Let’s Talk About Mental Health Issues……

I’m frustrated with the whole concept of guilt and Mental Health.

I, in no way, have all the answers; and on most days I question whether I have any answers. What I do know is that I deal with anxiety and have for as long as I can remember. My mom says that I was fearless as a child and so, I’m not exactly sure what happened, because I don’t really have any concrete memories where I wasn’t dealing with anxiety.

At least 3 of my kids deal with some level of anxiety and Jeremy is also dealing with ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, Learning Disability and Autism. All of those fall under the “Mental Health” umbrella. They all have areas of “Brain Disfunction.” In my mind, that means there are areas where the brain is not functioning in a Neuro-typical way. I do understand that there are many who don’t want autism classified as a mental health disorder because it is usually thought of as being a genetically predetermined disorder, and there is a certain amount of “shame” associated with mental illness or mental disorders.

I choose to think differently about the whole concept of Mental Health.

I deal with any physical health issues for myself or my children in a completely non-guilty manner. If myself or one of the kids has a cold, or a broken bone or some other physical ailment, I don’t feel guilty taking them in to see our Family Dr or a specialist, if needed. Why then, if myself or one of the kids are dealing with Mental Health Issues, should it be any different?

In my mind, it shouldn’t be any different at all.

If my car needs a tune up. I get it done. If my house needs a hose for the water tank, we get it done. If our clothes are in need of repair or replacement, then I take care of it. Why do we take care of our physical bodies and our belongings, but hesitate when it comes to mental and emotional issues.

We, often, hesitate to talk about it openly and freely. Sometimes we hesitate to even admit it to ourselves. It’s a tricky subject and not one that everyone understands or even cares to try to understand, but Mental Health and Mental Illness are not going anywhere.

I’m trying to raise my kids to understand that Mental Health is as important as Physical Health. It’s important to take care of your mental/emotional state; and it’s important to take care of your physical state.

If I needed insulin because my body never produced it, or it produced a very small amount……would that make me “less” in some way. Would it mean that I was broken and not as valuable or worthy as someone else who didn’t need insulin shots? So what if I need extra seratonin in my brain, for either a while or even forever……I don’t see how the two are different. What if genetically, I don’t produce as much as you do? Or what if I experienced some traumatic event in my life and the stress has negatively affected my body in such a way that I needed some help, in the form of seratonin or any other mental health drug…….why is that any different than needing insulin or any other drug.

I don’t see that it is.

In my family, there seems to be a huge history of anxiety and depression. I have also experienced a stillbirth, 4 pregnancy losses and cancer, as well as dealing with a child/children with special needs. So whether it’s genetically predispositioned or because of some life trauma…..I don’t know.

What I do know, is that being on medicine has helped “ME.” I’m not advocating that everyone needs to be on meds. Because if you can deal with your mental health issues through counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy….then awesome….but by doing that, you are still “taking care of” your mental health.

For the first time in my life, that I can remember, I feel like the inside of me matches the outside of me. It’s crazy hard to explain, but I will try. I’ve had many people not believe or understand that I was anxious (as a teen or young adult) because I seemed so confident and in control. I think that must be where my kids get it from. They seem to hold themselves (mostly) together when they are at school or church or “out” and then when they get home, they feel comfortable enough to “fall apart”.

I don’t know that I did a lot of “falling apart” but I did use “control” as a method of dealing with how “out of control” I felt. I felt that I needed to control my situations, the people around me and myself in order to feel safe. It got to the point where my “control issues” were hurting my relationships. And yet, I didn’t understand “why” I felt the need to “control” everything. I just knew that I felt safer when I knew exactly what to expect.

