How Can I Tame this Anxiety?

I have to get my anxiety under control. I’m just not sure how to do this. After years of seeing therapists and psychiatrists, I have no confidence whatsoever in any “expert’s” ability to adequately treat this condition.

Am I so far in the weeds right now that I can’t think straight and make a decision on the best way to move forward?

Everything feels chaotic.

For example, this morning I couldn’t even walk into Whole Foods and browse. I felt like I was on the verge of a full-blown panic attack in the parking lot. Seriously!!? What is wrong with me? It’s a grocery store, a nice one at that, and my panic makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever.

I thought this was getting better, and it was for awhile, but inevitably it pops up out of what seems like nowhere.

The long weekend was just that — long. I tend to get anxious when our family gets out of a routine. This happens to a degree every single weekend.

At the same time, the weekday routine also puts me in a panic.

Last week I just couldn’t seem to get a grip. I was flitting from one activity to the next and not making much progress with any project I started. This is not new — anyone who is even remotely familiar with ADHD can understand that adults who have this have a difficult time staying on task. I hate to admit this about myself, but I get VERY bored with routine, yet I need it desperately in my life.

That last sentence and the fact that this is what I chronically struggle to balance (the right amount of stimulation with the right amount of structure/routine) is exasperating to say the least.

Last week was kind of stressful, and after the ordeal on Thursday, I was moody. I decided to turn things around by picking the boys up from school and heading to the beach. We are a happy bunch when we’re there. The beach is one of the few things that consistently helps all of our moods. Luckily, we can be there in forty-five minutes.

Gil’s office is about halfway between our house and the beach, so we picked him up on the way. The four of us enjoyed a leisurely dinner at the beach, and then Gil and I watched the sun set as the boys played and expended some of their wild, little boy energy. It was a great way to start the long weekend.

So on Friday, we left the beach late, and instead of going back to get my car, we left it in the parking deck, and I rode in to work with Gil this morning to pick it up.

My plan had been to do some grocery shopping and run a few other errands while I was in Savannah. We live on the outskirts where our grocery shopping is limited, so this was a good opportunity to pick up certain items that are hard to get closer to home.

Truthfully, my anxiety started much earlier this morning. We left the house at 7:15, and I hadn’t had breakfast or coffee, and I ran out in flip-flops — not great for shopping.

Then, on the drive over, Gil and I got into a long discussion about bunk beds that we’re considering for the boys. He wants to build, and I’d rather buy something. His building projects drag on forever, and I’m ready to get this done. We began talking about specifics but ended up in a drawn-out conversation/counseling session about how these building projects never go the way he says they will. We end up mad at each other for different reasons. He feels like all I do is criticize while I feel like he has no respect for my need for something to be done in a timely fashion. I’ve suffered through enough of these projects to know that this one will take longer than planned, and there will be a mess.

And yes, I realize that I sound like an unbending and unsatisfiable wench, but nothing sends my anxiety through the roof like projects that involve power tools, nails, and a 5 year old and a 4 year old who get into EVERYTHING.

We’ve had several incidences where the kids have gotten into tools that Gil has left out. Luckily the injuries have been minor, but I have to stay on high alert because Gil doesn’t pay attention and assumes everything will be fine.

I seriously digressed, but that was the summary of our twenty minute drive this morning. When I was getting into my car, he calmly asked if I’d rather price bunk beds and find something in our price range to at least consider.

I agreed that I would look around and see what I could find. The other part that stresses me out is that Piers’ birthday is this week. All he has asked for is a desk and a globe. The bunk bed idea sprung from the desk request, and we came up with a design that incorporated a desk. We’re planning to take him to a nearby amusement park this weekend. Don’t even get me started on what those places do for my anxiety, but he asked to do this instead of having a party, so we agreed. I’ll do anything to not have to have a party.

Again, planning kids’ birthday parties is one of the very worst things for me in terms of anxiety. And the worst part is that this makes me feel like a terrible mother. Also, since I feel guilty, I end up blowing the bank for their birthdays because I want to make up for my inability to have a normal birthday party like a normal parent.

I have to stop. I have a gazillion other things on my mind this morning, and I have to get out of that ruminating in my head and commit to some action.

I think the first step might be getting a doctor’s appointment, which is what I’m going to do right now.

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14 thoughts on “How Can I Tame this Anxiety?

  1. I can relate. But the first thing to do is stop and breathe. Big deep breaths through your nose. Then tell yourself, “one thing at a time” I know, how can you do one thing at a time when six things need to be done? Because you can’t do all six things at once. Don’t let all this talk about multi tasking fool you. No one multi tasks to the best of their ability, because you are not concentrating on just one thing, all the things you are trying to accomplish are only partly paid attention to. Only two things you need to remember when you feel anxious: breathe, and do one thing at a time. You might be surprised by the results. All the best. Hope this anxious time passes quickly.

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  2. I take medication for depression and anxiety. Have been for the last 11 years. I started having panic attacks when I was 26, but they became way more frequent when I became pregnant. I had awful postpartum depression and anxiety. I used to experience a mini panic attack sometimes when my milk let down before breastfeeding. Weird. I used to have full-blown ones while driving and envisioned myself driving into oncoming traffic.

    Then my ex up and left me and our 1 year old, and I immediately went on meds. When my stress gets to be too much, the meds don’t really help. I feel overwhelmed often–if it’s not from exhaustion, it’s finances, or my son, or or or…it never ends.

