Suffering from Extreme Anxiety as a Child

February 16, 2023 Elizabeth Caudy

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, in 2002 (after a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1999). But the anxiety that so often accompanies bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder has been with me since early childhood.

Childhood Trauma Triggered Anxiety

I believe my illness is biochemical, but a couple of things happened when I was a child that I think triggered my schizoaffective anxiety. The first one was verbal and emotional abuse by another child in kindergarten. She told me that if I didn’t do exactly what she told me to do, she’d have her parents throw me in the fireplace. This went on for months, and my kindergarten teacher didn’t believe me when I begged her to stop the bullying because she thought I had an overactive imagination. My mom transferred me to a different school when she found out.

The second traumatic event that may have triggered my schizoaffective anxiety was when my maternal grandma died. She had been in the hospital battling cancer for a long time. I remember going there as a seven-year-old after school and trying the best my seven-year-old self could do to keep me and my five-year-old brother occupied while my mom visited my grandma. We weren’t allowed to see her.

When my grandma died, my dad told my brother and me the news and that it was okay to cry. I felt nothing. I even remember thinking that I probably wouldn’t miss her that much. I had taken her for granted since she and my grandpa had come over almost every day to care for my brother and me while my parents worked.

As it turned out, I really did miss her. When I realized how much I was going to miss her, I told my parents and my grandpa that I didn’t think I’d ever been very nice to her. They replied, “Oh, she loved you so much.”

I thought that didn’t really address the problem. Anyway, to this day, I think of her death as the day my world ended. What world was that? I don’t know. Maybe it was my childhood world. It ended when I was seven years old.

Schizoaffective Anxiety Causing Me to Worry Too Much as a Kid

Around the age of seven, I became a world-class worry wart. On a Girl Scout campout, a leader was wearing a t-shirt that said, “I think, therefore, I worry.”

I totally related to that. When I first heard Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” at the age of 10, I only wished it were that easy.

One time when I was about 10, during Spanish class, I drew a picture of our teacher naked. I showed the picture to the boy sitting next to me, and he burst out laughing. The next thing I knew, I was called out of the classroom to talk to the teacher privately. I was shaking as I walked out of the classroom, mortified by the terrible thing I had done. When my Spanish teacher saw the picture, she laughed and said, “Oh, okay. This isn’t like you.”

I was normally very well-behaved. I was too anxious not to be. We went back in, and that was that. I didn’t get in trouble.

That would’ve been the end of the crisis for most kids. But I worried about it all weekend (it happened on a Friday) even though I was going with my dad to see his brother (my uncle) in Michigan.

And, the thing is, I thought everyone felt this way. I thought it was normal to be so anxious. It became apparent that it, and I, wasn’t normal when I was in high school. But that’s a whole different story.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2023, February 16). Suffering from Extreme Anxiety as a Child, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 25 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

Leave a reply