I did believe that I was a good person and yet a part of me didn’t believe that. I believed I was a good friend and yet the insecurity and anxieties held me back from actually “being a good friend.” I thought I could do things like “sing” and yet I could never put myself fully “out there” because I couldn’t possibly be good enough and what if I made a mistake…..what would people think of me. I know that lots of people deal with a certain amount of insecurity and I don’t know that I can fully explain just how it felt inside of me. But imagine if you thought you were good enough but then you weren’t really sure if you could believe yourself…..and if you were so unsure then maybe you really weren’t good enough. Throw in some perfection issues which meant that you couldn’t or wouldn’t do ANYTHING you weren’t absolutely certain that you could do with 100% accuracy and confidence………and that pretty much left you not doing much at all. You wanted to do “stuff” but unless you could control the situation and knew exactly what to to expect and exactly what people’s reactions would be and exactly what the outcome would be……….which having all of that fall into place for any specific event, was pretty much an impossibility and if it did…..you came across so confident that no one would ever guess that you were dealing with insecurity and anxiety……and throw on top of that whole mess, that you never wanted to come across as anything less than confident and so you were exhausted all the time just trying to hold yourself together so that you could come across “PERFECTLY” because anything less than perfection was failure and “FAILURE” was never acceptable and basically you have a perfect recipe for disaster.

Knowing what I went through as a teenager/adult, and then when I finally figured out that I was dealing with “anxiety”, feeling so relieved and yet angry and grieved over all the lost time………I am strongly advocating for my children’s Mental Health when necessary.

I look back at my teenage years when I didn’t feel strong enough or worthy enough or acceptable enough to do things like, go to college or university. I figured that I was good at looking after kids and so rather than do things I was interested in, like music or teaching or even in the medical field….I took whatever jobs fell into my lap, got married and had kids. I was too scared to do anything else.

I love my husband. I love my kids. I’m not unhappy with my life, and yet…..I could have done things differently. I’ve shared this with people before and I usually hear something like, “We all feel insecure and regretful of the things we wish we had done but didn’t do.” This is different. I’m talking about life crippling anxiety. Like there where things I wanted to do and yet was SO scared to do them that even the thought of doing it stressed me out, and so I did what felt safe.

I’ve lived my entire life, up until now…..only doing things that felt safe……and that doesn’t seem like a huge list of things, especially compared to things that I have dreamed about doing over the years.

I’ve accomplished a fair amount in my 38 years but I’ve dreamed of accomplishing so much more. I’ve just discarded those dreams because I wasn’t good enough, or people would think I was stupid for wanting to do those things. I believed the lie that others could do it better than me and I shouldn’t even try in case I failed. Because failing is one of the worst things ever. I believed that. I’ve believed that for so many years and I hate it.

This is why I’m a HUGE advocate for my kids and their mental health. I’ve pushed my kids beyond every “limitation” that I’ve had that has held me back. I’ve explained why I’m pushing them into uncomfortable situations. I’ve had them ask for things from adults/teachers/doctors/etc. when they felt uncomfortable doing so. Discomfort isn’t a bad thing. Failing isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you tried and for whatever reason it didn’t work out, this time……..and that’s ok.

Never try, never win
never get a break
You miss a hundred percent of the
shots you never take

Hedley came out with this song and it’s been HUGE for me……

I’m a lot more open now. I say “yes”, when everything in me wants to say “no”, because “NO” is safe. I don’t mean that I say yes to everything. I’m still in recovery mode from the 2.5 years of cancer treatment and the havoc that wreaked on me. But, I will honestly assess my stress level, versus just saying “NO” because I’m scared. I ask myself if I’m allowing anxiety to hold me back from saying yes to something that I might actually want to do and even be good at. I try to be honest with myself about what I can do and what I can’t do, and to not view everything through the lenses of anxiety. I will even tell others that any hesitation they might sense from me is anxiety and I’m not willing to allow it to control or rule my life any longer.

Does this mean that all my days are good, confident days…..NOPE! Not at all. And when I’m having a particularly bad day – as far as anxiety goes – I am gentle with myself and honest with both myself and others as to how I am doing. Because I know that tomorrow is a new day and most likely I won’t feel the same. I have stronger days and weaker days, but now I know that I am “fighting” anxiety and that it’s not me……I’m not bad.

I am enough. I am good enough. I am strong enough. I am confident enough. I am enough.

I want my kids to believe that they are good enough and can do whatever they want. I want them to “go for” the things they want and so I advocate for them and I encourage them to advocate on their own behalf. We talk about strategies for dealing with “issues” and “insecurities” and “anxieties”. We use medication as an aid, if necessary, and we do it all without guilt. There is no guilt or shame in needing help…….whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

I am enough!
They are enough!
You are enough!

