ANXIETYS BITCH BLOG
I get back to school anxiety even though I have been out of school for a while now, ok a long ass time! Each year, as my children would start the first day of school, early in September, I would allow the beast to attack. I still do not sleep well the night before school begins and my anxiety makes me pace like a rabid dog. Oddly, my own children dealt with first day jitters like rock stars! Next week, tens of thousands of children will begin their path along the educational highway. Some of these eager minds will be the first child of their parents to start school while others will be the last little to take flight. Don't fool yourself and assume one is easier than the other. They are both hard and emotionally draining on both the parents and children.
I have volunteered enough in kindergarten classes and have chatted with enough teachers to come up with a list to hopefully help make that first day slightly easier.
1. It is likely that your young child will be a bit scared but too nervous to say it. Many children already have the fear of not fitting in with their peers at this age. There is also those who are too scared to say they are frightened in front of their older siblings. The best thing to do is invent a super secret signal with your child. It could be like pinching their little finger or squeezing their hand twice or three times ( which means I love you). My children would rub their cheek when they were nervous or scared or would pull on the collar of their shirt. Then I would mimic their actions to let them know I knew they were scared. This always kept them calm. It is a private special connection that will reassure your child as you let them go that it will be ok avoiding any embarrassment.
2. Try to give your child a drink in their lunch that they can open on their own Please don't send them with some crazy sugary fruit drink that they have to get the straw out, then punch the little bastard into the container themselves. Kids, especially in new environments, are already nervous and fidgety so squeezing that juice all over themselves is highly likely. No screwed on so tight that they need to be accidentally exposed to gamma rays during the detonation of an experimental bomb ( think the green guy, named HULK) to open the container. This also goes for the hard to rip open package of treats that you thought were an amazing idea for their first lunch at school. Ain't nobody got time for that.
3. Do not decide the first week of school is a great time to start your kids to like a new food. They will not eat it unless ten other kids are eating the same thing. I too, wanted my kids to eat healthily and I really wanted the school to think I was the best damn parent that they had ever encountered. I wanted them to put my name on a plaque. I gave my son granola and dried apricots. It sat sadly in his lunch bag for three days until I gave up and took it out. Give them something that they like and will eat, maybe not a bag of chips and a pop tart, but something reasonable. Kids will eat very little at first as this will be a very sociable time for some and a very stressful time for others. Either way, food only gets nibbled on. Have your child help make their lunch the night before to make sure they know what they need to eat and drink. This will help with the crazy hour in the morning too as everyone rushes to get ready for the day.
4. The week or so before school starts, try to practice eating out the lunchbox at home. Teach them that they need to put their own garbage away, which by school age they should be doing at home too. Practice with your child how to take out and put in, their lunch box inside their backpack. Many kids will bring home that bright rainbow coloured lunch box when you know Mary Lou went to school with a blue Roots one. Name on the lunch box will help identify each child for the teacher as well.
5. If your wee one has to use an inhaler, please make sure that the teacher and office are notified of this. Most schools require them to stay in the office to be administered by them if needed. Please talk to school before telling little Billy that he can freely go to his bag and puff!
6. Try and make eye contact with other newbie parents as your child is most likely going to become friends with at least one to two of these other poor tired parents kids! They are also going through the same process as you so why not give each other support.
7. Since you will not be there to do up every button and unzip that jacket for Ronnie Jr., teach your child how to do these actions on their own. Hanging up their bag and outside clothing will help the already stressed overworked teacher. Same goes for shoes. NO LACES. Please send those feet in velcro or snapped shoes. First, it is hard for the teacher to tie over forty shoes and zip up over twenty jackets. Recess will be over before he or she finishes. Secondly, if there is a fire drill, kids need to be able to get out that door fast. You will be thankful for these skills when you are waiting outside during a torrential downpour at home time, and your child comes out quickly. Be nice and try not to smirk at the poor father or daycare provider drowning in the rain.
