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.
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.
Don’t over commit. For example, I rescheduled some of my doctor’s appointments for a time when I wasn’t so busy.
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.
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.
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.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is related to depression. It is thought that those with depression are lacking in serotonin. Some antidepressant medications block the reuptake of serotonin leaving more available for use by the brain, thereby decreasing depression symptoms or so the theory goes.
Besides medication, which has been proven in clinical trials to have a significant effect on depression symptoms, there are anecdotal treatments some people say increase serotonin in the brain. These “treatments” aren’t always backed by scientific studies and should be discussed with your doctor before being tried especially if they involve any sort of supplement or exercise, but most appear relatively harmless and may even be helpful in relieving some depression symptoms in some people. These serotonin-producing ideas include the following:
Get more tryptophans from foods like lean meats, eggs, and dairy.
Get a massage.
Boost your vitamin B.
Soak up the sunshine or use a light therapy box.
Add more magnesium to your diet with dark, leafy veges, fish, bananas, and beans.
Be more positive, practice gratitude.
Reduce sugar intake.
Increase vitamin C.
Practice self care to reduce stress.
Keep a journal or practice some form a regular writing.
Don’t try to make all the changes at once, if it seems overwhelming. Tackle one or two items a month. Eventually you will get to feeling better and better and before you know it all of these things will become second nature, if you tackle them like a marathon not a sprint.
Play the long game. These changes are lifetime goals. You have all the time in the world to reach them, but start making them one or two at a time. You can do it and will be glad you did as you begin to feel better and better little by little until it adds up to be quite a lot!
It took me over ten years to get to some real solid stability in my bipolar depression. I did it by addimg a lot of coping skills and healthy habits to my life year after year. Trauma work in therapy and constant medication management was a huge part of it, too, but the anecdotal cures were essential and still are. They may be for you, too.
As always, comments are open for any questions you may have for me and for any shares you have regarding your experiences. Thanks for reading.
Depression affects the whole person. Not just our thoughts, not just our emotions, not just our behavior. It affects everything, including our physical body as well.
In a nutshell, below is how depression may present itself in these four areas.
thoughts of death and suicide
withdrawal from others
neglect of responsibilities
changes in personal appearance
lack of energy
sleeping too much or too little
weight gain or loss
loss of motivation
If you recognize these symptoms of depression in you or someone you care about, talk to a doctor about it. There is help for those who suffer from depression. I am one of those people. It is not the end of the world. There is life beyond depression. It does go away. Getting through it until it is gone is what you need help with. I can share my experience with you via my Facebook page here. Or feel free to comment below.
Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes people to be fearful of social situations where they might be embarrassed or judged. Psychological symptoms include self-consciousness when around other people, excessive worry about upcoming events where interaction will be expected, avoidance of places or events where people gather, and difficultly making friends and maintaining friendships. Physical symptoms include excessive sweating, difficultly speaking or catching one’s breath, a sensation of flushing, trembling or uncontrollable shaking, and nausea.
There are many behaviors people with social anxiety may do or not do in an attempt to cope with the overwhelming anxiety this disorder produces such as not talking because of being afraid of being judged, not being able to go anywhere alone, staying inside all day, hating when the teacher calls on you in class, avoiding eye contact with others, avoiding eating in front of others, counting money before you pay, not leaving voicemails, not asking for help when you need it, always preparing what to say ahead of time, being worried about running into people you know, going to the bathroom to escape, using a phone or some other crutch to avoid people, dwelling on a small awkward moment for much longer than necessary, never going to any social event without a person that makes you feel comfortable and following said person way too much, worrying about the person beginning to find you obnoxious, and faking an illness to get out of a social event.
Have you done any of these behaviors to deal with social anxiety? How else do you cope with your social anxiety? What are some positive ways to cope with social anxiety disorder?
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
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 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.
Chances are you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder since it is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting over eighteen percent of the population (reference). But do you know how to help that someone, or better yet tell others how to help you if you are the one who has the anxiety disorder?
