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Hope after a Teen Depression and Anxiety Diagnosis

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How to help your child or teen who receives a depression or anxiety diagnosis and avoid the pitfalls that lessen the positive effects of their treatment.

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Show Notes

Join the Flusterclux Facebook group so that you can ask your question on a future episode.

Suggested Reading

Don’t Say That Depression Is Caused by a Chemical Imbalance

Stressors and chemical imbalances: Beliefs about the causes of depression in an acute psychiatric treatment sample.

Suggested Viewing

Lynn Lyons’ Teen Anxiety and Depression Webinar

Michael Yapko’s Keys to Unlock Depression:
Why Skills Work Better Than Pills

Paid Sponsorship

So, today’s episode is sponsored by Milestones Pediatric Therapy Center in Bedford, New Hampshire. If you’ve got a child who needs some help with speech or occupational therapy, if you need evaluations or treatments, they are great at meeting every child’s unique needs, and it’s a really fun and positive environment. They help children using a multi-disciplinary approach. This allows children to access what they need to grow and develop their skills with a variety of specialists. And who doesn’t want that? They can help you with any insurance needs. So, check them out. Their website is Milestones with an S, N-H-dot-com and get started with the help you need.

Teen Anxiety and Depression Diagnosis

Episode Transcript

Lynn Lyons  0:00 

So, we’ve been on a little bit of a journey here. This is part three of a three-part series. The first episode we talked about, what do you do if you notice some of those emerging signs of anxiety and depression in your child? What can you do to interrupt those patterns? And what should you pay attention to?

And then in the second episode, we talked about getting a diagnosis. Should you get one? How does it help? Where do you go? What is it about a diagnosis that you need to know, and what you should do with it?

This episode, we’re going to talk about some of the pitfalls that come with getting a diagnosis. There are traps where the label of a diagnosis takes on a bigger life than perhaps it should to both you and your child. We’re going to dive into that topic. It’s a big one.

Hi, I’m Lynn Lyons. I am a psychotherapist, an anxiety expert, and author, and I’m here with my sister in law and my very capable producer, Robin.

Hi, Robin!

Robin Hutson  0:56 

(Laughing) Hi, Lynn!

Lynn Lyons  0:58 

You are so capable.

Robin Hutson  1:01 

Thank you. If I recall, this is the topic that sometimes high school students boo you.

Lynn Lyons  1:06 

I’ve never been booed from the stage!

Robin Hutson  1:11 

(Laughing) There is where the tomatoes were thrown at me.

Lynn Lyons  1:15 

This is a topic certainly that shakes up things a little bit. Because as I’m talking about the identity of a diagnosis, and what the pitfalls and the traps of a diagnosis can be, that sometimes make teenagers in particular, (and parents) brings into question some of the things that they’ve been told.

And I just feel it’s really important for us to make sure that kids aren’t coming to conclusions about themselves that are actually not very helpful.

Robin Hutson  1:43 

Are depression and anxiety diagnoses viewed differently in the teen population specifically?

Teen Depression and Anxiety Isn’t Permanent

Lynn Lyons  1:50 

The interesting thing with anxiety and depression is they hang out so much together with teens and so more and more probably in the last five years, probably more than that, a lot of teens get the diagnosis of anxiety and depression. And many people have heard me say that it’s really, to me, it doesn’t really matter so much if you’ve got one or both.

Anxiety untreated is one of the leading causes of depression in adolescents and young adults.

So, I often see that combination. I would say in terms of the trickiness or the stickiness of diagnostic categories, anxiety and depression, it’s it can work the same way. I see it sometimes with trauma stuff, too, that it is talked about in a very permanent way, that this is who they are, that they have this thing. And that’s what we’re really going to really going to address today.

When a child gets a diagnosis, and this happens actually more with teenagers than with younger people. When a teenager gets a diagnosis, then they take it on as their identity. That’s sort of the downside of the diagnosis is that it sounds so permanent or it’s been they’ve heard that it’s permanent. And because we talk about it in that way. And they take it on as their identity.

Robin Hutson  3:03 

Well, didn’t you mention in a previous episode that a lot of teens not in every peer group, it would be common for if someone did get a diagnosis, then all of her or his friends also start self-diagnosing. And that there’s an identity need of wanting to label their depression or their bad days as depression or different types of things, too. So, there’s a lot of not real diagnosis going around.

