I recently met an amazing teen.
He struggles with anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive tendencies.
He is on significant medications.
His neuropsychology tests indicate poor working memory, poor processing speed, delayed reading skills, significantly delayed math fluency.
He is home schooling secondary to severe anxiety. He reports significant overwhelm in school and community settings.
He is afraid of answering questions in class and fears criticism for answering wrong.
He freezes during test taking.
He reports auditory overwhelm but doesn’t want to draw attention with noise cancelling head phones.
He gets headaches, sweats and feels nauseous.
I saw him in occupational therapy to help provide strategies for self-regulation and stress management.
After some initial exercises, I asked him to try the monkey bars to help open his rib cage and diaphragm and to get some heavy joint input and slow continuous muscle stretch for relaxation.
His was very physically capable.
I encouraged him to climb to the first bar, hang for 3 seconds and let go.
He said he didn’t like monkey bars.
I suggested trying three turns. He did it.
I asked him to climb up and swing to the second bar.
He was hesitant and said he didn’t like heights.
I encouraged, your feet are only 2 inches from the ground.
He did it.
I asked him to climb and swing to the third bar and this would be the last turn.
He did it and turned toward me after finishing.
His face started turning pale white.
He tried some strategies to reduce his oncoming stress and anxiety response.
He wanted to go home.
I asked him if he would be willing to process with mom to see if we could understand his trigger.
I asked if he could share what happened for him.
He said, “You made me do something I really didn’t want to do.”
He and mom denied any childhood experiences of being forced to do something.
I asked mom if she could share anything about her pregnancy or birth story.
The light bulb clicked on.
She shared with deep regret her decision to have labor induced early.
Baby was not ready. He was still ‘sunny side up’.
He didn’t have time to prepare adequately and get ready.
Labor and delivery were difficult.
He was forced to come into this world before he was ready.
Stress, overwhelm, anxiety, panic.
A deep imprint was wired at birth.
“I am not ready. Don’t force me”.
This imprint in his life has been paralyzing.