Advertisements
Tag Archives: anxiety

Trying to have fun, but having to arm wrestle your anxiety first

18 Jan

My husband once did the Ultimate Husband Thing – he surprised me with a trip to Paris over Valentine’s Day.

Yeah. That’s pretty damn savvy of him, isn’t it?

And I really really couldn’t wait to go.

I also all but hoped I’d be struck with rotavirus and wouldn’t be able to go.

See, I have anxiety, and anxiety hates fun. So anxiety takes “Cool trip to Paris” and turns it into “You know, the plane could crash…fiery blaze…explosion…imagine being hurtled to the ground still strapped to your chair, that’ll hurt – not to mention the children you’ll orphan…poor kids, motherless…God, do you know how much that would screw them up for life?”

Seriously.

And then there’s the “My God, what if you get sick while in Paris? How sucky would that be? Totally could happen. Planes are notorious for spreading all sorts of wonderful plagues. You could be stuck in the hotel room with a fever or vomiting or both. What a waste of a trip. My God! What if you get sick while on the plane? How awful would that be?”

Anxiety is called a bitch for a reason.

The thing is, I got on the plane. It didn’t crash. I didn’t get ill. We climbed all the stairs, drank champagne in Paris on Valentine’s Day and saw the Eiffel Tower and I booped the nose of a cherubic statue in the Louvre (it was in the Sensory Gallery and touching was allowed). I saw Van Goghs and Monets and the windmill of the Moulin Rogue. I had a lovely time.

I just didn’t get to enjoy the build up to the trip.

 

1977092_10152016833257513_301504533_n

Boop.  [Image Description – Myself, arm extended out to touch the nose of a marble statue of a cherub, his finger in front of his lips, smile on his face]

Last night, I had concert tickets to one of my favorite singers ever. They were a birthday present from my husband (yeah, I know, he’s good with the gifts, isn’t he?). But as the concert loomed, so did that underlying dread. The anxiety started to ramp up. I got cold and clammy. I felt off. I couldn’t eat. I knew it was all anxiety. I knew I felt like I was coming down with an illness but I wasn’t. I knew once I got to the venue, I’d have a great time. But there was a part of me dreading it, wondering if I could just skip it, if maybe I should skip it.

Spoiler – I went to the concert and had a great time. A fan-fecking-tastic time. It was one of those crazy wonderful crowds that just made an already awesome event even more memorable. I left on a high feeling I could do anything and woke up still riding that high.

And a part of me tried to talk myself out of going.

 

26910623_10155025180417513_2432875638355405611_o

Reader, I went to the concert. And I got the pint of cider and a hat to prove it. [Image description – a pint of cider that looks purple-ish thanks to stage lights, and a black hat with a white embroidered Celtic knot]

But anxiety doesn’t just try to ruin the big things for me. No, the bitch also intercedes daily. Dining out with friends? Well, gee, look at your front tooth – looks a bit discolored, which totally means it’s going to break in half during dinner, so maybe you should play it safe and stay at home (true story – three years later, the tooth is still perfectly fine.) Get your hair colored? OMG, don’t you know everyone will judge you from the stylist at the salon to the cashier at the grocery store? (actual thoughts – reality was the opposite.) Chatting with other moms? Eek. They may discover you’re not actually a good mom. Have people over? Gads no. Your house isn’t nice enough/neat enough/clean enough. Buy myself new shoes? Geez woman, should you be spending such money frivolously?

I put off SO MUCH because my anxiety tells me all the ways I shouldn’t or couldn’t do things. And every day, I’m working to overcome it. Every day, I arm wrestle with negative thoughts and worries. Every damn day.

It’s exhausting.

No, really, it is exhausting. Tiring. Draining. And when you don’t win the wrestling contest, a bit depressing, because now you’re brain’s all “See? Told you. You can’t handle this.”

But I’m tired of living like this. I’m working towards getting back to enjoying life more. Enjoying the parts I like more. Doing more. And then making note of it so I can look back and go “Look! Look at what I did! I totally rocked those times!”

So I’m gonna need a lot of Starbuck’s gift cards, because I’ll also be dragging ass after every victory.

 

Advertisements

For those of us laying under a weighted blanket of guilt…

17 Dec

Today I saw a meme of sorts – it wasn’t a funny, Kermit drinking tea sort of meme, but one that was supposed to touch the heart of all the moms out there.

And I paraphrase –

“Stop feeling guilty! Just because you packed a crap lunch or missed a soccer game, don’t feel bad! We’re all doing our best! Give up the mom guilt!”

And maybe because I’m a bit cranky these days, but I looked at it and thought “I wish that’s all I felt guilty about.”

Seriously, if I only felt guilty for things like missing games or under-decorated birthday cakes, I probably wouldn’t need a therapist. But thanks to anxiety, Catholicism, and my own special blend of herbs and spices, I take feeling guilty to the next level.

I don’t feel guilty about lunches. Well, maybe I have as well. But my guilt, like my life, has an extra layer of extra.

I feel guilty about all sorts of things out of my control. The things my older three children have missed out on by having a disabled sister. By not doing enough for the disabled daughter. By not living up to my potential because I’m just freaking tired all the time. By not giving enough time to my husband because someone else needs me. Feeling guilty that I can’t be the type of mom my kids should have had because of my anxiety and depressed times.

Jaysus, I’d love to feel bad about missing a fecking soccer game.

It’s exhausting, carrying around all this, and amazing that despite carrying all this, I still manage to get up every morning and try all over again to be better at everything. Which is also exhausting.

Our circumstances are extraordinary. So is my mom guilt, my general life guilt, the secret shames I carry for having a messy house or missing appointments. My Imposter Syndrome is better than your Imposter Syndrome though, but they don’t hand out bumper stickers for that, now do they?

So coming across a meme that is meant well, but is a bit lacking…can set me off. Because stuff like that, those generic platitudes, feed into the problem. Because you’re not feeling guilty over a crappy lunch – you’re feeling guilty because your spouse is out of work and you’re buying the cheapest lunch items possible to make that crappy lunch and you don’t have the money to buy a cool kid’s lunch. You’re not feeling guilty over missing a soccer game, you’re feeling guilty because you’re the only mom in a team full of overachieving parents who missed yet another game because you work. You don’t just feel guilty because your child is missing a school party, you’re feeling guilty because they’re missing the party because of a doctor’s appointment scheduled months ago, one you can’t just reschedule for another day as you’ve already waited months for this appointment. It’s the guilt of having to hold your child down while they take blood, despite the promises of a treat, a reward for being so brave afterwards.

Universal guilts of spending money on yourself, spending time on yourself become amplified when you’re already weighed down by other guilt. You don’t need outsiders to tell you you’re wrong, the voices in your head do that job for you. No, you shouldn’t spend money at the salon to get your hair cut for the first time in six months or a year – there are medical bills to be paid. No, you shouldn’t pause life and read that book – the dishes are stacked up and no one has clean socks. You should do laundry and clean your house instead. Being told to take time for you seems impossible when you have a child who is so very dependent on you. Feeling resentful about that is not allowed, because then you’re a bad parent who doesn’t cherish your precious offspring.

It’s a weighted blanket of guilt that keeps you up at night and yet oddly enough, keeps you moving forward. 

You are way past having a light bulb moment from a meme. You read platitudes by people on the internet and roll your eyes.

Or maybe that’s just me.

But you don’t say these things out loud, because then, ironically, the meme maker will confront you – “I was just trying to help! I didn’t mean you! I have real problems too!” – and then you feel badly for making them feel bad.

The thing is though…the thing is, so much of motherhood on the internet is about being positive. So much of social media is showing your best side. So much of the internet is about striving for better – better lifestyles, better bodies, best life now. Cherish those little moments! Take time for you! Don’t feel guilty! Love your messy life! All accompanied by a smiling photo, granite countertops in the background, all shiny and clear of clutter.

The thing is – I don’t really base my self-worth on these sort of memes. Yet I can still see the damage they do. Not car-wreck damage. But that pebble in your shoe damage, that one last thing that makes you rip off your sock, or causes a blister from rubbing so much.

And these people do mean well. This sort of thing does help them. It just reminds me at times at how distant my reality is from theirs, and how most people don’t show the truth. The hard stuff. The uncomfortable stuff. The real mess.

I am a mess. I’m a hot mess. My house is a mess. My brain is a mess. I do not have granite countertops, and the plain white tile ones I do have aren’t clean right now. I need therapy for all the guilt I carry over everything.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

So cheers to us, the ones living the true messes, the ones who carry on despite the guilt and shame weighing us down. Cheers to us, for getting up every morning and putting one foot after another. Cheers to our little victories, cheers to us for finding a bright moment. Cheers to us for getting up the strength to wash that load of socks or for making that frozen lasagna for dinner.

Cheers to surviving in an ocean constantly trying to drown us.

We may feel the weakest, but we are the strongest of them all.

 

 

kristopher-roller-188180

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash [image description – a hand rising out of a dark sea, holding a sparkler]

 

 

 

 

Choices

24 Nov

I was sitting on the kitchen floor, trying to muffle my crying, when my husband found me that Christmas Day about ten year ago.

“Oh my God, what’s wrong?” he asked, his voice full of concern.

My response was a babble of how the kitchen was a mess, how I had spent hours cleaning it for two days so I could have it clean for Christmas, but because my husband and kids decided to make a big breakfast Christmas morning, the kitchen was now a mess again – flour on the counters, dirty pans on the stove, and I was faced with more cleaning before having to prepare Christmas dinner  – which then I’d have to clean up after.

All of this between sobs and whining noises that only the dog could hear.

It was an epic, and well-earned, meltdown on my part. That past year, we’d been coming to terms with the fact that our youngest wasn’t just developmentally delayed, she was disabled. She was disabled to the point that she would probably always need to live with us. Just a couple of weeks before Christmas, she’d been diagnosed with epilepsy. I’d fighting depression and anxiety all year and trying to dig my way out of the messy house that came with it. Having the house clean for Christmas had been important to me. A clean house meant that I had my stuff together, that I was getting control of things, that I was a better mom than what I thought I was. A clean house meant a whole lot of things that it didn’t really mean, but it was important at the time. If my house was clean, then it wouldn’t bother me, and I could relax and enjoy the holiday.

I really wanted to enjoy the day.

Instead, I was sitting on the floor in desperate need of a tissue, hyperventilating.

My husband, who was now also sitting on the floor, apologized for messing up my clean kitchen, and offered to take care of things. I hiccupped about how I still had to cook dinner, and things needed to be started asap or else they wouldn’t be done in time, and maybe how everything was impossible because at that point, everything seemed impossible.

“How about we just order Chinese food?” he suggested.

I blinked at him.

“The kids don’t care about the food, and it’s just us anyway. It would be easier.”

A week later, as I told this story to my therapist, I got to this point, and she leaned in. “And what was your answer?” she asked eagerly.

“I told him to see if the Chinese restaurant was open.” I said.

“Yes! That was the right response!” she cheered.

fortune-cookies-2503077_1280

And it was. It was exactly the right response. I was there, crushed to the floor with the burden of making a perfect holiday, and was given an escape route. I could have forced myself to reject the easier path, to pull myself together and make the damn Christmas dinner.

Instead, I chose the easier route, and in doing so, I chose to enjoy my day.

I can’t remember if the kitchen ever got cleaned or if we decided to just ignore the mess. I do know that the Chinese restaurant was open, and the kids thought it was great to get Chinese for Christmas dinner. Afterwards, I sat on the couch laughing with our youngest while the older three and my husband had an epic Nerf gun battle through the house. For months afterwards, we found orange darts in odd places.

I had given up my idea of what it should be, and embraced what the day could be.

The kids remember it as one of the best Christmases ever.

Go figure, so do I.

Life is funny – you grow up thinking if you just go to school, find the right job, marry the right person, have babies at the right time, that things will go well for you, and there you are on Christmas Day, with the perfect turkey cooked perfectly, the centerpiece of your perfectly laid out table.

But that’s not how it works for most of us, and you’ll find yourself faced with choices. Complicated, messy choices that are hard. There is no getting around those. Some choices are made for you and you have to go along with them.

And sometimes, you are faced with a choice that is almost ridiculously simple, and yet can change everything. They are the choices that end up as the memories we cherish most.

So as we head into this holiday season, I hope you all are able to make a choice that’s easy and that brings joy. 

 

ben-white-170542

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

%d bloggers like this: