Monthly Archives: June 2012

Anxiety and Age

A conversation was started on my Open University degree Facebook page yesterday about Anxiety. Someone was asking for advice on how to “fight it”. It struck a chord with me because although it’s taken a long time, one of the advantages of being in my 40’s is that I’ve had a lot of time to think about what makes me tick, and I know for a fact I suffer with anxiety and it’s impossible to “fight”.

I have no idea when I started being anxious. I know I was anxious around my mother especially if she was cleaning (which she hated doing it and would have a go at us for) and to this day, if my sister or I hear a vacuum cleaner we immediately tense up. Thankfully hubby is in charge of vacuuming.

I get anxious about being on time, which means I’ve never been fashionably late. Any attempt to BE late, still results in me arriving either on time or earlier than everyone else.

I need to play every conceivable scenario of a new situation in my head (often days in advance) so I can mitigate any concerns or risks I foresee. If the plan is to go one place and the plans change on the same day, I get a little panicked. I have to think everything through in great detail. I’m not a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda girl.

I worry about my impact on other people. Not so much saying the wrong thing because like everybody, that happens a lot and I then get anxious thinking about what I had said for days later. I worry that my children will wake someone up, annoy a neighbour with noise. I don’t have parties at my house because I don’t want my guests to keep anyone awake (although my neighbours don’t seem to have the same concerns!) I even worry if we have anyone staying who smokes who might go out the back door after 11pm to have a ciggy and talk on their mobile phone.

I worry I can’t sleep, which then becomes an issue for getting to sleep.

I worry for my children’s safety, whilst being very aware I have to give them scope to make some mistakes themselves.

My biggest worry of all — that I will look back on my life and wish I’d done something differently. That I should have moved to Australia or followed a different route with my career. Or that I shouldn’t be living where I am in London and should move out and live in a village. Of course, the minute I do that then the anxiety arrives again and I worry that could be the wrong decision too. How do people up sticks and move and know it’s the right decision??

I used to have panic attacks. They happened in my 20’s completely unexpectedly in situations that shouldn’t have been anxious. It took quite a long time to realise that’s what I was having, but once I did, I took back control and talked myself down from them. I had a few last year, not long after my son was born. Just saying out loud “Oh dear, I’m having a panic attack” makes the symptoms start to recede. I don’t give myself a hard time. I take time to let it pass and then have a think about what might have triggered it so I can address it. Easier said than done, but I can only do my best.

I sound like a nightmare, but to be honest, as I mentioned when I replied to the lady on the Facebook page, half the battle is recognising that you are anxious. I can’t change 40 years of conditioning easily (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help a bit apparently) and I am the product of my genes, my upbringing and my environment. What I can do is acknowledge my short comings, do my best to understand myself and put in place things that can help me be prepared for situations. For example: I have very social neighbours with 2 teenage daughter and all 4 of them like to have friends over for bbq’s and parties. My bedroom is at the back of the house, so even 2 people in their garden talking and I have a big problem falling asleep, so a full on party is a nightmare. I’ve talked to them (several times) about giving us notice. They have told us about 1 party and I’ve been able to stay with family elsewhere or make arrangements. They don’t always tell us, because presumably they don’t always know that a gathering will roll on pass 11pm. So as a result, I dread Summer. Whilst everyone else is wishing for sunny days and clear nights, I’m praying for rain so I don’t have to deal with a party next door. That’s pretty sad right? This year I took the bull by the horns. I ordered a single mattress that will fit under my daughter’s bed (she sleeps at the front of the house), new pillows, a single duvet (thick enough that I will be happy using it) and new sheets and covers. I’ve made it all up, duvet is covered and rolled in her wardrobe. I think I can get it all out and be lying on it in about 2 minutes. This has meant I am less worried. I have a safety net and that has gone a long way to making me less anxious.

Whether we get more anxious with age I think is more complicated. I get more anxious flying and worrying about my children as I get older which I do think is related to age. However, other things that used to cause me a great deal of anxiety like driving has lessened as I have gained experience and confidence.

Am I alone with my anxiety? I have no idea. The thread on my Facebook page suggests I’m not but I’d love to hear from you if you suffer from anxiety and what you do to keep yourself in check. It’d be nice to know I’m not completely bonkers. :)

Arthritis, Exercise and the 40 year old woman

I have a dilemma. I’ve had this dilemma since about March. I’m losing my parking space at work, which, in London was very useful. I had originally been given one that the company rented, but the owners took them back and I was given a temporary space within our building. The reason I had one is that I have a form of arthritis called AS (Ankylosing Spondylitis) and I have limited neck movement and had a major flare up in my knees in 2009 and had difficulty walking. It’s better now and under control with long-term medication. However, my company can no longer justify giving me this space (I have fought it, but I’ve run out of ammunition).

