After a nice long weekend, I was feeling pretty good about heading back to ‘save my life school’. However, generally speaking I would have rather gargled hornets today.
After I found a seat, I asked my neighbour if the daily topics had changed this week. “No”, she replies, “It’s Tuesday. It’s anxiety day today.” Gasp! I hate Tuesdays now. Torturous Tuesdays…that’s what I will call them. Where did I put my doodle paper? Enter stage left, the teacher, “Here is your seven page, double sided handout everyone…” Ok, I’m aware that ‘exposure therapy’ is a method of treating anxiety, but this repeat of last week is ridiculous. “…AND we are going to skip ‘addiction class’ today and use it’s time to cover more of the anxiety module.” I’m on candid camera…I have to be. Seeing as I have promised to stay through every class unless the sky falls on me (and even then I would probably muscle my way through it), I resolve to the fact that it’s going to be a long anxious morning. Damn you irony…deep breath…big stretch…and I’m ready…no I’m not. Where the heck is my doodle paper?
The title of the module is, ‘The Causes of Anxiety Disorders’. It starts off by saying that anxiety disorders are brought about by a variety of causes operating on numerous levels. Pretty vague. I don’t like vague. Some of these levels include (deep breath), heredity, conditioning, family background, biology, upbringing, recent stressors, your ability to express feelings, your self-talk and personal belief system, and so on. And so on? No, that wasn’t a long enough of a list, we should definitely add an ‘and so on’. That will clarify things.
After what feels like several hours later, we start reading about how our family background, and certain types of upbringing can precipitate our likelihood of developing anxiety. As she continues to read, I hear a lot of the word ‘overly’; parents can be OVERLY cautious and OVERLY critical. I put up my hand… “What exactly is OVERLY?” Generally speaking I grasp the theory the module is trying to teach me, but while everyone else moves along with their heads buried in pages filled with highlighted sentences, I just feel frustrated. How do I know if I parent OVERLY? How do I know when to encourage vs accept? Am I OVERLY encouraging? Am I OVERLY accepting? How do I know when to be cautious vs critical? Am I OVERLY cautious? Am I OVERLY critical? …and so on 😉 I hate not having answers when I’m learning something new. Up goes my hand again…the teacher calls my name without even looking this time. “Yes, Natalie.” I put forth my suggestion that maybe we should just make this handout our kid’s first book. Then AS they grow up they can point out what their parents are screwing up and save them a whole lot of anxiety… that would be helpful. Insert sarcastic giggle by only myself. To me, the handout’s lists, maybes, and different theories, make it sound like every kid is just OVERLY destined to end up in this class!
“Natalie, I can tell you don’t like the grey areas.” Well I guess that’s true. The grey areas of life suck and frustrate me, and every component of my mental illness seems grey; how I explain it, how I feel it, how I deal with it… and now how I educate myself on it…ALL grey.” At this point my anxiety is just making me irritable. The teacher doesn’t deserve my attitude; I bite my tongue.
Sadly, I don’t learn a life altering piece of advice about anxiety at the end of the day. After listening to a whole lot of causes that have no evidence, and theories that will most likely change tomorrow, I’m just reminded that with mental illness, I need to continue to accept the grey. Good thing we skipped ‘addiction class’, because I sure could use a glass of wine.
October 15, 2014 at 1:53 PM
I love your Blog. I use to work with Maria she forwarded your site. I use to work with her at the Banner. I then overworked myself and took sick with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatique. My son is in Grade 12 and I think he would make an awesome Paramedic. He just needs to see the job….
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October 19, 2014 at 1:50 AM
Hi Jody 🙂 Thank you for your message. I’m happy you are enjoying the blog. I will be talking more about the world of paramedicine eventually…it has good and bad days like any job. Overall I love it.
October 17, 2014 at 12:54 AM
I just discovered your blog the other day, now I can’t wait to read about your journey. Even though we have never met, I am cheering you on!
I find it interesting that on this day you were supposed to be learning about the causes of YOUR anxiety, yet the illness changes your thinking to how you are causing anxiety for someone else. Which then makes you more anxious… and critical of yourself. Thoughts?
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October 17, 2014 at 1:23 AM
Hi Michelle 🙂 I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying my blog! To answer your question, yes anxiety is like a vicious circle. It takes A LOT of focus on correcting it in the moment which is sometimes easier said than done. I’m learning with most of my illnesses, I need to stop that cycle… The tools I’m learning in class are helping me do that. I hope you keep reading. Take care.
October 27, 2014 at 8:25 PM
After Ian mentioned your blog in class I wasn’t sure wether I felt right reading it or not. I don’t want to invade your privacy or overstep teacher/student relations, but I’m glad I did.
This particular blog hit very close to home with me. I am a new mother who has suffered from free floating anxiety for many years. It runs in my family, my mother has suffered with it and has unknowingly made my sister and I unwillingly and unnecessarily fearful of many things. It wasn’t her fault, she came from a time where there was no name for these things, people would just call her a worry wart and uptight. She never understood there was a name for what she felt.
You would never know it to spend time with me, but my anxiety is something I have worked very hard to tame. It’s been bad since I’ve started back and school and has made me actually physically ill. The biggest fear I have is not for myself, but for my daughter. I want to avoid passing this on to her. I never want her to be afraid to act or be held back from doing things because they make her anxious.
I’m with you, I want to know the overlys so I don’t do them. I want this to stop here. I want my daughter to be free from the limits we set on ourselves.
So thanks again for this and know that everyone in class is routing for you to get better soon. I am hoping to get to do some ride outs with you next year.
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October 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM
Hi Ashley, Thank you for your comment. You are all more than welcome to follow my blog. I was able to share with all of you what PTSD was prior to me being away, but the blog will shine light on many other mental health illnesses as you can see. I’m proud of you for opening up about your anxiety. Please let your doctor know about what you’ve been going through as well (if you haven’t already). It’s a terrible illness to have to cope with everyday, but the good news is it’s very treatable. You are all more than welcome to follow my blog and I hope you are doing great! You are a great mom for taking action to educate yourself on how to get better so that your daughter has a happy and healthy mom all of the time. The first step is opening up, and you’ve done that now. Keep me posted on your journey and I wish you all the best!