I had a rough week with little time to myself so, first of all, forgive me for the lag in blogging, but it couldn’t be helped. If you read my last blog you know that I drove to my parents’ house in North Carolina to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday and to spend time with my family. Sounds good in theory.
I live a quiet life. Usually you can find me at home with my two big, black dogs and maybe my boyfriend (if he is home from work). Every other weekend his kids come to stay with us and those weekends are a little louder. But for the most part it is me and my dogs and my boyfriend and my music and my writing. I still hang out with friends and still talk on the phone, but as I mentioned – it is a quiet life.
So when I went to my parents’ and was inundated with a loud grandmother who never stops talking, three additional small dogs, my parents and, when we celebrated her birthday with presents and cupcakes, my brother and sister-in-law, a loud television and no room of my own – HELLO, ANXIETY.
It was important for me to take my meds as many of them are prescribed with the specific purpose of quelling my anxiety. I hate to tell you, but they weren’t enough. I am sure they must have helped, but not enough. I am trying to get in to see my psychiatrist before December 3rd (my next appt with him) to do some med changes.
I wanted to give you some examples of things I tried and did to get me through the times I was really amped up.
Scene 1: I am sitting on the couch with my grandma, the television is on, my mom and dad are in the living room with us and one of my grandma’s dogs is playing with my mom’s Yorkie in between us on the couch. Every once in a while the Yorkie throws herself in my face to kiss me. I sit here for a while until suddenly I stand up and announce, “That’s it. I need a break.” Now, remember the guest room is being occupied by my grandma and I am sleeping on the couch, the same couch I just got up from. I went to the unheated laundry room with my phone, sat down on the cold tile, pulled the pocket door closed and took some deep breaths. I am all for deep breathing. Nothing helps me more. I perused Facebook and tried to busy my mind away from the feeling of anxiety. After about 20 minutes my Dad came to check on me and told me I could go in my parents’ bedroom instead of sitting on the floor. I took him up on his offer. I tried calling my best friend and my sister – again, with hopes of distraction but no answer. Soon my mom came in and asked if I was mad at them and I explained that I was simply overwhelmed. This whole “break” was probably no more than 45 minutes but it was what I needed. After it, I was able to rejoin my family for dinner without wanting to crawl out of my skin.
Scene 2: My mom belongs to a quilting guild (she is quite a talented quilter, by the way) with my sister-in-law, and my grandma and I went along to the meeting with them. Usually the monthly meetings are held in a church fellowship hall but due to certain circumstances this particular meeting was held at a room in a library which was too small for the large number of attendees – some people had to stand for the meeting because there weren’t enough chairs. I KNEW this was going to be a hard one for me. So many people. So little space. When it was time for a break in the meeting, I went outside the library doors and stood in the cold and just breathed. I closed my eyes and practiced a little visualization – imagining my favorite coffee shop on the lake in Austin. I didn’t care if anyone saw me. It was what I needed to do. It was survival.
Scene 3: Same living room scene but this time I went out on the back porch and called my boyfriend. Just the sound of his voice relaxes me. We talked for a while and I was away from all the noise and it helped.
I don’t have the cure for anxiety. I wish I did. But I have tools that I can use when I am in a situation when I am overwhelmed. You do too. Don’t be afraid to “take a break.” Remember to breathe. Roll your shoulders. Take a walk. Go outside. Call a friend. Listen to your favorite music. Do what you need to do to stop anxiety from resulting in a panic attack. ‘Cause those are no fun at all.
I love my mom and dad, but my grandma is a bit much sometimes. I am glad to be home, sitting here in the quiet typing this as Sammy, a Doberman mix, sleeps behind me.
Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach at FreeDigitalPhotos.net