8. Being able to use the washroom and to wipe themselves will benefit everyone by this age. Some teachers do a "mass", everyone line up to use the washroom even if you absolutely don't have to go Bobby, but most expect the child to tell them when the facility is required. Having a change of clothes from day one, as accidents to happen even with the kid that can hold like a camel. Training them to wash their hands will cut down on illness and grossness being spread.
9. As I said with their lunch boxes, label everything. Bags, shoes, coat, hat, etc. Lost and found in schools are always overflowing. The chances of your child losing an article of clothing are high so be prepared.
10. If your child has allergies, please make the school aware at the time of enrollment. Notes will be then sent home with each child in their class to make sure that their families are aware of a child with a certain type of allergy is in the class. Your child's name will not be given. Same goes for any illnesses that your child may have. If it is something that warrants the teacher to be aware, then go in and talk to the teacher. They will be able to then make a plan to best accommodate your child's needs.
11. Please teach your child to write their name. This is a great aid to a teacher and your child if they can identify and label their own work. A child's sense of ownership will do away with any anxiety. If they are struggling with their full name, allow Zakary to write Zak. If they can't write their name, try to get them to recognize their name then.
12. Get into the habit to empty their bag every day. There will most likely be a bag that will go back and forth between home and school that will have need to be seen paper work in it. Notes to or from the teacher will be placed in there too. Don't be that parent who's kid never brings back the permission form to the class trip to the zoo.
13. Especially after school the first few weeks, your little one will be exhausted so trying to drag them all over town each night may not be the best move. Melt downs are going to happen and not always just by the children!
14. Reassure your child that you will be back to pick them up at home time ( or dad, or grandma or their daycare provider. Most kindergarten classes allow parents to pick up right from the classroom door providing they have an outdoor access door. Don't be late and cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for your child. Also, make sure your child knows who is picking them up. The teacher has a list of who are permitted to pick up your child. If your child does not know them, meltdowns will occur.
15. Do not get mad at your child if they react in tears the first few days but also do not give in too much. They are in need of your guidance and this is one of those times, that parenting is hard. Hugs and kisses and waving are permitted. Just don't lurk in the windows as stalking is illegal!
My daughter took a bus her first day of school, and we followed the bus after she was picked up. My paranoid Mama Bear extinct made my pulse rapid and my anxiety was sky high. I am was relieved that I did this though as my little bumble bee went into a grade one class and it took them over twenty minutes to figure out where she was. I was a mess yet my daughter thought since she was obviously smarter than those other kids, she should just skip straight up to grade one. My son, he was the kid who did not want me to walk him his first day. I explained to him that he was barely four so he did not have a choice. Unfortunately, as we stood outside in the pouring rain on his first day, his anxiety kicked in. He began to cry and cling to me. My big brave fearless little warrior suddenly was a puddle of tears. What made things far worse, his Daddy was home, bedridden, with cancer. As his new teacher, about forty parents, the whole office staff including the principal stood watching this he screamed out, " I just want to go home and take care of my daddy". I managed to bite very hard the inside of my lip so I would not cry or show any emotion as his poor teacher literally dragged him inside with his soaking wet sneakers screeching on the floor. My heart was shattered. I cried all the way home and sobbed all day. The teacher was kind enough to call me at lunch time to say he was fine and doing well. When I picked him up later that day, he came running out and thanked me for letting him stay.
Kids will cry. They may cling to you or ignore you. Melt down completely. They may kick at you or run away from you. They are not upset with you, and you are not a bad parent for walking away. They will adjust as will you. I always tell new parents, if I can survive, so can you! Enjoy your morning if you able to have the day off to yourself. Have a coffee or tea or something stronger if you must, just be sober at pick up time!
Words no one really wants to hear. "It's over"! If you have anxiety or depression those words sting far worse, even if you are the one saying them. If you have been horribly unhappy in your relationship for far too long the sensible thing to do is leave. End it. Be done. Anxiety adds to this traumatic situation and enhances the fear of the unknown. Fear compels you to stay as your distrust in the world seems far worse than your relationship. Many people stay in marriages for longer than they should have as being single seems a worse state.
