September 13, 2017

Some words on Anxiety

There are times when I feel like I can't even talk. I leave the house & put on my character - Chantelle, the me who is confident & overly polite & well spoken. I either avoid people at all costs, do only what I know is required, or psych myself up because I know I have to talk to people. On bad days, the words get muddled up in my mouth, or I completely forget the word for something. Sometimes I just panic & feel like I sound stupid. I get intimidated by people, even when they are someone I'm familiar with or have a great relationship with. 
It makes me feel like an absolute dumbass, for want of a better word. 
There are times when I am torn between leaving the house because I know it's needed for my sanity, but then I cannot even get my head around how to make that happen. I stand in my hallway & work through lists in my head, "Get dressed, put on makeup, dress & change the baby, repack the nappy bag, bring the nappy bag. Will we need jackets, hats? Where is the pram? The pram is heavy, I can't do this, there's so much mucking around involved. It's not worth it. I should just stay here. Look at all this housework I need to do. Yep, that's it, I can't leave. But I should leave, I need to leave. Nope, it's too much effort. What if *insert minor catastrophe here* happens? I won't be prepared. Oh man, there's so much pressure". Seems ridiculous right? It is, but I feel trapped & I can't get past it. It holds me back, it holds me captive to my own feelings of inadequacy. 
Anxiety tells me the worst will happen. Anxiety tells me I won't be able to do anything about it. Anxiety tells me I'm not equipped enough as a parent, let alone a person, I'm too weak to get through it. Anxiety makes me fear awkward conversations that may never eventuate. Anxiety makes me avoid people who care for me. Anxiety makes me avoid unwanted obligation at all costs. Anxiety makes me angry & resentful. It makes me tired because I cannot control everything...
There are key people who seem to bring out the worst in me during seasons of anxiety. Just the thought of them doing something (that they probably won't even do anyway) creates such an issue in my thoughts. I become unable to move past the actions I've created in my head. I become deeply resentful & easily angered. It creates such a toxic environment. But I know it's purely a trigger & I need to "talk myself down from the ledge", as we've come to refer to anxiety episodes in our house.
One of the best things I did for my anxiety, apart from seeking professional help, was validating my own feelings. Whether it be quotes on Pinterest, information pages online or self-help books, I filled my over-thinking head with information instead of letting it run away with possible scenarios. I needed to know that other's felt similar or the same, that I wasn't going insane. 
It helped my Husband to understand me too. Not only that, it will give over-active brains something else to think about. 
If I were to give someone in the same situation some advice, I'd simply say - cut yourself some slack. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, but don't let them control you, stop & ask yourself why you feel the way you do about the situation & how can you improve it? And most importantly, equip yourself with facts & tools to help. Talk, seek & work with what you know you can handle. I know myself so much better now & I know my triggers. You can't be expected to completely change your personality, so work with what you got. I don't completely avoid uncomfortable situations, but I know myself far better these days so I can manage them better. For me, that's been the strongest weapon. 
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I'm back.... Again!

I've been thinking a lot about coming back here & writing again. It's been on my mind for a while, but one thing or another always stands between me & the keyboard & I often find the words disappear. But not today... I've sat myself in the sun, sleeping baby next to me & a cup of tea ready to be sipped as the words began to falter & I need time to think. I wanted to write about anxiety. I wanted to write about my journey after babies, how it's changed me & how I've grown from it. I don't know if anyone will care to read it, but writing has always been therapy to me. And so I don't know how well they'll fall here, my words, but I'll continue on until there are no more words to say...
It started after my second child. The anxiety, that is. I remember it was around the death of my Grandmother that I realised I was having panic attacks. My lungs just couldn't seem to fill with enough air. I'd pause & tell myself I was breathing, I could feel the air entering my body & leaving, & yet it never felt like enough. I could be sitting in the car, no worries on my mind & all of a sudden, "I can't breathe!", I'd gasp to my husband before turning the aircon up till it blasted in my face, or hanging my head out the window like a dog & gulping at the air. He would ask me why, & I never could pinpoint a reason, I just felt like I was suffocating. There were nights I'd lie in bed, unable to sleep, while worries imprisoned me beneath their weight. My eyes would be wide open & even though I could feel myself breathing, there was just never enough air. Even deep breaths couldn't quench my need & I'd fling the window open even in the middle of winter, just to get that crisp hit of air to fill my chest. 
I did seek help, I saw a Dr who sent me to a counsellor, but I never found that helpful. I didn't want to go on drugs to help me control it but I didn't want to let it control me either. So I saw a Naturopath, who was an absolute Godsend. And I started exercising. Those two steps alone allowed me to gain back some control of myself & my life. 
It took some time, but I managed myself well enough that for the last few years I have managed to feel on top of things again & have had little to no panic attacks. My Husband even worked away for almost a year, & I managed, I coped. But now I'm five years & another baby down the track & I've begun to feel myself falling back down that dark hole again. I still suffer from anxiety, I still have 'down days' & I really struggle with my energy, but I'm way ahead of where I've been. I've learnt so much about self & have become more aware of the triggers & signs. I have the tools this time.
 And that's when I knew I needed to write again. I needed to see my Naturopath again & take those steps to get myself back again. I don't like this person that I become & I know I can avoid becoming her with a few simple steps & a little self care.
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October 26, 2016

