The unforgiving sun is beating down on your backside as your booted foot kicks up the dust taking one heavy step after another. Your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth feeling like sandpaper as you struggle for another breath of sun baked oxygen. That voice in the back of your mind keeps telling you that you won't be able to make it much further if you don't get water and soon. An ominous shadow passes above your head. As you look up you can see the pupil of that buzzard's eye as he circles around your head getting much too close for comfort. You and he both know that time is running out. He and his gang have formed a slow circling tornado above your head and are eyeing you hungrily waiting for you to drop. You strain to see if there is any promise of relief ahead. Wait, there does appear to be something, off in the distance. It's not quite clear but it looks like a pond or maybe even a small lake. You're saved! Everything you need is right up ahead and you don't need to go any further. As you approach it though with renewed strength it just continues to dissipate into the horizon ahead. It doesn't seem to get any closer as you keep plodding along.
Facing anxiety with "quick fixes" can be much the same way as pursuing a mirage in the desert. Sucking down that cola drink or dumping that whole pack of skittles into your mouth might feel good for the moment. But, this is just like feeling elated for a while by seeing that mirage in the desert. It doesn't last long and eventually lands you back in the same situation you were before you ever pursued your quick fix, looking for your next "mirage".
Being a teenager can be really tough. Not that you have enough on your plate or anything but let's add general anxiety to that mix. You are at that age that you feel independent, that you can take care of yourself and you don't want to involve others in your personal problems, especially your parents.
As long as you come to the conclusion that you think that your anxiety will be cured when you simply get what you want, you will remain in that desert of isolation and need.
The first and most important step is to accept your feelings and validate the fact that you cannot continue this journey by yourself. You may need professional help because your need for water is not going to disappear while in the desert neither are those feelings of worry.
You do have a school counselor to go to but take that advice with a grain of salt. The phrase that you get what you pay for definitely applies because school counselors as a whole have been given a lot of extra responsibilities outside of just being there to counsel with students. They are incredibly overburdened and busy for the most part. They could possibly be the interim between hearing your plea and referring you to someone like a professional therapist or psychologist.
The professionals can get expensive and many of them will not give you council until you have the permission of a parent to do so. Parents usually have the funds and insurance to help with the cost of getting that professional help.
With this in mind here are some suggestions as to ways that you can tell your parents that you feel that you have anxiety. Not just anxiety but with it being to the point of needing some extra intervention outside of your group of friends. The kind of anxiety for which your parents might be able to support you in getting some professional help.
Practice the word usage and how you would approach your parents. Things like this are not always easy and remember you might have to go a few roll playing rounds. This role play might take a few days to practice so be prepared and bring munchies. Don't forget to take as many breaks as needed to get you back in the mindset of actually telling your parents.
...and yes be specific. Ad-libbing this at the time you approach your parents will be very stressful and usually your mind can go blank. At that point you might find yourself running out of the room with your parents standing there with that blank stare they usually give you. You might want to also consider the fact that you may already have anxiety and you could be experiencing an active episode at the time you do talk.
Just remember it is OK to bug out and run out of the room and try another time but you only have a few times before your parents will think that behavior is normal for you.
This is why you will want to practice many times with your friend. This is until you feel comfortable and confident about sharing the feelings that you have been feeling.
3.The direct approach
If you feel like you don't need to practice steps one and two, just go ahead and move to this one. There is just no side stepping this one. Just approach your parents and tell them. The really crappy side of this is that only 30% of the parents surveyed in a recent study believed their children when they were approached for the first time by their own kid. Who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones.
Like most parents, if there is a good relationship already established they might take your friend more seriously than you and believe them. Your friend can be there to take on the slew of questions that might be shot in your direction. Be ready to explain further in person just in case this approach doesn't go as planned.
If you feel that your handwriting might be the caliber of chicken scratch you could try sending an email instead. Again, your parents can take the time they need to read and contemplate what you are trying to tell them. If you don't typically send them emails then this will definitely get their attention.
A written letter is a good way to communicate. A letter is a way your parents can read and reread what you are trying to say. Take your time in writing the letter and always include the words your parents would use to get your attention. Don't forget to compliment your parents of their parenting skills and by the they raise you the best they could. Most importantly in your letter emphasize that your parents are not failures at their job just because you may have anxiety.
Read your letter out loud while videotaping yourself. Be sincere. It might help to have a picture of yourself growing up and happy vs the present of not being happy any more or just constantly worried about something. Explain this in your video letter. There's also an app that you can download called Marco Polo where you can leave a video message. You can encourage your parents to download the same app and then you can leave your message there. They might even feel more comfortable at first by leaving you a message in reply.
Granted it is an older more vintage way of communication. It will allow your parents to translate the letter from Morse code to readable English and also this will give your parents more time to digest the message as your message will grow inside their feelings while your parents translate your message.
The Nautical signal flag message is a fun and interactive way to communicate with your parents. It is another way for your parents to take the time to translate your message in order for the message to sink in while they translate it. Be prepared to give them a key as to what each signal means. You, yourself will also need to first practice and then prepare to be very patient when performing this before your parents. You may also put this form of language in a letter with the help of a computer and email your parents.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This method of communication through pictures takes time. But as you create your message and allow your message to grow through your collage, sometimes the pictures will have more of an impact than the words. But it all depends on the personalty of your parents of how your message will come across so you be the judge on how you will create and deliver your message.
Talk to another family member or grandparent to which you might have become very close. Make sure this is someone who can be trusted to keep your confidence, then be able to approach your parents in a sensitive and sincere manner. You can have that family member approach them first to break the ice or you can do it together. Then you could read the letter you prepared or deliver the dialogue that you roll played with a friend. But all and all the message you deliver is with a close family member as a support you will all share in the message together and give emotional support for everyone involved.
Prepare a scavenger hunt around the house or around your yard. Create clues that include facts about anxiety along the way to get your parents to think in that direction. If you need facts and ideas about anxiety click here. At the end of the hunt, prepare to spill the beans whether verbally or written.
In most cases you, as the kid in this conversation, no matter the age you will go through great lengths to communicate with your parents. You will probably go through greater efforts to communicate with your parents when you feel that the message is life changing and important. You may have to complete your message to your parents more than once for them to actually understand the brevity of it. Keep the conversations you have with each other directed toward mental health. Refer to more articles on this website to help you with that. You and your parents might want to sign up for a membership to have access to all of the articles that are available here.
There is always a chance that what you are going through, your parents could be going through as well. They could be having the same thoughts and feelings as you have. Unless you both become familiar with what are "normal" thoughts and what might be a little over the top thoughts - everything will appear to you as your "normal". The articles here will give you a baseline of which to refer to. Keep in mind that if your parents are struggling with some of the same things that you are then be patient with them. It's hard as a parent to admit to their child that they are struggling to keep it together let alone run a household on top of their own personal doubts and fears.
Families are all about supporting, and sharing each others burdens by being there for each other. Keep trying to connect with your parents and know that you are not alone in this endeavor of trying to connect with your loved ones and exploring your potential.