October 29, 2019 at 6:28 pm #320457
Reflecting on my childhood, I seem to remember the times in which I experienced anxiety and not a lot else. I used to be afraid of going to restaurants because I was afraid that I would throw-up and embarrass myself. Sometimes this worry actually came true. One of my first memories was being afraid to go poop(as a toddler) and so I held it in for days until my parents took me to the doctor. I was afraid that pooping would be painful so I held it in. I’ve done some self-reflection before and realized that I do not like being physically uncomfortable and out of control.October 30, 2019 at 9:16 am #320555
I re-read your posts as well as the recent one. Looking at this one memory, you being a toddler and being afraid to go poop, holding it in for days until your parents took you to the doctor, “afraid that pooping would be painful”-
-this tells me how early and how intensely your anxiety has been. I don’t know if your parents took you to a general doctor or to a psychotherapist, or both. I wish they took you to a children’s therapist. And I wish that therapist guided them as to how parent you so to maximize your sense of comfort and safety in the home, in the very relationships with your parents (and with siblings, whomever lived in the home).
When a child is this scared for this long (as was my experience), we get stuck with that fear and it doesn’t go away just because we become adults. There are times of relative freedom from it, for example, when traveling and experiencing something new, but too soon the newness is gone and the fear returns.
You wrote earlier about flying: “Every time I think about flying, I can feel this ‘stopping’ sensation in my chest. I feel as if it is impossible”-
-that stopping feeling, aka fear, is very powerful and very convincing. No amount of intellectual insight into our childhoods, no amount of meditations we do… nothing works when fear is this strong except for a chemical intervention. First chemical intervention, that is, psychiatric drugs. SSRI drugs sort of dissolve the thinking that quickly lead to that intense fear, for example (starting with your toddler example and on): the thoughts: pooping will hurt, I will throw up, the plane will crash and so on and on, the loops of thoughts involved with each scenario are shortened, cut off as if by a pair of scissors. Left without the scary thoughts= our fear lessens dramatically.
What do you think about what I wrote here?
anitaOctober 30, 2019 at 4:58 pm #320639
Thank you for getting back to me. I appreciate it.
I used to be on different SSRI’s to lessen my symptoms of PPPD. They did help a little bit but I still had the same thoughts that I have now, which is why I have not made any huge changes in the past four years.
I also did spend several months trying to maintain a regular schedule, regular exercise, better eating, and supplements like SAMe(a natural SSRI), which helped me as well. But I have still been (relatively) stuck in the same place in my life.
Truly, I would prefer to not take medication and find other ways to overcome what I am struggling with.October 30, 2019 at 5:31 pm #320645
You are welcome. I understand your position regarding psychiatric drugs and your experience with SSRIs. Then continuing to explore:
Will you tell me about your current relationships other than the one with your boyfriend?
I am asking because our relationships have a lot to do with our mental/ physical health. When a relationship drains us on a regular basis, maybe activates old fears, we can’t progress without changing or eliminating such relationships.
-I will be back to the computer in about 12 hours from now.
anitaOctober 30, 2019 at 5:38 pm #320647
Although I am not really willing to go back on medication, I do think it would be important for me to get back on my routine as I have dropped it for several months. However, as we have pointed out that I have had long-standing fear/anxiety, what else can be done to un-do the damage that has been done?
In terms of my relationships, I genuinely feel that they are all going very well. I have a wonderful group of supportive friends, who are all very close to me. No particular relationship stands out in my mind as draining or negative.October 31, 2019 at 6:23 am #320681
Part One: what you did trying to resolve your anxiety, some helped temporarily and none helped satisfactorily:
1. Psychotherapy: “I don’t feel that my last therapist was super helpful so I don’t remember any groundbreaking insight I had with her”.
2. Psychiatric drugs: SSRIs: “I used to be on different SSRI’s..They did help a little bit but I still had the same thoughts that I have now, which is why I have not made any huge changes in the past four years… supplements like SAMe (a natural SSRI).. helped me as well. But I have still been (relatively) stuck in the same place in my life”.
3. Exercise: “Exercise has also been helpful for me in the past. I used to workout regularly which helped quite a bit, but did not resolve the issues completely”.
4. Improved nutrition: “I also did spend several months trying to maintain.. better eating, and supplements”.
5. Routine: “I also did spend several months trying to maintain a regular schedule, regular exercise.. which helped me as well. But I have still been (relatively) stuck in the same place in life”.
6. Scanning the body: “scanning my body and making corrections where needed. For example, lowering my shoulders when stressed and even smiling slightly”.
7. Meditation: “I have tried meditation, but not for long enough. I find that in the beginning, sitting with my thoughts seems to make me more stressed… I have found in recent years that I feel a lot of resistance in my body”.