    The ONLY thing that has helped me when I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown is Bach Rescue Remedy–it’s a homeopathic formula made from flower essences. 4 drops under the tongue as many times until I calm down. You can find it at Whole Foods. I swear by it. Other than that, it’s just one day at a time.

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    • I’ll have to check out the Bach Rescue Remedy, if I can make it into Whole Foods without having a panic attack in the parking lot. 🙂 It’s interesting that you had panic attacks as your milk was letting down. I had the same thing, and I’ve never heard anyone else say that — or admit it anyway. Some of my worse moments of panic were when I was breastfeeding my oldest son. Mine would start out as panic, and I would feel like I couldn’t catch my breath. Then, once he was latched and nursing happily, I would sweat profusely. I could do the yoga breathing to calm myself, and then once I thought I was okay, the tears would come. I would sit there breathing, crying, and nursing. My emotions were compounded with the extreme guilt I felt, but I couldn’t really explain it.

      I’ve been feeling better lately, but I feel like managing my anxiety is a full-time job in itself. Has anyone ever mentioned to you that your magnesium levels might be low? One thing I have been doing that seems to help is taking a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm by Natural Vitality. It’s a powder that you mix with water.

      I can’t begin to imagine how tough it must be to be a single parent shouldering all the responsibility. I can tell from your writing that you’re a wonderful mom. Like you said, one day at a time. Thanks for the encouragement. I always value your input — always wise and insightful.

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  3. It’s a process, but I’m feeling better. Watch out, I have major travel envy. When you get down near Savannah, GA, I might stalk you and hide out in your RV. Hope the trip’s going well. I’ve been behind on blog reading.

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  4. I feel that I am with you. But at the same time, when I read your entries, the way you articulate your anxiety, I feel that I am not with you. It’s great that writing works with you. I’m still struggling and I hope you are with me.

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    • It’s interesting how sometimes we’re with people and then we feel completely alone and isolated in our individual situation. I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time these days. It’s strange, I’m currently wrestling with this relentless anxiety, but my depression seems to be on vacation — I hope it stays there. I spent so many years with debilitating lows, and I feel like I’ve learned to manage those whether it’s with medication, therapy, force of will, or a combination. Who knows. My anxiety is hard, but I really feel like what I’m dealing with now is more a response to my particular situation.

      Please know that I’m thinking of you and sending good vibes and happy thoughts your way. You are a beautiful person who deserves to feel better. The world needs your light to shine. Lots of peace and love, friend.

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  5. When someone dies, we experience a loss of control. Every time we leave the house, the potential exists for loss of control, and for infringements upon our routine. I think your feelings sound pretty normal in the context of your situation. Running into additional situations that feel out of your control, after experiencing such a large loss of control – I think it makes sense that you would feel overwhelmed, or anxious. So…my two cents is that you should reassure yourself that there’s nothing wrong with your feelings. Feel them. Talk to them. Ask them what they want. Once I’m coexisting with my feelings in a neutral way, I might try to layer a little logic over the situation. “Well, we do need food, and the food is in the store…I will breathe deeply and I will go inside”. And hey…if you need to sit in the car and cry for a a while first? Then so be it.

    I don’t believe that there is a perfect cure all for each anxiety situation. I just try to never tell myself that my feelings are “bad”. Once I can get myself into that space…then I can kind of problem solve my way through it as needed.

    It’s okay to feel sad…anxious…

    I do take medication for anxiety but it doesn’t do all of the work. It just lays the groundwork so that I can do the problem solving that I need to do. Also…time. I know…when we are in pain, the concept of having to wait for time to pass feels pretty terrible. But time always moves forward. Always.

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    • Excellent advice, and while I think I know the things you suggested, I can’t pull from my metaphorical toolbox when the anxiety hits. However, reading this comment later and now re-reading it, it was just the reminder that I needed. Thank you! And I wholeheartedly agree that medication doesn’t do all the work.

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  6. I’m a little ahead of you in the child rearing thing — my boys are now 16, 14, & 12. They were all born within 3-1/2 years and I remember how overwhelmed I ALWAYS was. Their first years were an absolute blur and I thought I’d lose my mind. My ADHD didn’t help things much with organization. My husband and two of the boys are also ADD/ADHD.

    Now that they are older, the anxiety is much better. There is less to keep track of. There are definitely still bad days, but that constant pressure is in the past. Although it was hell when I went through it, I learned some really good coping mechanisms and learned how not to feel guilty about caring for myself.

    It will get better, I promise you. You’ll get stronger, too. And I agree with you, that planning birthday parties are the WORST. My oldest son’s 16th is this Fri. Hugs.

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    • Thank you SO much for the thoughtful reply. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to hear that someone has gone through the same thing and has survived. I can tell it’s getting easier — just have to remind myself of that on stressful days.

      I loved what I read of your blog and look forward to reading more. We have a LOT in common. 🙂

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  7. It’s hard not to feel anxiety when you are overwhelmed. It’s a routine part of being ADHD as well unfortunately. Anxiety is just part of who we are. I wish I could offer some words of wisdom that would help you get through it, but unfortunately I’ve got none.

    However, like I said in another comment, at least you’re not alone in that one.

    And, since you are apparently from the correct part of Georgia (seeing as how you mentioned both the beach and Savannah, I’m going to assume you’re in Georgia), things can’t be all bad. The southern half of Georgia IS the best 😉

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