Anxiety… excitement… same diff.

Funny thing about anxiety- it doesn’t just show up when you’re nervous about something. At least for me, a huge trigger for my anxiety is excitement. See also- big life events. For example- we are selling our house and building our dream house. Big deal for anyone, right? Lots to figure out, lots of waiting for the house to be built, etc. I’ve been in high alert mode lately. Worried we won’t get to lock down a lot before they sell them all, worried we will have too much to do to fix up our current house. Worried about going nuts while we wait the long 9 months for our house to be built.

Why does this excitement make my anxiety stand at attention? I think I’ve always been like that. I don’t like surprises, they make me nervous. I feel the expectation of having to love it for the other person, so I don’t seen ungrateful. I tend to have to warm up to whatever it is once it’s revealed, and I don’t get excited until later. Dading is used to this and doesn’t let it bother him. I was even like this when we got engaged, even though I wanted nothing more than for him to ask me to marry him. Sitting here now, I wonder if it’s because it takes my anxiety time to calm down so normal emotions can show themselves.

I am also literally THE worst about gift giving. I always give them early because I’m too excited to wait. But again, sitting here I wonder if it’s just nervousness that makes me spill the beans.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am super nervous around grief. I remember being young, when my Poppop died, I could not be around my parents when they were upset. I also hid my grief and cried alone. Even to this day, when there is a death in the family, I never let anyone see me cry if I can help it. I feel panicky when I am around others who are grieving. Michelle Obama says “when they go low, we go high”- well when they get sad I get tough. It’s a coping mechanism.

Is anxiety linked to any strong emotion? This will be discussed in therapy. Stay tuned.

Hello anxiety, my old friend.

It’s been a rough couple weeks, folks. Of course there was Dading being in Nashville, but even since I have been feeling very stressed and anxious. Today was a perfect example- I went to get my monthly massage after work, which is amazing. The car drive home, in the rain, in traffic, was very stressful. In that hour plus it took me to get home, I was thinking how I had to pick up take out on my way home, and that we had to fix the water heater that wasn’t working. (Yes, I took a cold shower on Saturday like a fucking primitive Neanderthal. Don’t talk to me about sacrifice.) I thought I would be home earlier, and it was nearing Small’s bedtime, and I wanted to be able to pitch in to help with the kids. I felt guilty because I was running late due to a luxury, not a necessity.

Yes, self pampering IS a necessity- I know I need to listen to my own advice. We are back to not getting a lot of sleep lately. Basically I hope someone out there takes my advice, because I certainly am not at the moment.

I’ve also taken a lot of time off work lately. Sick kids, mental health day, etc etc. My job never makes me feel for a second that it is an issue, but I have that guilt. That working parent work-isn’t-my-primary-focus guilt. I know I’m not the only one.

And money- it really is the root of all evil. We aren’t anywhere near moving back in with our parents, but money is tight. DadingWITHOUTanxiety’s professional camera died and we are saving for a new one. For those playing the home game, that shit ain’t cheap. So he’s working overtime to help pay off credit cards (the Devil’s plastic) so we can get a new one. Which makes me feel guilty about the money I spend. For someone who is not religious, I have an abundance of Catholic guilt.

Not dieting and gaining back the 20 pounds I lost last year is always on my mind. I don’t feel like dieting. I am trying to get back into the gym routine to offset it and also get strong again. Again, having a hard time following my own wisdom that I am not the number on the scale.

All these things together led to tears, wine, and back up anxiety meds tonight. And me sitting here with my half empty glass blogging about it. I am not sure why I am having a rough go of it lately. Leftover from the week he was gone? Lack of sleep? All the above? I don’t have panic attacks, but my anxiety will just come on strong all of a sudden and I feel nervous and overwhelmed when it does. I know my therapist told me that anxiety is going to walk parallel to me my whole life, and sometimes it’s going to get in the way. It’s just really hard for an overachiever perfectionist to accept it when it does.

I’m not sure how I’m going to tackle it this weekend, but I’m going to put in a solid effort.

The sound of silence.

So DadingWITHOUTanxiety made it home, albeit 5+ hours late thanks to flight delays. He’s home and life is attempting to go back to normal. I ended up having to get a prescription for my stomach issues last week, and she thought they were caused from stress, not a virus. My stomach hasn’t hurt since he got home, and I think my insides are back to normal. It’s crazy, the physical reaction my body had from the stress and break in our normal family routine, but that is how my body works so I guess I just have to accept it and move on. Sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?

I was also taking my backup anxiety medicine this past week again. I haven’t had to touch those in months. Cliff notes version: he’s never allowed to leave again. It isn’t good for my health, I have documentation. 🙂

Tonight I went and got an hour foot massage. Just me, my thoughts, and soothing zen music. In that silence I thought about this blog post I was going to go home and write, how Biggie needs more attention away from his brother, and how my anxiety had reared its ugly head again. I was thinking about the extreme stress I found myself under last week and how my body responded to it. The answer- not well. Of course Shark Week decided to come Friday also, which has always been a huge anxiety trigger for me. (I heard someone call it Shark Week once and I am never going back. Get on board, people. Feel free to steal it like I did.)