Exhaustion

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I’m so tired…….I think I’ve been doing better and then something comes along and knocks me down so flat that I feel like any forward movement I’ve made has all been taken away and I’m right back down to scraping the bottom of the emotional/mental/physical barrel.

This week has really done me in. Between first days and lunches and anxiety and high school……it was all pretty overwhelming but I was hanging in there.

Today totally just knocked me over the edge.

I was originally going to take Jeremy out to the appt by myself, and then we had some issues trying to work out who was going to watch Judah and who would pick up Siah and I thought that maybe I might get out of having to deal with today (avoidance……awesome escapism tactic). Jon felt I really needed to be there.

Oh, I didn’t want to. It’s so hard. When your son doesn’t fit “the mold” neatly and nicely and attempting to diagnose the “puzzle” that is your child means that you have to fight with every ounce of strength that you have and even with some that you don’t have…….it’s tough. And after fighting last time and being so dismissed…….it was such a blow that I…..we….didn’t even really want to hope for this to work out.

And yet we want the best for our son and so we scrape together the courage to go to a meeting where we bare our souls and pull out every negative aspect of our son and of ourselves and of our families…….and lay it all out for someone to see and hear and sift through, in the hopes that they will be able to give us answers – or at the very least clues that will help us to help our child.

I sit there in these meetings and wonder how our genetic soup managed to come together in such a way that our son was given this……

ADHD, ODD, Anxiety, SPD and possibly ASD…..all mashed up together in one small child.

It’s SO much. It’s so much for us to deal with. It’s so much for him to deal with. It’s so much.

And yet, like with Angelica……..we make it as “normal” as we can. Bald is beautiful. Confidence is beautiful. And our brains are all unique and the things that make us unique make us so very special. We play up the incredible aspects and attempt to make the difficult things “just a matter of fact”.

But the truth is……it’s not easy. In fact, somedays it feels like a crushing impossibility.

We won’t know the results for a bit. I’m hoping for an Autism Diagnosis because there is so much in that particular diagnosis that makes sense and yet, I’m so scared to get my hopes up.

I want help. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of trying to be strong. I’m tired of carrying everyone. I’m just really tired.

To be honest, getting the diagnosis would feel like someone was validating just how difficult the past 12 years have been. Don’t get me wrong. I love this young man with every fiber of my being. Which is why I’m fighting with energy that I don’t really feel I have to give…….but it’s been tough…..really tough. And I’m tired.

I’m so tired.

Changes can be Good

So many new changes…

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We moved into our new home just over a week ago. The home itself is lovely and bright but the actual move just about did us in.

We have moved so many times over the past 18 years but this move was by far the absolute hardest…..even taking our move from Abbotsford to Langley after 10 years of living there.

I’m not exactly sure what made this move so horrific, but I’m almost positive that our “reserves” to be able to handle stress were non-existent and that made things so SO tough.

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We have things settled down to where we can sort of function but we are not actually “settled”. My room is a disaster with unopened boxes still stacked about and we are still trying to figure out how to place our furniture. It’s tough when everything had a place and now the layout has changed and you are not sure how to “Tetris” everything in. There is quite a bit of puzzling and re-arranging to try to fit 7 people and all of their stuff into a new space.

Jeremy is finally starting back into his regular homeschool routine after 2 weeks of chaos. We started a little bit at the end of last week just to ease him into it and then we hit the ground running this morning. Our “office/homeschool” room is still a bit chaotic but it’s coming along slowly.

One of the bigger changes around here, as if moving wasn’t enough, is that Siah is going to the local Elementary School. He started the first Monday that we moved. He’s been so excited. We had a big meeting with the school before we moved and then another “intake meeting”. That one was kind of rough because you are talking about all the ways your child struggles and will need help. Having a child with learning differences is not easy but having already gone through the Infant mental Health Clinic at BC Children’s has totally given us a leg up to be able to get him the help he needs.

It’s exciting to see him SO excited to go to school and meet new friends. Today he is going to attend until noon. They’ve started him attending slowly and are working up. We’ve gone from 1 hour last Monday to half a day today.

I’m shocked at how much it feels like I have “all this free time”. It’s quite a lot of work teaching two kiddos while supervising a third and trying to care for the home too.

So not only are we adjusting to a new home but also a new schooling balance. I’m excited and exhausted. Looking forward to spending the summer out on my deck and in the backyard.

