The Sound of Anxiety

Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. 

This has been my mantra of late. Anything that helps my foot stop tapping incessantly is kosher. Seriously, I’ll be sitting and reading to relax and my foot taps. It drives me nuts! 

I swear its like my leg has been possessed by some march written in cut time. Think “76 Trombones led the big parade…” from the music man. Except faster. 

I try anything to distract from the tapping, which means I’ve been doing lots of cleaning. (Yet, we are still being invaded by bugs seeking homes for the winter.) The incessant tapping has led to incessant doing and I feel no better. 

The funny thing is when I stop my toe from tapping my thigh and calf will begin clinching to the beat. 

 The beat is anxiety. 

It’s a crazed jazz mashup with a sousaphone march. This is how anxiety feels. 

I think the hardest part of anxiety is that it doesn’t really stop. Sure, there are times when I’m overly anxious about a circumstance or event. Then, there are also times when I’m twitching for no reason at all. My brain seems to think we are being chased by a bear or something. 

There is no bear! No catastrophe. 

Just the grating of radio static. Anxiety is noise when there is no sound. It’s desperately waiting for the world to end, but then discovering that the world will go on and on for thousands of years. Meanwhile, you are still waiting. 

Still tapping your foot to music that isn’t there.

 

Candidly,

Ash

Around the Spiral Stair

Someone wise says that life is like a spiral staircase. We just keep coming around to the same problems, but each time we are closer to the destination.

That feels very real to me today.

Rhese was referred for speech services today. They truly do not think it is autism like Evan. Yet, we are playing catch up once again.

I remember when Evan was referred for speech. He had no words and he was much younger than Rhese is now. If you told me then that he would never speak, I would not have believed it. I was optimistic and felt like the therapy would help.

I feel that way again.

Except.

I’m also feeling the foreboding that is natural with doing something a second time. I feel like I should be worried. Perhaps, deep down, I am underneath. Perhaps I was worried deep down, underneath with Evan. Perhaps all of the optimism is just a sham. A way of coping? No. A way of not feeling? Probably.

How do I crawl beneath my façade? How do I find what’s really inside?

Inside I worry that Rhese has ADHD so badly that he is missing things already. I worry that maybe he won’t start kindergarten like a normal boy. I worry that he will be categorized as the ‘rambunctious’ or ‘bad’ boy. I worry.

I am sad.

I am sad that I have to worry again at all. That, for just this once, I could have smooth sailing. I’ve done all the worrying a soul can do.

And so all I have is low-grade fever of sadness and the words of The Beatles song to comfort me….

Let it be.

Candidly,

Ash

New Paths to Comfort

Last night, my daughter just wanted a treat after dance, because it had been a hard practice. I totally get it, but right now, in my life, comfort cannot be taken from food. So we talked it out and had lots of hugs and I sang her songs.

Everything was kosher.

Lately, I struggle to find comfort. A soft blanket, pretty candles, a clean home – these were once things I found comforting. I just don’t anymore.

This is probably going to sound stupid, but I really long for a comfy couch. Our couches literally have holes in them and I’m tired of their awfulness. I don’t even want to sit on them.

We also have ants, despite the cleanish home that I’ve been pouring myself into. There is nothing like sitting on a couch and having an ant crawl on you.

Yet, I think some of this is symbolic. I can’t find comfort, not because of an icky couch, but because sitting is no longer comforting. Perhaps what I really need besides the cozy is an afternoon in the sun doing yoga. Maybe the ants represent the way worry crawls on me and ruins my zen. Maybe I need time in guided meditation away from the creepy crawly thoughts.

Most of all, I recognize these feelings, because I felt them long ago when I was not depressed. I didn’t care for them then so I squashed them.

I had better take care of them now.

*Side note: Yoga in the sun did help. I also poured myself into making the couch nice, which worked. Turns out the ants were following the scent of food Evan had deposited deep down in the couch. Facepalm. Though I still find worry crawls on me….**

Candidly,

Ash

Letting Go of Worry

I don’t know what to write today. More about how I’m anxious? It’s getting old.

Sometimes I wish that I could control what thoughts come into my mind. Unfortunately, there is a significant body of evidence out there which says most of our hardwiring is completed by age eight. I can’t control the thoughts that come to my mind.

I can, however, choose which ones to focus on. I can choose to let go of a thought.

While that is powerful and a worthy topic, I just want to talk about the fact that choosing gets old. I can choose to let a thought go, only for it to return moments later. It doesn’t mean my earlier choice wasn’t true or with full effort. It’s just part of the process. Thoughts come and thoughts go. Choosing to let go has gotten easier. Choosing to let go on repeat?

That is hard shit right there.

This morning I was reminded by a friend of the words in I Peter 5:7

Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.

Literally translated, the word “cast” actually means “to throw upon”. Throw all of your cares and worries upon Him. I don’t know about you, but throwing seems a lot better than casting. Casting reminds me of fishing. If you cast your line or net into the water, then you also bring it back in (presumably with fish on it). I don’t particularly want my worries to come back.

But how do we throw our worries instead of casting them?

In many Christian traditions, a person will go to the chapel to pray for loved ones. Upon praying, they will then light a candle and allow it to burn as a symbol of their ongoing request being received into God’s hands. I love this symbolism.

I think maybe when I’m throwing off my worries to God, I might start finding a way to symbolize the worry leaving my hands and entering His. Maybe I’ll burn candles or maybe I’ll pour water down the drain of my sink. Maybe I’ll jot the worries down and then toss them in the trash.

Maybe, maybe this will help.

If not, then I’ll still be over here trying to let go, again and again.

Candidly,

Ash

The Worry Makes the Wart

My little girl had a worrisome lump on the back of her neck. It wasn’t a wart, if that’s what you are thinking. So I called the doctor and insisted she be seen the same day, because that is what helicopter parents do. I’m not a full-time helicopter parent, but I do reserve that right in the case of neck lumps. FYI.

All day, I would reach over and check the lump to see if it got larger or felt feverish. I made her rest. She ate popsicles and chicken soup, because these things solve neck lumps, naturally. She basked in the attention. I felt my blood pressure creeping ever higher as we neared the appointment, where I was certain that she would have to give blood and pee, as well as disrobe for invasive testing. I scheduled a babysitter for the other children. I knew if the other children witnessed such offenses, then I would be dragging them into the doctor kicking and screaming for all future appointments.

Lunch time passed and I set an alarm to be sure I started readying the children, packing diaper bags and snacks for the sitter’s house, scrubbing slimy faces, etc. Not to mention loading the vehicle, which is definitely a ten minute process. I packed the iPad for the lump-afflicted child, but not before researching neck lumps. Neck lumps can be just about anything, but WebMD places Lymphoma and Leukemia at the top of the list. Naturally, I texted and called close relatives. The helicopter momma had definitely lifted off.

The time for loading the vehicle came, I delegated tasks to be more efficient. We walked onto the porch and the girls headed towards my husband’s vehicle. Wait. My husband’s vehicle? No, that’s not right. We don’t fit in there. There are no car seats. I don’t have his keys.

The lesson here is that worry gets you nowhere. Literally, we were going nowhere. I had spent my whole day worrying and still missed the one thing I needed to have – transportation.

When I shared that I had been a total worry wart to my mom later, it dawned on me why they use that term. The worry makes you a wart. Worry-wart.

In the end, the doctor suspected cat scratch fever, of all things. He started her on an antibiotic to see if the lump would improve. It seems they are not eager to poke innocent little girls with needles or force them into large magnetic machines for lengthy periods of time.

Who knew?