Lynn Lyons  3:27 

Right. And I think that one of the things that I’m really clear about with teenagers is that if you are struggling, you should tell somebody that you’re struggling, and that if you are feeling depressed, or if you are feeling anxious, you should let somebody know that.

Teen Depression and Anxiety as an Identity

The thing that’s been interesting to me over and I would say it’s really sort of increased over the last five years is that teenagers in particular, are really doing a lot of self-diagnosis, and they really find it a way of joining with others, and they really are kind of into having the diagnosis, if I may say that, because it really is kind of true.

And so, they’re insulted when you say you’re anxious and you’re really struggling with this.

They want to say, “Well, that’s because I have depression,” as if it’s this force that’s taken over them, and that there’s really nothing they can do about it, because now they have a diagnosis.

Robin Hutson  4:16 

Well, isn’t that because a teenager wants to remove their own accountability from the diagnosis in certain circumstances? If they have a self-destructive pattern that is really perpetuating a depression, no teenager is going to be like, “Yeah, I’m just not making good choices that are helping me repel this tendency,” right? No teen wants to do that.

Lynn Lyons  4:37 

Oh, and that’s the interesting thing about the way that we’re talking to teenagers about their mental health. The way that diagnoses have sort of taken on this different flavor is that say you’re talking to a kid who’s making bad decisions, right, and say you’re talking to a kid who’s gotten the diagnosis of depression, they don’t see those two things as connected.

So, part of being depressed is that you’re really have a hard time making decisions, you really have a hard time thinking clearly, you really have a hard time getting out of your own narrative, right? Depression is really, it’s real, and it’s heavy, and it’s debilitating. But the way that people talk about it, it’s sort of like, “Well, I have this medical illness. And that’s really separate from all of the patterns and things that other people have.”

Robin Hutson  5:30 

We should remove shame, but we shouldn’t remove accountability.

Lynn Lyons  5:33 

I talk a lot about the difference between blame and responsibility. Responsibility can be very empowering. So, if I say to a teenager, we can really help you learn how to be responsible for your mental health. That’s really different than saying we’re going to we’re going to blame you because you’re feeling so terribly. But it’s also different than saying, “Well, you’ve got this disease. You’ve got this chemical imbalance. You’ve got this thing that really is making you not responsible for any of the choices that you make.”

Robin Hutson  6:04 

And that you’ll have the rest of your life.

Lynn Lyons  6:06 

And that’s that permanence. And so, the downside of diagnosis is only when the diagnosis is coupled with this permanence, when it’s coupled with this idea that I have a chemical imbalance, which, by the way, is not a valid scientific theory. The idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.

So, it’s really much more of looking at it as I’ve got this thing called depression. And it comes on for all sorts of reasons. And it has so many social components to it. So sometimes the social components are the way into it, and they’re certainly the way out of it.

The only issue I have with a teenager saying I have a diagnosis of depression, or I have a diagnosis of anxiety is when they then say, “And that means there’s nothing I can do about it because I have this biological problem where I have this chemical imbalance.”

Just not only is that inaccurate, but it actually serves to impede recovery. And so, I think that if parents can really hear me about this, and I know that people will feel defensive about this, I know because the messaging has been so clear and so effective and so wrong for so long. So, I know people feel defensive about it.

But if you can recognize that if your child, if you, but if your child is diagnosed with anxiety and depression, the last thing you want to do is to talk about it in a way that makes it permanent, that we give the message that you’re gonna have to be on medication for the rest of your life. But this is something wrong with your brain. This is a disease. This is a biological thing that happened to you— all of that.

New research just came out two weeks ago, that that belief actually results in poor outcomes. I know that no parent listening wants to do something that’s going to result in poor outcomes. So, you’ve got to hear me about this. This is about talking about it in a way that really incorporates the importance of the impact of your social connection, your own thinking, the environment that you’re in the culture that you’re in. So, when I hear teenagers sort of wrapping themselves up in this cloak of this permanent diagnostic language, it is really hard for me. Because I know that that means they’re not going to do as well as they could do.

Robin Hutson  8:32 

So, say a parent and a teen have just found out that the teen has, you know, has been diagnosed with depression, how should the parent talk about it?

