First me and now my son

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Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/15/2009 1:57 PM (GMT -7)   
I have suffered with GAD and panic disorder for about 12 years. I pretty much have it under control, except for dizziness and a tendency to be a worrier and isolate myself a bit. But on the whole i am in a good state nowadays, and I'm proud of how far i've come.

The problem i have currently is my son. He is 9, and suffers from a swallowing problem, which is not caused by any physical problem - yep, its psychological.

He first had problems when he was just five - he had a small choking incident (no heimlich manouvre or anything, just a french fry going downt he wrong way) at school, and overnight he went from eating a normal varied diet to only managing liquids.

My partner and I visited his GP who said he had had a fright and it would probably right itself soon enough.
Well, 5 years later and he still has the problem. Of course he recovered a fair bit (we initially followed a great ormond street hospital eating plan that i found online as our doctor was useless) and he generally nowadays eats a range of 'safe' food - jacket potato and tuna mayo, bread and butter, croissants, soft fish sometimes, well cooked carrots.. BUT, always in small amounts, and taking 1 hour to eat a very small plateful.

We have tried various different methods of help over the years - introducing new foods slowly ( a bite a night, this was successful when he was younger), star charts (he's too old now they don't work), letting him choose his own foods (which we are trying now), a feeding clinic at our local hospital (who were great but really only experienced with children with physical problems), a NLP practitioner (she was also lovely but my son was too active to sit still and talk and visualize!), an NHS child psychologist referral (a nurse interviewed him, and as his eating was moderately ok at the the time and so they discharged him), a homeopath (did nothing), plus endless googling, different tactics.. etc etc.

Right now he is VERY bad, and it has hit us hard as he had a period of about 6 weeks where he was eating and swallowing normally - actually had school dinners and even ate rice and pasta. I thought he had finally grown out of it. Now, he is very bad, we dont know why, and he can barely swallow his own saliva, and ate 4 mouthfuls of potato on 40 minutes.

I know this is an anxiety type symptom, but its a standalone one, and its become the worst kind of vicious circle for him. I also worry about how he will be in the future if he doesn't learn to cope with it - he may well have it for life. im so depressed, i dont know what to do, and it's bringing back my own anxiety symptoms. its so hard to be patient - to always be positive, though i know i must try to not pass on my worries and stress him out even more.

Can anyone relate to this swallowing thing? To hear an adults description of how it feels may help me understand. Also how many of you suffered with anxiety or panic as children? And how can you treat a child with his trouble? i just dont know what to do, i thought he was getting better, but it seems like the problem will just keep on returning...
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

Aries8
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Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 1/15/2009 2:09 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't remember if I suffered from anxiety as a child. My childhood was not pleasant. Anyway, I would suggest getting him a therapist. I've heard of this happening. I read about an adult who was frightened by a choking incident and wouldn't eat solid food for years. So, he's not alone. I feel for ya! I know how scary it can be to see the same anxious tendencies in your child as you do in yourself. Get him therapy and I would guess that it wouldn't be a good thing to make a big deal out of it in front of him. Let us know how it goes!
Anxiety Disorder/Mitral Valve Prolapse
 
Prozac and Carvedilol


Aries8
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Date Joined Dec 2008
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   Posted 1/15/2009 2:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Also, Hazed, I noticed on your post that you say to read Claire Weekes. I've got 2 of her books. Anyway, if you recall, she states in her book that we need not worry about swallowing. If we take small bites and just chew, the food will go down on its own. Suggest to your son that he try that.
Anxiety Disorder/Mitral Valve Prolapse
 
Prozac and Carvedilol


Corrie_1
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 185
   Posted 1/15/2009 2:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Wow... I can relate to this.

When I was a kid I had chronic problems with swallowing, my parents were very strict and made me eat even though just to swallow caused me great pain (And yes... even my own saliva, I'd swallow but my throat would felt like it was trying to force it back up instead of helping it go down). I use to throw away my lunches at school... didn't eat much when I was a kid (all through elementary school and even into high school) I eventually grew out of it at around the age 15, but it still resonates with me with wrongly learned eating habits. I don't know what kind of treatment to suggest since I wasn't diagnosed with anxiety until just recently. I remember long periods where it was very difficult for me to swallow, but eventually it passed, and although it was hard because my family didn't understand, at least your son has somebody who understands what's going on, my parents had no idea I had an actual problem.
Diagnosed with Fibro - October 2008


Venlafaxine 70mg/Armitriptyline 40mg to help me sleep and anxiety


Ativan... when things get real bad.


Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/16/2009 1:21 AM (GMT -7)   
Corrie_1 said...
Wow... I can relate to this.

When I was a kid I had chronic problems with swallowing, my parents were very strict and made me eat even though just to swallow caused me great pain (And yes... even my own saliva, I'd swallow but my throat would felt like it was trying to force it back up instead of helping it go down).


Corrie - wow this is excactly what he describes. he chew and chews unil he has a mass of saliva and liquified food in his mouth. which he sits and holds in his cheeks (looking like a hamster) then after a few minutes will painfully swallow, or sometimes he has to spit it out.
Were there any techniques that you used to make you feel better? Any situations or places that were better? Did you have periods where it got better or worse? Like, phases of it? And if so do you think they co-incided with any particular life events? I wish I could sit and chat with you about it - youre the first person ive met who has actually experienced this firsthand! Anything you can remember abuout how it eventually went away would be so ineteresting to know.

Aries8 said...
Also, Hazed, I noticed on your post that you say to read Claire Weekes. I've got 2 of her books. Anyway, if you recall, she states in her book that we need not worry about swallowing. If we take small bites and just chew, the food will go down on its own. Suggest to your son that he try that.


Unfortunately, this tip is not actually true for him - he tried this a long time ago, and he is able to chew and chew and some learnt reflex prevents ANY food going down. I find it hard to understand myself, but there it is..
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 1/16/2009 7:43 AM (GMT -7)   

Hello and welcome to A & P, I am Kitt.

Looks like you have received some good advice and support from the members.  I am so sorry for you son.  I do not have any tips for you but I do want you to know I support you and  keep posting as others will be along that may have info to help you.

AGain Welcome.

Kitt


 

Kitt, Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
&  Moderator GERD  Forums

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http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
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Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul
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Corrie_1
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 185
   Posted 1/16/2009 10:22 AM (GMT -7)   
I don't remember why it finally went away, but I do remember it being effected by how intense things were around me. When I was more stressed (or when my anxiety was up) it was harder to eat, maybe relaxation techniques might help? He might be getting stressed about eating now that he knows that it's difficult, which might just be compounding the problem? I don't know I'm not a doc. But I know as soon as there was pressure on me to eat, it became more difficult. He might just need to learn to relax around eating, at 10 years old this would be a very difficult thing to handle.

I had times when things were easier - usually parallel to less stress and anxiety in my life. I found when I wasn't worrying about eating it was easier to eat.

I never contributed this problem to anxiety until I read your post - it was just one of the many unanswered questions I had as a kid, so I never got any treatment. I'd suggest being really understanding, having food that is easy to eat and available... maybe have nutritional snacks out while he's playing something like video games? If he's not concentrating on eating when he eats it might be easier? Try and associate food with something positive that he enjoys doing.

If you have any other questions please ask :)

My anxiety symptoms have changed now that I'm an adult, and I remember very little of my childhood. But I hope that can help.
Diagnosed with Fibro - October 2008


Venlafaxine 70mg/Armitriptyline 40mg to help me sleep and anxiety


Ativan... when things get real bad.


Aries8
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 1/16/2009 11:15 AM (GMT -7)   
I wish you and your son the best of luck. Try therapy for him. That may work!
Anxiety Disorder/Mitral Valve Prolapse
 
Prozac and Carvedilol


Green Grove
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2424
   Posted 1/16/2009 3:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Hazed and Welcome!

You already received such great advice and I don't have anything to add except that I wish your son and family much blessing for your futures :)

Take care!
Much Love, Hugs, Peace & Comfort . . . Your Bro . . . Sam :)
 ~Co-Moderator Anxiety & Panic Forum~
"Fall Seven Times. . . . . . . . . .  Stand Up Eight."
~Japanese Proverb~
Not a professional.  Seek your physician's advice before making changes to your meds or lifestyle.
 


Georgie Girl
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 319
   Posted 1/16/2009 4:37 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions for you.  I have a friend whose son choked on a french fry also and they had to seek treatment to get him back to eating.  He was 9 at the time he choked.  I don't know exactly what finally resulted in him eating and I don't know if he still has some left over behavior from that.  However, I do feel for you as a mother.  I am bipolar and suffer from anxiety.  My son is unipolar and I know how hard it is to see your child suffer, especially with conditions we ourselves know so well.  My heart goes out to you and your son. 



Georgie Girl
 
Bipolar, Anxiety Disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis


Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/17/2009 5:49 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you to everyone, it makes me better to have your support. Ive always found this forum to be the best and most supportive - its helped me so many times.. Sorry if i vent a bit here - feeling close to the edge today!

