Of course I am anxious. How about you? (Part 1)

This post is about disarming anxiety with Permission-Based Healing. About meeting yourself where you are, and not making your going be any tougher than it has to be. It’s about how to bring Ease to What Is when what is hurts.

This post is dedicated to my #ppdchat friends: Jamie, (@jamesandjax on twitter, she blogs at www.jamesandjax.com), and to Rebekah and Amber Lena (@amberlenab on twitter, she blogs at www.taooftwins.com) who had a really insightful discussion thread at our #ppdchat facebook group. If you are dealing with anxiety and depression, don’t do this alone, come join us here.

Every time I am anxious, there is a perfectly valid reason. 

Sometimes I know the reason. Often I don’t. But even if I don’t know the exact WHY of it, the anxiety is valid. This doesn’t mean I like it or welcome it. And it doesn’t make the scary story the PPDemons are telling (or yelling) is necessarily true.

Just because I feel unsafe, doesn’t mean I am in danger.
Just as true: just because there is no imminent danger, doesn’t mean I have no right to be anxious.
I can be safe in the physical sense, even in the metaphysical sense, and still have every right to be anxious.
Lots of double negatives. Is this making sense?

Anxiety is a safety mechanism that sometimes goes bonkers.
As a mama recovering from postpartum depression and anxiety, my anxiety went bonkers a lot: so bonkers that I was practically paralyzed and shaking, all the while judging myself as a failure for having the anxiety go bonkers in the first place. Did I say bonkers? What a cute word. Bonkers!

And you know what? I had plenty of valid reasons to be anxious.

I was exhausted, overwhelmed, had no idea if I was doing anything right, so had a nagging feeling that I was a horrible mother. My house looked like a bomb went off. My body was nothing like it used to be before baby. I had zero control over my day. How COULD I feel safe? I was in uncharted territory, learning the ropes of motherhood while running on empty with a baby that wasn’t sleeping or gaining any weight.

And I made it worse by giving myself such a hard time over the anxiety, feeling so guilty for being anxious when I had “everything I ever wanted…” Right.

So I fought the anxiety. I tried to fight it away with all my might. And it didn’t work. Fighting made it worse.
Every time I fight myself for being anxious, I lose. I get more anxious. My heart beats faster. The uncomfortable vibrations in my body grow louder. I want to crawl out of my skin.

I don’t fight anxiety anymore. I allow it, and process it.
I invite you to consider allowing it too.

This is scary, isn’t it?
Of course it is. Allowing is terrifying because it is so counter-intuitive.

It seems like fighting is the only valid option. Like we must fight, because if we don’t fight we must lose. As if we don’t fight it we resign ourselves to permanent anxiety, a forever and ever of nasty sensations and soul-splitting self-doubt.

This is not Truth. It’s just how our culture operates.
We have never been taught how to make things go away without fighting them.
We are not used to asking: Are there any other options?
There are always other options.
Fighting is one option. Disarming is another.
Ah, disarming is one of my favorite words.
More options: learning and studying. Mining and harvesting. Tending and nourishing.

We are afraid that if we allow it to be, we are giving anxiety a hold on us. But the beauty is that allowing anxiety doesn’t make it stay longer, it dissolves it.

Banishing the anxiety doesn’t work because it is a fearful reaction. When you are dealing with fear, you can’t make it go away with more fear. You can’t banish anxiety just like you can’t banish the PPDemons by fighting them. The only effective antidotes to fear are love and trust. It seems like everybody is brave enough to fight, but are you brave enough to trust?
Yes, this is so very scary. But it is as powerful as it is essential.

Because sometimes, the only way out is through.
Unfortunately, this is the case here.
Because as much as we’d like to avoid anxiety, once it’s here, you can’t retreat from it, darn-it!.
Next time anxiety rears its ugly head, try this: don’t run, don’t hide, don’t fight.
Instead, disarm it.

How do you disarm anxiety?

By INTERACTING with it.
With curiosity, compassion, playfulness even. With love and trust.
Scary, but you can do this. Invite your inner wise woman to come out of her hiding place. Put down your weapons, and trade them for your detective/scientist tools: observation, experimentation, data collection, questioning, listening.   While you are at it, talk to yourself gently, treat yourself kindly. It’s ok to not be very good at this at first. Start, and you will get better. Better at this, better at large.