Lynn Lyons  8:42 

So, the parent should say, “I think that we have done a really good job of finding out what’s going on with you. And so, as a family, the fact that we’ve gotten this diagnosis means that we were really paying attention that we were really taking the next steps. And so, first of all, we should feel really proud of ourselves for actively pursuing some solutions to this.”

That’s the first thing. And then the second thing is to say “So, now our job is to figure out what are we going to do to help you recover from this? Because most people who are diagnosed with depression get better. Most people, the majority, the large majority of people get better. So now our job is to figure out what do we do so that we can help you move past this. And what are we going to learn about this so that we can also begin to think relapse prevention?”

Because there are concrete things it’s the same way that I treat anxiety and treat depression. There are concrete things we can do, that we know will not only be effective in pulling you out of this but will actually help you not have it happen again. And that’s what good treatment is about. It’s about figuring out what makes you tick.

I’m on the parent shoulder talking about parents here, I’m going to say, “I want you to use the language of action and problem solving. I want you to use the language of responsibility— meaning that there are things we can do. Maybe there are things that we should have done differently. And that’s okay, I know you’re going to feel a little guilty about that. And it’s hard to go through this. But let’s figure out what the solutions are. Let’s figure out the way out of this, because this is not a permanent condition.”

Robin Hutson  10:27 

And so, it sounds like if the teen is resistant in wanting to— or the parent— if they’re wanting to latch on to the chemical imbalance path, the flip side is like, let’s be optimistic and focus on the fact that this isn’t permanent.

Lynn Lyons  10:43 

Yeah.

Robin Hutson  10:43 

And so, let’s stay on this path where it isn’t permanent, and that there are things we can do.

Lynn Lyons  10:48 

And we know that, you know. And the research shows that over and over again. I love using metaphors and analogies because it oftentimes makes people less defensive, and they can hear it in a different way. And so, I talk a little about other problems that kids are having, where we don’t take on this same attitude.

Robin Hutson  11:06 

Like what?

Lynn Lyons  11:05 

Like if you have a lisp, right? Little kids, we don’t, we don’t say, well, we’re going to remove s’s from your vocabulary, right? I’m thinking of a friend of mine, and their little boy was born with cerebral palsy. And so he had to go through an enormous amount of a mild, mild cerebral palsy, but still, he had some deficits, and they work so hard, you know, he went to physical therapy, he went to occupational therapy, and he really did such a good job in learning how to, to work with the body he had.

It’s just this change in the way that we think about things. And what’s interesting to me is in a lot of ways we have come so far in recognizing that physical disabilities, people on the spectrum, people with Down syndrome, people with all sorts of things that we can continue to move them in a way, so that it doesn’t, it doesn’t become who they are. And with anxiety and depression, we’ve sort of gone in the other direction. 

I hear it all the time when I am talking in front of high schoolers. And I use this language of that it’s not permanent, that this is not a chemical imbalance, that the biological model is actually impeding your ability to move forward in life. They get pissed at me. They boo at me; clients get furious with me when I talk about it in this way.

And it’s so interesting that in in the mental health field, we have gone in this direction that that is actually hurting the recovery of our young people. When there are so much that we can do to help kids move through this. It is a really hard time to be a kid. It’s a really hard time to be a teenager, but there’s so much that we can do.

Robin Hutson  12:52 

There’s a paradox with the diagnosis that you’re trying to explain because you’ve spoken in the past that one of the best ways to really work through a depressive episode is to really embrace positive expectancy. And if we believe in that, so we have to believe that things can change. It’s like the most basic sense of hope. And if we go down that path of “I have chemical depression, and this is how I’ve been diagnosed, since I was a teen,” you are just chopping off the potential for positive expectancy right there.

Lynn Lyons  13:23 

That’s exactly right. It is sort of this paradox because we want people to get treatment. And this is where all of the talk about mental health awareness and taking away the stigma and promoting openness about this and allowing people to be vulnerable in a way that allows them to connect with other people in our humanity. All of that is so wonderful, but then we throw in this thing that says this is permanent. And it undoes the very things that we want to do, which is allow people to seek connection, and support, and recovery, and positive expectancy, and instead we’re saying you’ve got a chemical imbalance.

