Thursday, January 16, 2014

Topical Treatment {anxiety}




It's no secret that at times my Anxiety gets the better of me. Combine clutter on the bench tops, lunch boxes that need to be packed, rubble underfoot, caffeine that needs to be consumed and children that need to be dressed and out the door on a dead line and you've got one overly anxious mumma.

My heart rate quickens, my breath shortens (so does my temper), my thinking becomes clouded and I become largely unproductive at times when I need to be calm, logical and effective.

Usually I find myself thinking that if only I could keep on top of the house work my anxiety would subside. Or maybe if my children were better behaved I wouldn't be so short tempered. Perhaps if I packed the lunch boxes a week in advance it wouldn't be so stressful.* Maybe if I cleaned the children's rooms each afternoon there would be less junk to trip over and I would curse under my breath less often.

And all of these things are true.

Life would be less stressful if the house was always tidy and the toaster didn't spontaneously scatter crumbs every time I looked at it. But the fact is, I have three children, one husband, two pigs, fourteen chooks, nine rabbits and a recently acquired thirty seven tadpoles - thats a lot of stuff that needs to be kept fed and alive (yes, we are feeding the tadpoles boiled lettuce, we want them to become frogs, we must nurture them).

It's not physically possible for me to keep on top of everything all the time, or even most of the time. Even if it was, the clutter and mess itsn't really the problem, is it?

No.

The Anxiety is the problem and it's about bloody time I stop looking for topical treatments.


Being more organised and keeping the house tidy will not cure me of overwhelming anxiety. It just won't. It might make me feel less anxious in the short time, but it will do nothing for the deeper unsettled feelings that lay dormant just below the surface.

I'm searching for the root of this problem and it can't be found outside of myself.

I don't want to live in squaller all of the time but I do want to accept that sometimes, it's just going to be unavoidable. Like when you have three children, one husband, two pigs, fourteen chooks, nine rabbits and a recently acquired thirty seven tadpoles.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to dig out some of my favourite self help books- books about parenting and relationships and life and I'll pray that maybe I'll summons an increasing amount of patience, love, kindness and forgiveness.




Tell me, do you have a touch of the ol' anxiety? What triggers it and how do you keep it in check?


*packing lunch boxes is stressful, gosh.

43 comments:

  1. Oh Em, I know how you feel have suffered anxiety all my life but it was only when I fell pregnant with my third child that it reached its peak and action was required. With the help of my very lovely obstetrician, a wonderful psychologist, and a caring GP I was on my way to learning how to cope with the assistance of a little tablet every day. The meds are not a cure but they do take the edge off. I now have a number of strategies to use and I try to keep my worries in check however any major change or event puts lots of pressure on my mental state. I could rave on forever as I am passionate about people getting help and making mental health a priority. Hang in there Em . Your openness is very refreshing. Lisa x

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  2. The first step is sharing that you're not feeling on top of things, so well done to you for that. I have had anxiety for around 10 years now. Last year was a bit of a horror, and I have started seeing a psychologist again. It is so good being able to talk to someone who is completely objective, but really wants to help.

    A combination of yoga, meditation, and no caffeine if I'm feeling edgy really helps. I acknowledge the feelings and ask myself why I am anxious. If there is no reason, I have to try and let the feelings go. It's hard at times, and it's taking practice but I am getting there.

    Big hugs, and you know where I am if you need to talk xx

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  3. I don't suffer from anxiety Em but I certainly understand how it feels to be overwhelmed by my house, my children and my commitments. I feel like that often and it is generally exacerbated during school holidays when the kids are playing all over the house all day long. Like now. When we have had a week of 45 degree temps and have been inside. A lot.

    I oscillate between trying to relax and then trying to get on top of it. One thing I do which does keep me sane is to tidy up our main living area at the end of the day (after dinner) and I close the laundry door and ignore the 5 baskets of ironing/folding waiting for me. I don't do any chores after dinner besides that. I need down time.

    When I am feeling really overwhelmed, I find a couple of early nights really helps me get a bit more tolerance and perspective. If I still don't feel on top of it, I scale back on the stuff that I have control over and resolve to be kinder to myself next time and not over commit.

