15 year old with separation anxiety when away from grandma

Teenage anxiety
by Anonymous 

Hi I am 15 years old and I think I have separation anxiety. I was going to this camp and when I got there I called my dad to come pick me up after I left because I got too scared and I started crying . Normally I live with my grandma and I am always worried she will get injured or die and I get so worried about it and can't stop thinking about that outcome and thinking about it makes me cry. Earlier this year when going to bed I kept getting really uneasy and anxious before my grandma has to leave to stay at my great grandparents house to take care of them through he night .

I kept forcing her to come and when she sat by my bed so I could go to bed i couldn't go to sleep cuz I was worried she would leave. I feel really depressed and I feel really uneasy all the time. I always suffer from stomachaches so that my grandma could come stay up with me. I feel really childish and stupid that I feel this way and worried I won't be able to stop these feelings

Dear Anonymous, 

Anxiety is a real illness and it is not your fault. However, each time you do things to try to try  make the anxiety go away, you make it stronger. It isn’t real, because you aren’t in any real danger. Fear is normal and good to have to protect us from real danger. It's important to our survival to be able to respond to danger quickly, to get help or run or fight or freeze. When we are very anxious, we get a false alarm when there isn't a danger. In this case you are responding to sensations and thoughts that are signaling danger when there isn't any. If you can wait until your anxiety passes, rather than do things to try to make it go away, you will eventually feel much better.

Worrying and thinking about your grandma getting injured or dying is sure to create an uncomfortable and uneasy feeling. Thoughts, which are often not true, about what will happen in the future can generate a lot of anxiety. Unfortunately, you don’t have any control over whether your grandmother gets ill or dies. Recognizing that we don’t have control over things can sometimes help to decrease anxiety. Eventually your grandma will die, and even though that thought produces anxiety accepting that it is true may be helpful to you. Once you accept this, perhaps you can stop worrying about it happening.

When you find yourself worrying it is also helpful to ask yourself if there is anything you can do impact what you are worrying about. For example, if you are worrying about doing well on a test, yes there is something you can do about it. You can study. Unless it’s five minutes before the test in which case it is unhelpful for you to worry and there is nothing that can be done to solve the problem.

One thing that also might help you to keep in mind is that your feelings are generated from your thoughts. Often if you investigate them they aren’t based on anything true, and you can see how you are creating your anxiety from what you are thinking. 

Feeling childish and stupid, or telling yourself you are is not going to help you get better. Instead tell yourself you have anxiety but you are going to beat it. These thoughts are less likely to lead to depression and will be more helpful to you in the long run.

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