You guys, I've got some things to say about anxiety so listen up.
We have had the hardest time getting people to believe that Dallas has severe, debilitating anxiety. He smiles A LOT so he MUST be happy. Like, all of the time...right?
Despite his therapist confirming it, despite his neurodevelopmental pedi & psychologist writing 15+ page reports (each!) detailing his anxiety and it's triggers...even going so far as to note that Dallas uses smiling as a coping mechanism for his anxiety to keep the people around him happy...and noting that his outer expression of emotion/mood rarely matches what's going on inside his head.
Despite all of that...we still constantly hear "But he always looks so happy," "But all of the pictures you post of him on social media look so happy," "But he's so well behaved in (insert whatever situation setting here)," but, but, but.....
Dallas is wonderful, spunky, outwardly happy little boy most days. Especially in a school setting and most social situations.
And the reason that Dallas is outwardly happy is because he's terrified of upsetting people. Of feeling like he's in trouble. Of people not liking him. That's something he deals with every waking moment of his life. And that is A LOT of stress for a 7 year old little boy to have to deal with.
And behind closed doors, when he feels "safe" at home, that stress and anxiety explode out of him. For hours and hours he'll become inconsolable...sometimes appearing to be in actual physical pain from it. And let me tell you, it is heartbreaking to watch.
So why don't you see him upset in the pictures I post? Because I would NEVER betray the trust and safety that he feels with us at home by posting those bad moments for the world to see.
Yes, I have videos. I take them to share with his doctors so that they can see what happens at home.
But unless you are one of his doctors or therapists, you will never see one of those videos.
And if you're still wondering why you don't see him upset in most public settings, well, please go back and read everything I just wrote.
By acknowledging that Dallas feels extremely anxious most of the time, (no matter how his outward expression of emotion may appear), we can all better accommodate him and help him feel more at ease in situations where he may feel especially anxious.
By acknowledging his anxiety, we validate his feelings and can then help him to better work through them.
Now does all of this mean that Dallas never feels happy?
There are certain situations where Dallas can really let go of his stress and just feel happy. Most of the time those situations include art, animals, music, and RUNNING. Dude loves to run! So we try to include as many of these types of activities as we can into his day to help him feel more regulated.
I'll stop ranting now and just leave you with this...Just because you can't see a person's inner struggle does mean that it does not exist. Period.
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