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    Random Mom

    The Anxiety Monster

    The Anxiety Monster

    {A little back-story} The bittersweet reason why I made the life-changing decision to stay home all started with a sudden and significant onset of anxiety. I sought treatment and have been pretty good with only mild flare-ups here and there. 

    It was the week after Christmas and it was one of the worst I've had since the onset. There are many things that probably contributed to the episode. I was closing up shop, opening another boutique, trying to up my "mom & wife" game and dealing with the usual financial stresses of the holidays. Then, then bubble burst. It was my first and probably worst episode I had had in some time. 

    I thought it might be helpful for me (and hopefully someone else that may have similar experiences) to put it all out there. 

    This is what some of the episodes I've experienced have looked like and a few ways I have dealt with them.  

    The Triggers

    Here are some of the ways I have noticed my anxiety gets triggered:

    • Feeling Overwhelmed - Let's face it, who doesn't overwhelmed? The way my brain works, I am pretty much always doing at least 2 or 3 things at once. It's when more is added on and I start to struggle to accomplish anything. That's one of the ways I can trigger an anxiety episode.
    • There's no end in sight.. - You know what I'm talking about. When you have your "list" and you are working through what needs to get done and it Just. Keeps. Growing. For me, it does really depend on what it being added and what is already on your list. But sometimes, it's the silliest little thing that sets if off. 
    • Getting behind - In General - Sometimes, it's either the fact that there are just TOO much to do OR the stuff I need to get done are TOO daunting, that I end up falling behind across the board. 
    • Who knows? - It's can be difficult "in the moment" to see what it is that set off the episode. (Which is what drives me crazy when my husband asks, well WHY are you having anxiety?? - He's a VERY logical person and there is a time and a place that that quality is awesome to have. That place is NOT in the beginning of an anxiety event) Sometimes, there isn't a clear-cut something that happened that launched the latest attack. And that's ok. 

    What triggers the episode is important, but for me, it's how I handle the episode once it starts where I see the real difference. 

    The Symptoms

    Also - and this is BIG so READ THIS SENTENCE - This is how anxiety impacts ME. Everyone is different and everyone experiences it differently. I share with the hopes that someone may connect or relate to my experiences.. and maybe, just maybe improve something for them. 

    Here's what it looks like to me:

    • Hot Flashes - Yes, "those" hot flashes. That feeling that my skin is on fire and my whole body is just heating up from the inside out. 
    • Shortness of Breathe - The feeling of having someone sitting on your chest, limiting the amount of air you can get in your lungs.
    • Light-headedness - This one is pretty straight forward. For me, this is one of the most annoying of the symptoms. 
    • Cloudy Mind - Lack of concentration, inability to make decisions and the distractions (oh my goodness, the distractions!) Squirrel!
    • Irritability - Imagine your PMS monster's evil step-mom came into town. That is the level of annoyance/irritability/anger that I feel during an episode. 

    It's important to add that not every flare-up is the same. Not all triggers/symptoms/treatments appear/work for every episode and the severity of each affects will be different each time. 

     

    The Treatments

    Some episodes pass just as quickly as they come. Some may last for days. I've learned to handle each episode as they come and there is no cookie cutter "fix" that works for me. When I started with my treatment from the initial onset, medication worked. This is not a long term solution for me, so I have focused on other methods. 

    Here's a few things that work for me. {Read that again... work for ME} Anxiety treatment is not a one-size-fits-all list you can work through and check off to achieve your normal. Anxiety (as I have discovered) is very personal and ever- changing. What worked the last episode, may not work the next time.

    My "go-to" treatments:

