Being a Mom with Anxiety

I became a mom almost 21 years ago. I was not yet diagnosed with mental illness. About six months into motherhood when postpartum depression had a strong hold on me, I went to my doctor for help and she put me on an antidepressant. About six years later, after the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 disorder. It is at this point that I think my anxiety developed into something that I could not handle without professional help or medication because I began to have panic attacks along with generalized anxiety and eventually severe social anxiety.

Play dates were difficult at best and attending sporting events were and still are extremely stressful and anxiety producing (hint: wearing earbuds playing calming music helps a lot!) Having children who are growing up with their own anxiety and depression issues only increases the stress of motherhood exponentially for a mom with anxiety. On the up side, having an anxiety disorder has better equipped me to completely empathize with my children and help them in ways I would not be able to if I hadn’t already learned skills to deal with my own anxiety.  Some of these skills include the following:

  • Setting healthy boundaries by saying no to things when I feel I am reaching my threshold for responsibilities and daily activities. 
  • Asking for help with daily responsibilities from my partner, family, and friends.
  • Taking time for self care activities like reading a chapter of a book, journaling, taking a bubble bath, listening to calming music, watching an episode of a series I enjoy, petting my dog or cat, taking a nap, sitting in the sun for a few minutes, doing my nails, getting my hair done, meditating, or doing some stretches or simple yoga exercises.
  • Not being hard on myself when I can’t do things I wish I could. 
  • Accepting my limitations.
  • Praying for the strength to do as much as possible without making myself sick.
  • Being thankful for all I can do and for all I have instead of focusing on the negative aspects of having an anxiety disorder. 

Being a mom with anxiety has its challenges, but with an awareness of and honoring what your limitations are and following the suggestions above, you can thrive as a mom and a person with anxiety. 

Why I Took a Mental Health Hiatus

It has been nine months since I posted here because I needed to take a break from thinking and talking and writing about mental health and mental illness.

I went through a big change around the time I quit blogging and I suppose that has something to do with the long break as well. This change altered some of my core values and helped me grow as a person in ways I never would have imagined. My love and tolerance for all people has blossomed exponentially.

I dare say I went about a psychic change that brought me through a depression and grieving process to a place of total acceptance. I am a better person for it today.

However, even with the positive impact this event had on my character, I still have all of my mental illnesses (bipolar type 2, anxiety and panic disorders, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, seasonal affective disorder, complex PTSD, recovered alcoholism, borderline personality traits).

The most prevalent illness currently causing problems for me is anxiety. The social and generalized anxieties are the main triggers for my chronic migraine. The ways in which I limit my activities outside of the house in order to decrease my migraine frequency has made my world very small.

Is your life limited because of your symptoms? How so? Tell me in the comments and follow me for more mental health updates.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

We are half way through Mental Health Awareness Month.  Awareness for mental health is so important because people die everyday from poor mental health. People can’t work due to poor mental health or take care of their family or get out of bed. We have to bring awareness to this in order to normalize it in such a way that those who find themselves in such situations don’t hesitate to get professional help.

Twenty percent of adults in the United States experience a mental health condition in a given year. This topic deserves our attention and consideration. People are suffering and need help. 

What are some ways we can raise awareness?

– Download You Are Not alone graphics, logos and social media images from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Awareness-Resources

– Share the following mental health facts taken from nami.org with permission.

– Host a Facebook or Instagram Live with an expert or a person with real life experience to discuss how people can manage their mental health or practice self-care.

– Share a video of what mental health means to you. Use video sharing apps like TikTok or Instagram reels to create videos to post on your social media profiles.

– Use the following social media hashtags for Mental Health Awareness Month:

#NotAlone
#MentalHealthMonth
#MHM

– Promote NAMI Helpline’s contact information and hours of availability as a resource for people seeking mental health support. Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. 800-950-NAMI (6264). info@nami.org nami.org/Help

How are you going to help increase mental health awareness this month?

Feel free to use these graphics from NAMI.

Can Being Too Busy Cause Anxiety?

The short answer to this question is yes, for sure. All it took was four doctors’ appointments in the span of two weeks and planning a birthday party for my mom on top of my normal daily tasks of running the kids to school and activities and keeping up on housework to bring me to DEFCON 1 anxiety.