Robin Hutson  13:59 

If you have had clients who just get pissed at you because of this, and there are listeners right now who are getting upset, what has happened with your clients who have come around? Because I’m hoping that obviously you’ve had some that maybe they needed some time to really process this new information. But they did, and they saw a great outcome.

Lynn Lyons  14:18 

Yeah, the first step that I say, and I think this is when you’re, whenever you’re trying to help somebody sort of look at things from a different perspective. And I work with anxiety, right? So, there’s a lot of rigidity. And so, I’m always trying to sort of make for more flexible thinking is that I just point them in the direction of looking at the research, because a lot of times when people have this chemical imbalance perspective, it’s only come from a few places.

Because if we’re looking at the science, and we’re looking at the research, it’s not borne out in the research, so it’s only coming from a few places. So, the first thing is, is that I want you to just get curious. I want you to just look, and I have lots of resources that I offer, and again, we can put them in the show notes, where we’re really having them more flexibly look at it.

And I say to them, I understand you’re angry about this. And I understand that this sounds different than what you’ve believed. But I really want to be the voice of optimism here. I really want to be the voice of accuracy. And I really want to be a voice that actually believes in your ability to grow and change. So, you can reject that from me, and I get it. But I really want you to just be curious about this, because I am offering you something that is really going to help you feel better. And I really know that.

So, that’s the talk that I give and of course, you know, sometimes they’re still pissed, but I try to say it in a way that is emphatic in my belief that human beings can change. I’ve seen it all the time. I always joke I say, “Who wants a pessimistic therapist? Who wants to come to Eeyore sitting on the chair saying like, “Oh, I don’t know.” All right, well, I guess this is gonna help me.” And so, I have to be.

Robin Hutson  16:03 

Does that make you Pooh?

Lynn Lyons  16:04 

Yeah, right. I’m more like Tigger most of the time, right? Yeah. So, I really am trying to say like, let’s get curious about this. Let’s have hope about this. And let me have you read this and listen to this. And I will say this, this happens to all of us in in different ways. This happens to be what you’re learning about in terms of depression and mental health.

But many people have to question what they believed or question things that they’ve learned. And so that’s okay, it’s good for you to question.

I don’t want you to be rigidly locked into a perspective that I know is going to keep you locked into your anxiety or locked into your depression.

So, let’s just be curious about this. And we can have this discussion, and we can talk about this. And you can be pissed off at me if you want.

I mean, I said to one teenager fairly recently, and it totally pissed him off. I said, it just feels to me like you’re more invested in taking care of your mental illness than your mental health. And that’s the shift that I want you to make. I’m used to them pushing back against me, but I just hang in there. I just hang in there.

Robin Hutson  17:04 

Well, this has been a really great conversation. And I hope that it’s helped. It’s helped people who are open to hearing this information. And also, there are parents who have younger children who can be armed with this information in advance.

Lynn Lyons  17:35 

They really get better when they learn the things that they can do, and they take responsibility for the patterns that they need to interrupt. It is not a condemnation at all. It is really about saying we’re going to empower you to know how you’re going to how to deal with this.

So sometimes people will push back against me and say, “Oh, well, you don’t believe in depression?” Of course. Of course, I do. It’s, I mean, that’s not even, that’s not even in the realm of possibility that I don’t believe in depression. I know how absolutely debilitating it is. But I just want people to recognize that there are things that you can do. Do not take the position that this is who you are, and there’s nothing you can do.

Robin Hutson  18:36 

You know, Lynn, as you talk about all of this, and I think of myself as a parent hearing this information, I can’t help but also think about being a woman of my generation, where I think it was Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote that memoir called Prozac Nation, and I recall my first high school friend telling me she had chemical imbalance induced depression. It feels like my generation was the one that got all of this information in their adolescence.

Lynn Lyons  19:14 

Prozac actually came out when I was working on inpatient psychiatry. So, one of the things that was interesting to me and I was 24, at that point was I actually saw the marketing firsthand because they used to come to the unit all the time with pizza and bagels and information. So that was right around the same time because of our age difference that I was a young woman. I just was married, and you were in high school.

Robin Hutson  19:44 

I had a lot of friends who were on different medications for depression.

Lynn Lyons  19:48 

Yeah.

Robin Hutson  19:49 

And it’s interesting to think about where these women are at now with their depression. I think that this show might even be hard for them to hear. Tell me a little bit more about this research, the new study from Harvard.

