Showing posts with label Fear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fear. Show all posts

Friday, 31 August 2012

Safety v's Freedom - a mothers dilemma

Through the Summer holidays I've been thinking about when I was younger and how much freedom I had.  I wasn't much older than my oldest is now when I would spend the whole day out with my friends; we'd be up the mountain with a picnic (that the sheep would inevitably eat).  I'd be gone first thing in the morning and would go home when it started to get dark.  There were no mobile phones; no way to let my parents know that I was safe.  

What has changed so much in the last 25 years to make me worry so much about my 6 year old riding his bike out in the street, or meeting a new friend and going to his house?

Hubby keeps telling me that I worry too much and that I need to give the children a bit of independence but I really struggle with it.  My oldest has learnt to ride his bike and I do allow him to ride around the street on his own, but I get these feelings of rising panic when he goes any further.

He rode up to the park on our estate on his own yesterday.  It's only a few minutes walk away but I felt like I stopped breathing for the whole time he was gone.  I'm not used to this and I don't want to let go.

He asked if he could ride up to the park again today, but I said no as his brother was with him, and he's not even five yet.  I told them that they could play outside where I could see them from the window.  The next thing I new they were back and telling me that they'd made a new friend and asked if they could go to his house.

I just stood and stared at them with all sorts racing through my mind.  Extreme, ridiculous stuff.

I didn't know this little boy, or his parents.  Hell, I didn't even know if there was a little boy!

What if someone was just tempting them into their house?
What if they were abused?
What if I never saw them again?

I didn't know what to do.  The baby was in bed so I couldn't go with them to this unknown house.

I got them to show me which house it was (I could see it from my window) and after asking a few questions about the little boy (including if he could come to our house instead) I decided to agree to them going.

And then spent the next 15 minutes in a state of panic.

I stood at the window hoping to see them running down the street, but all I could see was where they had abandoned their scooter and bike.  For the first time, I wished my boys had a mobile phone so I could check they were okay.

I was really panicking.

I have never been so happy to hear my little one wake up and call for me.  I picked him up and went straight up to the house that the boys had said they were going to and knocked on the door with trepidation.

The boys were inside, eating a packet of crisps and watching a DVD about dinosaurs, completely oblivious to the emotions I was feeling.  They were happy that they had made a new friend, and even happier that this friend had a dog and a rabbit!

I had a chat with the mother (who thankfully, seems really nice) and then took the boys home.

It all worked out okay, but I wonder now if I did the right thing in letting them go.

So, what has changed since I was small?

Is it that there's more traffic, more reports of children being abducted, abused, murdered?  Surely that risk has always existed?  I used to spend hours on end in the middle of nowhere, where anything could have happened to me, but nothing ever did.

Did my parents worry just as much, but I was as oblivious as my children are now?

Every time I read or hear about something bad happening to a child, I want to hold mine a bit closer.  I want to keep them next to me where they belong; where I can watch everything they do and make sure they are safe.

But I know that they are getting older and I need to give them more freedom.  They need to be able to enjoy days out with their friends, just like I used to.

They'll always be my babies, but I need to let them grow up.  How do I keep them safe while letting go of them a bit?  Being a mother is so hard.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Feeling scared

As I get older I’m getting increasingly afraid.  Things that I never thought about when I was younger now bother me to the point that it makes me feel ill.  And the main reason for this fear?  My children.

I’ll give you an example.  I've always loved driving.  In my teens I used to dream about driving.  I couldn't wait to learn and I had my first driving lesson on my 17th birthday.  I passed five months later and then drove everywhere.  When I turned 18 I would be the designated driver on nights out.  I loved the freedom of being able to jump in the car and going anywhere I wanted to.  I still love that freedom.  The difference now is that my children are usually in the car with me.  I didn't realise what a massive sense of responsibility I would feel by having little people in the car.  I try to make sure everything is safe for them.  I drive a decent car; I have breakdown cover and get my car serviced when needed.  I don’t drive too fast, and am generally as careful as I can be.  I researched the safest car seats for the children and I make sure they are fitted properly.

I do all of this and I still get this overwhelming feeling of panic when I think about the fact that this is my whole family in one little container.

Of course, it’s not just driving that makes me panic.  You could relate this fear to lots of things that never bothered me before.  I always say that I can’t wait until my children are old enough to take to a theme park as I am looking forward to taking them on a rollercoaster, just like my parents did with me.  Though there’s already a part of me that thinks “what if something goes wrong?”

