Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How do you get yourself out of those anxiety black holes?

I lost it over a door handle the other evening. Sabrina had a few friends visiting this weekend and somehow, they broke the lever to the basement door. First I couldn't remove it. Then I realized part of it was warped. I hammered it out, but another part stumped me.

The baby is all over the place, so we need a basement door that locks. Also: It. Was. One. More. Thing. To. Deal. With.


Poor Max did not want any part of it. He opened the front door and went onto the porch. Dave tried to calm me but I was determined to fix the damn door handle. (I'm more handy than Dave is, which he'll be the first to admit.) After I spent an hour trying to install two teeny tiny screw with an Allen wrench, though, I had to admit defeat.

Dave thought I was being completely irrational, and he was right. Still, my reaction wasn't really about the door handle. Is it ever really about that one thing? I went off the deep end because I've been anxious about deciding on a high school for Max. The process has not been smooth. Although I've tried to find an inclusive program, it doesn't seem to be working out. (More on that another time.) The concern I feel about the big changes happening in our country are also feeding into my stress.

Sometimes, my anxiety about Max has a way of seeping into other parts of my life. A couple of weeks ago, I pretty much convinced myself that our home's foundation was sinking. First I spotted a gigantic crack on baseboard molding in the living room. Then I started noticing other cracks—by a window on the second floor, on baseboard molding in our bedroom. Oh, and the attic door was no longer closing. This was all on our home's right side; it's the addition part of our house, which dates back to 1922. We'd had construction done in the kitchen before the baby was born—could that have set the house askew?!

When I shared my house foundation freakout in a local Facebook group, most people noted the cracks were probably due to contraction of wood from the winter cold. Still, why were they all on one side of the house? Would we end up living like some people in a childhood rhyme, one side of the house up, one side of the house down?! I've wandered around the house peering intensely at cracks, likely convincing Dave I am even more far gone than he suspected.

I had to admit, the anxiety I've been carrying around has caused cracks in my foundation.

Taking Ben for long walks in his stroller and talking with friends helps. So does taking action steps. I have a contractor coming in Thursday to eyeball stuff. I've called senators to oppose Betsy DeVos, and I've been figuring out what I can do for Max. He goes to an inclusionary camp during the summer. I'm going to see if I can find another activity in our area that's inclusive. Or maybe I can pair Max up with a peer his age to help encourage friendship. Or...I don't know. Yet.

Ironically, the other thing that helps me cope with anxiety is—wait for it—doing home repairs. Getting into the zone of fixing broken stuff is a good distraction. It's satisfying when there is stuff in Max's life and stuff in the world at large that I cannot fix.

Dave got a new door lever from Home Depot and I easily installed it. Turns out I had accidentally removed two screws that weren't supposed to be removed.

How do you handle those times when anxiety gets the best of you?


  1. Chocolate - lots and lots of chocolate (junk food is my friend). Besides that, late night youtube/video watching, or fanfic reading. Basically, after my day is over and my not-so-little-ones are finally down for the night, I try to take some "me" time, no matter how late it is. If I don't, I land up feeling that I'm going straight from all day mommy-ing to sleep to right back to all day mommy-ing. I need that break in order to de-stress and be functional and human to my family, even if it means I'm sometimes a bit of a zombie in the morning. - Alyssa

  2. I know I'm far from being a parent but I talk a lot with friends and I practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques which are part of mindfulness.

  3. Could a Special Olympics Unified Team activity be in option for Max? I know here in NJ there are lots of unified sports to choose from at both competitive and recreational levels. Just a thought. As far as stress and anxiety goes, I'm afraid I like wine. Maybe a little too much.

  4. All the things you mention. Plus Xanax. I'm not joking, actually. When talking/cleaning (rather than repairing) the house/walking don't do the trick, I give myself a break and take a low dose of Xanax (which is my anxiolytic of choice). Once the physiological anxiety response is in full gear, it is super hard for me to bring it back down without a little help. I don't take it daily, but when needed, I do take it, and (most important part) don't beat myself up or judge myself for it.

  5. Most often I need a reminder to not yell. Fortunately my oldest daughter (18) will remind me (she hates conflict). But we will see at the end of this month. I missed/canceled my 14-year-old's transition to high school IEP because he is sick. Turned out it is influenza and the drug store is out of liquid tamaflu. Last Wednesday my 16-year-old was diagnosed with PCOS. Then yesterday the blood work results showed that she has diabetes (waiting to hear back from the diabetes clinic for an initial appointment). And the 18-year-old found out it is virtually impossible to get in-state status so she can go to her college of choice (Humboldt State). I can't afford out-of-state tuition. I see junk food in my future.

  6. Is it possible for Max to be included in electives? At my high school P.E. was the most common class where this happened as they had an adaptive P.E. teacher who I took class with due to a physical disability who would co-teach the regular P.E. class. Lots of socialization goes on in P.E. I know we had students with intellectual disabilities in other electives as well but without a co-teacher.

  7. Anxiety relievers... organizing, painting, gardening, dark chocolate, wine.

    Feel your high school anxiety. My son started high school the year my husband had a sabbatical in a large city across the country from our home state, family and friends. He performed well and I survived. There is no perfect choice but you are doing all the right things to make informed decisions. Follow your heart; and keep your home repair toolbox nearby.

  8. I am having a really hard time with this right now -- seems like I hit a wall every so often when it comes to anxiety/worries and juggling all the therapies and appointments and social support and insurance rules and above all the painful medical info, so it goes like:
    1. Juggle Juggle Juggle
    2. Juggle with Increased Anxiety
    3. Juggle with Sudden Additional External Stress/News and Sugar Binge
    4. Meltdown
    (5. ....profit? I wish)
    To cope I eat a lot of sweet stuff. I drink a lot of tea -- mostly herbal, since a therapist recently told me that caffeine can heighten anxiety. I watch a lot of Netflix. I take breaks and walks. I started volunteering in my work field (archives/libraries) 1-2x a week, and that has really helped. I started rereading one of my favorite old comfort reads last night. Reading posts like this help me remember I'm not alone, not doing it wrong, and certainly not broken because I can't handle this all the time without breaks or help. But I don't know if any of this stuff is working to break up this cycle of juggling-to-meltdown in five easy steps. Maybe I need to do more home repair. :D

  9. We got two young cats to help the family cope after our second oldest child died last summer. We had planned to get some soon but got them sooner. Fur therapy helps everyone. We think we have some kind of critter(s) in one wall so now cats are doubly appreciated until we get that resolved.

    General anxiety has gotten very high after the holidays. I can't take my mind off the dysfunction that could hit our medical care. If the lifetime cap is taken away, I just don't know. I used to see all the bills from the hospital but nothing is sent after our youngest hits her deductible (last year that happened a few days into Feb), gee whiz the lifetime total should be over 500k because she's relatively healthy but the surgeries are usually 25-50k, other stuff adds up. We had a snow day the other day (rarely snows + hills = no school). I don't think anyone thought about the political circus and it was a huge relief. If there's some planned way to cause that which isn't costly, I would love to know some ideas.

  10. Another great post, I really appreciate your efforts on the blog here. You have a gift for putting things in such a way that your message comes through loud and clear, is so RELEVANT, and puts everything in proper perspective (at least for me anyway).

    Thanks again
    Lung - www.e-counseling.com


Thanks for sharing!

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