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When My Son Told Me His Anxiety Is Like a Werewolf


Walking into the high school with my 18-year-old son (on our way to watch my 16-year-old son perform), he stopped suddenly and squished my cheek. (Squishing cheeks is his most frequent sensory stim. He tells me my cheeks are soft. I believe him because, well, he’s a cheek expert!)

“I think I figured out why I love werewolves so much.”

“Um… OK.”

We started walking again, heading with the crowd toward the ticket sale line, and he explained. “As soon as we started walking toward the school I could feel my anxiety rise; my body felt nervous and fuzzy. Then when we walked in I felt a shift, a change, and I even noticed my body move like in the movies when people change forms, become the wolf. My anxiety has always been like that. I feel it coming, and then I feel myself change no matter how hard I try not to. I can’t control it.”

I stared at him for a minute. As he explained his theory, I watched his body move subtly like werewolves in movies. It was fascinating — insightful, enlightening and useful.

“Wow, that makes so much sense! Do you feel the anxiety now?”

“Oh, yes. Always at this school.” He turned at looked straight into my eyes. “Always at this school.”

By now we had made it to the front of the line. I purchased our tickets, exchanged a few excited words about the upcoming show with the mom volunteer, and then we headed into the theater.

“Well, I’ll tell your brother how much his show meant to you. That you were willing to risk staying in your werewolf form for him. But if you need to leave at any point just tell me. For now, you can control the anxiety — or ‘the wolf’ — by choosing your environment.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

He looked relaxed. He held my hand.

We enjoyed the show.

Follow this journey on Tsara’s blog.

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