Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Cure for Anxiety

Do not watch Oprah on days when she features MRSA.......a deadly bacteria that grows rapidly in your body and kills you within days. It kills over 19,000 people a year. It's a form of strep and it's rampant in sports gyms, hospitals, bathrooms........spread from person to person.

19,000 a year?

And we're worried about Swine Flu? That's only a flu bug? And victims are still in the low 100's?

This is the stuff anxiety is born from.......and so I thought I would tell you about my journey on the Anxiety Road, 1986 through 1994.

I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks after my first baby until well after my 3rd child. I finally got a handle on it in my mid 30's but not without a lot of prayer, a change in some habits and a small dose of antidepressants from a very wise female doctor who completely understood. My anxiety was always directly tied to my cycle but it didn't happen every month and I certainly had "triggers."

My triggers were watching shows that featured rare illnesses.......I would immediately take on the symptoms and wonder who the hell was going to finish raising my children. The thought of Chuck dressing them would send me into a complete panic attack.

Okay...I'm teasing a little here.......but NOT much. Hi, my name is Mizjuney and I'm a Type A Control Freak.

The thing about anxiety is you aren't aware that you aren't really breathing right. Then your hands become numb and tingly.....and if you are me, you are sure you are having the first signs of MS. And before long, you have yourself in a wheel chair begging Chuck to divorce you and get remarried to someone healthy. I know... a little crazy but honest. It's so real when it's happening......then a few days would go by, Aunt Mary (code for you know what) would come to visit and I would be fine. For awhile.

I worried so much about dying or my kids dying that I did not really enjoy my life or their life, for that matter. I could rarely take them to a park, without a video playing in my head of them falling and their head cracking open. I was a little bit like Kate Gosslyn.......if you ask my kids....exactly like her. Really? I was a controlling, germ freak bia? For the record, I was not a germ-freak.....but I did want everything in its place or I could not sit down and relax. And I would hurry through all happy moments so those things could get back in their place.

Both of my daughters have their own anxieties.....and I beg them to keep up with their cycles and at least let that be a guide of sorts as to when they may be worse. But you also have to figure out your triggers and remove them if you can.

For me, it was watching the news, reading the news, watching medical shows. I just could not hear the stuff like a normal person could. Interestingly enough, my favorite show at the time was Trauma in the E.R......I was so addicted to watching those car wreck victims being brought in to the E.R.....had to give it up. Gave up newspapers and Oprah. That was the early 90's when Oprah always had the saddest shows on. Way before she got into feeding her spirit with happy shows.
I also read a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. This is a book of chapters.....each chapter about a different type of "worry." This was a real turning point for me. I've even bought this book for a few anxiety ridden friends in the past.

One particular chapter was about facing your fears head-on. Just go ahead and accept the worst that could happen and deal with it. For me it was dying/leaving my small children. When I really faced that head on........I knew that they would be loved and taken care of and they ultimately belonged to God. Their clothes might not match, and surely Chuck's new wife could never love them like I did, but my mother would be there to tell them how much I had loved them and my sister, Catha, would see to it that they were smothered in gifts on their birthdays. Okay....I started calming down some.

When I faced the fear of something happening to my children, I realized that I had to start enjoying them. In the moment. In the 24 hour period. Because, if the worst happened.....if something did happen to them..........I would have never forgiven myself for not enjoying them. I was spending more time preparing for something awful to happen than I was living with them. I am not suggesting for one second that I would handle this worst thing actually happening well but I was spending ALOT of my time thinking about it. So unhealthy. And not near enough laughter. I'm all about laughter now.

Believe it or not, I actually started enjoying doing the dishes......because if you stay in that moment at the sink, it's not so bad. There is a Buddhist saying that goes something like,

Washing dishes, while washing dishes.
Change this to work for whatever....Doing car duty, while doing car duty.

I work with some young teachers now that are also moms of young kids. I see the anxiety creeping up in them. I see their sleep-deprived, teary eyed moments when they are feeling so overwhelmed, so tired, just trying to get through the day, the week, to get to the weekend for that longed for nap. We read blogs (I got them hooked....ha!) and there are some sad, sad stories out there. We are praying for very ill babies that we don't even know! I have told them they need to stop reading them everyday. I've been there. It's addicting but before you know it........it will send you into a deep anxiety ridden depression.
Recipe for anxiety/depression: Take one ovulating, sleep-deprived, control freak mom of children under 5, then have them watch, read or tell them every horrible thing that could possibly happen to them or their child. Repeat this several times until they start to worry and take on all the symptoms. When their hands are numb, they are almost done. Continue to stress them out until they are in full blown anxiety and depression.

I am going to end this post with a visual........from the book that I highly recommend to anyone suffering from anxiety...

