Stressed Much? For Women Who Have Too Much on Their Plate.
My Middle Age Mess
When I decided to have two more children in my late 30's, I wasn't really prepared for how much more energy it would take to raise two energetic boys once I was in my 40's. Now I'm 46 with 7 and 8 year old boys who require a lot of attention. So much has changed since I raised my first son, now 21.
My body is the first thing that has changed. I started perimenopause after the birth of my youngest child and experienced many problems. It seemed like my warranty expired and everything started breaking down! I work through problems and another one crops up. I have to be greatful that I have had each medical issue resolved with minor interventions and they have resolved. The one problem I'm having difficulty combating is stress.
Needing an Outlet
One way I've decided to combat the stress in my life is to write about it. I feel alone in this because let's face it, anxiety is a very subjective experience. I know I'm the only person who can feel my anxiety. I also know there are so many other women out there that feel the same way I do. I am told that I have panic attacks. I get this sudden burning pain in my chest, profuse sweating, numbness and tingling in both arms and I feel nauseated and sometimes vomit. My blood pressure during these episodes will climb to 220/110. My pulse stays the normal and I don't feel a sense of impending doom, I do get upset because the chest pain is very painful and I know my B/P is high. I also get upset because I feel like I have somehow failed my family and myself when I have a panic attack.These episodes have increased from once a month to two-three times a week and sometimes twice on the days I have them. The only thing that stops the attacks is a small amount of xanax.
I've tried antidepressants which did not work, and now that I am taking Buspar, the attacks have increased. I only take xanax when I have an attack. The xanax makes me tired and I still need to work, drive, and take care of my kids, so I don't want meds like that to make me sleepy. I'm even having therapy to help with the attacks.
I guess my real problem now is, why do I still have these episodes and why won't they stop? Is it panic, or is it hypertension that goes out of control when I'm stressed?
Things I can do to Combat Stress
I know my life is very stressful. My house is a complete mess, money is hard to manage and I work extra hours. My husband wants to be supportive, but he is trying to help his elderly mother since his father passed away. Basically, his energy goes there and he has very little time for anything at home.
I can't change someone else's behavior, but I can certainly change how I feel and respond to the behavior. I can even let myself relax once in a while. None of these things will be an overnight change, but day by day things will improve. I started reading very encouraging books to help me figure out what direction I need to take. I have been most influenced by Dr. Wayne Dyer and his take on life. My thoughts lead the direction of my life. I don't believe there is anyone who can truly say, " I was living a great life, no worries, no fears and blam, everything collapsed." We have fears and worries even if our lives seem to be moving along well. Many of us think to ourselves, "This is too good to be true." or "I wonder when it will all fall apart?" I personally feel so guilty when I need to stay home and take care of myself that I can have a panic attack just thinking about it. I find myself saying things to myself that I would be shocked to hear another person say. Most of the inner talk that all of us have is very unflattering. Really, how often do you think to yourself, "you are great!" "I knew you could do it because you are so smart!" I'm willing to bet almost never. We usually tell ourselves how stupid we are, why did I do that, etc.
So how do I combat these harmful thoughts? By first catching the negative self talk. I started by keeping track of all the nasty little comments I make to myself. I find myself stopping to correct my thoughts very frequently. I take the negative thought and change it into a more positive reference. For instance if I mess up and think to myself, "you're so dumb, why did you do that?", I will correct that thought with "I did the best I could in the current situation."
I'm not going to tell you that I have changed my life and everything is running smoothly. This is a journey for me. I continue to have panic attacks, but I'm trying new things to help minimize the way anxiety is affecting my life. I continue to seek therapy to help and will be glad to share any insights so those of you looking for your own help might benefit from my experiences.