One of the worst things I have ever experienced as a parent, was watching my 7 year old child have a full blown panic attack.
There we were, standing in a friend's bathroom, whilst my precious son clutched at his chest and screamed "Mum, Mummy, I'm dying. There is something wrong with my heart. Help me Mum. Please help me. I can't breathe"
Errrrr those words he screamed and that whole experience is burned into my mind. I literally feel physically ill every time I think about it.
Of course, he was OK.
Just moments earlier, he had been with his brothers and friends and he had picked a berry from a bush. He only held it in his hands for mere seconds before someone told him to put it down as it could be poisonous and kill him.
Just a few seconds and a few words - that was all it took.
That's all it ever really takes to trigger a full blown panic attack in someone who suffers from anxiety.
It was the start of a very long journey for us with our sweet boy. Counsellors, specialists, psychologists and many longs nights just holding him tight and waiting for the panic to pass.
And in time, it did pass. Although I am not sure that it ever really goes away completely.
With the help of professionals, we learnt techniques to help reduce the physical effects of the anxiety. Together as a family, we devised our own strategies to keep the panic at bay and cope when it forced its way in.
Among many things that troubled him, there was the fear of being alone that frightened him the most. He was terrified that something would happen to him or to me and that we would be separated. Just going to school was enough to induce a crippling stomach ache for him and watching him struggle with saying goodbye, ripped my heart to pieces every . single . day.
We already had our Rainbow Connect technique, which I wrote about here.
The Rainbow Connect helped, but he was still anxious about being separated from me. And so we came up with the Buddy Bangle idea.
It is something that we could both wear, a simple $2 shop bracelet or a piece of leather tied around our wrists. It is something that when he is worried, he can look at it on his wrist, touch it, and know that I am somewhere wearing mine and thinking of him too.
All of us in our family have one and for my other two sons who don't suffer from anxiety anymore, they call theirs - Bro Bands.
Just like Sam and I wearing our Buddy Bangles, the act of all of us wearing our bangles represents the connection we have to each other and the bond between our family members. We wear them in the same way members of a tribe wear their tattoos or branding - to show that we are a part of something bigger than just ourselves.
We are our own tribe.
As we dealt with Sam's anxiety and continue to deal with (to a far lesser degree), we find that it is these simple little things that provide much security and comfort.
We have loads of these strange little quirky things we do in our family.
I never really put a lot of thought into how they could help others, but I am happy to share them if you think they will?
As for Sam - well he is my brave little hero. As someone who suffers from anxiety myself, I know how debilitating fear can be. To see my now 9 year old refusing to let anxiety beat him, is beyond inspirational.
What is even more inspirational is the book he is in the process of publishing to help other kids with anxiety.
Now that is a story I CANNOT wait to tell you about.
Do you know any little people dealing with anxiety?
Is there anything you can suggest to that may help others?