Saturday, 20 August 2011

parenting through an anxiety attack


A lot of my ED habits are an attempt to keep my anxiety under control. And for me this is surprising, as I never knew I had a problem with anxiety before. Yes, my eating disorder has been that successful in keeping anxiety under control that I have only started having anxiety attacks this year, now that I am working to eliminate my ED.

So now that I know, I need to learn how to reduce the symptoms of the anxiety without resorting to my dangerous habits. Returning to ED habits will simply prolong my recovery, it will not cure the anxiety, so that's not an option.

So what is an option?

Well, being able to walk away from parenting, certainly isn't.  But so much of the information I have read on how to deal with anxiety attacks assumes that you are able to just disappear for a few hours to recover.

But 99% of the time I can't. There's still a house-full of small people who need to be fed, washed, dressed and driven around - and I have no family here to help me.

So here's what I find helpful.

1. stay away from the caffeine
I like coffee and tea, a lot. It is warm and comforting. But a really bad idea if my heart rate is already through the roof. So I switch to peppermint tea for the duration.

2. prioritise
What can I just skip it today? The swimming lessons? The supermarket? Am I ok with letting them just watch tv or play at the park for an hour instead of rushing around?
I like to work out what I have to do immediately and what can just be 'let go' this time.

3. break it down
If I'm having an anxiety attack I'm not myself.
Normally I'm a can-do-anything type person. In the middle of an attack everything is a struggle and completely overwhelming. But breaking down my evening and my tasks into 15 minute intervals is helpful for me.
eg: here's what my anxiety evening might look like in my head.
(Note, I'm going to 'let go' of reading to the kids and doing the dishes that night because nothing terrible will happen if I don't do those things.)

**Any time I have left over in each 15min block I can have to sit down and breathe. That is then my time as each task doesn't need to start until the next 15min block**
No rushing.

4. breathe
It's that simple. Slow deep, eyes shut, breathing. Slow everything down. No rushing.

5. block it out
If need be I will also put my ipod on quietly in my ears to block out a lot of the chatter that I don't need to hear right away. I can still hear them perfectly well if I need to, but I don't need to hear all the "don't push" "shut up" "give it me" "I was here first" "That's my chair" "don't!" "stop it!" "muuuuuuuuuum I wanted that first" "why can't I have one" "everyone else's mum said yes"
Alright, you get the idea. And you don't need to hear all of that on your anxiety night!

And once I've got them all to bed I go and take a nice hot shower.

And breathe.

And then go to bed...

and remember, I'm new to all this, so if you have some great suggestions of what works for you I'd love you to share! Thanks :)


Anonymous said...

I love your timetable to make sure the important 'must do' things happen at an appropriate time. My biggest issues seem to revolve around me being a control freak so it is all or nothing. If my day doesn't exactly fit the routine I had planned then it is likely to all collapse around me, I get all snippy and end up binging and the spiral continues.

I am working on my control issues but it will be a slow process. I need to add breathe to my routine, as a part of the routine to give myself a chance to chill out and recover if things don't go to plan.

I have to say I love my iPod too - I use it of a morning to start the day relaxed and on my terms!

xo Poppy

HikerRD said...

Caution! Please don't limit breathing to 7:45!

PJ said...

ha ha! alright, what I really meant "all my jobs are now done, so I can relax, yay!" :)