deep fears, selfish fears

One thing that has been good so far about our new life is that I haven’t been experiencing very much anxiety.  This is a bit of a surprise, but I’m obviously very happy about it.  I’ve been sleeping fine, and I honestly don’t think I’ve taken any kind of sleep aid since we left our old house.

I’m not totally sure why I’ve been doing better.  I think a combination of sleep, warmer climate, and more opportunities for higher adreneline levels are part of the reasons that I’ve been having less anxiety.  Perhaps there are other factors, too.  I don’t have this anxiety thing down to a science yet, so I don’t know.  But I’m very grateful.

However, there are still certain triggers that will prompt some level of anxiety in me.  Today, some of those triggers worked together to give me a noticeable, albeit still small, anxiety attack.  My attacks aren’t usually noticeable to other people, but they’re noticeable to me in three ways:

  1. My heart rate increases to some degree and my breathing gets shallower
  2. I lose my appetite and my stomach feels upset
  3. My thoughts take a turn towards “doom and gloom”

The last one is, in some ways, the most interesting for me to reflect on once the attack is subsiding or over.  When I’m feeling anxious, fears come racing to the forefront of my mind.  I literally cannot stop them, any more than a thirsty person can stop feeling thirsty or a cold person can stop feeling cold.

(I realized tonight that I’ve been dealing off and on with anxiety for five years now.  Five years!  Thankfully it’s gotten so much better over time.  But still – five years!)

Over time, I’ve come to realize that those fears that come racing, unbidden, into my mind when I feel anxious reflect the deepest fears I hold within myself.  What are those fears?  I fear being out of my comfort zone (ie. my house).  I fear starting large projects and not being able to finish them, and I fear the amount of work associated with large projects.  I fear for my health; whenever I have an attack, I fear that it will never stop.  I fear the chaos that another baby would bring to my life, even though I know, I know that I would adapt quickly and that I would utterly love my new baby.

I’m still not pregnant.  But I’ve decided to try something to help me get pregnant.  I’m working with a doctor.  I’m nervous about it.  But I’ve decided to give it a try, despite my nerves.  I am very nervous about this.

Last night I was looking through photos on computer, seraching for a certain picture.  My searching took me to pictures from when Jujubee was a infant.  I saw my fat, lovable baby girl.  I saw Lyd adoring her little sister.  I saw Lyd wearing clothes that, four years later, Jujubee is now wearing.  (Sigh.)  I saw a few pictures of me and my new baby.  I’m rarely looking at the camera in those pictures; I’m almost always gazing adoringly at my baby.

When my fears have the opportunity to bubble up to the surface like they did today, it’s interesting to see how self-centered my fears are.  It’s really true; at the deepest part of myself, I am nothing but sin and selfishness.  It’s all about me, and how everything relates to me.  Thank God for my faith in Jesus, and I mean that literally.  I know that when I look to myself, I see nothing but a mess, but when I look to Christ, I see only his perfect life and innocent death on my behalf.  That’s what being a Christian is, that’s what being a Lutheran is.  Salvation does not come from anything I do; it’s completely based on what God has done for me.  That’s a relief.

I don’t know how to elegantly end this post tonight.  It just is what it is.  I have fears; most of the time I am stronger than them, but sometimes they get the better of me for a little while.  I know I am sinful.  I am incredibly thankful for my Savior.  If it is his will, he will send me another baby, and he will send it at just the right time.

My anxiety attack isn’t quite gone, but it’s definitely on its way out.  God is good.  He always sees me through.  He’ll see me through all of my fears, too, and he’ll see me safely to heaven.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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still walking to save my sanity

Back in March, I wrote this blog post, titled: Walking to Save My Sanity.  I talked about how important daily exercise was for me to keep my anxiety at bay.

As I’m settling into life at our new house, and as the school routine begins again next week, those walks are becoming important again, perhaps even more important than before.  Because I can tell my anxiety is trying to come back.  My default reaction to life’s stressors is, and probably always will be, anxiety.  When I am in high adrenaline times (ie. the move itself, WELStock, individual activities that get me out into public and out of the house), I’m usually okay.  The adrenaline and/or excitement carries me through.  But once the adrenaline wears off and the excitement fades away, then I have to take care of myself or the anxiety comes back.

At some point in the weeks before our move, and definitely in the weeks that followed, including during our time in Wisconsin, I decided to stop taking all of my supplements.  Initially, I was simply forgetting to take them, as my normal routine was so thrown off with the move.  And then I got sick not long after the move, so I didn’t take them while I was on antibiotics.  But, after that, I realized I had been off of everything (except my vitamins, but I wasn’t even taking those as regularly as before) for a while,  yet I was sleeping better than ever and my anxiety was pretty low.  So, I decided to stay off of them and see what happened.

I took my supplements along with me to Wisconsin, but I only used them once or twice.  I was really okay.  But now we’re back in our new home, the adreneline rush and excitement of the summer are pretty much over, and I’m having to fight the anxiety.

Re-reading the post I linked to at the beginning of this post reminded me that anxiety is my default.  That’s just how the Lord has seen fit to have me be.  Most people don’t see it, because when I’m around people, my adreneline rises, and then I’m fine.  (So perhaps I need to be around people most of the time! :))  But it’s hard when I’m on my own at home.

