Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

My Anxiety Is

Today has been a little of those days. "Something" happening usually results in little wobbles from me. I don't know why everything always has to feel like a big deal. Where a hospital appointment made my impatience bubble over with the children and me over-react at the state of the playroom this morning. Because when I'm nervous, anxious and feeling this way mess is a trigger. Chaos around me just makes me feel more chaotic on the inside.  I was swinging between worrying I was about  to waste the Doctors time verses worrying that there was the off-chance something sinister would be discovered. Worrying that I was imagining this post-section pain and it was all in my head and was going to look like a hypochondriac fool. 

As it is, the pain of intermittent severity is likely adhesion's (a risk of multiple surgeries) and there isn't a lot to be done as the land lies right now. The Dr was pretty non-plussed about it. Not dismissive, but not encouraging either, wanting to adopt a 'more healing time' and 'wait and see' approach. They've taken swabs, will do bloods and will probably order a CT scan in a few months at my follow up to see how wide-spread the adhesion's are and rule out all other possibilities. But assuming it is adhesion's, because it is in his opinion, I will just have to live with the days when its bad, because unless it gets to the point where is it impeding all of my daily activities, going back in to fix will likely make things worse.

And they don't impede my daily activities. They are there; sitting here now I'm aware of something down there in my scar area, but I can get on with it as it is; mostly I'm just aware of a dull sensation on the right side underneath my scar. What I can't do is maintain a bent position without pain, e.g. changing a nappy stood up in certain positions, bending over to put coats on children, or fussing for something under the pram etc, without straightening back up with tugging pain. I can't crouch without pain,  I can't bend to floor and back up without pain, lots of heavy lifting like the pram multiple times starts to prolong an ache quickly, writing at my desk in work and then sitting up straight, or sitting to standing is often met with a sharp shooting pain and a wince from me. Fairly momentary but enough to briefly take a breath from me. After a busy day, a long day out, I'm usually hurting with all movement and needing some painkillers for the sensation in the evening. Its just become the new normal. The pain aspect is mostly linked to certain movements. But it is not so chronic that is impedes on my wider life.   I kind of knew this would be the result of the appointment. Which I think is why I think I felt those anxious racing chest feelings this morning. Maybe I am wasting time and should just be getting on with it. But I also wanted to know if this is as good as third section recovery gets. It seems it might be.

But these last few weeks there have been a few fleeting moments of anxiety again and the last few days I've been thinking about my anxiety issues these last eight years. Certainly exacerbated by my daughter dying but much longer too if I'm honest. Thinking about the triggers, the symptoms, my reactions. Trying to pin-point the never ending battle between identifying what is just normal for everyone, triggered by grief and life-altering trauma for me, or a wider mental health issue; you know my blurry line between grief and depression. 

It took me a long time to only recently realise that some of my bad mood days are a product of my anxiety. To recognise the difference between an every day or PMT kind of bad mood day and an anxiety triggered 'bad mood' day. The difference between just feeling grumpy and impatient or off against all my reactions being triggered by a panic rising inside me. Sometimes my bad mood isn't really a bad mood at all. It is my chest racing while I try to control myself and calm my shit down. 

Some days it is loud and in your face and I can quite literally feel it crashing around me. Other days is quiet, not really there at all, just sitting there having a snooze in the background. Not even days really; these periods can go weeks or months in between. Sometimes it can just be a bad morning, or afternoon, sometimes like last Autumn (click to open)it can go on for weeks and months while I feel more and more unwell. At the moment I'd call it a background in a snooze period. 2018 has been great on the whole so far. It hasn't been the severe end of this upcoming list for a while.  

But when it bites.

My anxiety is like a little devil on my shoulder telling me I'm not good enough, highlighting my flaws and believing in the worst version of myself. I bet there are lots of people who often feel the same, but have different reactions or reasons, or different triggers. 

It is always worrying about tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or ten years. It is struggling to just be. 

It is carrying the intrusive thoughts that can so easily take hold on a bad day. The ones where I imagine or visualise Belle in the ground. The ones where I imagine all the ways the boys could be taken from me. The ones where a child death report on the news puts my babies in that situation quite vividly in my mind. Imagining the boys funerals and all the little intricate details I would want them to have. Thinking how we could alter headstones.

It is checking they are breathing every night before I get into bed. It is being almost obsessive about it. It is being irrationally frightened if they sleep past their normal time in the morning. It is being so genuinely terrified another of my babies could die. 

It is being ridiculously fearful for the dangerous career choices they might make one day when they're still only 6 and 4 and 1. It is becoming tearful if I allow myself to think of it for too long even now when they're still only 6 and 4 and 1. It is knowing how ridiculous that sounds. It is getting irrationally angry when the RAF mistakenly invited my 6 year old to a posh dinner a few weeks back.  (Upon investigation with the RAF, apparently an Alexander Morgan RAF veteran lived at this address once upon a time - what a random and scary co-incidence!) 

It is being fearful of the lads holidays they will undoubtedly go on in their late teens and twenties and I think of all the drunken fallen to their deaths from balconies stories.  

It is the over-reacting when we are running late. Which is frequently these days. This is probably my worst and most frequent offender recently. My heart racing and chest panicky. Often needing to give myself a good talking too. It is an explosion of losing control and being snappy and horrible to the children when we start to run late sometimes because I dread the reaction of whoever or whatever we are late for. It is having to tell myself it doesn't really matter again and again. 

