It is only in the last few years that I have realized that anxiety (and related problems) runs in families. It may manifest itself differently in each person but those descended from us may have it. Since there are two people involved in conception it is not 100% that a family member will have it. In my family I now realize that there are several of us who suffer with some form of this. More than one of us has some anxiety, OCD, depression and/or inability to sleep. The only light is that they can see at the end of the tunnel me still moving along at 76. They can feel comfortable that it is possible to manage these problems and live a good life. In the early years of my life anxiety, depression etc were not understood or talked about. Where women were concerned it was brushed off. In the south it was often called the “vapors” and you could go to a hospital to return to a calm demeanor. Some women just kept to their rooms. I am sure that most of you have read or seen Pride and Prejudice where the mother is constantly in a state of anxiety.
As the years went on I learned that certain situations caused me extreme stress with some symptoms of anxiety such as sleeplessness, increased heart rate, etc. I had one panic attack in college and the school had a psychiatrist who gave me ?Valium short term. I felt there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t face some things without anxiety. I tried so hard to change but nothing helped. I felt guilty for being the way I was and never talked about it. It was a no no subject.
Thank God things have changed. The invention of anti-depressants and other meds that can help the symptoms make this no longer a guilty secret. I know that my problem is mild compared to many and that I am not crazy. This is the information that I feel the need to pass on to anyone suffering from these disorders ,,,,especially to those I love.
You can live a full life. You don’t have to hide or be ashamed. Doctors now realize that this a brain wiring problem and much research is being done on the brain to identify where the various problems are located and what can be done to help. This also doesn’t mean that you must be born with it. Extreme trauma such as PTSD can cause the wiring glitch. There is a recent book by a lifelong anxiety sufferer called On Edge – A journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Peterson. It can be a tough read but she has done major research with scientists who are studying the problems. It may or may not be something you want to read but I found it enlightening.
The most important thing to remember is that we are not some weird creation. “God didn’t make junk.” (from marriage encounter) We have issues just like everyone else. Ours were taboo for a long while but that has changed and will continue to as more research is done. Hang in there! I lived through “the dark ages” and have a wonderful husband and family. Life is good most of the time. You can do it!
Loneliness keeps cropping up in my thoughts. So many people are alone and long for someone to acknowledge they exist. The pain they are feeling is excruciating. It makes me want to reach out and touch them in some way. Some of these people are physically alone. They live by themselves and seldom see others but some are people that we meet every day. On the outside they seem like everyone else. It is the inside where the pain is found.
We have superficial relationships with many people and can pass right by someone who needs more. It can be difficult to risk reaching out and exploring the feelings of others. To do so we have to open ourselves to them. We have to be non-judgmental and most of all open to listening. Most of this is summed up in the word compassion.
Several people in blogs have mentioned being empathic. I think there are those of us who do sense the pain of others. The question is do we do anything about it.
Any troubles that we have had in our lives prepares us to help others. If we have suffered a loss we are more able to understand the feelings of others in the same situation. People who have anxiety or depression can truly understand what someone else with the same issues is feeling. We think we are so different and admittedly each of us is unique but we all have suffered each in our own way. The interesting thing is that when we reach out to others we can sense our own pain diminishing. For me, sharing my pain is cutting it in half.
It is so heartwarming to find people able to open up about their own problems while writing a blog. Admittedly it’s easier than in person but it is still offering yourself to others. Maybe doing it in writing will make it easier to sense the pain of someone you actually meet. Too often we feel an outsider and that no one else has the same problems but when you start to actually hear others stories you know that you are not alone. You are in a community of belonging.