Put to the test:
This week, my husband had Lasik eye surgery. While supposedly it is a super-safe procedure, still, it involves someone cutting his eyes with a laser beam, yikes!!!!  So yes, it was hard to feel safe.  And I didn’t fight my anxiety for one minute. Instead of giving myself a hard time, I gave myself permission and compassion. So other than a slight uneasiness, I had no heart palpitations, sweats, or shakes. Also, since I didn’t need to pretend to be “strong”, I could be fully present, which made me stronger.  And I am giving us both credit for making a tough week easier with compassion and trust.

Throughout this surgery I got much support from my #ppdchat friends on twitter and facebook. Thank you so much for walking with me, my dear mamas, you make my journey so much better. 

Obviously, I have much more to say about this. I’m working on Part 2 of this post, and there might be a Part 3. But I’m going to publish this one today, so we can all start thinking about this. In a day or two I will be able to give you some examples of interacting and disarming. And of self-care actions that work for me, like Soul Cleansing Showers.

Until the next post is up, I hope you find this useful. I hope you have it easy, that your anxiety gives you a break. But if it does pester you, see if any of the stuff here is useful, and if it does, would you please let me know?

Comment magic:
How does this allowing anxiety business make you feel?
Is it so scary you want to puke, or is it the thrilling scary with the tingle of new possibility? I invite you to try these ideas and tell me how it goes.
As always, buckets of love your way. And whether you comment or not, may the joy be with you.

 

SpeakEasy reminder:

Our monthly support phone chat is coming up this Tuesday, August 9th, at 8:30pm Eastern Time.
You need to sign up for the PPD Love Letters (up there on the right) to get the conference call detailed emailed to you on the day of the call. It’s an inspiring conversations with wonderful mamas from near and far, because life gets easier when we share what’s hard.
You can read the how and the why of the PPD SpeakEasy is right here.
This phone chat got some tired mamas stamps of approval. 
Read them here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to Of course I am anxious. How about you? (Part 1)
  1. Jenny
    August 11, 2011 | 9:55 am

    Yael, thank you so much for this post and leading the speakeasy call. I finally feel more and more like I am not alone in this struggle with PPD and PPA. The panic attacks are gone after I used the method above. hopefully now I can apply it to my old friend, anxiety. I tried it the other day, and I just wrote down my concerns. Once I accepted what the anxiety was trying to say, I was able to ake some positive action. Thank you!

  2. Robin @ Farewell, Stranger
    August 7, 2011 | 7:53 pm

    I have discovered this to be true. It doesn’t always make it easier but it allows me to feel more in control.

    It is scary, but it’s so much better than having the waves wash over me, leaving me feeling completely overwhelmed. I talked to a friend recently who said she does this as well and was totally skeptical at first but found that it definitely worked. I’ve found the same to be true for depression. When I had a wave of it as I was transitioning off one medication I was MUCH better when I allowed it to be there and acknowledged that it had a source.
    Robin @ Farewell, Stranger recently posted..The Beginning of BlogHer ’11 in Photos

  3. Susan
    August 7, 2011 | 6:49 pm

    I like to think that by not engaging my anxiety – by feeling the symptoms and recognizing them for what they are (a physical response to the chemicals in my brain) – I can more easily choose how to respond to them. Instead of fighting to make the nausea go away, I take deep breaths and allow it to alleviate on its own. With my depression, I had to learn to stop analyzing the negative feelings for any kind of cause. I didn’t “make them go away”…I just didn’t give them any more attention or power over me than they already have. Hard to learn how to do, but so powerful.

  4. Jaime (James and Jax)
    August 6, 2011 | 3:50 pm

    My comment is short because I’m typing from the phone (yuck). But I wanted to comment that the thing that works best for me is to not fight it (like you wrote) but to tell myself “It’s ok. In an hour, you won’t be anxious. So just get through this hour.” someone once told me the body can physically be anxious for only 45 minutes at a time. That’s helped me get through anxiety attacks, whether it’s true or not! Hugs! Thanks for this, Yael!!