    Hang in there. Doing the bare minimum everyday is exhausting in and of itself let alone all the extra stuff we (I) throw in. x

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  4. This post resonated with me so much. Thankyou so much for sharing. I share that same struggle of torture, I just have to be more organised, have to have stricter boundaries with the kids etc etc. I'll be tired but lying in bed at night thinking how I could do everything differently so I won't keep feeling like this and repeating the same process. I've struggled with anxiety my whole life. It was alot more recognisable when I was younger because I'd be physically ill with it. I guess now it comes out in different ways. I pray for you & I pray for me- for peace, for release, for freedom. Coz I know there is light at the end of this tunnel

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  5. I use to facilitate an anxiety group through the mental healthy serive I work for, I loved running that group, seeing people turn their lives around after 8 weeks. There is lots of really good information around that you have probably already read but I know that one of the things that really helped people, was this:
    The physical characteristics of anxiety, heart rate speeding up, shortness of breath, sweating, feeling like you need to wee, tightness in chest, trembling hands are EXACTLY the same as the physical symptoms of EXCITMENT!! Read the a gain and think about how you feel when you are really excited. So the physical feelings aren't bad it's he mental interpretation of them. Anxiety is about how we interpret the events in our lives, the conclusions we jump to, the mind reading of others we think we are capable of. It's a big journey, but you are worth it. Xxxx

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    1. I have to reply to this- a psychologist tried to tell me this once, but my answer is that excitement appens when I know that something pleasant is about to happen- anxiety happens when I think i am going to DIE for no good reason. They don't feel the same at all! Anxiety can make you dizzy, cause chest pains and make you throw up or pass out- excitement has NEVER made me feel like that! The difference is the amygdala firing up telling you lightning fast that you are unsafe... perhaps what you're advising could be helpful with really mild cases of anxiety...

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  6. Yes, yes, yes. I only have a 3 and 4 year old, but anxiety still runs most of my days. I went to see my gp for the first time on Monday. I've had it since high school, and found with the chaos of Christmas, combined with 3 rounds of gastro, I reached my peak and took it out on hubby, blaming him for not being home more often (I feel he is my backup in times of disciplining children etc etc.) See someone about it. I got a referral to see a psychologist, which I might use if I feel like I'm still not coping after prep and kindy go back. I'm also going to start yoga. As mums we need to find ourselves, find our sanity. Once we have ourselves looked after and nurtured, then we are able to be the best mums we can be. (Well that's my new year thought anyway. I'm going to give it a burl and see how it goes) Thank you for your honesty. Look after yourself, hugs to you.

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  7. Uh the mess. I hear you. I hate it too and it does feel at times like you never get completely on top of it and as for staying on top of it....I liken it to painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, You start at one spot in the house and by the time you get to the other the first part is messed up again already. And dont get me started on lunchboxes, So.. as for what to do I would suggest anyone experiencing anxiety find a good psychologist (in Australia - look under P in the phone book and or google "Find a Psychologist APS"and you can search by topic of interest, as well as geographical area) and find a GP also that you know and trust/can see regularly to follow you up not just a random at a medical centre. Explore/consider medication (it has its place in balancing our the chemicals/neurotransmitters and can lessen the anxiety) but can take a while for some to find one that works for them and right dose etc . As well as considering the role and possibility of medication I would say most importantly also work with them (the psych and or GP) to learn coping strategies, tools and techniques that will add to the changes from medication or may well enough on their own to make changes (especially for mild to moderate anxiety) - so specifically I would look for a psychologist who can offer you Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (how what we think effects what we feel and do and how by changing our thoughts we can change our feelings and actions), relaxation strategies, mindfulness techniques and Schema therapy. A great book to read about Schemas is Reinventing Your Life - all about core beliefs and what we do/avoid etc in life because of our schemas, where they came from, how to change them etc. There are some great online tools such as the workbooks/modules on the Centre for Clinical Interventions website like this on on Perfectionism http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=52 there are many other topics) OR OPtion B - spend the money* you would spend on psych on a regular cleaner. May be cheaper ??? * Disclosure - I am a psych. * Re money/cost - can use Priv Health for psych sessions (check your own cover) and you can also ask your GP about a Mental Health Care Plan that allows you a certain number of sessions per year with a medicare rebate where you just pay the gap if there is one and this can be for Group or one on one sessions and are renewed each year. And on a more serious note all I said above is true re what works/is proven to be most effective for anxiety, well apart from the get a cleaner that was a bit tongue in cheek but seriously sometimes doing really practical things can help too and should be considered. All the best, remember you are human and wonderful. Happy to answer qs or provide more links/info x

