Sunday, March 3, 2013

Coping with Threats

Disclaimer: You may, dear reader, read my thoughts on anxiety and think, this lady knows nothing of real life of real anxiety. All I know is, if something is hard, it is hard. Difficulties are custom to each of us, whether I have no children, or I'm dealing with death in the family, illness, money concerns or three babies at the same time. Trauma is trauma. If it is hard for you, than it is a trial, and that's okay.

So many times I have wanted God to take the anxiety problem away from me, maybe I could have taken a pill and made it all go away (I haven't ruled out this option, but it is back burner right now, as I've gotten this far) but as I look back He has made me strong instead of taking it away. And I see the progress I have made over time and I am glad for it. How often I have taken a quiet moment in my room praying for a miracle, that I can calm down, feel peace or patience. I never felt like the miracles came all at once. But instead I was just taught how to manage it. I have learned so much in the fight to stay calm, and just by using the word "fight" I have betrayed myself again!

Anxiety is just a word, maybe it's not even the right word for explaining myself but this is how it is for me. Anxiety is the multitudinous threatening thoughts that go through my head in the milliseconds after an event. An event could be anything- people talking over each other, babies crying, witnessing unkindnesses, something I can't control. When I feel threatened, my adrenaline starts to increase. The increase in adrenaline sends extra oxygen into my bloodstream. I suddenly have a kick of energy and I go into fight mode. I must be some kind of crazy warrior. Brain people call it the fight or flight instinct. I fight. Fight myself, try not to fight my kids and friends! Never fight my husband.

Quinn has the habit of finding crayons or markers and sneaking off to a quiet place to practice her artistry, unfortunately not on paper.  A week ago, I caught Quinn coloring and again,  I couldn't get the marker stains out so I had been on guard, watching out for any spare writing tools in her reach.

Within a few days, I caught her again. I also caught myself on the verge...
These are a few of the multitudinous thoughts that snaked and exaggerated their way through my head.

1. Great! Now we look like trashy people. Markers all over the couch. I'm never going to get that out and as soon as someone comes in here these scribbles are all they are going to see!
2. I don't want to look ghetto, maybe we could buy a new couch. How can I reallocate funds to buy a new couch? How much do they cost?
3. Mad. Who left this out? Who was so carelessly coloring that they let Quinn wander away with this?
4. Mad at myself. Why should I even care what other people think? We are raising a family under God the outcome is the goal not how it looks. I love my children more than I want to wreck them for coloring on the couch.
5. Mad at people that judge that was going to walk in my home a condemn me for having marker on the couch. Who does that anyway?
6. What else is going to get ruined?
7. This kid is going to be a felon. Am I ruining my kids? I must not be a good mom.

Those thoughts hit me all within milliseconds, so it wasn't just that Quinn colored where she wasn't supposed to, it was that my standard of living in society and my standing as a valuable daughter of God was challenged all in those few seconds. I had condemned my family and myself for one scribbly act. I'm really not doing myself any favors telling anyone about this, and I'm not sure I am explaining myself as a wish but I am learning how to manage my fears, I joke that there is a bubble of serenity around my head that I now know how to retreat into it when times get too loud. I am safe, I am at peace!

I spent the first few years of Hazel and Claire's life in guilt, berating myself for being in fight mode, running on adrenaline and not being good at controlling my instincts-- not knowing that I was letting anxiety control me, not even know what it was! (Never mind that motherhood is just really hard sometimes, let's add some more guilt and anger to it.) We had prayed for years to have children, and when Hazel finally came, I guess I thought I would have it all together and never lose my sweet temper. When I did, I thought maybe I hadn't prepared myself well enough and that I really was a terrible person. (People like me for some reason have enough guilt on their plate, would you like some?) It wasn't because Hazel was a tough baby but because I didn't understand what was going on inside my head. I had always had lots of exercise or had some some type of creative outlet before children. I didn't know at the time but exercise manages anxiety. I had this little newborn in front of me to care for, and Claire growing inside of me, it was new water and I didn't know how to paddle so well.

Once the adrenaline builds up, it takes hours to come down. Hours that I still need to manage my family and home in a loving way. Hours that if I feel threatened again, I may react unkindly and slip-up, then I would break my children or husbands trust and if I do that... oh sorry there it goes again, that circle of worrying myself into a blow-up. Here I am raising my little group of felons again! They sure are cute though.