And I’m going to be on my own a lot this fall.  Lyd AND Jujubee are going off to school; Lyd is in second grade, and Jujubee is going to start morning 4 year old Kindergarten.  It breaks my heart that I’ll have no child at home; I’m not ready for that yet.  Technically, I could keep Jujubee home another year, but she is so ridiculously ready for Kindergarten that I can’t justify doing that.  So, I’m going to be home alone all morning with just boxes to empty and stuff to organize.

This, my dear readers, is a recipe for disaster unless I take precautionary measures.

A morning walk is going to become an absolute necessity.  Especially if I want to try to stay off my supplements and herbs.

(Why bother trying to stay off supplements and herbs, you ask?  Well, because I really would like to do it all on my own.  I’d like to try to get my body in balance the old-fashioned way: good food, exercise, enough sleep, and just a multi-vitamin.  But the other, equally valid reason is that there is likely no longer the money to do the supplements and herbs that I did do.  I want to try it on my own, and there’s no better time than now to do it.)

So, sleep, exercise, and three square meals a day with three nice snacks thrown in.  That’s what I’m going to need to do to see what happens.  If it doesn’t work, then we’ll figure something out so that I can feel okay.  But I hope, I truly hope and pray, that this works.

walking to save my sanity

Please don’t think that I’m criticizing people who choose medications to deal with their anxiety and/or depression or other issues.  I’m not.  I do, however, feel that those drugs are prescribed too quickly.  We’re a society that loves to take a pill to solve our problems, and while modern medicine can do amazing things (it has kept my younger daughter alive more than once), it has drawbacks, too.  This is my story; yours may be different, and that’s okay.

——————-

When I was trying to get pregnant with my second child, I experienced a lot of anxiety.  After a miscarriage, I experienced depression, too.  (Probably some form of post-partum depression.  Did you know you can get PPD after a miscarriage?  You can.)

I was also recovering from over a year of perpetual foot problems at that time, problems that had culminated in my having foot surgery.  When I had the miscarriage and resulting anxiety and depression, I was post-surgery, but I still had to check in with my podiatrist on a regular basis.

I liked this doctor’s liberal/crunchy-yet-practical-down-to-earth personality a lot, and I felt very comfortable with him.  So, I shared with him the emotional turmoil in my life.  In response, he told me that he had been part of studies at UC Berkeley that were studing something with brains and SSRI-inhibiting medications (whatever the kinds that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds are), and he told me to be extremely cautious before starting those kinds of drugs.  He said that the longer a person uses those kind of drugs, the more the person’s brain changes to become dependent on them.  He said, “Use those drugs for a short while and as a last resort, only if necessary, but there’s a lot of other stuff you can try first.”

Then he said that a brisk walk for 45 minutes or so will gradually – and naturally – increase a person’s serotonin levels (or whatever chemical it is that is low when you’re depressed and/or anxious).  He said that most anti-depression and anti-anxiety meds take at least a month or so to make the proper chemical changes in your brain, but that over the same length of time, you can often cause those same chemical changes in your brain by adding mild exercise to your life.  Plus, the benefit of exercise is that your body makes the good chemicals in exactly the correct amounts and in exactly the right form, and you end up feeling physically better from the exercise.

So, I decided to give it a try.  Around our home are lots of nice quiet streets for walking, and there are varying degrees of hills.  I could choose the streets with more or less hill, and I pushed 3 year-old Lyd in her stroller to help work my body a little more.

Did I love it?  Oh, no!  I hated it.  There were many mornings I did NOT want to go outside.  Too cold, too damp, too tired, too unmotivated.  Or too sad.  Some mornings I didn’t go.  But there were still lots of mornings when I did.  As I pushed Lyd up a hill, sweating and panting and hating every moment, I would repeat to myself, “It’s this or Zoloft.  It’s this or Zoloft.”

And, over time, I did feel better.  The doctor was right.  And, blessedly, I never had to go on medication.

———————-

I’ve come to realize that anxiety problems will always be part of my life.  When I’m overtired, I get anxious.  When my blood sugar gets too low, I get anxious.  When big stressors come my way, I get anxious.  Some people over-eat in those situations, other people get an upset stomach or an ulcer or a headache or some other less-than-ideal response.  My default is to be anxious.  For me, it’s a physical response, not an emotional response.  (And not a spiritual response.  My Lutheran husband reminds me that my faith is not based on how I feel.)

Knowing those facts about my anxiety has been a huge comfort for me.  It’s still scary to feel anxious and to have my heart racing, but now I know, I KNOW that I’m going to be okay.  I know from experience.  I also have lots of little mental tricks and, if necessary, supplements that can help me.  Best of all, I have a husband who also knows that my default is to be anxious, so he doesn’t freak out about it, which helps me to not freak out about it either.  It’s easier now to view my anxiety in the same light as one would a headache or a backache: it’s a nuisance, and you need to change things up a little bit when it acts up, but it’s not a huge deal.