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  8. Emergency essence drops. Life saver. Works alongside a few big deep breaths x

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  9. I can relate so much! I often feel overwhelmed by everything that needs doing round here. I often feel myself getting anxious when fly in day is looming. Not because my husband is coming home ( that's the best bloody thing after him being gone for 4 weeks!) but because I want him to come home to a house that is perfect. The fact that he's known me over half my life & has lived with me for 15 years escapes me & I turn into a mad woman. Looking after one acre of land that is filled with trees that drop leaves & honky nuts faster than I can blink, 3 kids ranging from a teen to a 9 minth old, a dog, a cat, a pool & growing another baby is hard bloody work!
    A few years ago the anxiety had gotten to a point where I couldn't control it anymore, it was taking over, so I went to counseling. Best thing ever ! It helped get everything under control & it gave me tools that I keep using to this day.
    I hope you feel better soon Em but you are most defiantly not alone xxx

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  10. I just recently wrote about mine here: http://goodfoodweek.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/ive-got-99-problems-and-new-years.html

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  11. Well, I don't have much advice, except to say I feel the same. I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old and nearly every day I find myself day dreaming about a day far in the future when things are leisurely and I can have nice furniture and a warm dinner. The stress of getting out the door in the morning sometimes makes me wish I never even had children (gasp!!), it's that bad. 😞 Hang in there! I hope you will find something that helps...and in the meantime, the 37 tadpoles thank you, hehe.

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  13. I struggle with occasional feelings with that. I think there is an element of having to let go, and not biting off too much, or doing too much also. You can only spread yourself so thin. By nature I like a reasonably uncluttered, tidy house (definetly not perfect). It's just who I am. So I need to spend at least a little time in my day able to do that. Otherwise it won't happen. If I spend 15-30 mins a day getting on top of little things it makes me feel a little calmer. But I only have 2 children, and no pets, so it's a different kind of situation!!!

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  14. Thank you for this post! Anxiety is a terrible struggle for me, too. I had a mental breakdown at work last week, and am now dealing with the consequences of it. Luckily I work for a company that values me and cares about me, and isn't going to fire me, but none of the situations that made me have my breakdown have changed. So, I feel so afraid that I'm just waiting for my next breakdown. I have started counseling, and am already on medication, but have been looking for new coping mechanisms to use...but when I'm in the "heat of the moment" and my mind isn't thinking straight, it's very hard to focus and calm myself! That is something I'm going to have to keep working on, and seeking out techniques to manage. I am so excited to read your thoughts and book suggestions on this topic. You are so lovely, and I'm so grateful to you for sharing your struggles with your readers. I'm sure it is very difficult to do so. Thank you!!

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  15. ooh Anxiety my bad word, I have extreme issues with Anxiety, Stree and have finally found my cure for it Essential Oils, I use Young living brand and have noticed an extreme change both with my issues and wellness for the kiddos. I am now a consultant. Feel free to shoot me an email, I'd love to recommend something for you.
    m.chphotography@hotmail.com

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  16. I definitely get that anxiety... It helps when I declutter or "minimize" the stuff I have in the house! becomingminimalist.com is a great resource if that interests you :)

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    1. Seconded! I love that site.

      And I agree Em, the 'answer' (or rather answers) aren't all to be found in the external, but I definitely think it helps. Knowing your triggers and trying to minimise them when you can. I've become a bit brutal about clutter here, because I've found that the less visual stimulation around, the calmer I've become. Also, teaching the (older) kids that those five minutes of coffee in the morning are mine, and I'll help them when I'm done. They don't solve everything, but they help a little.

      Also? Reading all these wonderful comments and knowing we all feel this. X

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  17. The things you have listed as causing you anxiety are things that set me off too. I don't identify it as being anxious (even though I do suffer a completely different anxiety disorder from a traumatic event in my life) I identify it more as a trigger of annoyance, which if I don't get some order promptly will undermine my day. I have three kids too my youngest not yet 5 months old, it's hard having kids who are young all going thing major developmental changes and all needing mum for something. The best thing I've learnt to do is get to a level,of understanding in myself of how much disorder I can handle so I don't place unrealistic expectations on myself of everything being perfect.

