. More so than ever before, in some ways. About a month ago, she said to me from the backseat of the car, “Hey, Mom? I’m really happy,” and I realized with a jolt that she had only ever said such a thing during a party before. Just an everyday happiness? She just didn’t have that.

Is she always happy? No. She’s eight. One minute she’s happy and the next minute she’s “Mommmmm! Why is the dog eating Twilight Sparkle??” She still gets scared sometimes, and has tantrums. But it’s not everyday anymore, and overall she is just less of a tightly wound spring and more of a joyful child, like most eight year olds.

We’ve even been on the interstate a few times recently, and nobody ended up in tears.



About Jennifer

Writer teacher mama sister friend sewist poet trying to stay warm in Minnesota's northwest.
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2 Responses to Accidental tourists

  1. Shirley Johnson says:

    Again, thanks for sharing so much of your life, Jen. V will appreciate your concern for her welfare when she is older. She is lucky to have you as her mom.

  2. Myra Johnson. says:

    I fully believe I have a sometime happy, most often not so anxious eight year old granddaughter now. Not al ways perfect but now I feel she is happy to be at grams and now I love to have her without always fearing her getting upset. She is so much more fun. She has become a writer which I love. Love you always.

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