Anxiety By Any Other Name …

It all started with a thunderstorm. Not the kind that rattles the windows or comes with a warning, just a typical, late summer thunderstorm. I was looking forward to a lazy afternoon with my kiddos and little did I know, it would be anything but. To be fair, her fear of weather wasn’t a new development, but what used to be mild and easily distracted, spiraled before my eyes, into sheer panic, sobs and wholly uncharted waters.


We struggled through that afternoon and the storms, both literal and emotional, in the weeks that that followed. It seemed that as fast as my husband and I could come up with a way to help her (few of which were effective), she developed a new fear: next it was frogs, anything with a stinger, loud noises, the dark and the list goes on. I found myself staring at a little girl who was consumed with fear. At school, she had similar but different struggles: tests were becoming stressful and friendships were faltering. Almost every day there was something to cry about, something to fear and something to fixate on; Sunday’s were the worst.

Every single Sunday, we all clean our rooms and every single Sunday, she melted into a ball of tears and anger, lashing out at me for daring to suggest such a thing. She spent countless minutes or even hours crying, out of what looked like anger and frustration. This was a girl who would empty the dishwasher or help with the laundry without anyone asking, yet somehow buckled at the thought of cleaning her room. Every week, I was so confused and every week, I handled it poorly. My voice always grew louder as the bargains and empty threats went flying. At the end of it, her room was clean but we were both exhausted. Then, one Sunday, in the midst of the madness, she made a face and I recognized it. I had seen that face before, on days when the thunder rumbled and her fears raged. I had seen it when she was pushed, unwillingly, outside of her comfort zone or she came home from school having felt isolated or ignored. The dots connected and I could recognize, through the fog, that all of these things were related, and even though it didn’t make sense to me, it was taking a toll on her.

I started to look back and saw so many signs that had been easily dismissed, but incorrectly so. I wasn’t fighting an uphill battle with my daughter, I was fighting one for her, against a monster of anxiety. You see, I’m a nurse. I’ve seen anxious people before, hers didn’t look anything like what I was used to. Her struggles took the form of fear, stress, worry or overwhelm. If you ask me, they’re all equally exhausting and terribly unproductive. Thankfully I find myself surrounded by mental health professionals. It was at their earnest and heart felt nudging that we sought out a counselor and made an appointment as fast as we could.

I’m not exactly sure how this story ends because we’re all still learning. I do know that the past few months have been drastically different for our family. I don’t mean to overestimate the value that her counseling sessions have had, but I’m telling you, they’ve been game changers. For so long, I didn’t even consider that she might need a safe space to work through her emotions. Before we started, I thought that because I was Mom, I should be able to help her through anything. I called it sassy, strong willed, stubborn and sensitive, and while all of those things might be accurate, she’s learning to channel her stress in a healthy way and transform them into strengths and super-powers. Now she has a place to go and speak openly, which has allowed many of her fears and worries to fall away and given all of us a chance to catch our breath. She’s had the opportunity to identify what she most needs, set care goals and work towards them on her own terms. Just last week she told me “feeling stressed is like trying to carry weights that are too heavy for me and sometimes I just need to ask for help.”

Thunderstorms, frogs and power outages have come, tears have been shed and rooms have been cleaned.  She’s bravely handled all of it, with less panic, more patience and a new understanding of how to help herself. And when the tough moments do come, I can just be ‘Mom,’ hugging and holding her through it. This is definitely a good thing, too, because the ‘therapist’ hat wasn’t a good fit for me. Thank goodness for those who wear it well.

Jenny Prevost
Jenny Prevost is an aspiring author, french fry fanatic + founder of, a giftbox company geared for the tough stuff in life. In a very small town way, she fell hard for the boy who grew up one street over + married him. She is now Momma to three lovable kiddos (and one lively lab) + can be found her in her garden or playing outside. She has a passion for creative living + whole heartedly believes Brene Brown when she says, “The magic is in the mess.”


  1. My daughter also struggles with anxiety. Therapy was a game changer for us as well. We all have benefitted from the strategies shared in those sessions. As I talk to more parents, i find it’s much more common than one would think. Thank you for sharing you story! The more we talk about it, the less stigma there will be!

Comments are closed.