Just trying to get through today…….that’s how my world feels right now. Just focused on today…….sometimes that’s all I can handle.

But I feel like this is a new beginning and I’m pretty excited. I have no idea what the future holds but for the first time in a long time……I’m feeling that we are headed in an upward direction. I feel like I can breathe. I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I’m tired but feel like we’ve crossed over from barely treading water to being able to rest and rejuvenate. It’s such a welcome feeling after the past 3 years.

Success and Anxiety

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So, I tried again tonight and YAY! I made it. I re-did Week 2 Day 3 of the “Couch to 5k” program AND…….did it with no problems. This is after not running for over a week…..almost two weeks? I’m not sure? I’m quite excited about that.

My knees feel tired but not injured which is good.

So Saturday, I’ll be attempting Week 3 Day 1…….which is a bit of a jump from this week but I’m trying to not worry about that.

I have been worrying quite a bit though. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you might remember that at the end of last year, I realized that I’ve been dealing with and fighting against anxiety, my whole life (for as long back as I can remember). Most specifically Social Anxiety but heck, if it can be worried or stressed about……most likely I’ve worried about it at some point in my life.

I went on Anti- Anxiety meds back at the end of November 2012. I was started on an extremely low dose and it made a HUGE difference. I don’t even know that I could fully explain (and most definitely not from mg phone – I’m posting from my phone……yah for the WordPress App) how much of a positive difference it made and how fast.

When I found out I was pregnant, at the beginning of January……to be honest, I felt devastated because it was best for the baby if I went off the meds. I had UNREAL amounts of anxiety for the twelve weeks that I was pregnant and would have been seeing a Reproductive Phsycologist this week had I still been pregnant. (That appt was to discuss the safest meds I could take that would still help me.)

Probably, had I not gone through the 2-2.5 stressful “cancer” years……I’d still be just plugging along; but those years really did a number on me. There is so much “fall out” from a family member going through something like that.

I started back on the meds as soon as I miscarried. I went back to my dr and checked in with him. It was all good and I made an appt for a follow up in 2 months from then.

But the meds don’t seem to be affecting me in quite the same way they did initially. I’m not sure if hormones are at play – my hormones always seem to be messed up after a miscarriage – or what the issue is but what I do know, is that I feel anxious. And it SUCKS!

I have an appt for Wednesday to talk about the possibility of a dosage increase…..but I’ll see what my Dr. says

It’s tough to feel anxious about stupid things. Things that really should make no difference and most people wouldn’t even give those things a second thought. Where as me……I fight those thoughts a third and fourth and fifth and even tenth time; and get more and more exhausted because I’m always fighting “the anxiety”

It’s hard to feel like you’re not enjoying life because everything’s a fight. And so for now……I take meds because its what I believe I need. In some ways, even taking the meds feels like I’m “failing”. Like I should be trying harder and yet……..I’m “tried” out; and going this route…..it enables me to still be available for my family. Which is so necessary………although, I’d love to check out……not forever……just for a moment….maybe to catch my breath.

It’s what all mom’s hope for, right?

Tough days

It’s been a tough day today.

I showed up at music practice tonight sobbing and barely managed to scrape myself together enough to walk in only looking like I was half falling apart……bright puffy eyes and red nose.

Parenting special needs kids is not easy and some days are tougher than others. Today was a fairly normal day as far as days go but it was still tough.

The boys wake up moving at warp speed which means lots of fights, lots of meltdowns, lots of yelling and screaming and taunting, very little listening, very little “pause and think before you act” and just generally a whole lot of frustration. And that is all in between 7-8am. Fun! By that point I feel ready to strangle someone but I have hopefully already doled out the morning meds.

It takes about an hour to an hour & a half for the meds to kick in……so however it takes to get the meds into them……it’s still another hour or so until the effect starts to kick in. Cue a repeat of the previous very little/very a lot section of actions.

Around 9-9:30am, we start school and depending on the particular mood of the day, school could be finished in 2 hours or it could take all day. Today we were still working on homework at 3pm……which is an indication of how today went.

There is so much frustration from the boys because they want to be doing anything other than school and I feel like I’m constantly fighting each one of them over different things.

