I am so proud to be able to share this post with you all.
Psychologists and mental health clinicians are actually really restricted with what we can do in terms of ‘promotion’ of our services. Most people don’t know this, but we can’t use any reviews or testimonials from clients and obviously we have to be incredibly careful sharing our ‘success’ stories because maintaining past and current client confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us.
But this is not a testimonial or review, rather it is one young boy’s experience of his anxiety from the inside looking out. It was written by a former client who is now 10-years old and wrote this for a school assignment. He and his family have very kindly given us permission to share this with you (with some identifying details changed).
I hope this gives you some insight into how young people may be experiencing their anxiety and some hope that just like Mr Tony (Stark) here, change and improvement is 100% achievable.
Clinical Psychologist & Director
Up Until Now
Hi my name is Tony and I have anxiety. I have a twin brother named Peter, but he is nothing like me, he doesn’t have anxiety and isn’t scared to be by himself. Mum and Dad said that when I was little, I had anxiety. They say I was always really sad when I was left at childcare and was even worse when I went to kinder. I never liked being away from my parents.
When I was 4-years old, I was riding my bike home from my friend’s house with my mum. There was a man walking a big dog coming the other way. I stopped my bike and got out of his way. I don’t know why but the dog jumped at me and grabbed my hand in its mouth and ripped me into the ground. Mum said it tore my hand right open and there was blood everywhere. An ambulance had to come and get me and I had to have an operation to save my finger. I don’t really remember it that well, I just remember hearing mum tell the story lots of times. I think this made my anxiety even worse.
I started school the next year and I was fine. I made new friends and started playing sport. When I was in grade 1, I had to have another operation on my hand. I was really scared of the operation because I remembered what the last one was like. My anxiety was really bad again. When I was in grade 3, I had to have another operation and it all happened again.
When I was in grade 4 and on Easter holidays, I got gastro. When I went back to school, I kept getting this feeling in my tummy that made me think that I had gastro. This is when the worst of my anxiety started.
I couldn’t leave my mum’s side. I was scared that I was sick and I needed my mum there in case it happened again. I got so bad that I was too scared to leave home.
Home was my safe place. I was too scared to go to school. Mum and Dad tried everything but it was too hard. My teacher ended up giving me work to do at home and the whole class sometimes wrote nice notes for me. I really missed my friends; I hardly saw them. I missed most of term 2.
In term 3 I started getting out of the house and mum and dad said I had to go back to school. I was terrified and felt sick in my tummy all the time. Mum or Dad came to school with me every day. They sat with me in the classroom and helped me feel safe.
There was an aide in my class called Steve and he was there to help another kid. Steve started to help me so mum and dad could leave the classroom but they couldn’t leave the school. They sat outside the classroom from 9am to 3:30pm every day. They were the best. Without Steve and Mum and Dad being at school every day I would never have got through the year.
This year I am in grade 5 and I got the teacher I wanted. Miss Potts was my teacher in grade 3, the reason why I wanted her is because I knew her and I had been in her class before. Steve was also in the grade ⅚ building every morning.
Soon my class is going to camp but I’m not. I am not ready to be separated from mum and dad for that long. Dad is going to take me up there for one of the days which I am looking forward to.
The last year has really sucked but I got to do some pretty cool stuff too. Dad coached my basketball team and we made it to regionals. I knee boarded for the first time over the summer and it was EPIC! This year I was voted captain for my footy team and so far, we have only lost 1 game. I made it to Divisions in cross-country, high jump and relay events and will be going to Regionals later in the year.
When I think about how far I have come and what I have achieved over the last year I couldn’t have done it without Mum and Dad, Steve, my brother Peter, Hope (counsellor), Carol (Psychologist), Natasha (School Liaison Officer), Mr Stark (Vice Principal), May (Teacher’s Aide), My footy coach Clint, my friends, especially Scott, Nick and Bruce, my Nan, Pa and the rest of my family. I owe you guys.
Now I am 10 years old and still get a bit nervous at times to leave mum and dad. I just have to remember how far I have come and that I am ok.
This is my story up until now.