My first idea was to pay someone in a neighbouring street for the use of their driveway. It can be very lucrative for people and there are lots of websites where you can advertise your driveway or garage for short-term or long-term rental. I couldn’t find anything nearby so I did a leaflet drop, but got nothing. I then discovered that I could rent about 5 streets away from work at a cost of £100 a month. However, another 4 streets further and I can park for nothing. It would mean a 25 minute walk which would prove a little too far for me with my condition and very tight on time when I have to dash from school/nursery run to work.

So then, I came up with an ingenious plan. If I bought a fold up bike, park for free and ride to work, I could probably do it in about 7-10 minutes. No weight on my knees and provided I didn’t push myself it shouldn’t be too painful. The added bonus is that I can get some much needed exercise (admittedly not much, but 20 min a day for 4 days is ok).

Flaw to the plan? Well yes there are a few.
Firstly, the cost. Whilst I could get a cheap fold up bike, reviews aren’t great and they don’t fold brilliantly so I’ve fallen in love with the Brompton bike. It is beautiful but it costs £810 for the most basic model (arghhhh). However, considering I was looking to pay £1200 a year for a parking space, then it is cheaper and I can get a finance deal with a bike shop.
Secondly, The Rain. What do I do when I’m in my work gear and it is pouring with rain. Well I’ve googled it, and a cycling cape seems to be the answer. It has thumb grips that allow you to hold on to the handlebars and effectively cover your legs. Might not work every time, but certainly worth considering.
Thirdly, my condition/age. I’m not that fit and some days are worse than others in the ole knee department. I haven’t found the best idea for this. If I happen to be having a bad week I could appeal for a temporary visitors space at work I guess. Fitness wise, I am hoping I’ll get better and better as it goes on.
Fourthly (if that is a word), wearing dresses and skirts. Well thankfully I don’t wear them that often. I have a few ideas for this. I could occasionally ask the receptionist for a visitor space and if there is one, I could opt to wear a dress then. Or, I could consider wearing trousers into work and then changing. Although I really want to avoid this if I can.

I think it’s the right decision. I think once having a Brompton we’ll find lots of scenarios where it will be helpful to have a fold up bike. Hubby might find it useful (a ticket just to Waterloo and a bike ride onwards would be cheaper). I could meet my family and friends nearby by cycling there and coming back by car.

Am I mad or is this the best decision ever?

What a clever little bike

Me. Losing it.

Losing it!

Me. Losing it.

When you listen to your 18 month old cry and scream for the 2nd hour whilst your 4 1/2 year old asks you if they can do their sticker book, over and over and over again.  That!

I love my children. I really do.  I fought hard for both of them.  My eldest was eventually conceived on our first attempt of IVF.  We were very lucky indeed.  My youngest took a while to come too, due to not knowing if we could conceive naturally and also I was having a major flare up of an inflammatory condition. I went on medication in the April and conceived him in the May.

My eldest girl was very collicky. I refused to admit it at the time (no official medical term exists for colic) but she cried and cried and cried, all day long and all night.  Hubby and I argued a lot and spent a lot of time sobbing ourselves.  He told me once that we mustn’t get so upset about it, we asked to have her and fought hard to get her.  I now know that that was a mistake. We were just as entitled to moan about it as the next person and the extra guilt should never have come into it.

My son was a dream baby. Slept well (still does) and we barely heard a whimper. He’s now very different, very frustrated and very vocal.  I’ve blogged about his frustrating age here.

To top it all of, I’ve recently realised that I am a very highly strung, anxious person.  I know most people don’t adapt to change very well, but I don’t even more so. I rarely manage more than a few minutes of calm searching for something, before losing it, raising my voice, loudly asking rhetorical questions or swearing. I get very angry with other road users too. More so, when I’m under pressure to get from work to the nursery in good time.

The trouble is, although I consider my tolerance to be better than ever, because I think I would have literally exploded if I’d kept up with the way I’d handled things 4 years ago, I still can’t seem to hold it together very well.  All it takes is for 1 or 2 things to go wrong on top of me being in a bit of “funny mood” and I’m so ANGRY.  I have no idea how to manage this anymore.  I do take myself up to my room to rage in privacy as I don’t want the kids to see it and thankfully they don’t so much anymore, but I just wish I could be one of those cool, laid back kind of women who takes issues in her stride and copes.

I am being hard on myself, because I’ve been in some pretty horrendous situations of constant children crying and managed to cope, provided I’m in the right frame of mind.  I’ve also recently discovered that my tolerance level lowers if the place is a mess.  So I’m much more tidier and cleaner than I ever used to be.

Maybe, however, it’s time for me to find some better techniques to coping with the anger.  I don’t think it’s very nice for my kids to see me stressed and I remember being really scared of my mum and her moods.  Where do I look though?  Has anyone got any suggestions?