Sometimes, I feel strong enough to handle it and others (like recently), I don’t feel strong enough to handle it all.

I’ve been waffling back and forth about trying Siah in public school because it would be one less thing that I would have to do and fight with him over, spend hours and hours prepping and on the admin stuff. I might actually be able to clean my house or have/create/stick to a meal plan. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

But today he had a gymnastic class that just pushed me over the edge. He was made to sit out of the first half of the class for over 20 mins. Now, in his defence…..I believe the teacher forgot about him…..but I can’t even believe I typed that sentence up. I should not be defending a teacher for forgetting about my child or even for finding it easier to not have him in the class. The class is at 5pm. Meds have started to wear off by this point and unless you really love
him or have one on one time with him……by this post in the evening Siah can be a handful.

But it broke my heart to see him “cast aside” because he couldn’t behave. It was worse in that parents on either side of me were asking me what I was found to do about this as they found the treatment as unacceptable as I did.

I ended up talking to the teacher and surprise, surprise……I started crying. Yah! Just what some twenty something guy want a to deal with an emotional mother of a bratty kid. Yay me!

I can’t fathom sending him to school to have him treated like this. He spent over half the class in total sitting off to the side. The punishment was not effective. If you know ADHD, you will know that long, isolating punishments are rarely effective. And so what? What do I do? Continue to put him in a place that could be so good for him if he would learn? Or continue to put him in a situation where he is leaning to sit in “time outs”? Cause if they continue to put him off to the side….that’s what he will be learning, not how to act appropriately. Or do I pull him out of something that could be great for him.

Well, I managed to get myself together during music practise but driving home, I started to fall apart again.

It’s so tough. Parenting difficult children is so tough and today I feel like a failure. I feel very alone and very insecure. It’s a crappy place to be in. I’m really hoping that I wake up up and feel so much more positive in the morning. I’m REALLY hoping!

Stream of Consciousness……

Life and Death……so many people I know living life, contemplating life, celebrating life, and yet there is death.

It’s the way this world works, no?

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I stepped out of the shower tonight and looked at myself in the mirror. Do you ever do this? Look at yourself. See yourself. What do you see? Do you see all the imperfections? Do you see the strength? Do you see the beauty? Do you see the years of love given? What do you see?

I saw a shell. I saw a home that has lovingly carried 10 babies, birthed 6 of them, with 5 of those living, laughing, and loving.

A week ago, on Saturday March 2, I woke up and I was almost 12 weeks pregnant…..it’s been a rough start to 2013. I’ll say that much. I was so looking forward to telling everybody about this new little life that we had been gifted. When we finally crawled back into our bed on Sunday morning around 3:30am…….I was empty, no longer “full” of life.

I spent the past 3 months, in shock, sleeping, gagging, barfing and stressing…..probably most of all stressing. I’ll say it again. I’ve had a really rough start to 2013.

Backing things up, 2 days before Christmas, we had what you might call a “condom malfunction”. 17.5 years of marriage and it’s never happened……no matter – there is NO WAY we are pregnant. That “NO WAY” turned into a very amazing and completely shocking positive pregnancy test on January 3rd. To say we were surprised is putting things very mildly.

Six kids is a lot to handle. Heck, 5 is a lot to handle. How could we possibly do this? How were we ever going to be able to handle this……financially, time wise, energy wise and well, just how the heck were we going to do this.

I had just started anti-anxiety meds just a little over a month before and honestly, that was the best Christmas that I remember. It was SO less than perfect, but I wasn’t stressed out of my mind and that made it absolutely blissful.

I had to stop taking those meds, in the best interest of the baby and while I was totally willing to do so……I WAS DEVASTATED. Those two little pills that I took before I crawled into bed in the evening had made such a dramatic difference in my life and I was terrified to walk away from the very thing that seemed to be enabling me to cope with difficult situations, especially when I was facing a very difficult situation. I’d been pregnant 9 other times before this one and only 5 of those pregnancies resulted in live births……not really great odds. Mind you, I’d had 2 live births since all the deaths and maybe, just maybe the string of deaths was beyond me.

It wasn’t. Long story short……I’m no longer pregnant. I’m walking around so caught inside of my own head that I’m not sure how to work it all out. My mind keeps trying to figure out ways that I can have another baby, but it’s not going to happen. We are done and yet, I don’t want to let go of that.