My son seems to be getting worse over the last couple of days. He's now only managing soup and bread and butter, I even found him holding milk in his mouth that he couldnt bring himself to swallow. I have to keep telling myself that we have been here before, and it has passed, but its heartbreaking. He's now started worrying that he will get ill from lack of food, which is only adding to his stress.
I think he may be worrying about our upcoming holiday (thailand) in 3 weeks. His dad (my ex) told him that the country was at war - which is simply not true, they had a small airport protest which is all fine now. Myself i'm worried about a lack of easy to eat foods available - its all very spicy, and rice based dishes. When we booked the trip his eating was very very good, the best its ever been, which i think is why its such a shock to see him like this again. What a shame as we have saved for ages for this trip which is an amazing opportunity..
Strangely it seems harder for him to overcome it now hes older - i guess his thoughts/feeling are more complex - plus he has 4 years of memory of the problem to reinforce it.

Corrie_1 said...
I'd suggest being really understanding, having food that is easy to eat and available... maybe have nutritional snacks out while he's playing something like video games? If he's not concentrating on eating when he eats it might be easier? Try and associate food with something positive that he enjoys doing.


Corrie - thank you for your message back. Your advice is spot on - we do this already but tis good to hear someone else suggest it.. He goes and eats while hes on the computer or in his room and it helps a little, and he says its easier at school where he's distracted.

I was wondering about the possible use of any herbal supplements for anxiety suitable for kids - maybe Rhodiola Rosea? I dont want to put him on meds of course, that would be really wrong i think.
Well, thank you everyone again. i hope no-one minds if i bump this thread every so often.
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/23/2009 6:44 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you Garen. You sound so mature for your age.. what you've said has helped me. It seems that nobody has an 'answer' for this, and its something that will just take some time to resolve. Our doctor has recommended that we don't cancel our holiday - that even if he doesn't eat much he will be ok, not at risk. We are getting referred again to the local child mental health clinic, so over time i hope he will improve. I must say that the thought of this holiday has me scared - cant stop obsessing over it..
I have found a local hypnotherapist, who specializes in whats called the 'blowaway technique' - its a one session treatment thats supposed to be very effective. Thats on Tuesday next week. I'm trying hard not to pin my hopes too high!
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

Aries8
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 1/23/2009 11:17 AM (GMT -7)   
Garen, nice post! You've been through a lot. I hope things get better. You've got the right attitude and you're helping yourself. Better days and years are ahead for you!

Hazed, let us know how the "blowaway technique" works. Does it help with anxiety? Let us know and best wishes!
Anxiety Disorder/Mitral Valve Prolapse
 
Prozac and Carvedilol


Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/27/2009 12:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Well. Today we went to the hypnotherapist. She was very nice, we both had on headphones, and she played gentle music whilst talking - progressive relaxation, visualizing a staircase, going to a 'special place' of our own imagining. Then she asked us to think of certain times in our lives - a time we felt fear,guilt, embarrassment, lonelyness etc. (not to say out loud). Then we had to take a big breath and 'blow away' the feelings. Then after that she talked to us giving us positive suggestions, all very positive, about confidence, feeling good, getting better each day, feeling the stress and worry turn to calm and relaxation. All in all it lasted about half hour or so.

Personally i didnt feel 'hypnotised' or even particularly relaxed, and couldnt think of the 'bad experiences' quickly enough before 'blowing them away'. I wonder if my son felt like that. We had to agree not to discuss what we felt and thought, which i think was a good idea.

At home now, and my son has struggled badly to eat as usual. No change, he's been getting worse each day. Now he says he thinks the session 'didnt work' and is very despondant. I guess any results may take some time, but i fear it will make no difference (though im not showing this to my son of course, keeping it all light and positive).
I am reaching the end of my tether. Supposed to be going on a big holiday in only 2 weeks, and if he cant manage soup then how on earth will we cope backpacking in asia??? Im pretty scared, and to be honest now dreading the holiday a bit. Even though his doctor has said definitely dont cancel, that he's not at risk.

I just dont see any way to help him turn the corner and start to improve.. Its been 3 weeks now of no solids except tiny bits of bread. Feeling very down.
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

Green Grove
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Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2424
   Posted 1/27/2009 2:47 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm sorry that your son is going through this. You need to explain to him and have a therapist do the same, that recovery happens one step at a time. I think that therapy like this is a good thing up to a point, because everyone is different and therapy is a very specialized thing for the induvidual. For example, I use a method called the "One Move Technique" for anxiety which works for me but I have met several people that it has just made it worse.