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  18. In December I finally saw my GP when I too realised that topical treatments (in my case chocolate, and lots of it) weren't working. I got a referral to a psych after a mental health plan was written by my GP which gave me access to the medicare rebates. I've been seeing the psych for 6 weeks now and it is seriously the best thing I've done. She's had me write down (on my phone) any anxious, negative thoughts which has made me more mindful of them. Each session we look at a different part of my life and identify my core values in that area: to refer back to when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Another big helper I've found is meditation and mindfullness. If you download the Buddhify 2 iPhone app it has lots of great meditations, including ones you can do while working online or even eating. A great book that has really helped me as well is Buddhism for Mothers.
    Best of luck. Message me if you need someone to vent to :)

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    1. I love Buddhism for mothers, a fantastic resource full of "doable" advice.

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  19. Ha.. Hun.. I have a constantly clean house and I do clean every afternoon. I don't have three children, one husband, two pigs, fourteen chooks, nine rabbits and a recently acquired thirty seven tadpoles and I STILL have anxiety!
    Life has a way of making us just feel that way regardless of how we formulate our days and the sooner you find your own rythm and don't compare yourself to others the better you will feel x

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  20. As I get older and have more things to loose (family, house, career) my anxiety amplifies. There is no cure, there are only management strategies which depresses me no end some days - just take that anxiety brain piece out thanks.

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  21. I know what you mean but even when you have adult children they still make a mess as do husbands and dogs so my tip to you Em would be just go with the flow and maybe do some meditation to help you cope,smiling minds and anxiety free are really good xx

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  22. When I started sharing with people that I deal with anxiety/panic, I was amazed at how many people are also living with it! WAY more than I thought... For me it's a combo of being tired, not having anything planned, being disorganised, blah blah blah that all triggers those deep down feelings of being unsafe. There's no simple answer because we are such complex beings but for me there are times when I'm top of it and times when it's really challenging. Returning to work recently is helping me ENORMOUSLY- the longer I was a SAHM the worse it got... There is a fabulous wonderful great TED talk called "Depression-every family's secret," that I can't recommend enough- the more everyone talks about it the more we'll realise that it's a shade of normal in a stress-inducing world. Peace love and light to you and your menagerie x and thank you for sharing!

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  23. I feel for you and so know where you are coming from. I suffered for many years with major anxiety and felt like such a failure of a mother, wife and a person. I tried numerous homeopathic remedies, yoga and hypnosis. All were helpful but not enough. I fought my Doctor on taking prescription drugs for fear of addiction. But finally later in my life I went on medication and seriously now wonder why I battled for so many years trying to do the natural thing. I am 51 and take a small pill every morning and I now LIVE and LOVE my life. I hope you find a way of dealing with your anxiety, but I say go to your doctor, life is far to short.

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  24. Those bloody toast crumbs drive me bonkers as well Em. Stupid toaster. (Not to belittle what you're feeling or anything - I honestly don't know how you do it, I don't know how my mother did it, I don't know how my friends do it - you are all better ladies than I! I'd go troppo every five minutes!)

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  25. The more uptight I become the more my OCD fares. The more it flares, the more uptight become. I am a mouse stuck on a wheel chasing serenity, but all the while knowing the more I chase it, the less it will ever happen. You are not alone.

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  26. CBT!!! It's amazing. Totally recommend it.

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  27. You could have been writing about me. Same same. 3 kids, etc etc. If you find peace please pass on the secret. x

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  28. I suffer horrendous anxiety....about all the same stuff....house, children, state of house, state of children....to the point where I don't have people at my house because I'm so anxious about what they will say about my house and its state (small country town so yes I do care what they say)....the other trigger is taking me out of my intended routine or throwing a surprise my way....hopeless at coping with even the smallest amount of change....once, my husband announced on the way to our farm that his sister and her kids were going to be there - WHAM - totally lost my shit....wasn't mentally prepared for it at all....managed to physically manifest a stomach ache, followed by vomitting....yep....I'm hearing you....can't wait to read your recommendations....also, its one of the main reasons I read your blog - you and your writing resonates with me....makes me feel less odd about it....makes it more acceptable to know that someone who I think is pretty rockin (you) can go through the same stuff, and still be pretty rockin....keep up the ace work xo

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  29. Look into shell essence drops, the are wonderful in helping with working through anxiety, fears etc

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  30. One word for you; delegate! Small children need to be taught you can't do it all, they can help. Jobs/chores = resonsibility = trust and pride in themselves.

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em