I’m back, and tonight I want to slow things down and do a reflection post. It’s always nice to take a look back on where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I was recently asked, “is it difficult for your family to deal with your anxiety?”. It was a great question that gave me much food for thought. When a person has anxiety it’s like a raindrop hitting a pool of water. It ripples outward impacting those closest to the person the most, and so on down the line. I began reflecting on how my anxiety impacts those closest to me and came up with a few talking points to share. So let’s dive in. 😉
I. I Thrive on Schedules:
If you were to ask my loved ones if I’m a control freak, they would probably say “absolutely yes”. In my house, I’m nicknamed “the Commander” because I keep everything running on a precise schedule. I love schedules, but probably not for the reason that you think. Yes, I love organization. Yes, a tidy, clean, organized space makes me feel calm. But the reason why I love schedules is because they give comfort and predictability. If I have a schedule or itinerary, I can look over it 1000 times beforehand and think through every step that I need to make. In doing so, it reduces the anxiety when it comes time to actually execute said plan. Does that make sense?
Now, that said, I’ve had to learn that the world doesn’t always work in my favor when it comes to schedules. So if I can’t get an immediate answer for an appointment, date, time, etc. I tend to ask probing questions such as: “do you have an idea of when you can tell me exactly when you will be free to….?” or “Do you have an idea when an appointment will be available?”. My questions give an indication that I’m already making a schedule. Am I precise? Yes. But does it help my anxiety? Oh yes. Being so precise definitely has it’s pros and cons. My family is hardly ever late for anything. They come to me for any and all dates, times, phone numbers, etc. My friends can depend on me to coordinate restaurants, outings, movie shows, etc. because I’m always thinking way in advance. The downside is that I don’t have much spontaneity. I really dislike “surprises”. I dread the words: “I bought you a surprise gift” so, so much. It also can cause friction with me being a submissive too, because every now and then I have to be “commanded” to stand down and let my dominant take over. It’s incredibly difficult for me to do. But I try to let go and chill a bit. 🙂
II. I am Meticulous About My Environment:
Every person’s anxiety is rooted in different ways. My anxiety is rooted in safety and wellness. As such, I am very proactive when it comes to looking at crime maps around hotels or resorts if I’m traveling. I am hyper-aware of my surroundings while out and about. I usually bring Lysol wipes with me when I travel to keep things extra clean. I always have bottles of anti-bac. in my car. And I tend to worry about my loved ones when they are traveling or are off from their normal routine.
The downside to being like this is that it can become smothering to my family. I often ask, “how are you?”, “Are you drinking enough water?”, “Are you eating?”. “Message me when you’re safe and sound please”, etc. on the daily. I have a need to know that my loved ones are okay. I also have a tendency to repeat questions every now and then, in which I know the answer to… but I might need to hear the answer again for comfort. For example: Are you going to be with me on the trip? And then they reply, yes I’ll be there. Well, time will go by and I know they said they will be there, but my brain is busy worrying about traveling, etc. so I will ask again (hours later), “you’re coming with me on the trip, right?” simply so I can get that reassurance. I probably look like I have a short term memory problem lol. But I don’t. I just need a bit of extra reassurance sometimes. 🙂
III. They Stay Away From Trigger Words:
My immediate family has learned that there are certain words, questions, etc. that they can’t say to me. And if they do need to ask, they find a gentle way to do so. But every now and then I will be around someone who doesn’t know much about anxiety and they will say something completely stupid to me which will make me cry. I’ll share with you a true story that happened last year. I was in Maui visiting some of my extended family. We were out walking and all was well. Despite being in a new place, I was doing my deep belly breathing and managing well enough. All of a sudden as we were crossing the street, one of my relatives looks at my daughter’s palm. She has a mole on her palm that looks normal. But out of their mouth they say, “Hey! Have you had that mole checked on her? It might be cancer, ya know?!”. All of a sudden I go from being fine, to alarm bells pounding in my brain.
“The C Word” as we call cancer in our household is a huge trigger word for me. I have seen a family member die from cancer. So it really hits home. I looked at my relative and swallowed the rising lump in my throat. “W-what?” I blinked in shock. We crossed the street and I began to feel my breath shallow. My heart was pounding. I know when a panic attack is coming on, and hearing my daughters name and the word cancer in the same sentence, was enough to push me right over the edge. Suddenly tears started sliding down my cheeks as my brain began to spin horrible images of my baby deathly ill. My husband was absolutely livid that I got set off so badly.
We made an immediate appointment with a dermatologist on the island and had her palm checked out. Sure enough, she was perfectly fine. But it was a stark reminder that it can be difficult to live with anxiety, especially when people can say crass things like that.
IV. How I Control My Anxiety Now:
For years I lived like a hermit because my anxiety got the better of me in many situations. Now, I’m doing considerably better. I’m on medication that helps me think clearly enough to regulate the other symptoms. The more organized I am, the calmer I feel. I am learning (key word is learning lol) how to be patient. I am able to connect with people who are more “roll with the punches” types of people and not completely lose it. Is it difficult? Yes. But, it’s also a part of life. So, I work very hard to vocalize when I’m anxious and need to process through it. I refuse to stay silent, and I pray that if you’re out there struggling with anxiety that you don’t stay silent either.
Speak up and let others know when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. You don’t have to carry the whole world on your shoulders. Reach out to medical professionals for help. Know that you will have good days, and bad days. It’s like a fluid roller coaster, but with the right help, those peaks and dips don’t have to be so drastic. You can ease through them communicating with your loved ones all of the way. If I can do this, then so can you. 🙂
That’s it from me for this post, my friends. I hope it was helpful. Have a wonderful rest of the night, keep smiling, and I will see you back here on the next topic!