Stress is a bitch! There are no 2 ways about it, and yes I’m using foul language today because it just bloody feels right. Stress comes with anxiety for me and this is the silent enemy that can steal the joy from my life without me realizing until it’s far too late. Throughout the years writing here I’ve shared about my journey with anxiety many times, if you’d like to see them just click here and you’ll see my meanderings. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s dealing with post-partum depression that I began to learn about anxiety and how it had probably been affecting my life since I was a child.
I was a wee girl who internalized my negative emotions, my inner thoughts were personally destructive. Walking into a room as a pre-teen I’d be telling myself how awful my clothing looks, how someone was staring at me…on and on until I was a wrack of nerves with a smile pasted on my face. I covered my anxiety with a false sense of confidence, laughing and focusing on others but the negative self-talk was doing the damage behind the scenes.
The past 3 months have been seriously challenging for our family, from my Dad’s health to home renovations to taking some major trips while trying to maintain normal family life and daily living…I was draining my cup of energy and serenity bit by bit. These things weren’t all BAD per-say, but they are highly stressful…and I didn’t pay enough attention to my own health during the process and ended up exhausted physically and emotionally. In the end my Dad is home and doing fine, my renovations are pretty much complete, the travel was amazing but I was running on empty when the last thing tipped the scales.
My poor 11 year old has had a tummy ache and cramping for about a month. I hadn’t taken it seriously, I figured that her stomach was just “off” from our recent trips to Dominican Republic and a cruise. We had been eating heavier foods than usual so I thought it would sort itself out. After 2 doctors visits and a trip to the ER, we found out that she was horribly constipated (for over 3 weeks).
As the doctor showed me the Xray of poop throughout her entire bowel system, I felt a dark cold feeling travelling up my spine. Instantly words filled my head, telling me what a horrible Mum I’d been all of those times when I resentfully got her a hot water bottle late at night…those thoughts of just go to sleep! Oh man I’d failed.
Add to these thoughts the fact that the doctor told me that the constipation could have been exasperated by my daughter’s stress levels and I was a mess.
That right there is the anxiety I’d been sweeping under the proverbial rug. It swooped in and wrapped around me like a cloak, blocking out the happiness I should have felt at being given the answer for my girl’s discomfort and instead screaming about my inadequacies. That day I came home and was a ball of nerves, snapping at my family over nothing as I tried to quell the heightened sensitivity which was chasing me. Finally I went into my bedroom, had a massive cry and prayed to God. Well, I actually raged at Him and then prayed for a bit before escaping under the covers for the night.
Kicking Anxiety’s Butt…One Positive Thought at a Time
Waking the next morning, I was about to step out of bed and just do the morning routine as normal…moving quickly, sweeping how I felt under that rug. For whatever reason the thought to pray entered my head, I said a quick one and kept moving. I was recognizing that anxiety was at work with me and I needed to STOP it. I began replacing the subconscious thoughts with positive ones. As silly as it seems to say “The sun is pretty outside” in my head as I’m washing a floor, the positive nature of the thought replaces the negative mantra which was going on in my head.
Slowly it began to work, well I’m still doing it today because I recognize that I’m still feeling the stress a bit higher than normal and I’m determined to balance it out. Negative stress can’t be ignored, it just seeps around things if I don’t address it. I’ve also started exercising again, I’d been allowing myself to be lazy and my body was craving the release a good workout can give me.
So today I’m still working on this anxiety thing but it didn’t overwhelm me! Now I’m tasked with helping my 11 year old cope with anxiety, thankfully I’m not alone as we have some fantastic friends who are educated in this area…but I suppose the 1 good thing about my experience with anxiety is that I have the capability to teach my children about it early so they don’t get into the cycle of thinking the awful self-talk is actually real.
So well be working on it here, and focusing on the JOY in life instead of falling down that rabbit hole…