“Anyone who knows our family knows we have two men (one big, one little) with debilitating anxiety. Both came into this world with a brain that makes them their own worst critic and with demons, they fight day in and day out.
My son Croix Bruce Michael has a passion for football that doesn’t quit. He eats, sleeps, and breathes football. If he’s not playing, he’s practicing. If he’s not practicing, he’s studying plays or watching games (Chiefs for life) or highlights.
This season has been one full of adversity for this kid. He’s quarterbacking our senior’s 5th-grade team, and if I’m going to be frank, he’s taken more hits and been on the bottom of more piles than any mom likes to see.
He meets his dad on the sideline for every offensive play call ready to take on the next beating. Ready to bust his butt regardless of who’s barreling through the line at him. There have been plays where he has two seconds to get the ball off before he’s annihilated (trust me, I video the games), and he does it. Play after play, week after week.
In the second game of the season, my dude came to the sidelines crying and hyperventilating after taking his first-ever blindside hit. He was sent over to me where we sat down and analyzed what was happening: headache, stomachache, his face was going numb, and his arms were tingling from the shoulders down.
After getting his breathing under control and talking with one of the coaches, Croix sat for the rest of the game. Our coaches don’t mess around with safety.
We got home, talked it through, and it finally clicked for Michael and me. Croix had his first ever full-fledged panic attack.
We knew we’d be here someday, but I can’t explain the feeling of devastation and heartbreak that enveloped me and Michael. Our 11-year-old baby was in fight or flight so hardcore that his body was pulling blood from his limbs to support his racing heart.
We talked with Croix and talked some more. We hugged him and loved him and talked some more. We asked if football was worth this. We asked if he wanted to be done. His response? A resounding, ‘I LOVE FOOTBALL. I’M PLAYING FOOTBALL.’
Then we went to work. How can we support this kid doing what he loves while supporting mental strength and resilience? I did a lot of research and talked with people who’ve played elite sports, and we came up with our game plan.
Croix and I now do anxiety meditations. We tap it out. We breathe. We tell ourselves affirmations: ‘I’m safe.’ ‘I’m in control.’ ‘I’m okay.’
So, if you see my child bolting to me from the sidelines, or see him sitting alone with his eyes closed tapping it out, he’s doing the hard work. He’s fighting the rising panic that’s threatening to debilitate him. He’s mastering the lies his brain tells him.
If you think he’s a wimp, you’ve clearly never experienced true anxiety. If you think he needs to man up, come on over. I’ll show you the tapes of the beatings that he takes and gets back up from…over and over.
My kid knows some people don’t get it, and he’s learned they don’t matter. He’s learned to talk about his anxiety to trusted friends and adults. He’s learned that many people he cares for struggle, but they just don’t feel comfortable talking about it. He’s working to change that.
This kid is my freaking hero.”
This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Allie Fish. You can follow her on Facebook. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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