My anxiety tends to present itself as irritability towards anyone whom I hold near and dear to me, most notably my beloved husband, poor guy.  I not only become dissatisfied with everything that is going on in the house, but I also can’t stand the way anyone is doing anything around me. 

It is usually best if I retreat to a quiet room on my own to chill out with something to read, watch or listen to. Sometimes it does help to talk it out with my husband as well. 

Also here is a great list of dos and don’ts when I find myself too busy and filled with anxiety. 

  1. Don’t over commit.  For example, I rescheduled some of my doctor’s appointments for a time when I wasn’t so busy. 
  2. Do prioritize.  I found that I could let laundry pile up a little that week and catch up on it the following week when I wasn’t so busy so I could make it to my appointments.
  3. Do delegate so you don’t have to push yourself so hard.  I asked for help in driving the kids to some of their activities that week to give myself a break. 
  4. Don’t forget to treat yourself for working so hard.  Mocha lattes every other afternoon for two weeks!

So, as you can see being too busy can cause anxiety especially in someone who already has an anxiety disorder.  However, there are ways to cope with it and decrease it if you take the time to make the appropriate adjustments to your schedule and approach. 

Keep an eye on your busyness before anxiety has its eye on you. 

Current Event’s Effect on an Empath’s Mental Health

I am what you call a highly sensitive person or an empath. These types of people are highly attuned to the emotions of others, have a hard time blocking out the emotions of others, and often are adversely affected by the negative moods of other people. Being in a large crowd of people is exhausting for me especially if it’s in a type of setting where emotions run high like a large church gathering or a wedding reception or a funeral. Even something as simple as a medium-sized family gathering is too overwhelming for me at times because the social dynamics are often too tension-filled for my empathic tendencies to handle.

Unfortunately, I don’t even have to be face to face with people in order to be affected by their emotions. Reading comments on social media, watching news stories on the television, or hearing people talk about current events on the radio or podcasts, all affect my emotions and mood.

As you can imagine, the past couple months with the pandemic and all of its complications and discussions and controversies over whether people should wear a mask or not or whether people should still be staying home or not or whether businesses should be opening or not have had a negative effect on my emotional stability.

But now, even more so, with racial tensions running high due to the death of George Floyd, my mental health stability has been pushed beyond its breaking point and I find myself feeling anxious and depressed and worried and upset and at times filled with despair about a situation in which there seems to be no viable solution.

I am not black, so I do not wish to take away from anything the black population is going through right now. I am a person with severe mental illness who is going through something, not the same as what they’re going through, but something negative due to the racism and hate currently brewing in the United States.

I don’t know what to do with these horrible emotions that come about from witnessing the hate and racism and conflict going on between the citizens of this country except to block it out from time to time by signing out of my social media accounts and turning off the television so as to not listen to the news reports. It seems to be the only way to protect myself from all the negativity, because I can’t seem processes it in a healthy manner if I let any of it in otherwise.

Does anyone else out there have this issue as a highly sensitive person? How do you deal with it? What coping skills do you use to manage the emotions that come up from witnessing the hatred and violence that are going on in our nation right now without becoming filled with anxiety and despair?

Dealing with Anxiety During the Corona Virus Pandemic

person-4964543_640

Unprecedented times can sky-rocket anxiety that is already high for those of us with mental illness. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves if we are feeling particularly out of sorts during this craziness. Let’s remind ourselves that it will not last forever and that life will go back to the way it use to be relatively soon. In the mean time, let’s make a plan of ways we can cope with our anxiety and get through each day, moment by moment, knowing that there is no shame in merely doing the best we can no matter what that may look like.

Make sure to get plenty of sleep. Eat healthy. Get exercise. All the usually advice. Take time each day to do something you enjoy. A hobby or special interest. Watch relaxing or funny videos or movies or shows. Read uplifting or positive material. Create a soothing environment in your home with soft lighting, pleasant aromas, de-cluttered rooms, and quiet or calming sounds.

When you are in the midst of an anxiety attack, try the following coping statements, suggested by http://www.healthyplace.com:

  1. I’m going to be all right. My feeling are not always rational.
  2. Anxiety is not dangerous. It’s just uncomfortable.
  3. Right now I have feelings I don’t like. They will be over with soon and I will be fine.
  4. That picture or image in my head is not a healthy or rational picture.
  5. I’ve stopped my negative thoughts before and I’m going to do it again now.
  6. It’s not the first time I feel anxiety. I am going to take some deep breaths and keep on going.