The world is such a lonely place. There are billions of people but that doesn’t fix it. Our loneliness comes from our separateness. I remember an old Star Trek episode where the Enterprise was transporting an alien being who was contained in a box. He was not able to be looked upon as it would be harmful to the crew. In his existence (?world) everyone was connected. When mind melded with Spock he said (not exact quote) how can you stand the loneliness? I have never forgotten this. We are each contained in our own environment and are not completely connected with others.When the abilities that we have connect us with someone it is not 100%. We do not know their complete mind. This can lead to ambiguous relationships. How do we know that someone really likes or loves us? Unfortunately, we never can. We have to live with the questions and with trust. This means that we can be wrong and sometimes hurt.
The thing is we have to try. If we live always afraid of connecting with others we will never experience love. We have to put ourselves out there knowing that we can be hurt. A pastor friend said at my mothers’ funeral said grief is a gift given to us by God for loving and being loved. That statement has turned my mind around.
In loving we can be hurt. We can be in pain and be ready to back away and not try again. But we are called to love. “Love God, and your neighbor as yourself.” It doesn’t say anything about how to cope when that love is not returned.
As far as I can see the only way to cope is to love your way through the pain. Loving expecting nothing in return can change everything.
I am reading a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called Walking in the Dark. The book has opened many thoughts for me about light and dark. We do see them as opposites and equate them with good and bad. We have dark thoughts, saw a dark movie etc. Darkness holds scary things. Yet, as a child, some of my favorite memories are of a group of adults sitting on our back patio talking late into the night. There was no light. The stars were out. It was hot summer and outside was cooler and usually had some breeze. This time felt so special for me. I was usually not allowed up late so this was stolen time. The soothing voices of the adults would lull me to sleep. For me, the dark held no danger.
Of course later in life I became aware of how light and dark are used. The Bible has references such as John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There are many others. Distance from God is often called the dark night of the soul.
Darkness in the cities is not really dark and there are dangers that make the night frightening. Our current world is more scary at night. We can’t see what lurks there.We also see ourselves as having dark places within us. Places that hold anxiety and depression. We want to bring light to those places to drive away the darkness. I see this as a malign kind of darkness filled with clouds of hate and evil. I wish we had a different name for those. If we did we could distinguish between that darkness and the gentle dark that allows us to rest.
We have lost our connection to the night as a peaceful time.We need it physically to maintain the circadian rhythm of our bodies. Most of us rest easier in the dark.
How enchanting is it to walk in the dark….away from disrupting light….. and truly look at the night sky. There is something magical that is not there in the daylight. Watching the sunset over the ocean and waiting for the stars to come out is ethereal.
We need to separate the malevolent darkness from the healing peaceful dark.
I think many of us living in the USA are worried about the state of our country. There is so much hatred, so much dissent and so much violence. If I didn’t live here I don’t think I would visit.
Recently something showed up on Facebook with people having their DNA analyzed. Many of them before being tested talked about their perception of their background and their beliefs. Some stated dislike of other cultures. It was a wake up call when they discovered that part of their DNA came from those cultures they disliked. It’s too bad that we can’t test everyone to show what a polyglot humans have become. It might solve some of the prejudice and hatred going around to find that you had genes from the people you hate.
It seems that people want to hate. They also want to incite others to hate. The beginning of the football season here is an example. Again players are not standing for the national anthem. Maybe some people feel that a song or a flag are not that important and why shouldn’t the players do what they want. They do have freedom of speech but for a long time athletes were an example to the young of good sportsmanship and national pride. They may still be an example but to encourage others to hatred and dissent. When I see those who are so dissatisfied with life in this country I want to send them to live in a third world country for a least a year. And not with the millions of dollars they are earning here. I have done that and it certainly will help you to appreciate this country no matter its flaws.
