There it’s out. That is how I feel right now.
Frustrated, angry, guilty, shouty, sad, tired, tired, tired and too mad to even sleep a moment.
When that anxiety raises its very ugly head the day hits a fast downward spiral. Its clear in a look, a posture, a smell, a tone that oh ho, its coming, doesn’t matter how fast we run its going to catch us.
That knot in the stomach, that sinking feeling, that whispered ‘Oh nooooooo’.
That twist when your day turns from what it was to what it is going to be, ruled by anxiety.
Its like walking down a corridor bumping into one side, recorrecting, bumping into the other side, recorrecting, never getting it right.
Reacting, or trying to, to just what comes next, no looking at the big picture, no peripheral vision, the world blinkered…. Need to do this, whoops, did that wrong, need to do that, oh need to do this, didn’t finish that……bobbing about in a tiny boat on a vast ocean of pits and troughs and huge waves just smashing right down over you.
Well, that’s my take on it. I’m not the one suffering from it, though it makes me very anxious when it happens. I am the partner, co-driver, crutch or contributor.
I watch, I get mad, I shout, I talk him down, I talk him up, I care, I cry with frustration that yet another day, event, moment has been lost or ruined. I feel guilty for my bad reactions. I take many deep breaths and push through the good reactions, only to fall into the bad again.
We work through it together, we are a team. When this happens I’m the grown up, the parent, the rock. And no it is not easy. It is doable.
This is the first time in all these years I have spoken out about this. Less than a handful of people know.
When it happens, which is very rare now, I don’t socialise, we don’t socialise; I am not good at smiling and pretending.
Sometimes I want to, and often I do when we are in the midst of ‘it’, cry my eyes out. Sometimes I feel really sorry for myself.
But its not my anxiety, it’s just something I share.
I once said “Why don’t you just let that anxiety sit right there with you? Let it be there, don’t fight it just accept it”. It soon got bored and it really did go away much more quietly and quickly than usual. I thought, “that’s it, a cure!” then the next time, maybe we were both more tired or depleted but we often forgot that trick.
I also remember, and this a big confession. Oh the shame, saying in the midst of a very deep, long, dark and particularly desperate period about 18 years ago – there were seriously mitigating circumstances, another post about dealing with what life, and people throw at you will show up one day – anyway, I actually said “You conned me! I thought you were strong. I thought you would be there for me. I didn’t know I would have to be your Mother!”. I am sure I have said worse too. I didn’t understand how it felt, how there was no control, how he didn’t understand, how he went blank to hide behind it.
But he is incredibly strong, totally there for me, we share our care. Just not on those days.
And now I see him change people lives in a few hours, literally. He’s a rock to so many, he’s a wave of calm when you are in the middle of turbulence. He’s a voice of reason, full of quiet wisdom and even in the midst of dire personal loss he has turned someones life from wretched to full of hope!
There is hope, so much hope!
For us, now (after so much work and perseverance and tears and talking) this happens once every few months, if that, and probably only lasts a day. As it used to be there would have been one good day every few months! I showed my frustration today, however much i know and help others deal with things I still react in a human way. I do have the tools to help now though and the practice to remember to use them, usually.
If you are the co-rider of anxiety try to remember:
1 They are not doing this on purpose.
2 Anxiety is strong and tricky – try to find some tricks to use against it (tricky post coming up).
3 Breath, remove yourself and regroup when you start feeling yourself slip into despair.
4 Remind the anxious person to breath, take time out, regroup. Often.
5 Find them something soothing and/or distracting,- walk, bath, hot and cold showers, running or other exercise, watch something really funny to belly laugh. Its hard at a time like that I know, it’s worth it.
6 Suggest they choose tasks that don’t need thought or real responsibility whilst they ride it out. Understand you need to direct. I am sorry, this is tough if you are working for other people. There is no easy way.
7 Acknowledge what is happening. Verbalise that it is happening now but is not permanent (even if you have one good day every few months).
8 Work on a plan together of things you can do to take control.
9 Discuss how it feels for you both. Especially the anxious person, they probably never thing about how it feels they are just stuck in this dreadful engulfing feeling!
10 If you have kids explain, maybe get some advice about how best to do it. Don’t leave them being anxious because they are picking up on anxiety and have no idea why or what because you can’t see or touch it and it isn’t spoken about.
11 Really remember that anxiety does not define a person.
12 When improvement happens try not to blip back to how it was at its worst as I did today!
Sometimes the trigger can be obvious and sometimes not so. Try to trace it back because there is often some clue.
For us today there was a migraine, a type that causes dream flashes, a bit like déjà vu, that is very frightening.
Usually I smell a chemical smell up to about 12 hours before these migraines but this time there was nothing I noticed so I could give no warning and it is very frightening. There were disturbing dreams last night.
Fragments so small as to go unnoticed can piece together a bit of information. By discovering a few reasons you can rationalise a little bit and that gives a feeling of understanding and so control, or something akin to it.
As you talk it through, investigate (the time needs to be right for both parties!) the boil will reduce to a simmer, the sea will calm, that band of pressure around the head will slacken a bit. It really is anxio’us’ it effects all people close.
The amazing thing for us is that we have experience, stories, history, and we have learnt over many years and much study in a determination not to be beaten, how to deal with some of the rubbish life can deal out. That rubbish can taint everything else or you can start clearing it out.
I feel so much better now that I have talked.
Time to go back as support… I am sure tomorrow will be better, maybe even this evening.
Do not suffer anxiety alone. Here to support you whether you are the anxiety pilot or co-pilot.
Follow up, 4 hours later, I read this post to my person, he calmed, understanding helps, we went out shopping, we laughed at a few normal things, it dissipated. That sounds as though it was like a mild headache, it wasn’t for a short time. It never is. But these days it is just a reminder of what it was so, please, have hope!
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