Of course I am anxious. How about you? (Part 1)

This post is about disarming anxiety with Permission-Based Healing. About meeting yourself where you are, and not making your going be any tougher than it has to be. It’s about how to bring Ease to What Is when what is hurts.

This post is dedicated to my #ppdchat friends: Jamie, (@jamesandjax on twitter, she blogs at www.jamesandjax.com), and to Rebekah and Amber Lena (@amberlenab on twitter, she blogs at www.taooftwins.com) who had a really insightful discussion thread at our #ppdchat facebook group. If you are dealing with anxiety and depression, don’t do this alone, come join us here.

Every time I am anxious, there is a perfectly valid reason. 

Sometimes I know the reason. Often I don’t. But even if I don’t know the exact WHY of it, the anxiety is valid. This doesn’t mean I like it or welcome it. And it doesn’t make the scary story the PPDemons are telling (or yelling) is necessarily true.

Just because I feel unsafe, doesn’t mean I am in danger.
Just as true: just because there is no imminent danger, doesn’t mean I have no right to be anxious.
I can be safe in the physical sense, even in the metaphysical sense, and still have every right to be anxious.
Lots of double negatives. Is this making sense?

Anxiety is a safety mechanism that sometimes goes bonkers.
As a mama recovering from postpartum depression and anxiety, my anxiety went bonkers a lot: so bonkers that I was practically paralyzed and shaking, all the while judging myself as a failure for having the anxiety go bonkers in the first place. Did I say bonkers? What a cute word. Bonkers!

And you know what? I had plenty of valid reasons to be anxious.

I was exhausted, overwhelmed, had no idea if I was doing anything right, so had a nagging feeling that I was a horrible mother. My house looked like a bomb went off. My body was nothing like it used to be before baby. I had zero control over my day. How COULD I feel safe? I was in uncharted territory, learning the ropes of motherhood while running on empty with a baby that wasn’t sleeping or gaining any weight.

And I made it worse by giving myself such a hard time over the anxiety, feeling so guilty for being anxious when I had “everything I ever wanted…” Right.

So I fought the anxiety. I tried to fight it away with all my might. And it didn’t work. Fighting made it worse.
Every time I fight myself for being anxious, I lose. I get more anxious. My heart beats faster. The uncomfortable vibrations in my body grow louder. I want to crawl out of my skin.

I don’t fight anxiety anymore. I allow it, and process it.
I invite you to consider allowing it too.

This is scary, isn’t it?
Of course it is. Allowing is terrifying because it is so counter-intuitive.

It seems like fighting is the only valid option. Like we must fight, because if we don’t fight we must lose. As if we don’t fight it we resign ourselves to permanent anxiety, a forever and ever of nasty sensations and soul-splitting self-doubt.

This is not Truth. It’s just how our culture operates.
We have never been taught how to make things go away without fighting them.
We are not used to asking: Are there any other options?
There are always other options.
Fighting is one option. Disarming is another.
Ah, disarming is one of my favorite words.
More options: learning and studying. Mining and harvesting. Tending and nourishing.

We are afraid that if we allow it to be, we are giving anxiety a hold on us. But the beauty is that allowing anxiety doesn’t make it stay longer, it dissolves it.

Banishing the anxiety doesn’t work because it is a fearful reaction. When you are dealing with fear, you can’t make it go away with more fear. You can’t banish anxiety just like you can’t banish the PPDemons by fighting them. The only effective antidotes to fear are love and trust. It seems like everybody is brave enough to fight, but are you brave enough to trust?
Yes, this is so very scary. But it is as powerful as it is essential.

Because sometimes, the only way out is through.
Unfortunately, this is the case here.
Because as much as we’d like to avoid anxiety, once it’s here, you can’t retreat from it, darn-it!.
Next time anxiety rears its ugly head, try this: don’t run, don’t hide, don’t fight.
Instead, disarm it.

How do you disarm anxiety?

By INTERACTING with it.
With curiosity, compassion, playfulness even. With love and trust.
Scary, but you can do this. Invite your inner wise woman to come out of her hiding place. Put down your weapons, and trade them for your detective/scientist tools: observation, experimentation, data collection, questioning, listening.   While you are at it, talk to yourself gently, treat yourself kindly. It’s ok to not be very good at this at first. Start, and you will get better. Better at this, better at large.