This body of mine……this shell has tried to house and attempted to nourish babies almost continuously for the past 16 years. I’m not even sure what to do with myself now that the door has close on that section of my life. Who am I? What do I want to do with myself? With my life?

I still have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, a highly needy 12 year old and two amazing daughters who also need their mother so much, but I feel so lost. I need to find out who I am aside from just a mom and yet…….I don’t want to. It feels like I’m losing something else! I’m walking away from this huge part of my life and walking towards………..what? WHAT????? I don’t know. I’m sure it will be fabulous when I get there……when I figure it out, but right now….It’s scary. It’s open……..My whole life is ahead of me and all I want to do is go back and be pregnant.

I want another baby. I wanted another baby. I want another baby so bad and yet……I stuff the feelings. I choke back the tears. I internalize the sobs and hope that I don’t break down and totally lose it. Lose WHAT? I don’t know, but I’m scared by the depth of these emotions. I’m scared that if I let go…..if I really acknowledge these deep, dark, horrible, scary feelings that I may not be able to reign it all back in……I think I’m even more scared that once I let it go that I’ll be lost. That I won’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to do, once I let go of this grief, of this dream, of this time in my life.

I could “do” so many things, but who am I and what am I “supposed” to do. What do I want to do? I don’t know. I don’t KNOW. I DON’T KNOW!!!!!

What I do know is that I’m sad. I’m sad that I no longer have something that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted before I was given it. I’m sad that I was given something and then that amazing something was taken away. I’m sad that I’ve not even really cried yet…..it’s like in all of this I’ve not even really paid tribute to this sweet life who was taken from us.

Holding my brand new nephew tonight was amazing and yet so tough. I will never have that again. That dream of once more holding a little baby……my little baby……. I don’t get that any more…….ever. That chapter of my life is gone, closed, finished…..and yet I rejoice for my sister and my brother and my nephew….. that they could welcome a wonderfully perfect baby and he is so precious. I can see that he is not mine and I can compartmentalize my grief and my joy and recognize that I can feel both at the same time. Recognize that maybe I can feel so much joy and wonder at this new life because I know how difficult the opposite is….and yet I run from the grief……I only allow small tiny bubbles to roll up. Is it healthy? Most definitely not? Do I feel equipped enough to handle all of this right now…..maybe not….but will I get through this? Yes.

I’ve gone through so much. We’ve had so much death, so many hard times, so many difficult “life lessons” and I know I “can” handle this. I just don’t want to…..I had really hoped that these dark, difficult days were behind us, but they are not…..and so we carry on. We put one foot in front of the other and we carry on.

We live! We laugh! We love! We carry on!

I will process this……I have no worries or concerns about that. maybe that’s why I’m not beating myself up too badly. I will deal with this. I know I will…..I’m just not really dealing with it yet….It’s too much….too soon……too much to feel….mind you, it’s really too much to carry too……..and so soon…..someday soon…….

…Finding that it is Necessary…

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watercolor words by rocketrictic

I don’t know how to write this post. I want to make it perfect. (HA! Even that is so telling of what I’ve been struggling with.) There is so much I could say and no way to say it all. I want to be able to explain with just the right words and to be able to make myself understood. I want to be able to bring light to a situation that is too often misunderstood or a lot of the time hidden or seen as something to be ashamed of.

I feel like each of us can use our voice to speak out and bring light to the situations that we go through in life and in doing so, we can affect our world……..we can change our world for better.

Too often the subject of Mental Health is hidden or seen as a bad thing or something to be ashamed of. The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 1 in 5 Canadians will deal with Mental Health Issues at some point in their lives. 1 in 5 is pretty significant, I think; compare that to Diabetes which currently affects about 1 in 10 Canadians……it makes me sad that people feel the need to be ashamed of or to keep it a secret that they are or might be struggling with Mental Health Issues.

Almost 2 weeks ago I was looking into Anxiety Disorders because someone I know and love seems to be struggling with Anxiety. What I read shocked me…..

I HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER.

