Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Kindergarten Drop Off

It took everything in me to drive away after dropping my son off at school today. When I left he was happily working along side a classmate making up his own version of tick tack toe. He gave me a big hug and said, "I love you too Mommy!" As I walked toward the door a that sinking feeling hit me. Everything around me began to trigger my anxious heart.

A man stood across the way from his school with a piece of paper in his hand. Another man was walking to a nearby building. He glanced my way and the catastrophizing began. I began to create this story in my head that there was some sort of conspiracy to kidnap my son. I recalled a conversation from the day before where a mom was trying to set up a play date with our kids because they had played so well together. I am sure was an innocent conversation, but this morning I began to think there were too many questions. "Why did she ask where he goes to school, and what time he is done with school, and what part of town we lived in???" I gave such generic answers, I am not sure this play date will ever happen

This is where the internal battle begins. I tell myself  "That man is probably just waiting for some one, and the man just happened to make eye contact.," and "That mom was just asking those questions to figure out a place and time our kids could play together again." But my anxiety just keeps digging, and I think of how terrible I will feel if it turned out that my worries were valid.

I wanted to run back inside and warn the teacher about these "suspicious" people, but I am proud to say I didn't go running back inside. I took some breaths and started the car. I didn't let these thoughts take over, and I drove home and started this blog.

Even IF

 I wanted to explain the title of this blog a bit.....

My anxious heart often leads me to ask "What if?" This short and simple question can literally take my mind to a fully panic mode which is a very uncomfortable place to be. Although I am not currently seeing a therapist, I have taken one of my therapists' advice to heart, and use it on a daily basis.

She taught me to change those "What if?" thoughts to "Even If" thoughts. For some reason it stops me from getting out of control with my thoughts. What if seems to allow for any ridiculous scenario where the "Even If" thought keeps me a bit more grounded. Obviously certain thoughts are scary with either phrase, but most of the time, if I remember use even if, my brain searches for solutions instead of problems.

For example, I often find myself thinking "What if they don't like me?" I can then turn that into, "Even if they don't like me, I know I am kind, and I have many people who love me."

I have even been able to use it in a more challenging situation. "What if my baby gets Whooping Cough or some other terrible illness?" This is an example of how the Even if thought doesn't solve the problem, but does help me search for solutions instead of resorting to panic. I can tell myself, "Even if my baby gets really sick, we live in a country with great doctors and medicine and I have a great support network that will help me get through emotionally."

This is just one of many tools I use to calm my anxious heart and I hope someone else will find it helpful.

An introduction

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Anxiety and fear can immobilize a person from deep within. I often find myself most afraid of how the anxiety itself will control my life. It is this fear that begins a whirlwind of trouble and triggers what psychologists call catastrophizing thoughts. This is where a person can take the smallest thing or thought and turn it into a full blown disaster in their mind. 

A variety of stratagies have helped me get my anxiety mostly under control. From medications, to therapy and meditation, I have learned skills and tools to calm my mind. I still have challenging days, and today was one of them which encouraged me to begin this new blog. I have another blog dedicated to my journey as a mother after multiple pregnancy losses, and writing has been so healing for me. I also have a passion to end the stigmatization attached to so called "taboo" subjects such as grief and mental health struggles.   

So I invite you into my anxious heart and mind and I hope that as I use this blog as just another tool for myself, I can also help others know that we are not alone in this journey and there is hope and love to get us through.