Put to the test:
This week, my husband had Lasik eye surgery. While supposedly it is a super-safe procedure, still, it involves someone cutting his eyes with a laser beam, yikes!!!!  So yes, it was hard to feel safe.  And I didn’t fight my anxiety for one minute. Instead of giving myself a hard time, I gave myself permission and compassion. So other than a slight uneasiness, I had no heart palpitations, sweats, or shakes. Also, since I didn’t need to pretend to be “strong”, I could be fully present, which made me stronger.  And I am giving us both credit for making a tough week easier with compassion and trust.

Throughout this surgery I got much support from my #ppdchat friends on twitter and facebook. Thank you so much for walking with me, my dear mamas, you make my journey so much better. 

Obviously, I have much more to say about this. I’m working on Part 2 of this post, and there might be a Part 3. But I’m going to publish this one today, so we can all start thinking about this. In a day or two I will be able to give you some examples of interacting and disarming. And of self-care actions that work for me, like Soul Cleansing Showers.

Until the next post is up, I hope you find this useful. I hope you have it easy, that your anxiety gives you a break. But if it does pester you, see if any of the stuff here is useful, and if it does, would you please let me know?

Comment magic:
How does this allowing anxiety business make you feel?
Is it so scary you want to puke, or is it the thrilling scary with the tingle of new possibility? I invite you to try these ideas and tell me how it goes.
As always, buckets of love your way. And whether you comment or not, may the joy be with you.

 

SpeakEasy reminder:

Our monthly support phone chat is coming up this Tuesday, August 9th, at 8:30pm Eastern Time.
You need to sign up for the PPD Love Letters (up there on the right) to get the conference call detailed emailed to you on the day of the call. It’s an inspiring conversations with wonderful mamas from near and far, because life gets easier when we share what’s hard.
You can read the how and the why of the PPD SpeakEasy is right here.
This phone chat got some tired mamas stamps of approval. 
Read them here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to Of course I am anxious. How about you? (Part 1)
  1. Jenny
    August 11, 2011 | 9:55 am

    Yael, thank you so much for this post and leading the speakeasy call. I finally feel more and more like I am not alone in this struggle with PPD and PPA. The panic attacks are gone after I used the method above. hopefully now I can apply it to my old friend, anxiety. I tried it the other day, and I just wrote down my concerns. Once I accepted what the anxiety was trying to say, I was able to ake some positive action. Thank you!

  2. Robin @ Farewell, Stranger
    August 7, 2011 | 7:53 pm

    I have discovered this to be true. It doesn’t always make it easier but it allows me to feel more in control.

    It is scary, but it’s so much better than having the waves wash over me, leaving me feeling completely overwhelmed. I talked to a friend recently who said she does this as well and was totally skeptical at first but found that it definitely worked. I’ve found the same to be true for depression. When I had a wave of it as I was transitioning off one medication I was MUCH better when I allowed it to be there and acknowledged that it had a source.
    Robin @ Farewell, Stranger recently posted..The Beginning of BlogHer ’11 in Photos

  3. Susan
    August 7, 2011 | 6:49 pm

    I like to think that by not engaging my anxiety – by feeling the symptoms and recognizing them for what they are (a physical response to the chemicals in my brain) – I can more easily choose how to respond to them. Instead of fighting to make the nausea go away, I take deep breaths and allow it to alleviate on its own. With my depression, I had to learn to stop analyzing the negative feelings for any kind of cause. I didn’t “make them go away”…I just didn’t give them any more attention or power over me than they already have. Hard to learn how to do, but so powerful.

  4. Jaime (James and Jax)
    August 6, 2011 | 3:50 pm

    My comment is short because I’m typing from the phone (yuck). But I wanted to comment that the thing that works best for me is to not fight it (like you wrote) but to tell myself “It’s ok. In an hour, you won’t be anxious. So just get through this hour.” someone once told me the body can physically be anxious for only 45 minutes at a time. That’s helped me get through anxiety attacks, whether it’s true or not! Hugs! Thanks for this, Yael!!