Each day is a 24 hour period and you know we are told to stay in this day. This has helped me to accomplish that.
You are in a space between 2 brick walls. One wall is midnight from the day before. The other brick wall is the midnight at the end of this day. You are in this space. Stay in this space. You cannot go back over last night's wall..........and you can not get over this midnight's wall.

Stay in this day.

And remember, this is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.

And never underestimate the power of prayer and an antidepressant. I've been there.

And never one to let go........one more thing from the book that stays with me that I want to share. There is a chapter about thanks and appreciation. While that was not an obvious problem for me, the chapter certainly spoke to me and stayed with me. And I even had to use that tool last week when I was feeling just a little under appreciated.

The gist of the chapter is about doing for others and not being thanked. Feeling under appreciated. Whoa. You mean like changing diapers and fixing bottles and doing laundry and cleaning up 5 people's worth of stuff on an hourly basis? While either not getting paid or getting paid very little? And then you turn around and the mess is back, the diaper is dirty and it's time for another bottle?

Dale Carnegie drives his point home like this; Do things because you want to. Because another cannot do it for himself. But never do it for a "thank you."

Jesus did what he did out of love and never turned around and waited for a "thank you." (Dale's words.)

Takes doing the laundry to a whole 'nother level.......wouldn't you say?

Let me go do some laundry for Chuck. For him.

This post has been brought to you by me for you and your mental health. No thanks needed.


  1. Dale Carnegie Rocks!

    My favorite of all though
    "Today is the day the Lord has made, I shall rejoice and be glad in it" I say it every morning before my feet hit the floor.

    As far as the "cycle" stuff goes..ah there's soemthing to be said for menopause.

    Worry about nothing, pray about everything! Works everytime!

    You're the best, I will look forward to more of your rainy day blogs!

  2. Sent your last post to my daughter..she must be related to you at some point..mystically maybe. She however is a germophobe (how do you spell that?). Serious post and thank you for sharing it. However, I also hadn't read your last 5 other posts. You are just nuts and so funny and I am so glad you are living between those two bricks walls where you are enjoying NOW! I just love reading your point of view even about our torrential rains the last couple of day. Glad you are back with those darlings today!! Love those goats!!!HA,HA, HA......

  3. Okay, if you'll read 90 Minutes In Heaven, I'll read this. Truth is you sold me and I'm going to read your book next anyway. Wonderfully inspiring post!!!! I know of what you speak; I think most mothers have the same worries to some degree, your's was getting in the way of really living; good for you taking care of it. Now you'll let your baby drive in the flooded streets of Houston so you can have the "new" sauce from Chic-fil-a, way to go. You gave me the same advise about reading newspapers, etc. at a time when I really needed to hear it and it helped me so much, bless and thank you. And you told me to stay in my own neighborhood and stop trying to take on the world and that was just exactly what I needed to hear as well. I do understand the "Coranary Country" (Seinfield reference) thing; I thought I had the swine flu Monday night and this afternoon. I just need to back off the heavy foods, indigestion makes me feel really crummy, nauseated, perspire, etc. So either Gavascon cures swine flu or it's just been bad indigestion. I watched Dr. Oz this week on Oprah too and it was not as bad as the one where she goes into the mother's house and they do a germ analysis-DON'T WATCH IT-it will turn anyone into Howard Hughes. You'd never sleep in a bed again or you'd be at Wal-Mart buying new pillows everyday-beware. She still has some other scary shows...your hubby will just break one day and take out the whole family (and we all know it's kind of a fad right now too). You have to check out the content before watching the show. As much as she's my guru I'm not afraid to turn the chanel when I know it's going to freak me out. Y'all let me know out there if you want to know where my other blog is...hee hee? GREAT POST, Jules. You are still more at risk for going to jail for homicide than getting the swine flu so take you pills and you'll be fine. You truly have done a nice public service here, bless and thank you, S

  4. Reading your blog in MN. I am an event planner at Bethel University and somehow got hooked onto your daughter's blog and then yours. So sorry if this is a bit odd! I have struggled with Anxiety and want to say AMEN to your post. I will have to pick up that book and have it in my back pocket as well. Have a great day!

  5. I am going backwards to see what I have been missing and your blog is now my favorite! I too have suffered from anxiety and depression for years. Ekart Tolle has also helped me to live in the moment. Many scriptures came clearer to me after reading his book. God says He wants us to live life abundantly. You humor and new way of thinking is what he had in mind I think. It's not about us anyway is it.

  6. Thank you for sharing this post with me. It is so refreshing to hear someones story that has lived to tell.

    For me, my worst was always....what if I go into the state of anxiety and I can never get my mind out of it. And I stay there forever.

    I have to not watch shows that show mental health problems, otherwise I'm sure I'll end up with them. =)

    And weird....I never had anxiety until after I had my first child. Huh.