When the Fight Lives Within

I can’t think of anything worse than living with a body that lies to you.

I have a son who is struggling with that, today. Well, he struggles with it everyday but today is a bad day. Tunes has an anxiety disorder. It gets so bad that he shuts down. Literally, he goes to bed and he checks out.

He called me from school. He’s sick….again. Despite the 504 plan we’ve set up for him, he wasn’t able to settle his thoughts or his stomach.

When I picked him up, his head was hung forward, he slouched when he approached me, his voice was low and shook as he spoke, “I’m sorry, mom.” He was defeated.

Oh my sweet kiddo, I love you so. It breaks my heart to see him so disappointed in himself.

It was just a few hours earlier today, that he was commenting on his shapely calves, like this was new. It’s about time he noticed. I smiled at him, and told him I’ve been trying to tell him, for years, that he was a good looking kid.

Now, here we are. His stomach hurts. He has a headache. He’s jittery. He can’t focus. Noise is irritating him.

Our dialog is short. He explains he doesn’t want to talk. He doesn’t want to snap at me. He wants to sleep.

That’s how he copes. It’s what brings him relief from the chatter that plays in his head.

Today, I happen to know his trigger. He has a huge paper due in a class. The weight of this paper determines whether he takes this class over again, or not. It was due today but his teacher is giving him the weekend.

When I left him, I had finally convinced him not to sleep, but to sit at the computer and start to do some work. When I left, that’s what he was doing.

I don’t know what it’s like to live like this. However, I do know fear of failing. I do know the feeling of inadequacy. I do know the feeling of disappointment. Not to his level. But I have to hope that I still have something to offer.

Here is what I told him…

“I know it must be hard to feel like this. It has to be exhausting to fight everyday. But today, you have to fight. You can’t sleep. If you want to be upset, get upset with this illness, not with you.

“You are amazing. Don’t blame yourself.

“Everything in your head is telling you a lie. Every fiber of your body is telling you to check out. To sleep. That you’re a loser. You’re worthless. But I’m telling you, you’re not.

I know you think this is something you have control over. But you don’t. It’s like telling your blood sugar to drop, your arm to stop bleeding, or your heart to stop hurting. You can’t. You don’t have control over that.

“But you can get pissed! Fight this thing, for just this minute. Do what you can do, for as long as you can do it. Just fight. Don’t just give up.

“The only thing that is going to make this go away, is to do what you don’t want to do, for as long as you can do.”

Do I think once I return home, he’ll be diligently working at the computer? No. He’ll be sleeping. But everyday I have to offer him hope and encouragement.

I have faith that my God loves my son, more than I can ever imagine. I have faith that He sees him. I have faith that one day my son will find a way to succeed in spite of his illness.

And one day he will say, “I never thought I could.”

And I’ll cry…because that’s what I do, and through my tears I’ll tell him, “I always knew you would.”

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