Finally, remember this: “You have survived everything you’ve gone through up to this point. The best day of your life is still yet to come. There are still people you haven’t met and things you haven’t experienced. YOU CAN DO THIS.” (Source unknown)

12 Ways to Decrease Holiday Stress

Let’s face it. Holidays are stressful. No matter how many years of experience we have going through them, no matter how far we plan ahead, and no matter how hard we try to cut back, the stress is there.

But, it doesn’t have to be an all in, freaking out kind of stress. Or a overwhelming, panicking, losing sleep kind of stress.

How about we shoot for the slightly uncomfortable feeling of having a few extra things on our to-do list for a few weeks and leave it at that kind of stress?

The following list may help you do just that. Good luck and happy holidays!

12 Ways to Decrease Holiday Stress

1. Make space for difficult feelings like grief.

2. Create your own holiday traditions.

3. Set realistic expectations for yourself and the holiday.

4. Stick to your self-care routine.

5. Give yourself permission to let it be a normal day.

6. Make a plan and try to stick to it. Staying organized is key.

7. Learn to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.

8. Shop online and stick to a budget.

9. Set boundaries with family and friends.

10. Avoid excess alcohol.

11. Stay active with exercise.

12. Ask for help.

Resources: Eli’s Place, Health Point, Blessing Manifesting

10 Common Signs of Depression versus 10 Hidden Signs of Depression

at-a-loss-2773594_640

Depression can present itself in many different ways.  Some common signs of depression include the following.

  1. sadness, loneliness, or emptiness
  2. loss of interest in things normally enjoyed
  3. tiredness and chronic low energy
  4. difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, making decisions or remembering
  5. feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  6. irritability, frustration or anger
  7. restlessness and agitation
  8. sleep disturbances
  9. change of appetite
  10. recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

There is also something called hidden depression or “functional depression” where the individual with depression may not experience the common signs of depression, but the depression manifests itself it other, less obvious, ways, such as the following.

  1. perfectionism with a constant, critical inner voice
  2. heightened or excessive sense of responsibility
  3. difficulty with accepting and expressing painful emotions
  4. worry or need for control over self and environment
  5. intense focus on tasks, using accomplishments as a way to feel valuable
  6. active concern about the well-being of others, while not allowing anyone into his inner world
  7. discounts or dismisses hurt or abuse from the past, or the present
  8. accompanying mental health issues involving control or escape from anxiety
  9. a strong belief in “counting your blessings” as the foundation of well-being
  10. intimate relationships may be difficult, but are accompanied by professional success.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself lasting more than a few weeks, please talk to your doctor about them.  Depression is a real illness and is not something we can wish away or control by will power alone.  Get the help you need so you can live the life you were meant to have.

Source: rtor.org

Signs of Overthinking and What to Do About It

woman-2003647_640

Thinking about things is good, right? When we have important decisions to make we have to think about them before committing one way or another to ensure we are making the correct decision. We have to weigh the pros and cons, ask others for advice, sleep on it; you know, think about it. After all, thinking is one of the main things that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Does there come a time, however, when thinking becomes a liability to our well being? I believe there does.

Signs of Overthinking

  • second guessing everything
  • analyzing things to death
  • expecting the worst
  • having insomnia
  • hating to make decisions
  • would rather someone else decide things for you
  • regretting things often
  • have a hard time letting things go
  • taking things personally
  • being a perfectionist
  • criticizing yourself a lot
  • never feeling one hundred percent certain
  • feeling tense
  • feeling like you can’t turn your brain off

What to do if you are overthinking

  • Journal – writing down your thoughts can sometimes take them out of your head and keep them out. It is worth a try.
  • Talk to someone about your thoughts – again the idea is to get the thoughts out of your head. The longer you keep them bottled up, the longer they will just swirl around in there.
  • Use positive distractions – engage in a creative hobby, something that gains your entire focus so you are no longer thinking about anything else except for the task at hand. Sometimes our thoughts just need to be interrupted by action, whether we feel like taking that action or not.

Are you an overthinker? I am. What do you do to deal with it? Leave a comment or message me on my Facebook page here.

References: