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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Parenting Through Paralyzing Stress and Anxiety

 

Head in a fog


I sit down to write and my mind goes blank. I can't seem to even muster one good sentence to tweet, to post on FB, anything to let you know I'm still here, still sarcastic, witty, and sometimes informative. Still fun to connect with. I've worked hard to create an online presence, after all, what's the point of writing if no one reads it? (okay, sometimes there is great purpose in that). So, why is my mind in a heavy fog? Everything. I'm so stressed that I can't separate one stresser from another. I'm going in circles, getting slammed into every time I feel like things start to get on track.



That's Boo there, but this is what I feel like, minus the smiles.

Today I was incapable of any clear thought which led to me rushing my kids to get ready for a class we didn't make it to because I couldn't manage to get my own self ready. I just couldn't think at all! If I can clear the fog away for a few minutes and just figure out what groceries I need to buy tomorrow and what classes to get the kids to, I'll be worlds better than I was most of today.

Today, the morning flew by as I ran around maniacally doing I have no idea what, at home. I forgot to make the kids' lunch so at the last minute I attempted to throw some food together. It took me a half hour to get three sandwiches made. I forgot to buy gas and luckily heard the little bell go off that tells me to get my butt to the gas station. I gave up at that point and we headed to the park until dinner time (which by then was only a few hours away). I picked up burritos, spending money on take-out that I really don't have, but it was better than trying to pull another thought out of my thick skull to figure out what to cook. I am currently trying to separate my to-do list into need to do, really need to do, and do now. Maybe if I can get back to crossing off one thing on a list at a time, it will keep me from feeling so overwhelmed and forgetting anything truly important!

My husband is home recovering from knee surgery and I haven't had my usual time alone in my nighttime insomnia for weeks. He's been up late while he doesn't have to get up early the next day. For a while it was fun to have that time together, to actually watch a grown up movie together, but, that can't happen every night, I have things to do. While I'm attempting to catch up on my email he's watching the History channel, full of wars and anything but stress relief, I find myself heading up to bed earlier so I can seek quiet and solace. Though I don't sleep. I just lay there as my cats and dog move around here and there, on my feet, on my head, on my chest,  my back... Maybe I hadn't noticed how much they climb around me when I'm asleep?! Or are they feeding off my anxious energy?

Parenting pretty much on my own, caring for him, trying to make ends meet in our current situation and everything else that needs taking care of in life, I'm exhausted and overwhelmed. My stress level grows as does my to-do list, but I can't bring myself to focus on one thing at a time, so I don't do anything. I'm paralyzed. I can hardly breathe. Not to mention the stress hanging over our heads of him not working, unsure how long life will be on hold. I don't like to rush around him during the day, so am not keeping up with housework. The kids are distracted with him here, and not wanting to engage in learning in the same way they normally do when Dad is at work until afternoon.

I love my husband, but the little bit of routine we did have is topsy-turvy and I feel like we're in limbo. Waiting. Just waiting. My plans to delve into my writing and blogging have been pushed out to an unknown date. I am working more hours in childcare to keep us afloat. I'm hoping disability doesn't drag their feet, but not knowing if or when we'll be getting a paycheck is like a wave that will come crashing down any minute and I can't know if it will wipe us out or if we'll be able to dig in and hold our ground.

It's also coming close to the day my Mom-in-law passed away. Lately, she is lingering in the back of my mind, dragging me down into depression since I could really use her strength right now. I know my husband is in the same place, probably even more so. Other friends and family I care for are having major health problems and somewhere in there I'm mourning my miscarriage. I didn't think it had affected me in that way, but it keeps coming to mind lately, though it was back in November. I wasn't far along, but I notice babies in a way I didn't before. Not so much a longing to have one as my heart drops into my stomach for a second when I see one. It's completely illogical and involuntary.

I'm trying to swim back up to the surface. To breathe and take it a day at a time. To clear my head and deal with one problem at a time, such as where are my kids' shoes now? Whenever was the last time those kids bathed? Did I send the mortgage payment? Have I transferred the laundry?

What do you do to cope when you're overwhelmed?






19 comments :

  1. Ugh - we have all been there, the stress, the anxiety, coupled with the the feelings of inadequacy. I guess that is when I need to stop and slow down - counter productive to the "BUT THERE I SO MUCH TO DO". Look at what NEEDS to be done and try and make those priorities. I find myself going back to the basics... what has to happen to survive? What can wait? What can be skipped? And who can I ask for help? What would happen if I didn't blog for a week or two? What if we just had ice cream for dinner? Or skipped baths tonight? Or just watch cartoons instead of doing the laundry?

    Good luck... I hope you are feeling better soon!

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    1. Thank you! I'm doing that more and more this week- just doing what needs done & trying not to stress over things that aren't truly important right now.

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  2. Sorry to see you are feeling under strain Leah. You've been dealing with a lot, so be kind to yourself. It can feel as if we are sinking sometimes when there's a lot going on and little time alone. I've been fortunate to discover a few ways to cope, and the main one may sound counter-intuitive but it works - allow the feelings, instead of trying to fight them. That might sound like you're giving it, but it's not the same. When you allow the feelings it sort of makes space around them and makes it easier to see that the things we think are so crucial are maybe not so important as we think.

    I guess what I'm saying is similar to Ann's comment.

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    1. Writing it all out helped. Yes, it is a lot & I need to give myself some slack. I don't like when I can't get everything done I normally do and it's hard, at least for me, to really see how much I'm doing and recognize that I don't have to be superwoman all the time. I do try! And I still don't ask for help from anyone. Working on that! And you're right, letting the feelings come rather than fighting them can be a good thing. I had a good cry the other night and released a lot of the tension I was holding in. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom.

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  3. I hope that you get disability fairly quickly and hopefully its just short term. I know that applying for federal disability takes years before you get a decision. I applied for federal disability in Oct 2012 because I am unable to work because of chronic back and all over body pain and strict restrictions. Don't give up if they deny you, file the appeals and keep going. I have been denied three times now and currently waiting on a hearing. Hopefully, the hearing will get me my benefits but ive been told my case is difficult. They still think I can work.

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    1. Glad you're still fighting it! They're hoping people will just give up. It can take a lot of perseverance, but don't give in! It should be short term for us, thankfully.

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  4. Hello! Sometimes, when overwhelmed, it's difficult to know where to start. Might I suggest tackling the sleep deprivation first. You probably aren't going to like this idea, but please consider finding new homes for your pets. My husband suffered from chronic depression and insomnia for years before we discovered that our cats were dancing on his head at night (they left me alone!).
    Try Googling: sleep deprivation caused by pets
    It's also interesting to note that one of the first things a good financial advisor will tell you is to find new homes for your pets.
    You must be a fantastic caregiver! So many beings depending on you - please be sure to take care of yourself first! Good Luck!

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    1. Thank you! Interesting advice. I couldn't possibly as they are my children as much as the human ones, but maybe a different sleep arrangement might be in order. I have been a night owl all my life & most of my writing and art inspiration comes then, so I'll most likely be up with or without animals. But I will attempt to catch up on sleep before my next late night writing binge. Sleep definitely helps my coping skills!

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  5. Your post ironically arrived when I was finishing this one on my blog: Getting body, heart, and soul back: http://blog.sukiwessling.com/?p=2443 . I think I would have been happier as a parent of small children if I'd known how good it feels to see your kids become independent. All I ever heard from parents of older children is "enjoy it now because when they're bigger suddenly you won't have them at all." I totally disagree with this now that I'm seeing what it's really like: All the difficulties (physical and emotional) of parenting small children tend to fade, but the connection with them doesn't have to. Raising small children is hard even when life is going well, and you are facing lots of challenges. So do be kind to yourself when you forget to make lunch or don't make a class. You're doing the best you can with what you've got... and it will get easier.

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    1. Thank you so much! Looking forward to reading your post.

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  6. I've been there too...I get easily overwhelmed and then everything just snowballs. It usually helps me to step away from it all, get outside if possible, take the kids to the park...just stop all the doing for a bit and then come back to it with a clearer head. I hope things have slowed down for you a bit. Hang in there! Stopping by from SITS Girls ~Krissa (http://www.morethanmundane.com)

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  7. I know exactly how you are feeling! I'm a work-at-home wife and mom of 4, I have 2 jobs, and I'm also my ailing father-in-law's caregiver. It's enough to drive a person crazy! Most days I feel like I'm not doing the best job as a wife and mom, because I have so much on my plate. BUT...if there is anything I've learned in the last 9 months (since this craziness started), it's that I have to let go of my idea of perfection and what I think I should be doing. I try to only concentrate on what's in front of me at that moment. If the kiddies need help with homework, that is all I focus on. No multi-tasking or thinking about the 1001 other things I should be doing. Then when I'm done helping with homework, I give myself a minute to think about what the most important thing I need to get done in that moment, and then get to work on that one thing without worrying about what else I need to do or should be doing. It has really helped. I haven't gotten things completely figured out, but I don't feel as crazy. Eventually, the craziness of life does settle down, and you won't feel so overwhelmed.

    I also recommend taking some time for yourself to relax or do something you like to do. I hope the craziness of your life settles down soon. Visiting from #SITSBlogging and sending you a virtual hug.

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  8. I also struggle with being overwhelmed and feeling thick in the skull. I do hope that life works itself out and things come together for you soon. #SITSBlogging Visiting from www.welcometograndcentral.com

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  9. Honey you are not alone. I cried for two days straight last week (totally no PMS either) because of a pile of stressers that left me feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, and out of sorts. It took that to let me realize that I need to ask for help, I need to let it out, and sometimes I need to stop holding myself up to unrealistic expectations. Take a breath and realize that it's ok to have PB&J for dinner, it's ok to take a week off from activities. This too shall pass.

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  10. Love your honesty! You're not alone! Lindsay

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  11. I've been feeling like this the last week or two. It's hard to just get a thought in.

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  12. And that is the beauty of having a blog. We get to express ourselves on this platform in a way that is completely our own. I am my biggest critic. I think many WAHMs and SAHMs feel that way about themselves. I pray about it and try again. Good luck to you! #SITSBlogging

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  13. Love the honesty. Many parents appreciate it. :)

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  14. I'm at work reading this, trying not to cry. I'm so glad you wrote this because months later, here I am feeling the same way. Thank you for sharing so that others can find a lifeline later. <3

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