It is simple to give up and remain trapped in your miserable circumstance. The beast thrives on these situations as anxiety is fueled when your mind is uneasy and full of despair. Your mind will try to convince you that if you leave you will be alone without support and will be alienated from those you love. There is also the danger of poverty, pain, guilt, isolation and infinite other things. Your fears will end up trumping what is better for your life. You start to think that leaving is too daunting or too hard. You dismiss the possibility of using support systems as you don't have faith in them.You begin to put on a happy face to the rest of the world to hide your sadness. You feel that you may be just overreacting and should stay to work on your relationship. You stay for the kids. The thought of raising your children alone is overwhelming. The thought of custody battles set your mind on fire. You don't want to be the one in your friend group suddenly separated again. Alone, again. Most importantly, you forget your own resilience in how you face extreme life challenges.
There comes a time when you have to make that hard decision. How you handle it is determined by whether your break up will create grief, which to many in world shattering or will it be a relief like the refreshing breeze of a new beginning. This applies to leaving a job, ending a marriage or serious relationship as well as severing ties with friends or family. Regardless, of what is ending and why, it needs to be done.
If you were a surgeon, one swift clean cut would result in a faster healing process than a messy tear. Same goes for any emotional severances you may have. This may sound harsh to many but sometimes quick is better. Remember when you Mom would rip off that band-aid that you feared being stripped from your skin? The one that you would let her pull half way then scream to stop? It will give you the same feeling of relief when it is done. Most of the time the pain will leave as quickly as it came. Nicely put is " I've made this hard decision to leave. I have decided to leave this relationship as the match doesn't feel right for me any longer". Take this job and shove it may work too for employment relationships.
As with any surgical procedures, prevention of an infection is vital so the wound must stay clean. Be very cautious of infecting the breaking up circumstance with any negative energy about the person being let go. Do not contact them asking if they are doing ok as this only slows down healing on both sides. Name-calling is a negative reaction that can occur on both sides and will be less than helpful. A critical tone of voice will similarly convey negative feelings toward the other person. Verbal toned negative messages about the person contaminate healing for yourself so try your best to push those out of your mind. Pulling negative thoughts from the universe will only make you feel worse regardless on who ended the relationship. You need to learn from your mistakes and move on, another one my Mama use to tell me as I cried myself to sleep over some jerk as a teen. You do need to explain to the person your reason for ending the relationship unless it was very obvious. If you walked in on your husband having sex with your boss, those finales would be easy to leave without words. Well, you could yell "It is over and I quit as you slam the door". Two birds with one stone. As with any medical issue, sharing your information will alleviate anxiety generated from the unknown. Respectful communication between a person ending a union and the person receiving a goodbye relieves the anxiety caused by lack of understanding. Shared two-way communication can put the healing task on a good track that will move forward as recovery from grief on both sides. A winner-loser relationship, by contrast, pushes the healing process to stall. Allowing everyone to let go will give you the best results. I was stalked by someone who I ended a relationship with and you do not want that as a result.
When you are the one being told of the relationship ending, you must allow yourself to grieve then move on. You are allowed to be sad as it is a perfectly normal response to leaving a relationship. Depression triggered by the loss goes beyond the sadness of the experience. If you are fixated on negative thoughts about yourself, others or the future this is no longer a good reaction. To feel the profound sense of loss of power and the sense of helplessness will send you down a path of severe depression. Once your self-confidence feels destroyed it will start to destroy other relationships and areas in your life. Find someone to talk to. Go see your doctor. Don't allow the beast to invade.
Now, let us understand how to start to change your view of your future. It will never be too late to discover aspiration. Your past does not determine your future if you are willing to look at your contributions and learn from them. Work towards believing that you are worth fight for. You need to love yourself. Trust your inner gut feelings. Sometimes, one must "find" themselves all over again. You can start over and redevelop as many times as you need to until you are truly at peace with yourself and your life. Do not settle for less. You are worth far more to the universe. Use all the lessons of your past mistakes and triumphs. Find hopefulness about possibilities for yourself moving ahead and you will make positive shifts in the way you think about what may lie beyond your current painful situation. The greatest challenge is to try to picture a life for you beyond any relationship. Relief, contentment, peace, and serenity should replace all that guilt, anger fear, and other negative thoughts.