The people who did the most for others in this world in modern times were both believers in non-violence….Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were wonderful examples of how to change the world they lived in peacefully. They did believe in speaking out and making needed changes known but in a way that brought about a good result. These men were people of God. There have been others… Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. I am sure there are more that I don’t know or remember. We need more of these people. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” The Bible Matthew 5:9
May we all strive to be peacemakers. Let us sow love
Today has been a good day in spite of everything messing up.. No matter that it was very hot and also humid I pushed myself to work outside. I tried to finish all major yard work during the spring so that only maintenance would need to be done in the summer but as usual I didn’t finish. Our yard has long stretches of azaleas which form a border between our property and the next door. These are large bushes which grow with little help but so do the vines that love to climb on the azaleas and prevent the sun reaching them. Dragging out vines has become my lifes work. I use an antique golf cart and pull a cart behind it to fill with vines and haul them to the street to be picked up. I was half done with my planned job when the golf cart quit.
Leaving the cart half way down the drive way I decided to weed wack the area I had been working on. As expected I pulled the starter for at least ten minutes before getting the weed wacker to work. When I had done about half of the area new string was needed. That’s when I found that my grandson had replaced the string incorrectly requiring me to go in the house for pliers to fix the problem.
The thing about all of this is that in spite of the hiccups, the aggravations, and the heat I got something done. After a cold shower my sense of humor returned and I found the whole thing funny. In life one of the most important things we need for survival is a sense of humor. Not only should we be able to laugh at events but most importantly laugh at ourselves. We can do some really stupid things but being able to shake them off with laughter is critical. Laughter heals. It is good for our health. If we could laugh for ten minutes of each day we would feel so much better. If we try and find the humor in the things that upset us we will be so much better off.
I am sure that God laughs at us frequently.
Today I am thinking about another one of my crusades. We have allowed electronic devices and the world they have created to rule our lives and more importantly our time. We allow ourselves to be connected so much that we have no think time. Our ?free? time is interrupted constantly. The human body is not made to cope with this. No wonder the stress level is so high. We have to find balance.
Balance is a very tricky thing. I have a book done in the 50’s by the cartoonist “Osborne”. The book was originally a lecture done for a design conference in Colorado. The lecture was wonderfully illustrated. It became so popular it became a book. This is one of the best things I have ever seen about using our time well. He talks about “the perfectly attainable Leisure the picnic, the two hours in the evening, …….the non-frenetic weekend with gardening or carpentry- the QUIET moments which CAN be had.” He says that the “crux of the matter……we must set limits to out efforts…..How much LAWN are we going to MOW? If we choose too little we have lots of Leisure, but a vapid face. If we choose too much we become tired, irritable, dislocated, insensate.” (Caps etc are his) *
This is the tricky part. Figuring out what is too much and what is not enough is difficult to say the least. Balancing work, family and some social life is complicated. Who do we leave out when we see it all as too much? What is most important? It can be different things at different times. Osborn wrote at a time when more women were at home and he saw it as difficult then. Think how much worse it is now. I think the anxiety about trying to stuff everything in for children is why helicopter parenting began. The idea that we MUST do the best since we are working parents. The guilt about not being there is overwhelming. Many families never have a meal together.
Eating together is central to the ministry of Christ. I think all of us see sitting at a table together is a huge part of connecting. Over food we can share feelings, discuss problemsin a non-threatening way and just enjoy each other. When meals are eaten in fast food restaurants or the pressures of life are so great that a meal is a trial things go downhill fast.
How do we find that balance? We have to set aside time to understand ourselves and our situation. Each day may require a different balance of priorities but over time balance can be seen. NOT EASY. Some serious listing on paper may be needed and discussion with others whose schedules coincides with ours.
*If you are interested I found there are still used copies on Amazon. Osborn on Leisure, A Ridge Press Book published by Simon and Schuster, copyright 1956 by E, R, Squibb & Sons.
Cartoon drawing from the book.
Life can sure change. I have been out of a ministry since January and I’m trying to learn how to live without doing something meaningful. The thing is it seems to work but only for a short while. I find myself playing computer games and watching TV. I know that there are lots of needs out there but the bad news is that I’m losing my enthusiasm for trying anything. With so much experience working for churches and my jobs in nursing I have much to give. I just need to get out of this slump and get going.
