School Christmas anxiety.

Anxiety is my girls number one problem right now.
It comes with Christmas and then spirals out of control.
It moves in, it controls, it takes over.
We constantly tiptoe around it, not wanting to become a trigger.
We analyse our every word, repeat every instruction, think carefully before we answer any questions.
No matter how careful we are, the bucket ends up overflowing and the anxiety comes spilling out.
It ebbs and flows, each time bringing more fustration, the rage and anger providing a release.
It loses control, it moves back in, it retakes control, it takes over.

Christmas brings out so much change.
Appearances changes as up go the decorations, and on goes the Christmas jumpers.
Lights adorn every hanging space.
Static, colourful, flickering, chasing, illuminating Christmas, highlighting changes.
The sounds of Christmas carols fill the air, jingling bells and excited voices.
The pungent smells of the fresh Christmas trees explode in a once familiar smelling room.

Christmas food replaces the normal beige foods.
….everything changes.
It is clear to see how anxiety increases.

School is already difficult but becomes harder.
Lessons are replaced for Christmas performance practices.
Uniforms replaced with costumes.
Lines to learn, songs to song, loud piano ringing in her ears.
The bright lights, the flickering christmas tree, a hot hall crammed with people.
Routine replaced by chaos…..in her world.
Anxieties ever increasing.

The day of the performance arrived.
Anxieties present, and making themselves known, all weekend.
Refusal to go to school.
Wanting to be in the play, not wanting to be in the play.
Knowing she doesn’t want to take part but aware that it is what is expected of her.
The pressure, the demands, the expectations.
The lights are too bright, the hall is too hot, the flickering lights on the Christmas tree causing sensory overload.
People, a sea of heads with blurry features.
The fear, the anxiety, it must be immense.

My girl went in.
She played her part and did a fantastic job.
She coped by hiding behind the children in front of her.
Her fingers dancing, her gaze fixed.
Coping. Holding it all in.

She did it.
The sad thing is that it was almost uncomfortable to watch.
To hear the fear in her voice, to see her squatting down so no one could see her face whilst she sang, her stimming, her body language.
I knew she was stressed. I could see it.
She locked it all away until she got home.

I loved to see her take part.
Sometimes I worry that we put too much on her.
Sometimes I think her anxiety arises from the expectations we have due to her being in a mainstream school.
Sometimes I worry that mainstream is trying to normalise her and the anxiety is because she knows she doesn’t quite fit in.

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