Mother Xena

I often wonder if people get a bit annoyed at my gushy, lovey-dovey posts on Facebook & Instagram. I expect there could be some eye rolling, I am never one to dull down my emotions, which I know can be quite confronting for some people. And this morning after thinking about it for some time I decided to come clean...

For a really long time I was angry. I was negative. I resented the things I believed were missing from my life & the input that I felt I should have had from family members. I was not happy & I wasn't a good wife or mother. I felt stranded, trapped. This one thing that I'd always wanted, motherhood, made me feel so deeply unhappy. I looked around me & felt like everyone else was doing a much better job & I wasn't sure how I'd ever manage to measure up. I desperately needed a break, but despite missing my children like a limb the second they were gone, it never felt like enough.

I watched on as friends with local family received the help I so desperately craved & I became bitter. It seemed so unfair to me that we had no parents around to help out, to help us raise & reinforce love when I seemed to be lacking it. I wanted back up & I was anxious, depressed & struggling to make an effort to change the downward slope of my existence.

After seeking help using all the resources I did have at my disposal, I started to notice a change. Not just in myself but in how I related to my kids & even my Husband. I suddenly saw the sun for the first time in a long time. My muddied lungs cleared & filled with fresh air & suddenly I felt like maybe I could be the Mum I was meant to be. It wasn't an easy time, there was major soul searching  involved & I had to get to know myself in a way I never had before. It was hard work but I damn well dug my way out. I proved to myself that I can totally do this!

Since then I made a decision to be as positive as I could about the things I was most grateful for, & when I looked around, I realised I had so much. And I want to be vocal about those things. I want to brag about my Husband. I want to be openly proud of these two amazing girls we're watching grow & develop. I want to show off this new baby bump, the one I never expected to see. I want to be crazy about my life, I want to promote thankfulness & love & emit vibes of pure happiness. Because being bitter & sour is so draining. It's not living, its existing.

I don't want to tone down my joy, or the things that make me happy, I want to celebrate all the things that give me joy in this lifetime. I need to. And sometimes you just have to embrace your crazy, chaotic life & learn to love it.

If you're struggling to get your mother Xena on, stop what you're doing right now. Put down your phone or your life-drainer & take responsibility for yourself. Make the changes you know you need to make to leave those trenches behind. Be your own saviour & stop waiting for someone else to rescue you from your sadness or situation. I don't say this to offer you tough love, I say it to you like this because sometimes we need to love ourselves enough to save ourselves. Sometimes we need to be our own damn warrior.

February 23, 2016

... and I

I stopped writing.

I stopped because I couldn't get the words out of my head, through my fingers & onto a page. I had ideas, I just couldn't motivate myself to bring them out.

I stripped everything back. Took away all the past bits that might influence me & decided to start all over again. Fresh, new... NEW!! I'm not who I was 12 months ago. Well I am, but I feel different. I have a strength now that I was missing back then. Parts of me that were hurting have found a level of healing that has enabled me to push forward. I've been on a journey of self-preservation. Because quite simply, I am worth fighting for, no matter who disagrees.
Whether there is anyone out there to read this, or whether its just a process I need to do for myself, I have decided to start my blog all over again. With my new voice.

I am the Soul Bare Mama. I used to say I was Mama first, soul-barer second, but I've come to realise that I am actually by nature a soul-barer first & then a Mama. Without that important fact rectified, I am a little less myself, so its important for me to acknowledge that I am a person first & then my role within my household. Strip me of either & I am more of a shell.

In the past year, I have come to realise that the parts of me that might be too much for others, are actually okay. I have found peace with who I am (finally, its only taken 30 odd years). I can survive being a little messed up, a little bit odd or even emotionally unhinged. What I can no longer survive with is suppressing who I am to make others feel less uncomfortable. Trust me, no loss will be harder to bare than the one I've already dealt with on this journey. 
If nothing else comes of this but my own continued progress, then I'm doing okay still.
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