Even taking my children to school has got really mixed feelings.  I love that they’re learning and developing, I love a little bit of a break from them (don’t tell them I said that!) but there’s also a slight hint of panic at releasing them into someone else’s care.  I know I look after them well.  I will try to do whatever I can to make sure they don’t come to any harm.  But what happens when they’re not with me?

Am I the only one that feels like this?  The sensible part of me knows I’m being silly.  The mother in me will probably always worry.  Isn’t that what mothers do?

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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Can we talk about mental health?

I sometimes wonder what it would to like to wake up in the morning and not be afraid of anything.  To be so confident and self assured that nothing that can stop me.  Totally free from the psychological shackles that sometimes stop me in my tracks.  When did I start being afraid of so much?  I'm sure I wasn't like this when I was younger.  Or was it just different fears then?  Fear that I had lipstick on my teeth, or that my boyfriend was going to dump me.

All this has started today because I've been feeling ill.  Anyone who has read my post about my phobia will know that I'm afraid of being sick.  The last few days I've been feeling really ill and started panicking about being sick.  I know I'm not as bad as I used to be but it still worried me.  The problem is that the worry seems to spiral and I project the fear into every other aspect of my life.  I can go rapidly from worrying that my children are now going to be ill too, to stressing about my finances, to deciding I've got a serious illness (I can be a bit of a hypochondriac).  I wonder if I'm good enough; I replay conversations in my head and worry that I've said the wrong thing to someone, or that I was too loud, or too quiet.... the list goes on.

I wouldn't say that I appear to be a worrier to other people.  I think that most people see me as being quite confident, and I've even been called 'hard' by a certain member of my family.  I've always believed in self-fulfilling prophecies, in that if you tell yourself something enough, or if you act a certain way for long enough, then you eventually become that way, but even though I may look that way on the outside, it doesn't reflect how I'm feeling on the inside.  Though, I am confident in certain situations.  I've worked in my day job for so long that not a lot bothers me.  I still don't like confrontation, and being a manager it's something I can't always avoid.  If there's something I've got to deal with in work I go through all possible variations of the conversation before it actually happens.  I do my own head in.

As I work in mental health I'm more than aware of the physical effects that anxiety can cause.  I get palpitations sometimes, and recently I'm sure I brought on visual problems because of stress.  I got to the point where I convinced myself that I was either a) going blind b) had glaucoma or c) had a brain tumour!  I had constant migraines and I could barely see out of one eye.  I eventually went to an optician and it was only when he told me that there were no signs of any problems or diseases that I relaxed a bit and all the symptoms subsided.  The effect that stress can have on the body is amazing.  Sometimes we don't even realised that we are stressed because we keep so much in.  I think it's a British thing.  We're expected to be able to just get on with it, whatever is happening in our lives.

Do you ever get that feeling where you feel so much emotion that you think you're going to burst?  But most of the time we keep it contained because it's not the done thing to show our feelings.  If someone is having therapy for whatever problem, then they must have something wrong in the head.  Anything to do with mental health is still such a taboo subject.  Have you ever thought that if it wasn't, then maybe not so many people would suffer?  If people felt they could talk about what was worrying them then maybe they could get the help they needed before they sink into that deep pit of depression.  And I'm not talking of the sort of depression that we all say we feel from time to time.  This is lying in bed, not washing, dressing, afraid to leave the house depression.  The one that separates you from the rest of the world.

The statistics surrounding mental health are unbelievable.  1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.  That's just in the UK.  What's shocking is that statistics show that around 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time.  That's just scary, but something we need to be aware of.

I apologise that I've jumped around a bit in this post.  It's been very much a free-flow process and I'm just typing whatever I feel.  I don't want to go back and tidy it up, or make it more organised because I feel that defeats the purpose of the post.

What I really want to say is that we really need to talk more.  It sounds pretty basic but it's the first step to admitting how we feel, or if there's anything that's worrying us.  Keeping it in won't make it go away.  I know I'm a fine one to say this as I find it really difficult to talk about my feelings.  I hardly ever cry in front of anyone, even my husband.  It doesn't always matter who you talk to.  Sometimes I find it easier to talk to someone I don't know as I feel they're less likely to judge me.  You may find it easier to talk to someone who knows you well.  It could be in an anonymous online group,  a specialised mental health service such as Mind, or your best friend or partner.  