I have had an anxiety disorder for my entire life, at least as far back as I can remember……and I had NO CLUE! I’ve had overwhelming fear and worry and anxiety and because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like this, I thought “this” was normal. I thought that everyone felt like I did and if they didn’t worry or stress as much as me it’s only because they didn’t care as much. I feel like the more I worry or stress or over-analyze things, the less opportunity there is for things to go wrong….if I think through every option or worse case scenario, then I will be more prepared if something were to go wrong. If I think through every negative thought someone will or might have about me, then I can be better or more perfect or less likely to offend someone and maybe just maybe they will like me…..it’s a completely irrational fear or worry of future events. It’s like I’m borrowing fear from tomorrow and stressing about it as if it’s already happened today……totally messes with you mentally, emotionally and physically.

Of the different types of Anxiety…

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder
Phobia
Social Anxiety Disorder

….I’ve probably experienced varying levels of each one at different times in my life.

The biggest one that I struggle with is the Social Anxiety Disorder….if you clicked on that link and read through the page…..that’s me. I have struggled with…… “an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them (me). They(I) can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.

I’ve always said that I’ve struggled with insecurities. It felt overwhelming and huge in my life and I’ve fought my entire life to “try to overcome them”. I couldn’t understand how I could actually like myself and think that I was a beautiful person both inside and out and yet be so hard or down on myself.

While reading and researching, I came across a site that explained anxiety as an outside force affecting you on the inside (and if I could find the site to link to it, I totally would, it was a great article) and it hit me so hard….. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that I feel like I’m fighting myself. I’m fighting to be normal. I’m fighting to keep it all together. I’m fighting to stay in control…..and honestly, after the past 2.5 years…..I’m too tired to fight anymore.

For the past 6 months, I’ve felt like I was losing the battle and yet…..between cancer and the lingering after effects, two teenagers, 3 children with ADHD, 2 with massive sensory issues, 1 with Anxiety Issues, homeschooling, a toddler and just trying to keep the house from falling apart and keeping food on the table….there was no opportunity to fall apart or to give up.

My Doctor keeps telling me that yes I could have just “given up or gone back to bed”, that people do it all the time and that I should be proud of myself for the fact that I’ve kept on going…..I can’t even fathom that was an option. There’s a baby to look after and the 2 boys would have destroyed the house….or each other and some one would have gotten hurt……or something…..

I get anxious just thinking about the boys unsupervised…..

I sat in the Doctors office last Thursday crying because it’s been really difficult to “be me”. I’ve been fighting myself for so long……actually, I guess it would be more appropriate to say that I’ve been fighting the anxiety for so long and I have very little, if any, reserves left. I’m starting to recognize when it’s the anxiety speaking….I’m still working on dealing with the physical feelings from the anxiety but recognizing when it’s the “anxiety” is a start and has already helped some…

There are two main approaches to dealing with and treating anxiety
……therapy and medication. I’ve decided to go with both. I started an anti-anxiety medication last week and also went to talk with my counselor.

I’ve been on an absolute emotional roller coaster ride for the past almost 2 weeks. I’ve been grieving lost opportunities and lost time that was stolen from me by this thing called “anxiety” and yet I’m so excited for what my future holds. I’m so excited that I don’t have to live under the crushing pressure of anxiety for the rest of my life. I’m excited to start feeling better. I’m excited for new possibilities and opportunities. I’m saddened that it seems that I’ve contributed to my son’s anxiety. I believe that based on the number of people in my family who deal with or who have dealt with anxiety, that there is a big genetic component to this. At the same time, I’m so excited to be able to understand better what he deals with and to be able to help him better be able to learn about this disorder and how to deal with it.

I came across the image/quote at the top of this post about a month ago and it hit me so hard. I’ve been frustrated for a while because I’ve had people telling me that I needed to let things go….that I was carrying too heavy of a load. I already do almost nothing “extra”. I’m just trying to function within the “crazy” that is my life and family. It’s a lot. I recognize that. But really, there are no extra’s to cut back on. Last week, this image came back to me in an “Ah Ha!” moment.

It’s time to let go of the anxiety. It’s too heavy to carry. I’ve been overwhelmed for far too long and while I’m not sure exactly how to “do this”, I’m working with some amazing people who are coming along side of me to help me “carry this” until I can fully let go.

But even just recognizing that I have something to let go of……recognizing that I don’t have to be crushed by this forever, is HUGE!