Focusing on positive thoughts
“Mom, it hurts and I just want to die!”
My youngest son, Justin, was in treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but it wasn’t he exclaiming this while holding his chest and complaining of a stomach ache. It was my middle son, Michael, whom I rushed to the emergency room that night.
After a physical examination and several conversations, it was determined that my then eight-year-old son was experiencing an anxiety attack. I had no idea this could even happen to kids. Michael admitted that he was terrified he would “get cancer” and have to also go through the suffering that he had been watching Justin endure, his younger brother by sixteen months.
I enrolled him into a counseling program the next day. Michael’s therapist was kind, caring and made their sessions together fun by engaging him in games with questions that were designed to prompt him to talk about his thoughts and feelings.
Michael was also taught strategies to help manage his panic attacks and anxieties. I was able to implement these methods into our daily lives. One, which was particularly helpful for Michael, was focusing on positive thoughts. He will still sometimes come to me when he is worried or upset about something and ask me to help him “think about good stuff”. I talk about a fun day we had recently, something funny that happened or an upcoming event that he is looking forward to.