Teen is trou­bled by bouts of anx­i­ety

Orlando Sentinel - - PUZZLE - By Amy Dick­in­son [email protected]­dick­in­son.com Twit­ter @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I am a teenager, strug­gling with school is­sues, anx­i­ety and wor­ries about where I want to go in life.

I have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing panic at­tacks since sev­enth grade. My par­ents have been very sup­port­ive, but they don’t want me to get coun­sel­ing. They be­lieve I should try to deal with my hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion and stress is­sues my­self be­fore we tran­si­tion to the med­i­cal side of things. I re­spect this, and I un­der­stand their views. I’m ask­ing you for help be­cause your ad­vice could give me a push in the right di­rec­tion.

When I con­front a chal­lenge, I usu­ally be­come an­gry and want to give up. I get stressed at the small­est things. Usu­ally, I re­lease my anger by com­plain­ing and cry­ing, which leads to panic at­tacks. For me, the tran­si­tion from mid­dle school to high school was very hard — more kids, harder classes, peo­ple grow­ing up too quickly, etc. I don’t like it and I get nos­tal­gic about the past. I have a lot of friends who moved to dif­fer­ent schools, which is also tough for me.

Although I am will­ing to take on the work­load of more chal­leng­ing classes, I usu­ally find my­self so un­happy that I can­not do my best work in school.

I’ve tried many stress­re­liev­ing tech­niques — deep breath­ing, yoga and med­i­ta­tion — but they don’t seem to work. What can I do to over­come my anx­i­ety? — Stressed

Dear Stressed: Your par­ents seem to as­so­ciate coun­sel­ing with med­i­ca­tion, but coun­sel­ing in­volves talk­ing, strate­giz­ing, con­fronting and coach­ing — and not nec­es­sar­ily med­i­ca­tion (although med­i­ca­tion might help you!).

I am im­pressed that you are try­ing so hard to tackle this on your own, but yes, you would ben­e­fit from coun­sel­ing, and I hope your par­ents sup­port you get­ting pro­fes­sional help to deal with your anx­i­ety. Any treat­ment should start with a thor­ough pro­fes­sional assess­ment. Your school psy­chol­o­gist or coun­selor would be a good first stop for you.

Be­ing a teenager is tough. Be­ing a teenager with anx­i­ety is tougher. The new ex­pe­ri­ences and chal­lenges com­ing your way can seem over­whelm­ing. In­stead of sort­ing through your busy days and putting thoughts and feel­ings in some kind of man­age­able or­der, your brain is on high alert and is rac­ing faster than it should.

Your school coun­selor or li­brary should have a copy of “My Anx­ious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Man­ag­ing Anx­i­ety and Panic,” by Michael A. Tomp­kins and Kather­ine A. Martinez (2011 Mag­i­na­tion Press). Both au­thors are coun­selors who work with teens, teach­ing strate­gies for con­fronting that anx­ious bully in your brain. You are not alone, and this book (and oth­ers writ­ten for teens) will help.

Dear Amy: My brother re­cently told me his daugh­ter, whom we haven’t seen in years, won’t visit us un­less we let her dog have ac­cess to both our main up­stairs liv­ing space and the down­stairs. My brother knows that hav­ing a dog up­stairs would cause me stress, and so that’s where I draw the line.

The down­stairs is a day­light ground floor of nearly 1,800 square feet, with guest rooms, a kitchen, bath­room and large liv­ing room with a view of Puget Sound. We’ve hosted other rel­a­tives with pets who’ve been fine keep­ing them in the down­stairs area.

There used to be rules of eti­quette for guests that in­cluded not bring­ing a pet to some­one’s home un­less it was in­vited by the host. We’re happy to host our niece and her dog, but within lim­its. Am I be­ing un­rea­son­able? — Sad Un­cle

Dear Un­cle: The rules for be­ing a good house­guest haven’t changed. You de­scribe a pleas­ant suite of rooms avail­able to your niece and her dog. If you’d like to in­vite her to visit, you should con­tact her and spell out the ac­com­mo­da­tions avail­able to her and her pooch. Let her re­spond to you, in­stead of us­ing her fa­ther as a go-be­tween.

Dear Amy: Re­spond­ing to “Mom of Fan­tas­tic Frump,” I grew up with a mother like this and it took years of ther­apy to es­cape the men­tal prison of her judg­ment.

To this “frumpy” daugh­ter I say: Keep on be­ing you, re­gard­less of what Mommy Dear­est thinks! — Been There

Dear Been There: I agree!

Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

Copy­right 2019 by Amy Dick­in­son

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