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A Letter to Children With Anxiety: You Can Change the World

Dear sweet child,

I see you. I see your anxiety disorder. I know you don’t quite understand how your mind works. I didn’t understand my mind at your age either. You are strong. You will learn how to cope, and I know you already are. You are beautiful, and you are worthy.

There will be dark days, but there will be bright days too.

I see the things that go on in your mind. I know the irrational thoughts rushing through your head. You cry when you cannot buckle your own seat belt like you could yesterday. I see that it’s not about the seat belt at all. It’s a fear of failure. When you melt down in your sports practice, I see your embarrassment. The “tantrum” you’re throwing isn’t about the exercise you didn’t complete. It’s about not measuring up.

I see you chewing on your jacket as we wait to talk to your teacher after school. You chew on your clothes. When I was your age, I chewed on my hair or bit my nails. I would do it without notice until a parent or teacher got on to me, and I would stop for as long as I could remember not to. You’re not chewing on your jacket because it’s a bad habit and you’re choosing to be defiant; the chewing on your jacket is an outward expression of the anxiety bubbling up inside you that you aren’t able to understand or name. You don’t even realize your brain is wired differently than others’.

I see your struggles, your fears, your deepest insecurities behind your behaviors. I know you can’t explain it, but we both know it’s there. And I will love you through it.

Your anxiety can drive you forward. It comes with its challenges, but it is also an extremely motivating factor to achieve great things. You are so smart. If you weren’t ridiculously intelligent, you wouldn’t be able to analyze all of the pieces of your environment that cause your anxiety. You have a big heart. You care, and you care deeply. I don’t know what you will do yet, but I do know you will change the world.

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