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Sunday, February 16

How To Stop Worrying About Everything

how to stop worrying about everything 1

I was a child during the cold war between the United States and Russia. I remember being terrified of a nucular holocaust because the news was filled with stories of the power struggle between the two nations. I would lay awake at night and cry because I couldn’t get the thoughts of melting faces and death and destruction out of my mind. Of course my parents had no idea any of this was happening. They were good parents and I was an emotional child.

I realized as I got older that I enjoyed worrying. It could be cathartic, like when I would work myself up into a fountain of tears because I was worried both of my parents might die and I didn’t know who would take care of myself and my siblings. It could be empowering, like when I would imagine how I would survive the zombie apocalypse. But it could also be debilitating. I would struggle to make simple decisions because I would obsess over every single option in my mind.

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Eventually the good feelings I would get while worrying were outweighed by the bad. I was having trouble sleeping, going out in public, flying on airplanes, and was having daily panic attacks. I decided enough was enough and I went to go see a therapist who helped me get over my chronic worries. I remember talking about how distressed I was about aliens taking over the country. Seriously. Obviously I had a bit of psychotic break brought on by an inability to control my thoughts.

After a few weeks of being on a mild antidepressant and talk therapy, I began to feel better. I remember asking my therapist, “did I talk to you about aliens?”. Excessive worry had caused me to break through the wall from normal to crazy! Needless to say, I was embarrassed by my inability to keep it together, but I was also thrilled I was getting help and feeling better.

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When I had my first child, I knew from my history of mental impairment that I was a candidate for postpartum depression. Sure enough, right after my son was born I started again with the worries. Now I know every mother, especially a first time mom, has concerns. But this went beyond the norm. I was constantly worried that my son would die. I remember sitting on the toilet and yelling for my husband because I had taken the baby to the bathroom with me and I was afraid to put him down, and couldn’t figure out how to both hold the baby and pull up my pants. The thought of gently laying him down on the floor never crossed my mind.

The good news is, I recognized my symptoms very early. I made the decision to stop breastfeeding and get back on my antidepressants, and let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Though breastfeeding is important, having a sane mommy is even more important, something I think often gets lost in the cacophony of parenting advice.

So why am I telling you this? Why would I expose myself to ridicule and derision? It is for two reasons. The first is because I am no longer ashamed of the fact I have chronic anxiety. I am on medicine that I will probably take for the rest of my life. But the way I see it- I am kind of like a diabetic. Just as a diabetic doesn’t make enough insulin, I believe I don’t make enough serotonin. I wouldn’t be ashamed to be a diabetic, so why should I be ashamed for having depression? The second reason I am writing this post, is to discuss the glorification of worry amongst women, especially mothers, in today’s society.

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I know it is really easy to think, “but what if….”.
“I can’t let Sarah ride her bike around the neighborhood, what if she falls down and gets hurt?”
“I can’t let Michael sleep over at his friend’s house, what if something happened?”
“I can’t hire a babysitter for the evening, what if my children need me?”

We are living in the safest time in recorded history. Crime is down, and people are living longer than ever! So why are we all so worried? Part of the reason is due to the pervasive media. I stopped watching the news on TV years ago. I prefer to get my updates via Google or Daily Mail (don’t judge, I love to read the gossip). I might not know everything going on, but I do know I am not being bombarded by every horrible thing that has happened that day. I also think the gloom and doom of the economy has made everyone walk on eggshells for the past eight years. And finally, I think there seems to be an attitude that worry equals love when it comes to our kids; like the mom who is most protective, most compulsive, and worries the most, wins the mommy award. But like the adage says, “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want to happen”. When we get consumed by our worries we start making choices our of fear, not out of our values. And don’t we want to be living our beliefs? I know I do.

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42 Responses

  1. Mandy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I too suffer from chronic anxiety that I’m now on disability from because I also had a bit of a breakdown brought on by chronic anxiety and worrying. There’s such a stigma on being able to admit that you do suffer from certain mental impairments without someone pushing that to another level and saying you’re flat-out crazy. I’m so glad you wrote this; I knew I wasn’t alone but it’s always a comfort to be able to see it because someone else was brave enough to write about their experiences. The thing that drove me over the edge a few years ago was swine flu. In my overly anxious mind, I was convinced someone in the family would get it and we’d all die. If not from that, then from some fluke meat recall. lol It’s funny to me now, but back then I was terrified, so I definitely understand your aliens phase. I’m glad you were able to find someone to help you through that time in your life, and thank you again for posting this!

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      Have you gotten the anxiety under control yet? Have you tried pills?

