Tuesday, December 23, 2008

7 Hints to Help You with Your Anxiety

1. Realize that you have a problem-When I was in high school, I could always tell in November that symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) were coming on when the niggling thoughts in my mind became obsessive, and I was on constant alert for the sky falling. It wasn't until my late 20's/early 30's when I began to deal with my anxiety disorder. When anxiety becomes crippling; you can't get out of bed; or your consumed with worry that you can't focus on anything else, it's time to get help.

2. Recognize it's not your fault that you suffer from anxiety-The cause can be physical, environmental, or a combination of reasons. I can tell that my anxiety disorder is part environmental and part physical.

3. Talk to your doctor--S/he will be able to direct you to professional help. You may also need to get testing down to see if there's a specific physical reason for your anxiety. My family physician gave me a checklist to answer about how I responded to certain situations and if I worry a lot. And my OB/GYN tested my thyroid. All of this is to pinpoint the exact source of my anxiety.

4. Get counseling-I found counseling very healing. I learned to deal with my anxiety as well as understanding the root causes of it. I also found compassion. I've had Biblical counselors who were older women, that took me under their wings. They were like mothers to me--comforting me and urging me to grow. They listened sympathetically, and sometimes empathetically, as I cried and told them my story.

5. Join a support group-Get to know others who deal with the same issues that you have. It reminds you that you are not alone. I must confess, I never joined a support group solely based on anxiety and depression. However, I've met people along the way, through books and in person, who've had the same kinds of issues that I did. I sighed a breath of relief as I realized I wasn't a weirdo, but one of thousands who deal with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). We can empathize with each other and share our stories to give hope and opportunities for growth.

6. Journal, pray, join a religious group-Develop the spiritual aspects of your life. It will give you hope when you feel low. Plus, it's another outlet to meet friends and spiritual advisors to be with you during your darkest moments. I know my faith in Christ is what continues to keep me grounded. The Bible has given me hope, and prayer I keep a prayer journal, which allows me to express my feelings to Father God. Plus, a Biblically-based church can be a home to those who suffer from anxiety, depression, as well as many other mental health issues. The key is finding the right church, and that can take time and prayer.

7. Learn more about your anxiety disorder-Knowledge can help you become informed, take control of your disorder, and help you in healing. I'm a journalist, so a big part of my job is research. I've researched my anxiety disorder on sites like http://www.nih.gov/ and www.about.com, which has other helpful links to other mental health websites. And, your local library will have a chock full of books on mental health issues.

Don't be ashamed of your disorder. We aren't perfect and this life can be topsy-turvy at times. There is help and hope out there. I know because I live with GAD. Just don't give up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Severe Weather Warning

“With boys, you always know where you stand. Right in the path of a hurricane.” ~Erma Bombeck, from Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession.

The hurricane starts at birth. The screaming boy doesn’t hesitate to tell you he’s not happy, and you, mom, are responsible for this error in judgment.

The baby’s scream means, “I’m hungry; I’m cold; my diaper is full of something unpleasant. And it’s your entire fault because you are sitting on the toilet, taking a shower, or folding clothes. You’re supposed to be standing here taking care of me when I call.”

Yet, you could make the argument that the hurricane begins at conception. Or at least say it’s a warning that life won’t be the same once the boy is born. You’re sick, your body changes, and you’re hungry, bordering on ravenous. Is this unique to carrying boys? I don’t know; I only had boys. But I know one thing, compared to women who had daughters, I had a ravenously hungry boy once he entered the world. It seemed that no sooner had I put him down after nursing him that he was crying for more. It was only eight years after I quit nursing him at four weeks that my neighbor, who had always had girls and her third child was a boy, realize that her newborn was more hungry and greedy at the boob than her daughters were. I breathed a sigh of relief because I thought all of my son’s problems were based on the fact that I quit nursing him at one month of life.

The eye of the storm only exists at night when they’re sleeping. Of course, doctors say you should go to bed when your kids do so you get enough sleep. I always laughed at that. I mean it’s the only time I became a person again. CSI, the news, and Everyone Loves Raymond stimulated me back to earth after a draining day of Barney and the Teletubbies.

Watch out, Mom. When Sonny starts walking, all the fun ends. He’s no longer cute and adorable. He’s now independent, curious, and irascible. Gone are all the pretty knick knacks and Grandma’s china. Gone is carrying the baby into Wal-Mart on a rainy December day. No, it’s now, grab the hand and tolerate the wailing when Sonny-boy wants to jump in the icky puddle-filled pothole in the busy parking lot.

Then it’ the playdates. I find a group of boys a lot more relaxing than mixed group of boys and girls. Boys like to jump on each other, go in fives down the slide, and find it great fun to walk in front of kids on swings. Whereas, little girls find it highly offensive when the boys decide to crash into her on the slide; pull her off the swing; or throw sand in her face.

And it only gets rougher as they get older. By the time boys are six, they know how to move the picnic table under the tree to climb onto it. Furthermore, they’re adapt at teaching their friends how to climb trees too. I’ve already had three to four boys in one tree—without the other mothers knowing what was going on.

You know where to stand with a boy—just don’t get in the way—or you’ll get mowed down with the rest of the debris.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Five Random Thoughts on Parenting

1. Parenting is not for sissies-Like marriage, parenting is hard work because you're the adult. Your children aren't put in this world to be your friend, give you love or companionship, to save your marriage, or to shoulder your problems.

2. There are days when you'll want to hang up the towel-But don't give up! I remember when I had two boys, infant and 19 months old. And I thought I was going to pull my hair out. Also, my husband and I have had to deal with behavioral issues in our children that went on for years. Finally, it clicked with the child we have been working with--and we don't always know which method did the trick. Maybe a combination of them all. Maybe the child matured to a level where that particular behavior was working for her anymore. Who knows? The key is to keep going even if you think that you're losing the battle. We're put in charge of our offspring to raise them to be productive adults in society. That kind of parenting takes continual hard work, prayer, and perserverance.

3. Parenting is meant for a team of two, not a team of one-For those of you who are single-parenting because your spouse has died or has abandoned you and the kids, this tip isn't for you. For those of you who are sick of your husband playing Wii rather than talking to you, go get some marital counseling. Your kids will thank you for it. Research has shown that kids do better in homes where parents stayed together compared to parents' who divorced--even amicably.

4. Filter your mother's advice--Mom sometimes does know best--especially when it comes to eating your veggies. But discount that voice which would harm your child, such as putting baby cereal in the baby's bottle to make him sleep longer through the night, or would interfere with you or your husband's values, morals, or the family mission.

5. Remember you're the parent--And that can be a blessing or a curse. You're the adult in the relationship with your child(ren). Your children need you to set boundaries for them, as well as provide consequences for disobedience and disrespect. On the other hand, you can relax at certain times of your day, week, or weekend and snuggle up with your little ones to read and play together.