My husband’s new hobby is shooting. I decided to go to the range with him and try it out this week. I have never held a gun before or even seen one up close in real life for that matter. I was so nervous about holding a lethal weapon that I almost chickened out.
He gave me a quick review of some basic safety precautions such as always act like the gun is loaded even if you know it’s not, never point it at anything besides the target, never hand it to anyone, but rather lay it down for the other person to pick it up. He taught me how to hold it and what kind of kickback to expect.
We donned our eye and ear protection and entered the shooting area. There were other people in there already, and while my husband was setting us up another shooter’s shot went off and I about jumped out of my skin! It was so loud and deadly sounding. My heart was racing, my breathing was erratic, and I felt tears stinging my eyes. I thought I was going to break down and cry from fright!
After this initial shock, I just kept telling myself that all was fine and that I was safe. As subsequent shots went off and I got used to them, I started to calm down. When I picked up the gun my nervousness returned, and squeezing the trigger felt a bit like jumping off the edge of a cliff. I shot at a little bitty paper target because they ran out of big ones. So, many of my shots missed the target completely and I had no idea if I was too high, low, left or right. I was “shooting blind” so to speak – I had no feedback to help me decide what adjustments I needed to make in my next shots. It was quite frustrating!
Lately, parenting my teenager feels a lot like “shooting blind” as well. She has been making poor choices in friends and in her social media behavior. We placed compassionate boundaries on her activities which she agreed to, and I sincerely believe she meant to adhere to them. But, something comes over the brain (or lack thereof) of an adolescent that makes them forget everything you told them and they make the same stupid mistakes over again.
As a result, hard consequences and strict rules have been enforced. Apps have been deleted, parental passwords have been activated, and cameras have been deactivated. (Sigh!)
There is no eye or ear protection to protect you from the pains of parenting. The anxiety attacks have been frequent, the worry is constant, the fear is eminent, and the “shots” that keep going off are not ones that I can get used to.
How is this all affecting my mental illness? I find myself needing a lot more sleep than usual. I feel sad because I am losing parts of my little girl that I will never get back. I feel anxious because my routine is completely gone. It is hard enough with the holidays and the kids being off of school, but then to throw in all of this extra drama makes everything so much worse.
How am I coping with this to protect my mental health? Surprisingly, I think I am doing ok. I am sleeping when I need to. I am taking my meds when I am supposed to. I am acknowledging that things are not how I want them to be but accepting that they are what they are. I am validating my sad feelings and having compassion for myself as I would for a friend who was going through this. I am talking with my husband about it, writing and praying about it. I do a lot of distracting when I find myself getting wrapped up in worrying too much about it by participating in my hobbies (photography and baking) or doing some housework or reading a novel and blogs. I practice mindfulness meditation and yoga by using free apps on my phone or by finding YouTube videos.
Parents, how do you protect your mental health when the kiddos trigger your mental illness symptoms?
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