I'm going to stop writing now because I don't feel that there's much more I can add at the moment.  I'm aware that even though I've mentioned mental health, I've only really brushed upon it as there are many different issues and conditions that come under it.  But whether it is anxiety and depression, an eating disorder, or schizophrenia, one thing we need to do is break down the barriers and make it less of a taboo.  We are all human beings; all equal but different.  We need to start learning to accept others for who they are, not condemn because of an illness that can't be seen.  We all think we can empathise with others but have we really thought about what it would be like to live for a day in their shoes?  

Friday, 18 November 2011

Living with emetophobia

I've got a phobia.  It's called emetophobia and it's a fear of myself, or anyone else vomiting.  And I don't mean I just don't like it (who does?!), it's a full on stop-you-in-your-tracks sort of thing.  I've always been afraid for as long as I can remember, but it was only after having my second son that I really felt the full force of it.  I can remember holding Ethan as a baby and being sat on the floor outside my oldest sons bedroom, crying, because I was afraid of him being sick.

I had never told anyone about my phobia before.  I was embarrassed that I could be so afraid over such a stupid thing.  Not even my mother knew!  And when I mentioned it to my husband he thought I was just being silly.  But the first time my oldest son was ill and he saw the colour drain from my face, he knew it was serious.  He still didn't understand it though.  I think it is difficult to understand if you've never experienced anything like it yourself.

I couldn't watch or hear anyone being sick, even on TV, I don't drink much alcohol, I don't eat 'high-risk' foods.  But I'm obsessed with it; it consumes me.  Or at least, it did.  I have got to add though, I haven't got it as bad as some people.  From doing my own research, and using internet forums, I found that emetophobia is one of the more common phobias and that in the extreme people can avoid going to restaurants, avoid using public transport, and even avoid getting pregnant.  So I feel fortunate that I didn't have it that bad.  But it was still bad for me.

The year Ethan was born there was a huge news story about how prevalent the 'winter vomiting bug' was that year.  I was petrified (news was obviously slow at that time!!).  I was afraid of going anywhere because I didn't want the boys to catch it, and I was afraid of eating anything in case I caught it.  I researched everything I could about it in the hope of finding a way of beating it.  I just didn't understand why I couldn't change how I was thinking.  I bought books on Neuro Linguistic Programming, read every website I could find, and even bought tablets to boost immune systems (in the hope of not catching any nasty bugs).

Then I found out about hypnotherapy and how it can work to cure phobias.  I found a hypnotherapist who had dealt with this kind of phobia before and after building up the courage, I emailed him.  I just had to try something for the sake of my children.  I wasn't the mother I wanted to be and I felt constantly afraid.  I didn't want to be afraid any more.

My husband was a bit concerned about me being 'hypnotised' and came to the initial consultation with me.  We were both immediately put at ease as the hypnotherapist explained to us that it is just a state of mind and that I would know exactly what was going on at all times.  He also said that it could work for me  and explained how a phobia is usually caused by something happening in your childhood that your immature brain can't rationalise.  We were told that it was likely that the pressure of having two very small children had exacerbated my phobia, resulting in this awful, constant fear.

So, the following week I drove to Cheltenham for my first session.  Now, I'm quite a reserved person and so hypnotherapy was quite difficult for me.  You've got to relax for a start, and I really wasn't feeling very relaxed.  And you've got to talk.  Now this I can do!  But was I talking about the right things?  It took me a long time to get to the stage where I could relax enough to say whatever went through my mind.

I'm not going to bore you with all the details, but suffice to say I got there in the end, though the outcome was somewhat traumatic.  I don't know if what I 'remembered' is true or not so I never really got the release of emotions that you're supposed to have, and my phobia didn't magically disappear.

It's more than three years later now and over that time my anxiety around the phobia has lessened, and I don't worry so much.  I was afraid that it would all come back after having Oliver, but it didn't.  I still think about it, but it isn't constantly on my mind like it used to be.  My stomach still turns over if I think one of the boys is going to be sick, but it doesn't stop me eating.

So my reasons for writing this post?  It's a little bit like every person I tell lessens the fear a little bit more.  I think that's where the hypnotherapy helped - it started me talking.  It's taken me ages to write this post.  I keep stopping and starting and I didn't know what I wanted to say.  All I had was a title for a week!  But I knew it was something I wanted to write about.  It's been a huge part of my life for so long.

I still hope to be completely free from this phobia one day.  But for now, I'm just taking it one day at a time.