      • Mandy says:

        Mine is mostly dictated by stress and my emotional health, so when my life is on a more stable keel, my anxiety is usually pretty controlled. I’ve tried Xanax, but I built up a tolerance to it quickly and became afraid of getting addicted, so I stopped taking it. The other drugs I was recommended were all long-term that ended up counteracting my anxiety, so I haven’t taken anything for it in years. Thank you for asking. :-)

  2. Nicole says:

    I am so grateful that you have shared this post. I suffer from chronic anxiety and depression and moderate bipolar disorder. I’m also a mother of one, wild, hilarious, sweet 3 year old. I’m a work at home mom and the anxiety about bills, strain on relationships, judgements from others who think what they want about moms who don’t go outside of their homes to work, health issues, pesticides, pollution, toxins, being a good mom, being a good friend, daughter, sister, etc., etc.. It’s comforting to know a successful woman I admire has managed to overcome these things struggles and continues to thrive and grow. Thank you for your resounding message and the vote of confidence you have granted to me, and many other women I’m sure are reading this article, and learning their world isn’t as big and scary as they once thought, now that they know they are not alone.

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      I am so glad my story has given you a bit of comfort. We are all together in this, and I think it is so important to support each other when we are weak.

  3. Laura Nuttall says:

    Bethany I can really relate to this! I too was a very sensitive child who would lie awake night after night worrying about everything, big and small. Anxiety has been with me my whole life, exacerbated by a couple of horrible events I’ve been through, but got really bad after my son was born. I’m much better now but it does rear its ugly head now and then. As I get older I learn how to deal with it better, talking and being honest about my feelings being the greatest help. Thank you for sharing xxx

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      I think it is great that talking about it has helped you and that you are able to deal with your anxiety. Thanks!

  4. Erin says:

    What a brave post!! Thank you for writing about this. The more women talk about these common and shared issues, the more support we can offer one another, and spread the word to normalize different states of mental health.
    I am a worrier but I feel I use my worrying to work out how to handle situations so I will feel prepared IF they happen. It drives my husband nuts!!
    For a time when I was a child I thought “the devil would get me” if I did routine things in the same order every time. I put a ton of pressure on myself to change up the way I brushed my teeth, went to bed or held my pencil! I literally thought the floor would open up and I’d fall to Hell. (thank you religious school!)
    Like you I never told my parents about this and luckily it was short-lived.
    Great post.

  5. Erin says:

    BTW, when I had my first child I couldn’t go too close to any window because I felt I would trip or accidentally trow her out the window. Thankfully that too was short lived. Postpartum hormones to thank for that??

  6. This post is such a blessing! I have also struggled with anxiety for most of my life. It leaves me for a while, but sure enough my mind always starts to dwell on the most unlikely, yet horrific possibilities. It can be scary just to know what our brains can come up with.

    It seems to be something we don’t like to talk about, for fear of seeming silly to others. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though your fear is crushing you, and someone you confide it belittles your feelings. Thank you for sharing your story! I appreciate it more than you know!

  7. Geneva Hartley says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I can identify with a lot if this. And I am a diabetic and have been ashamed if it, also. I have admired you before and really do now. So, thank you.

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      There is no shame in being a diabetic! It isn’t like you can help it! But I am glad you found something to identify with in my post. :)

  8. beate says:

    thank you very much for bringing this up and helping to break the taboo.
    i´m a “angsthase” too. it´s a heritage from my mother – “be careful, people outside your family are bad, don´t go out after dark” etc. in my early teens i was not able to buy in a shop where i had to talk to the staff……
    it was a hard way to pull myself out of this swamp. i still have angst but i know it has nothing to do with reality. and with the help of my wonderful husband and the gorgeous nature here i can live without medicine.

    “courage is not to have no fear but to overcome them”
    thanks bethany <3

  9. Sarah says:

    Thank you for being brave enough to post this, feeling like you’re the only one going through something like this is horrifically isolating.

  10. Sanne says:

    You worry more the older you get. I have never been worrying much, but now I do and hate myself for doing so. But fortunately I am reasonable too,so I don’t lie awake in the nights. Great and brave post.

  11. Thank you for being so brave in posting this. I too have suffered from generalized anxiety and panic disorder since I can remember. My younger brother was incredibly accident prone when he was a toddler and I would wake up screaming from debilitating nightmares of him dying. It’s also had a major affect on my work and social life, where it’s kept me from progressing in my career by turning down promotions or ruined friendships because I’m too afraid to participate in certain activities. I take Xanax on an as needed basis, but for some reason I’ve made the personal decision not to go on daily medication. Maybe because society has convinced me that it’s all in my head, that it’s not a disease, or maybe because I feel that because it’s manageable MOST of the time that I don’t need to take something every day. Your post has really opened my eyes to the possibility that, while a personal decision for each to make on their own, maybe daily medication (as previous therapists have suggested) is the right decision for me after all. Thank you for posting this.

  12. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have been living with anxiety for the last 17 years. I too stopped watching the news because it would panic me to the point of non sleep. I made a decided a long time ago that I could either let my anxiety rule my life or I could live my life around it. So by making small changes like skipping the news, I can live each day fully. I still have bad days that sometimes only tears will fix but on a whole my good days far outweigh my bad.