Begin the process of thinking more openly, sorting through and unraveling the repetitive patterns, beliefs, fears, and ways that you sabotage yourself that contribute to being stuck. By looking at your own contributions will allow more room for development than does blaming your partner ( boss, ex, wife, husband) for keeping you stuck. If you felt forced because of abuse, you need to seek out a safe haven outside that relationship as soon as possible. Emotional abuse and physical abuse is horrible to have to live with and so many of us have. Some with family members, many with partners. No one ever needs to live like that. Ever. In situations like these, the feelings of undeservingness are raw. They have followed you for a long time and it may feel like it is all you know how to feel. You have been told chaos and trauma will happen if you leave. Only you can influence your emotional outcome so do not let anyone else tell your mind different. I grew up in a house where I was emotionally abused by my sister daily and it took me half of my life to overcome the influence her words had over me. I still have to push myself as those words linger in the back of mind, waiting to creep out with the beast.
Finding a way to cope is a never ending search for many but serenity will make a grand appearance enough times to keep you going down your path of healing. Having bad days, hell having horrible days is absolutely understandable. Allowing yourself to heal by giving yourself the compassion that only you can give is beneficial to this process. Your own plight over time, by reframing your experiences will allow yourself to envision the future you not only crave but deserve. Take yourself to the next level of healing then reward yourself for surviving yet another hurdle in this thing we call life.
We all change. Yet change freaks us all out. Some fear change more than public speaking. It is the kind of amorphous issue we don't think about as it manifests itself cautiously in so many ways. Relationships start and end, you move, you get a new job or you lose someone that you love. Change can be bad or good and almost always causes stress. Stress of any magnitude can trigger the beast. We need to learn how to handle change so this does not happen, often.
Change is an expansive term and it can apply to so many things. Perchance you're just moving to a new house or beginning a new job, or a sudden death happens in the family. Those type of events may seem black and white, and not necessarily identical but they all require an adjustment in the way you conduct your day to day life. These type of adjustments will cause stress and anxiety even they're positive. Negative changes can also yield positive results. Most people never know what they are going to get and therefore the reason we fear change. The trick is to cope without losing your mind and may only require an adjustment on your outlook and a little clue of surviving various circumstances. We need to know why our brains resist change and how we can do something to change that.
Let's say we define change as a modification to a person's environment, situation or mental/physical condition that can result in a challenging ones existing ideals. A person has the tendency to determine how exactly their universe is supposed to work. If something happens in your individual bubble or to our own being that is contrary to the way we feel the world should be, we suddenly get our brush with change.
In our daily routine lives, change comes in multiple forms. We all experience the pains of being thrown into puberty and then later the pains of becoming ancient through inevitable medical issues. I am getting ancient and oddly feel like puberty is striking again. People get married, switch careers multiple times, graduate from school, move across the country, we lose our parents or spouses, we get into accidents, we have children, they start school and sometimes we even achieve our dreams.Though we can regard a default emotion such as happiness or sadness to many of these broad examples, the event is not the only element that affects how we handle the good and bad of a change.
The best thing to keep in mind is that there is a sequence between positive and negative so not all changes are easily summarized as bad or good. Other psychological components, such as temperament or mood, can affect how a person codifies a change within the positive/negative continuum.
If we are confronted by an event that is inconsistent with our core beliefs, we all will feel some kind of anxiety or stress. Change really should be easy. Our brain likes easy, simple so if there is any type of change in our life, it will send off an alert signal. The beast loves this alert as it allows it to attack with backup. If our mind runs into a roadblock, suddenly the information it trusted is broken down and it panics. We all know the beast loves to hit the panic button and as a result, we tend to act irrationally, often without realizing it. The earlier we learn something the harder we deal with changing it. That saying, " can't teach an old dog new tricks", bleeps through my mind a lot lately. Kids adjust much better to change since they don't have as much legacy material to overcome when confronted with change. As we get older, our brains become less plastic and we encounter more issues processing changes as our paradigms are more rooted. We get anxiety when our children start school for the first time, for me, it brings back my fears of the first day of school. My children were fearless starting.