Below are eight ways to help someone with an anxiety disorder.
Be predictable. Don’t surprise them. If you say you are going to show up at a certain time, be on time. Don’t change plans at the last minute or bring an unplanned guest to dinner or take them on an impromptu date or a spur of the moment trip. People with anxiety need time to prepare mentally and emotionally, as well as physically, for most events. Give them that time and notification well in advance.
Don’t assume you know what the person needs, ask them. How long do they need to prepare for events? Don’t guess. Ask them. When they are worried or stressed, don’t come up with solutions for them. Ask them what would help them at that moment or in general. If they don’t know then tell them you are there for them when they think of something, which brings us to number 3.
Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery. Don’t pressure them to get well quicker than they are able to. Don’t expect fast fixes or for coping skills to work perfectly every time in every instance. Recovery is slow and messy. It is not a straight forward moving process. It is some steps forward and many back and some more forward and back again. Eventually the forward steps out number the backward ones, but it happens over time, not over night.
Speaking of progress, it is best to find something positive in every attempt at progress. Meaning even if the attempt is unsuccessful that time, something positive should still be acknowledged about the attempt so as to encourage subsequent attempts in the future.
Take care of yourself first. Don’t sacrifice your own life wants and needs too often. This will only lead to resentments later on. It will do neither of you any good if you both are ill.
Don’t get emotional when the person with the disorder gets upset or panics. Keep a calm, cool demeanor, talk with a compassionate tone and when all else fails take a time out, telling the person you need to walk away for a moment to gather your thoughts, and come back when you can deal with him or her. If he or she is being irrational, sometimes it is impossible to rationalize with him. It is best just to validate his feelings (because feelings are not right or wrong, they just are) and keep him safe and see number 7.
Encourage them to seek out therapy. You are not a professional. And even if you are, you cannot treat your own friend or family member objectively. Most people with anxiety disorders need some type of professional help.
Finally never ridicule or criticize a person for being anxious or panicky. It is truly a physiological and psychological phenomenon beyond their conscious control in many instances that takes months, if not years, to figure out and overcome.
If you have any questions about anxiety disorders in general or panic disorders or complex PTSD, I have experience with all of them and would be glad to discuss. Leave a comment or contact me via my Facebook page here.
We all have rough days where we are tired, irritable, or anxious. Maybe we didn’t sleep well the night before or we have a big test coming up or deadline at work. Maybe the kids are acting up and your husband forgot your birthday.
Things happen that make us feel bad for a little while, but when these negative emotions last for more than a few weeks or more, you may want to consider talking to your doctor or a professional counselor about it.
Here are eight warning signs you may be mentally and emotionally exhausted:
You are easily irritated. Everything gets on your nerves and just kind of bugs the heck out of you.
You have no motivation to do anything even the things you usually love doing.
You are having anxiety or panic attacks, which include racing heart, rapid breathing, feeling like you’re going to pass out or die, or even less intense – just worrying incessantly about the same things over and over again and are unable to make yourself stop.
You are having trouble sleeping. You either can’t fall asleep, can’t sleep through the night, and/or wake up early in the morning before you have to get up.
You have little patience and lose your temper easily with family, friends and coworkers.
You start crying out of nowhere. Sitting at your desk, taking a shower, driving in the car just minding your own business and all of the sudden you burst into tears.
You feel detached from reality, meaning that you go through your day without really feeling a part of anything or connected to anyone. You feel numb like you are experiencing the world through a fog.
You feel empty. Although at times you feel strong emotions of anger, sadness, and fear, much of the time you actually feel void of any emotion. You feel like an empty vessel floundering in a vast sea of nothingness.
If you can relate to any of these signs, remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. I have been through all eight of these symptoms at one time or another. For me, talking to my doctor about them is the best way to ensure the symptoms do not get out of hand to the point of becoming dangerous to my well-being. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health, depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety. Contact me via my Facebook page.