I realize too how far I have come in being able to recognize when I am struggling. I know now, after the therapy and medication, that this isn’t just “normal me.” It’s insane to me that I used to just live like that every day. That doesn’t mean I don’t still get down on myself, but now I can step outside myself and say “hey bitch, you aren’t doing so hot today, huh?” and recognize that things are not the way they should be.

So many of you have texted me the nicest things in response to my last blog and I appreciate it so much. You told me how you struggle also, and I was being too hard on myself. It meant a lot to me, and I was yet again reminded how therapeutic this blog continues to be.

I’m trying to untangle myself from the stress, which has taken most of the weekend. It’s just a huge reminder also that we have to take care of ourselves. I ended up taking last Friday off of work, and my mom took the kids Thursday night. She was my lifeline, because I was running on empty. Reach out for help, even thought I know it sucks to have to ask. And if someone offers it, accept it! And if you need someone to get a foot massage with you, you know where to find me 🙂

Anxiety: DON’T pass it on.

I have been told by my kick ass therapist (from now on referred to as KAT) that anxiety is hereditary. Not that genes are entirely to blame- sorry people- but there is a genetic component to it. As I have been working on myself and being aware of my anxiety, I have noticed that my mother is an anxious person. Her anxiety manifests itself in the “OMG YOU’RE GOING TO CHOKE, OMG YOU’RE GOING TO FALL” panic variety. I notice it now that my anxiety is mostly in check. I’m pretty positive she isn’t even aware of it herself. It’s interesting how much you notice about others when you start to get your own shit together. Something else KAT and I talk about is stopping the cycle. One session I had a moment of “I do not want my kids to be anxious. I don’t want them picking that up from me.”

This was a really REAL moment. Like if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your babies. The thought that Biggie was hearing every anxious thing I said to DadingWITHOUTanxiety, every comment I made about my weight, every time he saw me cry when the stress overwhelmed me was a hard pill to swallow.

I do NOT want my boys to be anxious, to self doubt and self hate, to struggle with insecurity and not know who they are. I want them to be able to find themselves through a natural progression of growing up, not trying to overcome a struggle that I projected onto them.

I am not ashamed of having Anxiety Disorder- come on I started a blog about it! I am so proud of finally admitting that I had a problem and doing something about it. By asking for help when it was hard. By going on medication when it made me feel like I was pill shopping, then realizing sometimes that wasn’t enough and having to ask for something in addition. Learning that I can’t take care of my family if I am struggling to take care of myself. And this is an ongoing journey- I have good days and bad days. Some days I’m at a zero, some days I’m at a ten.

So for you moms and dads that are struggling, that might feel like you could benefit from talking to someone, that you need help but are afraid to ask for it- remember that our kids are impressionable little sponges who hear everything. Especially the things we don’t want them to. (And like 10% of the things we actually tell them. If you don’t repeat yourself at least three times are you even a parent?) What kind of things are we teaching them when we aren’t paying attention? I am always going to have Anxiety. I hope to get to a place where I can keep it at bay almost all the time. But I do know that of all the things I want to pass on to Biggie and Smalls, anxiety will NOT be one of them.

Anxiety triggers and soothers

What sets off your anxiety? I think knowing that is half the battle to getting a handle on it. For me, being around other high strung people is a big one. I totally feed off that energy and find myself agitated by it. Money stress is a big one- I have 2 kids in preschool, so you know we aren’t living the Kardashian lifestyle. I try to tell myself that we will never be as broke as we are now, but it’s still hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. And then when I am amped up, or tired (those of you with anxiety know that tired=anxious) the noise of Biggie and Smalls running around being crazy sets me over the edge. I find that I am totally derailed by the volume that is to be expected in a house with little heathens in it.

So then- how do you soothe the anxiety? I take 2 different prescriptions which were recommended to me by my therapist, which have made me a functioning anxious person 🙂 and I talk to someone who helps put everything in perspective. For those of you thinking about therapy, I can’t recommend it enough. 45 minutes of a safe quiet space and an outside perspective have made all the difference for me. I always feel like I have someone in my corner to talk me through the bad times and help me sort through it all.

I think it’s easy to lose yourself in the all consuming job that is parenting. I’m talking to you dads, too- DadingWITHOUTanxiety (aka my husband) and I both give 100% and despise the Dads=secondary parents moniker. Dads rock! I do find that he has an easier time of taking time for himself. And I don’t just mean hiding in the bathroom (back me up Moms we know they all do it). He has his photography and PS4 and YouTube. Honestly in trying to deal with my anxiety, I found my hobbies- Cricut, gardening/yard work, and now this blog. I think it’s important we support each other in doing things that are just for us. Finding those quiet times to clear our minds and do things for ourselves. Sanity, kids, we have to find it in the chaos of being a parent!

For me, putting on my noise-cancelling headphones and listening to Audible or music and blocking out the background noise is a big one. And when she isn’t playing Baby Shark (do do do do), Alexa is playing soothing music at night, like rain sounds or spa music, etc.

What do you guys do to de-stress? What are your triggers? I have a feeling we share a lot more of both than we think. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

-Mandy