Do you have days where its all you can do to just make it to bedtime? Days where the anxiety never lets up and you feel like all you do is wallow in the “what if’s?” As you are finally closing your eyes at night you regret that you let anxiety steal yet another day from you? Do you constantly question how to deal with anxiety?
It doesn’t have to be like this. After years of fighting with my anxiety, I have found something that actually works!
It is no secret that I have anxiety. I’ve always had it. I vividly remember getting so worked up for the first day of 4th grade that I threw up for a week. The summer after 5th grade I went to a summer camp a few hours from home and spent half of my time in the bathroom because of my anxiety.
As an adult its both better and worse. I now realize that these crazy things that happen to my body are caused by my anxiety. I also know what most of my anxiety triggers and are work with a therapist to deal with them.
My oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 9 months old, the whole experience was obviously traumatic. I have since been diagnosed with PTSD. I don’t really have the ability to connect with the part of my self that went through that trauma with my baby. Occasionally I have flashes of residual fear from those experiences that slip through the walls my mind erected to protect itself. I have no control over this.
It’s exhausting to try and deal with invisible monsters in your head that only want to steal your joy. Once the monster of anxiety starts talking to me, I find it almost impossible to shut him up. He can go on for days. DAYS. I hate getting lost in the fog of anxiety. I mean who wouldn’t? Does anyone really want to relinquish control over their thoughts to something that isn’t even real?
One of the things I have found really helps to keep me on track is always having a plan. My husband, who doesn’t suffer from anxiety the way that I do, can’t understand how a plan can make me feel “put together”. But it makes complete sense to me.
You see, when you have a plan in place, no matter what your brain tries to throw at you, you can always check out that plan you wrote down and allow it to guide you.
This portion below was written on a day I had SEVERE anxiety. Can you tell the difference in my tone? Reading it now it seems like a totally different person.
Today, I woke up with my heart racing. We are currently having some extended family drama and it’s really something that I wish I could just block out. But I cant, hence the racing heart. The kids and I get up and I absently make breakfast, because I can’t seem to focus on anything at all. Only on my racing heart.
I check my planner. It tells me what daily chores I need to accomplish this morning. These give me something to do. A purpose. Something to focus on besides this fear pounding in my head.
My chores are done. I’m feeling a bit better after the structured ritual of housekeeping has been completed. I try focusing on just playing with my kids, which is one of the ways I fight my fear monster. The doorbell rings and its contractors here to work on my house. An unexpected arrival. Nothing concerning or unwelcome but it cranks up my anxiety again because it wasn’t planned.
I go back to my planner and check my to-do list. I’ve got several returns to make so I get myself and the girls ready and run into town to get those taken care of. With the busyness of trying to wrangle two kids I’ve managed to get my anxiety back under control.
Our Vet calls with results from some tests that we ran on my 15-year-old dog. I’ve had her since I was 16 years old. He tells me she is in liver failure and there are no treatment options.
At this point, I start to sweat. Outwardly you cant see that anything is wrong but inside I am boiling. I just know that I am going to completely lose it today. I can feel myself starting to lose control over the fear and anxiety that I have been working so hard to keep control of.
I get the kids back in the car, grab some lunch and head home. The fear is roaring. I am drenched, silently sobbing in the front seat of the car on the drive home. How am I even going to make it to the end of the day?
We pull into the driveway and the kids are both asleep. I carry limp, warm little bodies into the house, thankful that I don’t have to explain my tear-streaked face.
I know that I have a few hours to myself before they wake up. I consider allowing myself to sit down and wallow. I can feel the darkness reaching out to me, encouraging me to give in to the fear. I’ve been down that road before and I don’t want to do it today.
Instead, I check my planner. I am out of to-dos. I check my monthly goals and see that I have several “self-care” type items listed. I pick one of the books that I previously wrote down to read this month. I wrote them when I was clear headed and felt safe. Unlike today.
I sit down to read, thankful for a pre-planned distraction.
My day continues on like this. A back and forth between the fear monster and me. With each inch he tries to gain on me I reach for my planner. I keep myself focused on the here and now. On the tasks, the goals, the real life. I keep fighting.
While I cant say that I really “emotionally” connected with much on this particular day, I can say that I didn’t allow my anxiety to cripple me. My house was still taken care of, my kids were attended to and I was even able to take a little time for myself.
I used to have days like this where my kids would just be parked in front of the TV and I was just googling medical diagnosis for hours on end. Since the cancer diagnosis, my anxiety has manifested itself as medical fears. If I woke up with a sore throat I would google every possible cancer scenario that could possibly show up as a sore throat. Several times a day.
I would call my husband and run my theories by him. He would have to leave meetings to try and calm me down. He took days off work because I literally couldn’t pull myself together.
My anxiety is real. So real. My planner helps give me back control when I mentally can’t do it on my own. It’s like a little love letter the past me sent forward to this frazzled and anxious me. Like “hey girl, I know its hard but I worked it all out for you. Just follow these directions and you will be just fine.” So I do, and I am.
If you are having a hard time getting up each day, functioning each day maybe its time to try something new. Take control of your life back. You don’t have to get a fancy planner, but you can if you think it will help you to use it. I am currently using the Living Well Planner and I absolutely love it. Literally can’t imagine how I functioned without it.
The best part about the Living Well Planner is that your purchase comes with a full email boot camp on how to use it. Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about this planner!
Anyways, get a planner, any planner and get to work. Plan out your day. Everything from your meals, your social activities, and your housekeeping! When anxiety strikes you will have a plan! The post below will serve as a beginning point on the parts of your day to start planning first.