Lynn Lyons  20:01 

So, the new study from Harvard looked at adults who were struggling with depression in a significant way. And what it said is that people who were in treatment for their depression, if they believed that their depression was based on a chemical imbalance, if that was the belief they held about the source of their depression and the way out of their depression, that they didn’t do well, their results and their ability to recover was impaired by that belief, and what we need to pay attention to when I hear what you’re saying is that people may not want to hear this.

And believe me, there is pushback. I got pushback last week, actually, it’s always right there is that it’s not saying that depression isn’t a huge problem. It’s saying that we need to look at the social components of it, and we need to make sure that we are not locking people into this belief about chemicals and the brain and medication that the research just doesn’t support. Because that’s not the way out of this.

And there are so many ways out of this there are we no treatment works and people get better. And to me, it’s just it’s sad, particularly for young people,  as I said, that they might get locked into this belief about themselves, which is not really a valid way to move through depression. It’s actually harmful to have that belief. And the research shows that. And this isn’t the first study that showed that but it’s certainly the most recent.

When Therapy isn’t Working

Robin Hutson  21:34 

Yeah, it’s National Suicide Prevention Month, and I lost my best friend from college, to suicide. So the lovely, lovely woman that I lost to suicide, my friend when I think of this, and what I know to be her personal details, the treatment that she sought was from— actually I met him; I met her psychiatrist— because he actually showed up at a party which…

Lynn Lyons  22:03 

Silver Linings Playbook. But yeah.

Robin Hutson  22:06 

You know, she had a psychiatrist who was very esteemed. And he was a very compassionate guy. But the thing that I struggled with, our very last conversation is that I could tell she was getting into a darker and darker hole. We were in our mid 30s. We were not young at this point anymore.

And I said, “You are not getting better. Please consider shifting and switching up your treatment and seeing other people who might have different approaches, in case it helps.”

And the challenge is— as, you know— she was in such a depressed state to find the energy to problem solve is really, really challenging. But my husband and I, we had this conversation when I was pregnant that I really loved which was, as we’re parents, let’s always have the courage to admit that something we really thought would be good isn’t working. I guess I’m asking parents out there for themselves and for their kids, if something isn’t working, ask yourselves. If their treatment isn’t working, do something else.

Lynn Lyons  23:15 

And I think that that just goes to that whole conversation that we’ve had so many times about flexibility. I’ll tell you honestly, I’ve been to therapy lots of times, and many years ago, I made an appointment with a therapist. I went in. I had an appointment with her, I told her what I was looking for. She went in another direction, almost as if she didn’t hear what I was saying. I scheduled another appointment with her, left, knowing that it wasn’t a good fit, got home, and then called and cancelled the appointment.

But it was so hard in that moment for me. I was a therapist at the time. It was so hard for me in that moment to say to her, “You know, I appreciate your time, but I’m not going to come back.”

There are many, many things that you can do to help your child. And if you are in a situation with your child, and something isn’t working just like you were sensing with your friend, it is okay to ask questions. It is okay to confront the doctor or the therapist or the OT or whoever you’re talking to and saying, “I’m wondering what we can do differently.” And if they can’t do it, go somewhere else. It’s one of the biggest decisions, one of the most important decisions, that you will make having the ability to say, “I don’t think this is working. And I need to talk to you about different options.”

Robin Hutson  24:41 

What I really hope happens is that listeners who might feel a little resistant to this message, to not think of depression as a permanent diagnosis, and to not think of it as something that is physiologically based To remember that if you embrace bringing in this new view, it’s like you said you don’t want to pessimists therapist there isn’t, you’re opening up the possibility for hope

Lynn Lyons  25:17 

If you are a parent, and you’ve got a child who’s struggling, and right now you know it feels to them like this craziness in our world is never going to end even outside of the craziness that’s going on right now. If you’ve got a child that’s struggling, you have to be the voice of hope.

And they may not want to hear it, and at the moment, they may not be able to generate hope themselves. They may not be able to generate positive expectancy themselves.

That’s where a therapist or that’s where a parent, that’s where somebody who loves you says, “Look, I know you feel this way right now. That’s what depression does to you. And let me just be the voice of hope for you right now.”

I have said that to kids. “I know you don’t feel hopeful right now, I am holding the hope for both of us, because I know that I can teach you some things and that you’re going to get through this.”