    • Getting Task-Oriented - This can be anything. Whatever floats your boat. For me (at least lately) it has been cleaning. Hear me out.. When that feeling of being overwhelmed hits.. one of the most effective ways of dealing (for me) is to start on some task-oriented activities that will give you the sense of accomplishment. Sometimes you just need a win. I recently turned to cleaning to help focus my nervous energy AND get me a "win". Now I don't mean the "deal the clutter and pick up after my kids" kind of clean.. It's the break out the Norwex and get to the nitty gritty clean. I cleaned the Microwave. I cleaned the Shower. I cleaned the Toaster. Yes, the Toaster. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I spent my nervous energy on something that a) was productive and accomplished something and b) was something I could look back on and re-visit that accomplish (ya know.. when you need a boost) and c) makes other daily chores more enjoyable {hello cooking!}
    • Baking/Cooking/Insert Hobby Here - This is another good way to focus that nervous energy. I'm a baker, I've always loved to bake. Lately, with Operation Learn How To Be a Stay-at-home Mom, I have had to step up my cooking game. So I have tried new recipes for dinners and sides and breads and nacho cheese, because cheese. PLUS, you have a yummy treat at the end, yay!
    • Fresh Air - I tend to shut-in during my episodes so it's surprising what a little fresh air can do. Stepping outside for a few minutes (as long as you can stand it) can help to calm, refocus and recharge your energy so can move forward in the recovery. 
    • Sleep - May not be the most productive solution, but sometimes it's just all too much and I just need a nap. This is especially helpful for me when the physical symptoms are at the top of their game during an episode. 
    • Change of Scenery - This may be as simple as not going into a room that triggers your symptoms or opening an app that triggers your symptoms. Maybe its going for a walk or drive or going shopping. A physical change can make all the difference in the world.
    • Adjust your Expectations - This one is kind of huge! This can be applied before, during and after an episode and have found it to be the most impactful change (besides cleaning the toaster, I mean, that's pretty dang satisfying). Many times my sense of being overwhelmed is a result of expecting too much from myself and others {insert-My Kids}. Fine! If the kids are going to live in a messy room, that's their choice. No, they can't walk around easily. No, they can't find their toys easily or have room to play. But I can only tell them so many (hundred) times before I make the choice to adjust my expectations. OK! I won't be able to reply to every business message within a few minutes (or even a few hours) of receiving it. That's OK! Understanding that making a small change in your expectations can have MAJOR impact on how you are feeling is Life. Changing.

    These are just some examples. Just about all of the treatments options I tend to use are temporary. These are options that I have used to get through the episode. These do not necessarily prevent future flareups. They help me work through them and come out the other side. That is important to remember. Treatment and Prevention are two different things. 

     

    The Aftermath

    And there will be Aftermath. These temporary solutions can help squash the immediate symptoms, but this tends to leave some unfinished business. And this aftermath can be the trigger to bring it all full circle and undo all of the work you just did to get to this point. 

    Here's how I approach it:

    • One thing at a time - Yes, totally cliche, but it's true. You have to tune out all of the other things on your plate and zero in on one thing at a time. Any other way can be crippling. 
    • Ask for help - Is there something that someone else can do for you or help you tackle? I'm super lucky to have an amazing mom that has helped tremendously with my Aftermath. Even if it's something as simple as getting your laundry caught up or the grocery shopping done. Get a few things crossed off your list is liberating and can help you feel empowered to get back to your normal. 
    • Prioritize - Assess what you've got on your list. Is it really something that needs to be done RIGHT NOW? Manage those expectations and let things be, if you can. Come back to them when you are closer to 100% and you will be glad you did. 

    By worrying about all the things that are NOT happening during an episode you are only going to prolong the episode. You will become more efficient with coming out the other side and minimizing your aftermath. 

     

    The Solution

    No clue! There are long-term treatments that are more effective for different people. Sometimes medication is that way to go. Awareness is also very helpful. Just being able to identify that an episode is coming and addressing it early can be all you need to make a big change. Therapy is helpful for some.

    Anxiety not a light switch that can be turned off. It takes time, effort and alot of patience to work through something like this. 

     

    Yes, it's hard to talk to someone in the middle of an episode. Yes, sometimes the only thing that you will get you through it is to shut yourself in for a bit. Knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing that it's OK to be not OK. 

     

    Yes, you will get through it. 

     

    If anything here rings true with you or someone you know, then it was worth it for me. 

     

    **Disclaimer**

    Everything here was written as my own personal opinion and experiences. I am not a doctor or therapist and have no training in treating anxiety. I am simply sharing my experiences. A doctor should ALWAYS be consulted before starting or making changes in any medical treatments

     

    Hey, I'm Mel..

    Hey, I'm Mel..

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    I love to connect with the people who are supporting my humble business. Take a peek of my blog and have a little fun as I share what's it's like for me to go from the empowered working mother to the "learning to be empowered" work from home mom. 

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