Anxiety and Sick Kids

I'm sitting here tonight keeping watch on my youngest, who has been under the weather.  I'm wide awake even though I have been up for more than 20 hours straight.  I'm not awake because he is awake; he's softly snoring and sleeping soundly.  I'm awake because I worry... and stress... and often make myself feel sick when anyone in the house is sick.

I have found that anxiety and sick kids do not mix well.  

It's been this way as long as I can remember and after talking to a lot of other parents and moms I realize I am quite alone in this.  I don't know any parents that enjoy having sick kids and I know we all feel a bit helpless when our kids are sick but I don't know of any other parents that actually feel sick themselves every time someone in their house gets sick.

When my kids get sick, I stress and worry over everything!  

I stress over plans that MIGHT get changed because of other people in the house that might get sick after being exposed to germs... in fact I often cancel plans and clear our calendar for a good week just in case someone might get sick while we're out of the house.

 I stress and worry that whomever is sick is going to get sicker.  I tend to watch them like hawk for days after symptoms stop ever ready with fluids, medicine, a thermometer, or anything else they might need.

 I stress and worry that we might have gotten someone else sick and they're feeling miserable because of us.  I tend to text, e-mail, or let others know that they might have been exposed to germs just to give them a heads up.

It's silly really.  I know that all this stressing and worrying until I make myself feel sick is not helping anyone at all but I just can't seem to help it.  

I have always struggled with a bit of an anxiety disorder and I guess sick kids brings that out in me.  My coping skills fly out the window and I'm left feeling helpless.  Because really that's where all the anxiety stems from.

Feeling helpless leaves me feeling very unsettled.

Sickness can not be predicted.  It can not be prevented.  It can not be planned around.  And, let's face it, there's never a good time to be sick.  

In fact thinking back through all the illnesses we've survived I'm surprised I haven't become more resilient; after all we have always been sick at the WORSE times!

  • When our son had his first febrile seizure while we were on a family vacation-- and we had no idea what a seizure looked like.  
  • When we missed a bus trip to the Bronx zoo (that we paid a lot of money for and had been looking so forward to attending!) because of a stomach bug.
  • When we missed (or maybe we left early?) a family Christmas party to take a sick child to the ER  (he had pneumonia). 
  • When someone threw up just days before my husband and I had planned a weekend away alone. 
Now don't get me wrong.  I feel bad for my children (and husband) when they are sick.  I'll make them soup and bring them drinks and try to make them as comfortable as I can but I tend to do all that without really thinking or giving them my full attention.... I can't because I always have that other half of my brain that won't shut off or silence itself.  That list of worries that just keeps running through my head in a loop. 

I have found a few things help:
  • I remind myself of all the other illnesses and injuries we've survived through (and boy have their been many!).
  • I try to play out the worse case scenario; though sometimes this can backfire.  Three days before our Bronx zoo trip we had someone in the house sick with a stomach bug and we were trying to figure out if we should go or not.... well that worse case scenario included someone coming down with a stomach bug while on a loooong bus ride with a group of strangers and a very set schedule.  That would have been awful--- but you know what?  We would have dealt with it and we all would have survived.... even if we would have been miserable for a while. 
  • I remind myself of how healthy we are and that sickness is just a part of life; of everyone's life. 
  • I breathe deeply and evenly and try to focus on evening out my breathing.
  • I clean.  I often hope that I can prevent germs from spreading and so I clean.  I don't think it's often very effective but I still clean like crazy anytime anyone is sick.  I think just knowing I'm doing something helps me feel a little bit better. 
  • I pray.  Now I am a struggling believer so I don't pray often or with a ton of conviction but when my family members are sick I do pray and bargain and ask for help and guidance.  I know that I am at a loss and hope fervently that someone else has got this and is watching over us. 
  • I just keeping doing that next one thing.  When I stop and focus on what needs to be done the worries tend to melt into the background.  
  • I share my worries.  Sharing how I am feeling helps too.  Often when I speak my fears out loud they seem so small and silly that it just helps put them into perspective and reminds me that this too shall pass. 
If anyone has other words of wisdom or advice I'd love to hear it!  

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  1. Ugh! I am so glad I am not alone in this... my kids both have asthma and that is what causes my worries. Especially my daughter, because she will wake up coughing with it and I'm always worried she'll need more of her inhaler and then what if it doesn't help and I have to take her to the ER in the middle of the night, etc. She had several colds last winter back to back and coughed almost 7 weeks straight. She's also allergic to a couple antibiotics and that worries me. I am such a major worrier/stress head! Probably not good for me or her! lol! Thanks for sharing the tips. I think it helps to realize they DO get better and to just get your mind off it. And to talk to friends/family about it!


    1. You can't imagine the relief I get in knowing that I am not alone! It's just so scary when they're sick and I do think it always feels worse at night too. I was just thinking that it all doesn't seem quite so bad in the light of day. Of course it doesn't hurt that my son has completely bounced back and is quite animated this morning. Kids really are resilient.

  2. Sharing your worries is a great way to realize that you're not alone with dealing with them. I also worry more when my kids get sick too. Granted, I worry more with my youngest only because she gets seizures when she gets fevers. It doesn't really pay to be filled with worry and anxiety. I am glad you have found some methods that help you.

    1. My oldest used to have fever seizures and I can remember having to monitor his temp. round the clock when he was sick. Thankfully he finally outgrew them when he was in 2nd grade. They were so scary.

  3. I can really relate to this post. My two have been poorly for the last week, I can't stand it when they are sick, I always worry that things are far worse than they are!


    1. Hope they're back to feeling like their old selves.

  4. You really are not alone in your fears and anxieties abiut sickness. My kids have left home now, but I had all the same anxieties when they were young. It would be easy to tell you that you dont need to be so anxious, but the anxious brain simply doesnt listen to that sort of logic.
    What I can say is next time it happens reach out, via twitter, facebook etc as there WILL be other parents out there who can help you get through it. Xx #MG

    1. So very true; that anxious brain is rarely logical. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, and saying how it is okay to share the worries. That does help, without becoming a winer... you cant hold it in, it becomes too painful and results in more anxiety. Wishing you all wellness, and peace. M'wah! #mg

  6. I don't think you're alone either! My daughter has just a cold right now but with a fever, and I swear I had to take my own temp last night, because I was worried.
    Both of my kids had ER visits within their first year of life, and I swear I never got over that. I love summer because we get so many months with NO sickness. And now it's already started after only one week!
    I don't have wisdom but I'm glad you shared because I have anxiety with anyone in the house being sick. Very much.

    1. We too had a few hospitalizations and ER visits early on that freaked me out. My oldest had all sorts of tests and MRI's and stuff until he was in first grade so I learned to be gun shy pretty early on. Any cold or illness just seemed to blossom into something so much worse and with three kids so close in age it just seemed to go round and round to them all. Luckily they are not quite as sick quite so often and they do seem to get over them quicker now that they are older but it's always so scary. Always.

  7. Great post! It can be so hard when our babes are sick. It really does leave a Mom to worry because of that sense of helplessness you mentioned. Thank you for sharing ways on how to avoid this worry. Hope everyone is feeling better :)

    1. They are; thank you! Though... I do still keep waiting to see if it's going to spread.

  8. You're certainly not alone! I get worried sick too. My husband doesn't understand why I worry so much over common colds, even though we've been parents for 14years. I just can't help it.
    I do little things to help cope, but it usually means I'm staying up a little later than I like.
    Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH. Trust you're not alone were a village of moms who care about our babies ��

    1. I keep thinking it will get better and I'll worry less as they get older but that just doesn't seem to be the case.

  9. I so identify with this post. It can be worrisome when your child is sick. I pray and ask God to restore health. Luckily, our daughter was sick only once during a vacation and I spent an afternoon in a coffee shop with her while my husband too our other daughters on a tubing trip down a river.

    1. We always bring Motrin, Tylenol and a thermometer on vacation just in case. Luckily after our first vacation with the ER trip we've never really needed them again.

  10. PS thanks for linking up with us at the #LMMLinkup.

  11. I relate so much to this, I panic too and I think it is that loss of control (which really I never had anyway it is life and I can't control it, but I can control how I react to it). I like to feel in control, if I believe I am organised and things are going 'as they should' then I feel less panicked. So when someone is sick I fear the worst and you are so right, we just need to breathe and know we can get through it. Praying helps, and I find that surrendering control and knowing we will get through it really helps. Loads of hugs and a cup of tae are great too! #mg

    1. Yep, it's that Illusion of control! I love that illusion and sick kids just show me that as much as I might have thought I was organized and in control I'm just not.

  12. I can relate to this post also! I deal with anxiety and the "what-ifs" come on strong when one of my kids is sick!
    Visiting from #TuesTalk


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