That’s the message, and we’re talking about this in terms of suicide prevention. Suicide is about hopelessness a lot of the times, right, why bother? There’s nothing I can do to fix this, as you’ve as many of you have probably heard people say. it’s a permanent solution to often what is a temporary problem.

Teen Anxiety and Depression Diagnosis

And so being able to talk to kids in that way and give them hope and educate them about this. That’s why I get so fired up about it. Is that why in the world would we want to tell a kid who’s struggling anything except there is reason to hope? Why in the world would we want to tell them that this is who they are?

That’s what really gets me. You know, that’s the thing that makes me pull my hair out. There is reason to be hopeful, because there are things that you can do. There are ways that we can address this. I have seen families make amazing changes. And it doesn’t mean that everybody changes their personality. But the level of connection and healing that’s possible? It’s real. And it’s not about chemicals. It’s about connection. It’s about connection.

Listener Question

Robin Hutson  27:39 

So, it’s time for a listener question.

Lynn Lyons  27:44 

All right.

Robin Hutson  27:44 

“My daughter is almost 10 and an only child. Her anxiety seems to manifest as low frustration tolerance and anger or upset coupled with an unwillingness to independently play.

I find myself increasingly unable to be vanilla ice cream because I feel frustrated with the level of upset in our house, the way it affects us all, and her seeming inability to match her reactions to the size of the problem.

I feel worn out and like we’ve been trying to help her address this issue for years. Now I dread crafts and projects because I dread the inevitable emotional reactions. How can I change this pattern?”

Lynn Lyons  28:23 

This is such a good question. And I think it’s probably something that a lot of parents can relate to. First of all, Mom, totally frustrating. So, I can hear you’re sort of beating yourself up a little bit and saying, “Oh, I you know, I can’t handle this as well as I want to handle that.” So, give yourself a little bit of slack here because it is really frustrating.

And this is what I always think about when I’m with families is what’s the skill that I need to teach? And you talked about it very clearly. This is about frustration tolerance. And this is about being able to manage those emotions that you have when things don’t go the way that you expect.

One of the things that you said also was that it seems that her reactions aren’t in keeping with the size of the problem. So, you’re seeing really big reactions to problems that you think are minor. Well, one of the reasons that that happens is because you’re not 10, and she is.

And so not getting your popsicle stick to stick on your craft project, you’re sort of like, “Look, I owe back taxes,” right? So, it’s not … your assessment of the problem isn’t the same just because of your life experience. So, recognize that the content of what she’s getting frustrated about, the issues that she’s getting frustrated about, that’s not really all that important to me. Because for her, those do feel like big problems.

The issue is how do you teach her to tolerate when things don’t go the way that she expects. I don’t know if there’s some perfectionism here. I don’t know if she has some rigid expectations about how things are supposed to go. And then when they go awry, she gets into trouble with that. But what does she do when she has these big feelings?

So, I would talk to her about this and remember —critical, critical, critical— that you plan this and talk about this when she is not in the middle of it. So— and perhaps you have— you may be saying, “Oh my gosh, Lynn we have talked about this so often.”

Right? So, I would I would use that parts stuff that I use all the time. And think about what that what that part of her that responds, is it is it a rigid part would you call it a volcano? Is it uncooked spaghetti? Does she have this expectation? Is it, you know, do you name it Dandy Disappointment or you know, Doug Disappointment or, or something?

So that she begins to look at the pattern, and she can be able to recognize it. Remember, whenever we give kids distance from a pattern, whenever we help them be an observer of the pattern, then they’re less defensive, and we’re less defensive.

So, think about what you would call this part of her. And the hard part is that rather than say, “Oh, well I want you to avoid doing crafts, or I want to avoid projects because you’re going to have this explosion,” it’s really kind of the opposite.

You want her to have opportunities to practice managing disappointment, to practice managing when things don’t go the way that she wants them to go.

So, setting things up and stepping into them with the expectation that you know Doug Disappointment is going to show up and then how are you going to have a conversation with her doing some role playing about it, doing some doing some practicing with it? The mistake you might be making, which is a really common mistake, is that you keep talking to her about why she’s getting upset about this thing. That’s not a big deal. Right. And so, so let’s eliminate that.