Part Two: The resistance
You wrote in your most recent post: “No particular relationship stands out in my mind as draining or negative”- your relationships with one or two of your parents (whomever was your caretaker when you were a child) was very negative and draining. If you are still in a relationship with that person, even though you may feel nothing at all, sort of numb and indifferent, the negativity is held in your body and your brain is resisting awareness of it.
About your 2015- present relationship, you wrote that in the Fall of 2015, you “entered a healthy (relationship) with a great person. For some reason though, this was very threatening to me. During this time, I developed chronic vertigo… my mind tends to blame my partner for the way I feel… Ever since I have been with my partner, I am also scared to fly on a plane… My mind tells me to break-up with my partner… the new relationship felt threatening to me”.
You described this relationship as healthy and “a real, stable relationship”. I think it threatened you because you think of your relationships with your parents also as stable and healthy, but it is not true. You resist that awareness but the truth seeps into your relationship with your partner. In other words, your childhood experience with your parents is projected into your relationship with your partner. You felt threatened as a child with your parents-> you feel threatened as an adult with your partner.
Part Three: your experience as a child
“I have always been a little ‘off’ after having Mono as a kid… used to be afraid of going to restaurants because I was afraid that I would throw up and embarrass myself. Sometimes this worry actually came true. One of my first memories was being afraid to go poop (as a toddler) and so I held it in for days until my parents took me to the doctor. I was afraid that pooping would be painful so I held it in…I do not like being physically uncomfortable and out of control”, “I’ve always been kind of a day dreamer and I would day dream about lovers, but it was always just fun and not real… a real, stable relationship .. went against the person I saw myself as, which is independent”.
* A comment regarding memories we have as adults about our lives as children: these are inaccurate regarding times and dates- we can remember something that happened when we were 2, and another thing that happened to us at 10 as if they happened in one day. To add to this inaccuracy the stories our parents tell us about ourselves throughout our childhood and adulthood get mixed in our “memories”. To add even further to the inaccuracy: we imagine now what we were thinking as young children using our adult brains, our adult vocabulary, books we read etc. while the young child thinks very differently, with a far lesser vocabulary, not having read books, and so forth. The young child feels acutely, and she feels way more than she thinks.
From what you shared, reads to me that your relationship with your parents (and perhaps their relationship with each other, which you witnessed) was indeed negative and draining, and very scary. As a child you felt “physically uncomfortable and out of control” of your scary life circumstances, the bad things happening around you. Your out-of-control experience with the happenings around you extended to your fear of bodily out of control (pooping, eating, throwing up).
Maybe you suffered from constipation and that is why you feared the pain of pooping. And maybe that happened not as a toddler but later on. I don’t know how your parents reacted to your symptoms of anxiety which led them to take you to a doctor or doctors. I don’t know what stories they told you.
I think that you “always been kind of a day dreamer’ because this is a very common escape for children living in a scary, unpredictable home, daydreaming of a different kind of life. If you saw yourself as independent (“a real, stable relationship.. went against the person I saw myself as, which is independent”) as a child, I figure it is because as a child you didn’t have the option of depending on your parent/ caretakers for a feeling of safety.
* Regarding bad things happening in your home as a child, it doesn’t have to be earth shattering, scary-movie type happenings. It doesn’t take much to scare a child.
—If you want, let me know of your thoughts and feelings about what I wrote.
October 31, 2019 at 1:40 pm #320741
- This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by anita.
Thank you for putting in the time to type your response, although, I feel mixed about it.
As a child, my mother would raise her voice frequently because me and my sibling would upset her(what child does not upset their mom?) It may have been scary and unpredictable at those times but, other then that, I did not live in a “scary, unpredictable home”. I was very well taken care of and did not have to do much work of my own. I was fed, loved, and had a place to sleep.
My relationship now with my parents is also very good. I can communicate honestly with them, and I feel supported by them. I guess what I am trying to get at is I don’t know how to overcome the issues I am struggling with. If the other things I talked about didn’t work for whatever reason, then what am I left to do?October 31, 2019 at 2:39 pm #320743
In general, children (minor and as adults) are greatly motivated to view their home in the best possible light. My own sister views her childhood as wonderful, growing up with the same mother. My mother frequently threatened to commit suicide, but that didn’t interfere with my sister’s view of her childhood as nothing less than wonderful. Adult children all over the world claim to have had a good childhood with loving parents when was is clearly not so, according to the stories they tell themselves following stating how wonderful their childhoods were.
Regarding your particular childhood, the mono experience- would you like to share about that?
Explorig this issue will take some time, weeks perhaps. Maybe longer. I am willing to take the time through ongoing communication with you. If you are willing, and for as long as you are willing, we will continue. I will soon be away from the computer and be back in about 16 hours from now.
anitaOctober 31, 2019 at 10:05 pm #320787
I can see where you are coming from but clearly I am remembering all of the fearful times( pooping, throwing up, etc). Although I struggled internally, my home life was relatively stable on the outside. I would like not to assume that my home life was unpredictable or scary because of my parents.