The stress of an upcoming move – and all that goes with it – and the situation in Japan (Must. Not. Read. or Watch. the News) has racheted up my anxiety recently.  I also know that my anxiety is not likely to completely go away anytime soon.  In all likelihood, it probably won’t calm down completely until we’re settled into our new home.

So, despite everything I have to do right now, I’ve started walking again.  Walking used to be a regular part of my life when I had a walking partner, but now that I’m on my own, it’s more of an effort for me to go.  However, I have to do it.  It’s this or else I’ll slip down into a big pit of anxiety.  I don’t want to do that to me or my family.

So, I’m walking.

I’m grateful to have a cheap method that works.  I hope I can continue it as long as necessary to see this anxiety through.

(And we’re looking for our new house to be within walking distance of our new church!  A built-in walk every day would be a blessing.)

trying not to worry

This Call of my husband’s has shaken me up a bit.  A lot.

I thought that having an answer to whether or not he would get a Call would solve my wonderings about the future.  What has happened is that it’s opened up a whole new bunch of questions.

And in the background of all of these questions is the question I’ve been wondering about for over a year now: Will I get pregnant again?  If so, when?  I was doing SO good at relaxing this past few weeks, and then this Call arrived and threw everything off-kilter.  Now I’m back to big-time over-thinking, and I know that’s not good for getting pregnant.

I had a big anxiety attack the other night.  Perhaps it was just the stress of the Call making its presence known, or perhaps it was something else.  I don’t know.  But I don’t like to see this recurrence of anxiety attacks.

Thankfully, God knew what I needed to hear in church yesterday morning.  The service was centered around the theme of “Don’t worry.”  As it has been for the past weeks, The Gospel reading was from the Sermon on the Mount.  (As a side note, my pastor-hubby uses the three-year lectionary suggestions for his Bible readings in the worship service.  The lectionary is a schedule of readings that most congregations use, meaning the topic of what a pastor will preach on is not subject to the pastor’s whims.  What are the chances that this particular reading would show up in this week’s lectionary readings!)  This week’s reading was where Jesus says, “Consider how the birds…” and “Consider how the lillies…”  The hymns, the Psalm (Psalm 37), and pretty much everything else in the service reminded me that God’s got it all under control, and I don’t need to worry about it.  The guest preaching pastor said it this way, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes.  By the time tomorrow comes, it’s today.”

It’s especially comforting to think that God knew all of his children before time began, and knew that he would save them before time began, has my whole life planned out to work for my good.  But I’m not a pre-programmed robot or anything, which is the amazing part.  The fact that God knows what I’m going to do doesn’t cause me to do it.  It’s quite comforting that God’s already got it all worked out for my good.  It helps me to look at new and/or confusing events in my life as an adventure.

I still with I knew if I would have another baby.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to become pregnant.  It seems that just about every woman my age that I know right now either is pregnant or has a newborn (or has purposely decided not to have anymore kids).  It’s ridiculous.  I don’t know why God keeps passing me by.  I love babies, I love children, I’ve always dreamed of having a larger family, and I think I’m a pretty good mother.  Jujubee is almost three and a half, and it seriously breaks my heart to think of never having another baby.  Because Jujubee is definitely not a baby anymore!

But, I’m going to do my best not to worry about it.  If a baby is meant to arrive, s/he will arrive at just the right time, and God already knows when that right time will be.  Sigh.  It’s not easy to give that dream completely over to God, that’s for sure.

At least I have a lot of other things to occupy my mind these days!

okay on my own

I used to dread the times when my husband would be gone on trips, and I would struggle with an increased level of anxiety while he was gone.  It was not easy for me to play “single mom.”

Now things are different.  Maybe I’m just more experienced at playing “single mom,” maybe my kids are older so it’s less of an ordeal when he’s gone, maybe it’s that I’ve finally (woo-hoo!) got my anxiety issues under control, or maybe it’s that I realize the other kinds of funs that can only be had while he’s gone — but I don’t dread his trips anymore.  I’m always glad when he comes home, but I’m fine when he’s gone, too.

One of my favorite things to do when he’s gone is to have a “girls’ night.”  My daughters and I have done that in the past, although we didn’t get time to do that last night.  The other favorite thing to do is to have another woman over and have lots of girly conversations.  That we did do last night, and it was a lot of fun for all of us.  🙂

And, on a personal note, I was very proud of myself for not staying up extra late to watch a movie.  Instead, I actually went to bed a bit early and got a wonderful night’s sleep.  Yay me!

It’s no longer a problem when JJ is gone, but it’s always nice to have him back home and have our family together again.  🙂

don’t judge one’s Christianity by one’s emotional disorder

Recently, an acquaintence of mine died from complications related to anorexia.  She was 26 and a lifelong Christian.

Her sister is a friend of mine on Facebook, and when she shared the news of her sister’s death, she phrased it like this: “After a courageous battle with an eating disorder, _____ is now safe at home in heaven with Jesus.”

My first initial reaction to reading that was … doubt.  Um, if your sister was a Christian, then how could she have had an eating disorder?  Since when do Christians get eating disorders?  Why did she have a body image problem?  Didn’t she trust God enough?

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