Our minds hate loss and unfortunately change involves loss. We invest emotionally and it becomes harder to change because we don't want to lose all the effort we already exerted. I can fully understand this type of change as I have had to deal with it numerous times and not very well. I tend to shut down or block out when a loss is the change in my universe. I think for the most part this is why I hoard items that I tell myself I am keeping because of the sentimental value of it. I have to force myself to get rid of stuff but have been doing better as I have recently donated six boxes.
I am teaching myself to deal with change as I have had no other choice. The hardest part is to put optimistic outlook into practice as my anxiety tries to pull me back. I allow myself to cry, kick and scream then I start to seek out ways to make my new situation work for me. If I allow myself to keep fixating on what I lost or what changed, it prevents me from experiencing the good things that my new circumstance can bring me. I process my emotional pain and fear into a list. Pro vs Cons helps me see that I have the potential for renewed hope in my future and the possibility of happiness, even with change. Learning to shift gears in the midst of anxiety and stress is hard work but worth it. I would not be typing this blog if I did not push through the fear of change and the unknown. So my advice is to allow change to challenge you, not break you.
When someone describes anxiety attacks and panic attacks, one tends to use the phrases interchangeably. They are even entirely unaware that they actually two clinically distinct with their own signs and experiences. Both differ in symptomology as well as the length of time and the root of the attack is not the same.
Panic attacks are identified by their rapid onset and severe intensity. You can go from feeling completely normal to feeling intense stress, fear with physical symptoms like shaking and heart palpitations. The duration of panic attacks can vary or you may experience it in waves. Waves are generally relatively short times. I find that they last anywhere between ten minutes to thirty minutes long. I recently had short waves of about ten minutes each over a few hours. They started at five am and continued until noontime. It is very draining on you physically as it takes a lot of energy to go through one. If only it burned calories!
You may be having a panic attack if you are experiencing four or more of the following
- trembling or shaking
- chest pain and/or discomfort
- excessive sweating
- accelerated heart rate
- heart palpitations, pounding heart
- difficulty breathing, sensations of shortness of breath
- feeling like you are smothering or drowning
- the feeling of choking
- abdominal distress or nausea
- fear of dying
- light headed or faint, feeling dizzy
- fear of losing control
- chills or hot flashes
- tingling or numbness sensations
Anxiety will typically intensify over a longer period of time compared to a panic attack. Anxiety symptoms can last for days, weeks even months. You could be experiencing a panic attack if you have any of these symptoms:
- muscle tension
- increased startle response
- disturbed sleeping patterns
- difficulty concentrating
- shortness of breath
- increased heart rate
You can also experience frequent urination and bowel issues with both types of attacks which is also a major trigger for so many of us who fight the beast. Regardless which one you suffer from or if you are like me, and suffer from both, it is exhausting and scary. Knowing you are not going to die is a thought I try to enforce into my brain each time as sometimes I really feel like I am. When I wake in the night feeling like someone has put a pillow over my face and I am shaking like Trump in a Clinton rally, it is scary. Medication and lots of exercise along with eating healthy does keep them at devils reach. If I sway from a good routine of those, the beast sneaks in rapidly and attacks with a mean left hook. It sometimes takes me a full day to recover as it really does physically exhaust me.
Many people find help through therapy with fantastic results. Cognitive behaviour therapy helps you identify and challenge your negative Nelly thinking patterns. It will also help with irrational beliefs that fuel the beast. Exposure therapy encourages you to confront those fears in a safe environment controlled by you. When you are repeatedly exposed to your feared object or situation, either your imagination or in reality, you will gain some sense of control. Your anxiety can gradually diminish as you face your fear without being harmed.
Whatever strategies you try may or may not work for you. The benefits in trying out weigh the fear of failure. Now go slay the beast!