And what we’re going to talk about it instead is how does she handle these big feelings when they show up? The big feelings are not in keeping with the size of the problem. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter at all.

Some people see a little tiny, tiny spider in the shower and have an absolute freak out. Their freak out is not proportional to the size of the spider in the shower. That is irrelevant to them. They’re not looking at it that way. So, get out of the content. Talk process.

How does she handle feelings of disappointment, which are of course going to show up? You can’t do anything in life where you’re particularly if you’re being creative, or you’re trying to figure something out, or you’re doing a project and not have some frustration or disappointment along the way. That’s how I would talk to her about it. Forget about what she’s freaking out about, start talking to her about how to handle those big feelings.

Spiders, Snakes, or Moths?

Robin Hutson  32:54 

I can vouch that when you’re really freaking out when you see a spider. You’re not really the person to join in on the anxiety. Remember the huge spider? This massive, dark spider, and we took a photo of it.

We were like, “OH my gosh, look at the spider that’s in the house right now!”

“And you were like, “Yeah, that’s a dock spider.”

Lynn Lyons  33:15 

Well, it was a big spider. We all have our things. That’s actually something that’s very interesting to me is that how people are afraid of different things. Right? Because snakes, I mean, I had that whole story where I was, I was hiking in Virginia, and my husband was behind me, and we’re hiking and all of a sudden I hear him sort of go off into the woods off the trail, and I turn around what’s the big deal?

A rattlesnake had just gone by my heal, like I felt something on the back of my hiking boot. And he’s like, “There’s a rattlesnake!” Doesn’t bother me at all. Snakes don’t bother me at all. But, but a rat? I have no explanation. Going down a staircase in a hotel in Washington, and it was a rat in the stairwell. My whole body was exploding.

But you’re right. I mean, spiders don’t get me. But that’s the interesting thing about anxiety to me. You’re trying to figure out why you’re worried or scared of this thing. You know, maybe we have an explanation. Maybe we don’t. But it’s really, it’s not the it’s not the content. It’s how we learn to manage those feelings. Yeah, that’s what it always comes back to.

Robin Hutson  34:20 

The content can ultimately be random in these circumstances.

Lynn Lyons  34:23 

Yeah, people are afraid of weird things. You know, I mean, there’s the heavy hitters, of course. More people are afraid of snakes than they are afraid of butterflies. But I was just talking to somebody who’s afraid of moths. That doesn’t hit the top 100 phobia list.

Robin Hutson  34:38 

I’m also keeping a list of all when you try and illustrate the parts process. So, I’ve taken a list of all the first names that you quickly use as besides like, what was it? Dandy Disappointed?

Lynn Lyons  34:54 

And then I was like that. Yeah, I said Dandy disappointment. And then I thought that sounded a little weird. So, I changed it to Doug, which, you know, okay, so you want to go ahead and analyze me. That’s actually my husband’s first name. And it’s also my father in law went by Doug.

Robin Hutson  35:10 

Yeah. You mentioned Tony in another episode, and I was like, wait, who’s Tony? I was thinking of what Tony you know.

Lynn Lyons  35:19 

Oh God.

Robin Hutson  35:20 

Yeah, these examples aren’t random.

Lynn Lyons  35:22 

No, I have gotten into trouble with that actually. Like in presenting to a crowd. I came up with a name of worry once, and I said the name. And the whole school, sort of like audibly moaned, and I don’t know what was going on there. But it wasn’t like a like a “Ha ha!” It was like, “Ohhhhh.”

Yeah, I don’t know why I said Dandy Disappointment. Don’t know! No explanation for that. But, everyone, feel free to use it.

Robin Hutson

This was a big topic today. I hope people are open minded.

Lynn Lyons

I know it’s a big topic. I know that people feel defensive about it and misunderstood sometimes about this. And I hope I’ve been clear. I try and be clear about it. I am not minimizing anything. And I am not invalidating anybody’s struggle. Of course, I’m not doing that.

My goal is really to be as hopeful and optimistic and to make sure that I’m pointing families in the right direction because things can get better. And I don’t want to see them stuck in a place where they don’t need to be stuck.

Robin Hutson  36:29 

Join the Flusterclux Facebook group so that you can ask your question on a future episode.

Bye, Lynn!

Lynn Lyons  36:34 

Bye, Robin!

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