Has your son's doctor tried him on vitamin shakes like Ensure? If you have to puree away, just do it for his health. . . I have helped do this for patients that needed it and the nurishment did wonders for them. I could not imagine how scary this is for you and the rest of your family. If your son continues in his depression, you need to see another doctor for this. . . Childhood should not be spent in depression, I know from personal experience. I also don't see how backpacking is going to help him when he is going through so much right now and if he gets worse while you all are on holiday. Is there support nearby or is it a remote location? I'm sure the fresh air and scenery would be a spirit lifter, but his condition is fragile right now and might not be a good thing. Just my 2 cents. . . I am keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.
Much Love, Hugs, Peace & Comfort . . . Your Bro . . . Sam :)
 ~Co-Moderator Anxiety & Panic Forum~
"Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out."
~Edwin Markham~
Not a professional.  Seek your physician's advice before making changes to your meds or lifestyle.
 


Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/28/2009 2:34 AM (GMT -7)   
Green Grove said...
I'm sorry that your son is going through this. You need to explain to him and have a therapist do the same, that recovery happens one step at a time. I think that therapy like this is a good thing up to a point, because everyone is different and therapy is a very specialized thing for the induvidual. For example, I use a method called the "One Move Technique" for anxiety which works for me but I have met several people that it has just made it worse.

Has your son's doctor tried him on vitamin shakes like Ensure? If you have to puree away, just do it for his health. . . I have helped do this for patients that needed it and the nurishment did wonders for them. I could not imagine how scary this is for you and the rest of your family. If your son continues in his depression, you need to see another doctor for this. . . Childhood should not be spent in depression, I know from personal experience. I also don't see how backpacking is going to help him when he is going through so much right now and if he gets worse while you all are on holiday. Is there support nearby or is it a remote location? I'm sure the fresh air and scenery would be a spirit lifter, but his condition is fragile right now and might not be a good thing. Just my 2 cents. . . I am keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.


He's not in anyway depressed though - when he's not trying to eat he is his usual very upbeat self. If anyone is depressed its me! Also, he is already having complan, which is the same as ensure, to keep his calories up.
As for the holiday, if he is not eating much, we have been reassured by our doctor that he's not in any immediate danger (he's not underweight at the moment, according to height weight calculators) and he's otherwise healthy and has lots of energy. He really wants to go! Cant wait, so im sure you see why it would be no good to cancel. And, if he really does eat far too little, well, its 11 hours home on the plane, plus there are good doctors, pharmacies all over. BUT, let me stress again, we wouldnt be going had our doctor (who is excellent) not advised us it would be ok.
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

Hazed
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/28/2009 10:51 AM (GMT -7)   
Ah thanks garen, its so strange to hear you describe it..

"Like if I was eating right now and really started to think, "what if this bite in my mouth doesnt make it down"? My throat would close up and I would have to spit out the food.
Its hard bc you have to not think about things like that when you eat and trying NOT to think about it only makes you THINK about it!!"

He is 9 years old by the way.

I reckon that is also how the problem can come back even after he's got over a bad phase. I guess it only take one little thought of "what if this bite in my mouth doesnt make it down" and it will happen a bit, then the next day, he remembers that, and it comes back a bit more, until he's then EXPECTING it, which will guarantee the feeling comes! How to break that cycle is the hard part.
Do you think, the reverse could work.. like, if he has a meal which is a little better and feels easier, then he will be a little less anxious, then the next meal, he remembers that, and it gets easier..? Im kind of thinking out loud here dont mind me! Trouble with that, is that he IS still thinking about it, even if its a thought of yesterday it was easier.

It reminds me so much of the way panic attacks work, the 'fear of the fear'. There has to be a way of using the coping techniques of the scary thoughts in panic attacks, and using them for his problem. but then it doubly hard as he's a kid.

Any ideas anyone
Im an old member who's back to get involved again - i used to be just plain 'haze', but lost all my login details!
 

Green Grove
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2424
   Posted 1/28/2009 1:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Of course as a mother you would be depressed and scared for your child's safety and well being. I hope I did not give the wrong impression about your excellent parenting, Hazed. If your son is excited to have your family holiday and the doc said he would be good to go, I think that it is a good thing :) Maybe the fresh air and hiking will help stoke up his appetite and make him feel better :) I sure hope so and I wish you all a wonderful trip!

Take care and you all have tons of fun now :)
Much Love, Hugs, Peace & Comfort . . . Your Bro . . . Sam :)
 ~Co-Moderator Anxiety & Panic Forum~
"Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out."
~Edwin Markham~
Not a professional.  Seek your physician's advice before making changes to your meds or lifestyle.
 

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