I tend to put off my tasks and chores. I would love to win the lottery and pay some unfortunate soul do it all for me. Until then, I needed to come up with a plan to get stuff done. Getting things done can make you feel like it is a Herculean effort especially when you are already anxious. How do you succeed at making a dent in your to-do list and actually get them done? I know my to do list is never ending especially being an only parent. I am being generous by saying my list gets half done and my NEED to get done tasks merge into an amorphous blob of goo in my mind. I like many, need to make all the stuff in my mind to stop moving so I can get stuff done.
These are a few ideas that I am trying so perhaps they will help you too.
1. TRY to write everything down- Take a good fifteen minutes and write everything that you need to get done that you recall. It really does not matter if it is a task that needs to get done today or in two months time. The important thing is to get it all down in one big list. Once your fifteen minutes is up, put down your pen or stop typing. Good job as you just did a time management skill. Reward yourself for actually doing this step. I usually make a cup of tea!
2. MAKE a smaller shorter list from your master list and transfer everything that can be accomplished in five minutes or less. Label this list SHORTLIST. It doesn't mean the list itself is short it just means the items on the list are short tasks you can do in under five minutes. An example of this would be getting the mail and opening it, putting in the laundry or checking your email, unless you are like me and your email is never-ending.
3. COMBINE similar tasks from your smaller list. Group together tasks that seem to naturally lend themselves to being done in a block. Running errands is great for this. You can head to the grocery store, do dry cleaning, head to the post office to mail that package to your Aunt Betty before she no longer needs it as lets face it, she is almost a century old. Chain as many short list tasks together as you want. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a short time.
4. FUTURE chores that can be put off should be put on a separate list. Examples are clean under the basement stairs, which is no way to spend a perfectly sunny day. Who the hell wants to jump every time something softly touches your bare arm. Spider or dust bunny?
Enough with lists even though I did make a list to remind to finish this list of things to do. I am unusually patient but when my anxiety levels are sky rocketing, my patience is limited. Now is the time we move into the execution phase of getting shit done.
I try to match my task to my energy level, like a dating app just less creepy. Take a minute to check in with yourself and your energy level. Do you feel energetic? Are you brimming with creativity and mental stamina? Do you feel like a truck just hit you and you are completely exhausted? If I am tired, I try to make phone calls or return emails. I finally look at the flyers that came in the paper four days ago. If I am feeling blah but good enough to handle errands, I do those just to get them done. We all need to eat so grocery shopping is almost always on that list. Every now and then, I have occasions when I feel loads of mental energy. Rare, but they do happen. I tend to write or type out my blog for the week during these times. I also will work on my other business, Younique when my mind is clear and ready for some action. Now you can get gritty or more granular. Granularity basically describes how many little chunks of a big project can be broken into, kind of like sand. You will find yourself getting overwhelmed as you execute a task on your list so learn to break it down. Break it down into smaller pieces. Example, cleaning the house. Do dishes, wipe down counters, and sweep the floor. Easy to do quickly and easier to break down. Do the vacuuming and dusting on your main level together. If you have a bigger task such as painting, tape the trim and move any furniture. Then when you are ready to paint, it is all ready to go. I am currently painting a few rooms and a few pieces of furniture as I am apparently a glutton for self-punishment. I do some trim in one room, tape another and then put a coat of paint on the desk that I am refinishing. It may seem like chaos to many but for my anxious mind, this is how I get it all done. Method to my madness!
Getting anything done when you are anxious can also include coping with perfectionism. I try not to give a shit what someone may think of my paint job but deep down in my soul, I want to be praised like a five-year-old. This is especially hard for people with obsessive compulsive disorder. Focusing on the task at hand will help get it completed. Even if it feels unsatisfying, the idea is to create an onward drive. You will get it all done, just maybe not in the speed you were aiming for. People fighting the beast daily still have to live in the real world, the world of doing. The infrastructure of getting things done when you are anxiety ridden is organization. I know it is hard to be organized when you feel like you are falling down a dark hole with no bottom. As with all things in life, you must try and try and try again, until you self-teach yourself to be organized. I know if you make the lists and check them twice, you will find out who is naughty or nice. Ok, maybe not but you will get some of your shit done and that is very satisfying. Reward yourself. Now go get'er done!