When discussing what triggers and causes my anxiety, with my therapist, and looking at what situations stress me out, and are problematical for me, it came to me, that although I struggle with some aspects of anxiety, in certain areas of my life, when the crunch comes, or I am in a situation that would and should be stressful, for anyone, not just a person with anxiety issues, I cope, and am calm, and step up to what’s going on, and seem to be fine.
A recent family bereavement, which meant a last minute trip home to Scotland, a flying visit with family, a funeral, then a mad dash home for a hospital appointment. Stressful, yes, but for some reason, my anxiety goes into some sort of remission. I cope, I am calm, I try to help and look after other people, and whilst I struggle a bit, and of course I am sad, sore and grieving, I am not anxious or displaying any signs of anxiety.
The same happened with yesterday’s visit to hospital for Big Girl. In the week leading up to the operation, I have had some bad dreams, panicked that we were making the wrong choice, scoured the internet for statistics, planned for the what if the worst happens, and almost changed my mind about the surgery, even though I knew she needed it, and that she was no more likely to have issues than any other child, and that the doctors and nurses would be excellent and do their best. But on the day of the surgery, apart from some normal parental jitters, that any parent would face, with their child going to surgery, I was cool, calm, collected and coped. I was strong for her, and I honestly think, if I had told the nurses that I had recently been diagnosed with a mild anxiety disorder, they would have laughed at me.
My therapist says it’s because I am a coper, whilst it is not a bad thing that I cope in a crisis, and it does show that I can control and handle my anxiety, it isn’t a great thing either. I cannot cope with simple phone calls to people who I feel have expectations and feelings about me, projecting their own desires and wants onto me, and pushing me into a corner, yet I can watch my child be put to sleep, walk down a corridor, and comfort another mother, on the way. I can’t handle large groups of people, even if I know them, and am in a familiar environment, but I can calmly walk across a room and hold my brother, whom I have a fairly feisty relationship with, as we cry for our family. I can’t handle a family member who was pushing my buttons but I can stand up and confront someone who is causing a problem in a group I run. I struggle with normal things that other people enjoy (girls nights, dinner parties where I don’t know people, concerts) but I don’t bat an eyelid when a person passes out in front of me in the street and needs my help. I can’t do normal, without shooting pains in my chest, a cold sweat and a desire to run away and hide somewhere and just sleep it all away, but put me in a tight spot, and I handle it like a pro.
Anxiety, at least for me, is very strange. We are working on two areas, currently, in the 6 sessions I have left, with my therapist, although it is likely she will refer and take me on for another 10, which I am happy with. We are working on getting me to set myself targets, to see what causes my anxiety on short term, to talk it through with myself, to find logic and stick to facts, and to try and talk to someone else about what is going on inside my head (for example, this week, I was able to be honest with LSH about my fears about BG’s upcoming surgery, and talk it through with him, and he knew I was anxious and withdrawing a bit, and he was there for me when I needed him) and also we are working on what has made me this way. She thinks there are certain areas of my life that have caused me, as a slightly anxious person, to over compensate, and take on things that worry me, more than a normal person. We are working through memories, events and things I can remember. Oddly enough, it’s not the major events, like my mother dying, when I was 18, or other things that you would think would trigger anxiety, but smaller, subtler things. At this point, I don’t feel comfortable sharing, as it’s been hard for me to see what she is talking about, but it has started to become clearer and it’s painful, but in a good way, almost healing.
I’ll probably always be a coper, a person who handles life’s sudden tough moments, but what I really want is to be able to handle the normal, the ordinary, the things that don’t phase other people, or don’t cause them to break out in a panic attack at least.
Yup, anxiety is weird, I am learning so much about myself, and about the world around me, on this journey, the mind is strange place, damage it, and you can spend a life time trying to fix it. I am hoping that is not my case.