  13. Kerry says:

    I LOVE THIS. Thank you thank you. I was literally sitting here feeling sick from worry and flipping through my blog reader to distract myself. What perfect timing that your beautifully written post would happen across my screen at the right moment to make me feel less crazy and more like it’s time to take a deep breath.

  14. Bethany says:

    I always get such a rush of positive energy whenever I read your posts, so I’ve finally decided to stop quietly lurking, and to thank you directly. So, thank you!

    My fiance gently reminded me only a few days ago that I’ve this horrible tendency to worry about things that really don’t matter at all. Growing up in an environment that wasn’t entirely conducive to good self-esteem, I can readily admit that I worry too much. Like Beate, I was super-sheltered and the world was made out to be this wicked thing where everything could hurt you. I want things to be safe. I want things to be perfect, or as close to perfect as I can get. I don’t want to make mistakes. I want to please everyone. It’s hard sometimes to accept that things don’t NEED to be perfect, and that I spend more time worrying about things than I do actually…”doing”. It’s something I want to get control over before I have children of my own, so thankfully there’s a world of positive support from people like yourself and my future husband.

    Much love!

  15. Margaret says:

    I think you’re very brave for posting this and sharing your story :3

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      Thank you m’dear. I didn’t feel very brave at the time, but after all of the support I have received from my readers, I think I feel braver now.

  16. Good for you for standing up for yourself and stopping breastfeeding so you could go on meds. I remember feeling so pressured to do it despite bring on antibiotics often for mastitis and feeling awful. When my baby got thrush for the second time I gave up. What’s the point when we were both on meds due to breastfeeding complications? But some people spoke to me like I was poisoning her with formula! That’s enough to make anyone depressed!

    Thanks for sharing your story. Us moms have to stick together! :)

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      Yes, the pressure to breastfeed was overwhelming. I felt angry and guilty about it for years. I no longer feel guilty, but I am still mad about the pressure and the comments from total strangers about feeding my kids formula. Like you said, they acted like I was poisoning my children!

  17. Bonita says:

    What an inspiring and brave post to write. Although I don’t really suffer from anxiety, I do particularly appreciate the point you made about having a sane mommy for your children.

    I think it’s so easy to feel all this pressure as mothers to be the best. mother. ever.; but your post has reminded me that far from being the best mother ever, I just need to be the mother MY children need, in whatever form that might take.

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      I have been thinking a lot about the pressure mothers are under and I think I might be writing a post about it in the near future.

  18. Sharmila says:

    Thank you.

  19. Michelle says:

    WOW! You are an amazing person to share your personal story. I very seldom put comments to a blog post but should and your story is inspiring. As a person who has experienced anxiety and panic attacks since 15 I appreciate everything you wrote. I have read your blog since finding it several months ago and now I have a huge appreciation for you! All the best, always.

  20. Powerfully excellent post, especially for those like myself who have always been deep seated worries with anxiety as well. Thank you, brave Bethany, for speaking so candidly, frankly and with such grace about some of the struggles pertaining to worrying and anxiety that you’ve faced. I would imagine you had many of your readers, just as I was, on the cusp tears (if not downright crying) because they could see elements of themselves in your story.

    You’re in inspiration!

    ♥ Jessica

  21. Audra says:

    I suffer from anxiety too and I think you are so brave to write this. Sometimes I feel like people think anxiety is attention seeking behavior rather than a debilitating illness so I really appreciate your honesty! ! You are brave and strong!

  22. […] week I wrote about my struggles with depression and it really seemed to touch a cord with so many of you. I know everyone can fall into a funk […]

  23. Julie says:

    Thank you, this is exactly what I needed to hear! I breasted my first, and then I started taking medication for depression and moderate bipolar disorder to help me with struggles I’ve had throughout my life. I now have a newborn and can’t breast feed due to my medication. I’ve been really bummed about not being able to breast feed this time around, but personal stories like yours remind that I AM doing the right to take care of myself and my mental health first. You are so brave!

  24. Lori Martin says:

    Thank you for your honesty in this post, I too have struggled with Anxiety and depression for many years and through 3 pregnancies. It is a constant struggle but with medication and Faith I manage quite well. It’s so comforting to hear that other people line myself struggle w this and to not be ashamed. By the way I love your blog and your cottage is beautiful!!!

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      Im so glad my honesty comforted you a bit. Anxiety sucks so it is nice to know we are not alone. Thank you so much for reading my blog and liking my home.

  25. […] kids, is our ability to take the smallest concern and dwell on it. For hours. I have written about worry before because I think it is really important to take that quality in ourselves and curtail it. But […]

  26. […] my problems here on The Glamorous Housewife and when I do it is usually after I have figured out how to solve them. It isn’t as if I don’t have issues, I just prefer to give power to the good things in […]

  27. Laurie says:

    Love this post, which is inspiring me to work on issues. Do you have a recommendation for a Manhattan Beach area therapist for anxiety? Have been having trouble finding one. Thank you!

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