On first appearances, I think many people overlook Jude’s internal anxiety but it’s something I’ve been wary of and somewhat afraid of for the past couple of years. I’m also convinced it has got worse with age.
This evening I called Jude, as I do every day, to have a brief chat and to ask how his day was. I invariably have a little conversation with whoever answers the phone to see how he has been from their point of view. Unfortunately, Monday’s report is rarely all positive and today was no different. I think following a weekend at home, he really struggles to get back into the routine of school and rather than just going with it, he behaves atrociously. Thankfully for me and my guilt ridden mind, the school and house staff contain it all fantastically. They know it’s just one of those things and manage to hide every trick in the book up their sleeves for supporting Jude during these arduous times.
Jude also hates going out at the moment. He will ask you a million times over if you aren’t going to go out at the weekend and if you say anything other than “no, of course we’re not” then he really isn’t capable of remaining calm. His repetitive question asking is almost like a nervous tic; he needs confirmation to appease the demons in his head. As it happens, you can sometimes convince Jude to go out at the weekend but it isn’t easy and takes a lot of bribing, reminding that we won’t be out long and that if he really can’t cope then he can wait in the car (yes, I am putting in a application for a blue badge this week!)
At the weekend just gone, Jude did wonderfully in agreeing to go to a soft play centre. I had absolutely no expectations of what would happen but I planned to get there as soon as it opened before the typical peak time craziness kicked in. I didn’t go alone…I’m not that mental. Myself, Elsa, Emmeline and Jude is not a soft play gang I want to be part of. Nope, I took back up in the form of Granny! We assumed that Elsa would be fine on her own so in the worst case scenario one of us can handle Emmeline and stop her throwing herself down the drop slide and the other can crawl around the tunnels at Jude’s unwaveringly tentative pace.
Jude did so well for a little while and even contemplated going down the slide. Ok, he wanted to do it, he really did but instead sat and watched the action for about twenty minutes remaining adamant he couldn’t do it himself. He was content, there wasn’t any huge anxiety and I felt confident that he was able to control his feelings.
Jude crouching on his feet as he so often does!
Even Granny couldn’t convince him to go down the slide…
As time went on, by way of coping, Jude seemed to slowly curl up into himself and eventually he ended up literally spherical in the ball pond. He was getting to that point where he just says “no” to everything and swipes away any offerings of a reassuring hand. I kind of panicked as I know what his anxiety can lead to and immediately said to him “shall we go and wait in the car?” Jude’s face lit up and we quickly escaped the soft play matrix, sat down momentarily to put shoes on, grabbed a carton of juice and headed out the exit. Once we were enclosed in the car, Jude reverted back into his usual self.
“Can we play I spy?”
We sat there for a while whilst the girls continued with their games. It was all fine though because I knew Jude would be ok from then on. He likes sitting in the car and I can kind of understand why. It’s like that goldfish bowl effect. He can watch the world go by but no-body can touch him.
Is that really sad or good damage limitation skills?
Whatever it is, I know Jude struggles with his anxiety however since attending his school, he has learnt how to contain it all a lot better. A year ago he would have completely lost it inside the soft play centre yet now he (sometimes) manages to remove himself a little from the situation and think it over. I’m not saying he takes everything in his stride – just this evening he had a melt down at school but the recovery time is shorter and the situations less prevalent.
Do you have any experience with anxiety struggles? I’d like to go on a course for supporting people with anxiety as I feel like a bit of a spare part at times.
Totally off topic…I managed to get Jude into a onesie! He kept it on for about five minutes despite me telling him how comfy it is. Doesn’t he look super cool?! I might steal it if he doesn’t want it.