Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dealing with Anxiety

I haven't been very good about blogging lately.  I was actually thinking this morning about quitting.  Then I thought maybe I should start a new blog called, "letters to my special needs child" or "letters to my children" or something.  But really, I write this to commemorate our journey, and I not only want to share our journey with others, I want to remember where we've been, because it's important to look back.  So, maybe I should be better about writing (between waking up every few hours all night, changing the diapers of two children, nursing, preschool drop-off and pick-up, making dinner, and working), because someday I'm going to forget the good times, the struggles, and the victories, and it'll be nice to go back and read them.

I've been struggling a lot with anxiety about the future (maybe that's why it's been hard to write).  As you can imagine, thinking about Sadie's future can be a little stressful.  And I'm an over-planner, so it's hard for me to imagine how I'm going to take care of Sadie when I'm not sure what her needs will be tomorrow, let alone 5, 10, or 20 years from now.  But what I didn't realize until I had Ezra, is that I'm just as anxious about his future.  I am just as equally uncertain about Ezra's future needs as I am about Sadie's.  The only difference is that lots of people have raised typical, healthy children before and I have lots of people to ask for help.

Some people eat when they're worried or anxious, some people don't eat at all.  When I'm anxious, I bite the inside of my cheeks and lip and tongue the retainer behind my front bottom teeth.  It's very uncomfortable, but it makes me physically aware of my anxiety, which can be helpful in trying to let it go.

So, how does one let it go when they're worried about the future?  Well, isn't that the million dollar question among special needs moms (side note: why is it that dads don't seem to worry as much about things?)  I thought I'd compile a list of a few things I do when I'm feeling anxious that help me feel better, even if only temporarily...

1. Call my mom.  I know not everyone has a good relationship with their mom, so call someone older and wiser than you, someone you respect and love, someone who can tell you you're doing a good job as a parent.  My mom doesn't always know the right thing to say, but she listens to my worries, and she tells me I'm doing a good job, and sometimes that is all I need to hear.  Because I think, if I'm doing a good job now, I'm going to stop doing a good job, and everything is okay, so it'll probably be okay in the future too.

2. Write.  Sometimes it's public blog writing, sometimes it's a private prayer journal, but somehow getting it out on paper makes me feel better.  When I blog, I am often seeking empathy from friends and family and the special needs community.  Sometimes I am just seeking accountability by making my feeling public.  And sometimes, how I'm feeling needs to just be between God and me.  I also think there's some value in writing down these fears and worries so that you never forget where you've been and what you've accomplished.

3. Exercise.  Do something active.  When you're body is working hard, your mind has a chance to clear.  I know that if I go for a walk or a run when I'm working out a problem in my head, I often come home with a solution.  It may be more about the fresh air than the actual exercise, but working through something physically can be very rewarding and lift my spirits, and clear my mind.

4. Get outside.  Like I mentioned previously, fresh air can really clear one's head.  When I lived in Oregon, it wasn't out of the question to drive to the coast and sit on the beach and just stare at the ocean.  There is something amazing and overwhelming (in a good way) about the ocean.  But you don't have to be near the ocean to get this.  Some of my favorite things to experience outside are sparkly afternoon water, the smell of freshly mowed grass, and the sound of a fresh breeze rustling through the trees.  I've also found that watching ants can be very calming, somehow their OCD-like behavior reminds me that if I just keep working on something one day at a time, before I know it, my big problem won't seem so big anymore.

5. Do a craft.  Sometimes I have my best ideas or remember some of my favorite memories when I'm sitting at my sewing machine, or painting a bedroom.  And if you're not crafty, get on Pinterest and lose yourself in the possibility of all the things you could do!!  It's a great way to escape reality for a while.  And if you are crafty, just think, you'll have created something!

Over the next few weeks we have a swallow test scheduled and a visit to the GI doctor, two things I dread.  I have been losing sleep thinking about how to plan for both of these so that I don't look like a fool, and so that I can best represent my child and her abilities.  I guess I need to spend some time doing some of the things on my list.  And I will try my best to give updates after each of these experiences.

Until then, I'd be happy for you to write in the comments what you do to help with worry and anxiety over your child's future, and let's all work together to keep the stress down!!

1 comment:

  1. This is great - super practical and something I needed to read today. We are headed to Seattle this week for a 24 hour EEG for one of our boys that doesn't have epilepsy and an appointment for the one who does...I've been losing a lot of sleep over it - hoping we get some answers. I'm a researcher though and it has given me too many potential diagnosis' floating around in my brain. Hayden's mom dying was actually a weird distraction from the whole thing. But, now we are right on it and I am dreading starting this process with another child. I am going to bookmark this one - because these are all things that were therapeutic when Hewitt was doing really bad and things that could be therapeutic now if I was being proactive in not worrying! Thanks Christie! Our family prays for you guys almost every day - good to have a specific to pray for. (the swallow test)