It is becoming ridiculously worked up when something is lost or just temporarily missing. Or just simply not knowing where something is. Something as tiny as a puzzle piece, or one of the toy cars, or not remember where I put my bracelet when I took it off. It is leaving the house worrying about something that is so inconsequential or getting out of bed to find something because I can't rest until I know where something is. 

It is over-analysing every single little decision all of the time.  Even silly decisions, like which colour of something to buy. It is frequently changing my mind and then changing it back again. It is being riddled with doubt.

It is never trusting my own decision making with the boys health and visiting the GP far more often than needed. It is feeling guilty for going to the GP again. It is being constantly self-reminded that I feel responsible for Belle's death because of a poor decision so I struggle to trust myself when the boys are ill. 

It is feeling self-conscious, huge, ugly, physically self-loathing and not recognising myself at all some days. It is having no idea what to wear some days. It is worrying too much about the numbers on the scales even when I'm telling myself "I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses" It is giving myself the pep-talk that this body grew and birthed four babies but frequently feeling self-conscious anyway. 

It is having an unhealthy relationship with food that is never consistent. In my teens I was one end of the scale and currently (Easter Eggs not helping) I'm at the other end. Feeling completely off the wagon which just further feeds into feeling self-conscious. 

It is finding faults and self-berating that I would never find in others. Unreasonably blaming myself when something goes wrong. 

It is finding some social situations sometimes an ordeal.

It is sometimes finding the most random of places an ordeal. An environmental grief trigger that hits you out of the blue and sends you spiraling.

It is irrationally feeling on the peripherals of friendship groups or even a tolerated presence. It is worrying if friendships are reciprocated. It is wondering if I'm really liked or really fit in. It is worrying if everyone is sick of me and my dead daughter grief. It is worrying why people invite me places. It is worrying that I try too hard with people. That I don't try hard enough with people. It is worrying that I'm too needy. 

It is worrying about my boys friendships and that they will feel / do feel like they have special friends too. It is asking their teachers for reassurance about their friendships at parents meeting. 

It is feeling crap at my job when children's futures depend on me not being crap at my job. It is feeling like a crap wife, mother, daughter, friend. It is feeling a complete lack of self-confidence sometimes. 

It is feeling spread too thinly. It is feeling overwhelmed by everything and anything.

It is not being able to remotely cope with certain days or dates of the year. 

It is dreading June and the inevitable PSTD that will come around again. It is the living with trauma. It is the emotions that start to build up as early as now every year. Just last week I felt tearful with relief that I'm able to have Belle's birthday off again this year in lieu of attending a training day on my day off and today I came over all tearful thinking about her birthday and what to plan this year in the car on the way to the hospital. 

It is frequently thinking of June 2010 and how I could've, should've, played it differently. How my awful decision making might have had a different outcome had I made a different decision that night. It is constantly imagining a life where Belle lived.

It is the living with guilt. It is all the What If's. 

It is being a bitch to my family when a big event is coming up, like trying to prepare for the holiday or even just a day out.  Link back to feeling easily overwhelmed.

It is feeling obsessed with the organising. It is needing a plan. It is struggling when the plan needs an alteration. It is struggling to maintain calm when times go all askew. Link back to running late triggers. It is that panic. 

It is appearing like I have it altogether on the outside when I feel like a meltdown might be coming on the inside. It is like feeling a fraud when people tell you you're a great mother but you don't feel it. 

It is about having one persona for the world and sometimes another behind closed doors. It is the sheer exhaustion sometimes of holding it altogether. 

It is wondering what damage my grief or any of these awful anxiety reactions will have been done to the boys by the time they are grown. It is worrying they will only remember when Mummy was grumpy, or shouty, or not being fun. It is worrying their childhoods are not happy enough. It is worrying Zachy is already showing similar anxious traits to his mother. Hereditary? Nature? Nuture? 

It is knowing I'm unreasonable sometimes but somehow not being able to stop my behaviour and feeling out of control. It is watching myself treat the boys appallingly sometimes like an out of body experience and wondering who that mother is.  

It is wondering why Jon or the boys love me at all sometimes. It is worrying one day they will all leave me.

It is always always trying to do better. It is trying to be self-aware. Trying to react in a better way the next time. But it is sometimes failing miserably. 

It is trying to control it when sometimes it just can't be controlled. It is so much more than what I can possibly think to list. 

It is just part of me, I guess. For better or worse. There. 

It sometimes feels like the devil on my shoulder goes through the list and decides which one to pick at today. It isn't all of these things all of the time. It isn't even all of these things all at once.  

It is knowing despite it all that many of these thoughts, feelings, and whatever else, are only really in my head and only on a bad day and not a true perception of anything at all. Today is a good day and I can see beyond the fleeting anxiety feelings this morning. It is knowing when it is "normal" anxiety and "I'm having a bit of a downward spiral at the moment" anxiety. 

It is knowing to keep listening to the reassurance from friends and family and believe the best version of myself. It is feeling ridiculously grateful for every nice thing someone says about me or to me even when I'm not always in a place to believe them. It is getting through the other side of grief and anxiety collisions (click to open) again and again and again. 

It is still figuring out what defines me. 

Can you believe Belle will be eight this year? 

Eight years and some days I still feel no more put back together again. 

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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