When I started this journey I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy but I forgot how hard change can be. The problem is that the thing that has to change is me. I refuse to fade into another older person who does nothing every day.
I am a 50’s girl. I was born in 1940 and grew up in that idyllic (??) world where everyone knew what they were supposed to do. It was fine if all I wanted was to marry and have children. The problem was that it wasn’t me. Fortunately I married someone who understood that and who encouraged me to jump into a meaningful life with both feet. In many ways I had it all. A wonderful family and the encouragement to follow my dream. Helping people is my passion. I have followed that passion my whole life. Now I need to choose to continue that in whatever way I can. I am sure that I will find it. I just wish that God would hit me over the head with it.
It is a hard struggle when you are young to find and pursue your passion. The world doesn’t always help with that. After all, we have to eat. I have had time to learn the skills I needed and the chance to use them for much of my life. I know what my passion is. Now I need to find a way to use it again.
It is a funny thing that when life seem to be going along well something will come and smack you in the face. Life is never smooth. The problem is that we can get lulled by lack of problems and complacent about how things are going. Just when you are starting to feel secure…..WHAM and there you are caught again.
Last week and this week seemed to be going so well and then plans that we had made were just wiped out. Somehow it always happens. It is even harder to deal with when I have to put plans on hold to be with my youngest daughter. That causes my heart to ache.
I know that most of the time it has to do with expectations that are either too high or altogether wrong. It does explain why I never seem to stop worrying.
Some how it will all work out but I’m having trouble with disappointment. I know that I need to put it into God’s hands but I am so good at picking it back up, For me turning things over to God is like hauling a big garbage bag out to the trash and then letting the truck go by without putting the bag in it. I follow the truck, drag the bag, follow the truck, drag the bag.
I don’t know why things are so hard to turn loose. I do wonder if it is arrogance and the inability to turn anything over to anyone else because I think I can handle it better. Wow! Knowing ourselves is really complicated and why I am on this journey toward better understanding. I hope I survive the journey.
Since losing my ministry in January I have discovered that even with my husband at home with me I miss other people. For me, being with others is important. The ministry also gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to be a help to others. We do have friends that we meet with and a church that we attend but I miss the connection with the people that I saw in my work. This is one of the things that I have been fighting to overcome and something that has led to an increase in worry and sadness. It has made me realize how important connections with others can be.
I just read an article from Spirituality and Health called
Is Loneliness the New Obesity?August 16, 2017.
It suggests that loneliness is rising as a major factor in early death. This makes sense to me on many levels. The article talks about high risk in the rising elderly population which makes a lot of sense. Most people who are aging do not want to move away from the place that they have called home. There are so many negative connotations. I visited so many nursing homes and saw elderly folks just sitting in the halls. Most homes are trying to offer activities for stimulation but in many cases people are past participating. The thing is to get those who are aging to look early for more palatable solutions. A nursing home has long been seen as somewhere you wait to die.
Cost is a major factor in the US. Without universal healthcare there seems to be no acceptable solution. Elderly people can be such a resource and we are wasting it. Homes that have linked up with day cares have worked extremely well in giving both groups joy in their day. We need to explore ideas for solving this crisis.
In addition to the elderly there is the growing isolation among young people. I have been on a soap box about this for quite a while. Our growing dependence on electronic communication can lead to isolation and loneliness. We have to make sure that growing children learn that meeting face to face (and not on face time) is critical to growth and learning. It is so easy to misunderstand the true meaning of a communication that is electronic. Faces tell us a lot.
Most of us live in populated areas which in many ways make it harder to find closeness with others. So many people in large cities have no idea who their neighbor is. We have to have places where we meet with others who have some things in common with us. We need to be connected. Connection helps us to avoid loneliness and the depression that being alone can bring.
I know that I can discover new ways to fill my need to help and be with people. I know that it is up to me. This is part of my journey.