In terms of the mono, the dizziness actually all started, from my memory, when I was getting a bad grade in 6th grade. I remember thinking I would never go to college or be able to take care of myself because of the bad grade. I also thought my dad would be really upset with me at the time. He wasn’t but I assumed he would be. I internalized the stress for so long that it made me sick until I couldn’t be quiet anymore. I told my parents how I was feeling and they took me to the doctor. After a blood test the doctor said I had mono. It was truly a traumatic experience. I felt like I was on a boat for almost a whole year and it was awful. It got better the next year but the sense of motion never really went away.
On another note, I had a realization earlier. When my parents used to go out to eat when I was young, I always felt scared when they would leave. Maybe one of the reasons why I am now so independent is because I don’t want to feel an anxious attachment to someone or something.November 1, 2019 at 7:54 am #320841
“I would like not to assume that my home life was unpredictable or scary because of my parents”- all children are invested in seeing their parents as all-good and feel guilty thinking otherwise.
I am not saying your parents were not or are not good people, they may very well be. But unfortunately, hardly any parent is good enough because human life is so complicated, society is so complicated that being a good enough parent is very, very difficult. For an animal it is quite simple- the doe walks, the fawn follows her, she feeds it, protects it a bit, job well done. Parenting is not that easy for humans.
“Although I struggle internally, my home life was relatively stable on the outside“- exploring the origins of your anxiety is about looking at your home life on the inside. A safe home on the inside does not produce a significantly anxious child. Let’s say your home was safe on the inside, then you got mono sixth grade and your anxiety started there, then maybe it is the mono and although your parents took care of you in every way, comforting you etc., it is possible that a year long mono can be the origin. But you had anxiety as a toddler, way before the mono. The mono aggravated it, no doubt. But it started before.
“When my parents used to go out to eat when I was young, I always felt scared when they would leave”- on the outside, if they left you and your sibling with a responsible caretaker, saying good night to you kindly, telling you they will be back and hug you before leaving, it seems fine and dandy, doesn’t it. No abuse, no cruelty.
Questions (don’t know if you have the answers): who took care of you when they left out to eat, did you cry when they left, after they left? Did you stay up until they returned? Did your parents know how scared you were during their outings and if they did, how did they respond to knowing that?
anitaNovember 6, 2019 at 4:36 pm #321845
I know when I was young, my Mom had a family friend watch us. I do not remember any discomfort around her. In fact, I used to like her more then my mom at the time because she yelled a lot less then my Mom.
On the nights that I remember discomfort, when I was older, it was typically a teenager we knew from the neighborhood. But to me, there were still strangers. I remember I would “go to bed” but would stay up thinking of bad things happening to my parents. I used to worry that they would both die in a car crash and not come home. It felt lonely and scary.
I don’t actually know if I used to cry when they left. I am inclined to say that I probably hid my anxiety, but that is something I would have to verify with my parents now.November 7, 2019 at 9:21 am #321969
I re-read your posts page 1-2 integrating the information from your most recent post into the previous posts.
In your most recent post you wrote regarding the female family friend who watched you while your parents were out: “I used to like her more than my mom at the time because she yelled a lot less than my Mom”. Earlier you wrote: “As a child, my mother would raise her voice frequently”.
Can frequent raising of the voice of a mother, yelling, traumatize a young child?
Let’s say you are sitting at home now, the adult that you are, and you hear a yelling from behind you, do you get scared, alarmed, alert, concerned, distressed?
Is there a person, child or adult, hearing a yelling, who does not respond with fear, alarm, alertness, distress, body getting tense, then looking for the source of the yelling if it is not obvious, or figuring out what to do when the source is obvious, how to stop that yelling?
I have no doubt that as a child, you were very scared, alert, alarmed, distressed, body tense, muscles partially contracted- ready to run or fight, hormones and other chemical released in the brain and body, heart pumping fast- that happened every time your mother yelled. And after a yelling, you were still alert, fearing the next time she yells.
You wrote earlier regarding her raising her voice frequently/ yelling: “It may have been scary and unpredictable at those times, but other than that, I did not live in a ‘scary, unpredictable home’. I was very well taken care of… fed, loved, and had a place to sleep. I would like not to assume that my home life was unpredictable or scary because of my parents”-
– but it surely was scary and unpredictable, not “may have been” but surely was, every time she yelled and in between the times she yelled, fearing the next time, trying to avoid the next time, to be able to predict it, to be prepared, not surprised by the next yelling, listening to sounds, scared.
Every child gets scared when being yelled at, scared when hearing any yelling, be it directed at the child or at another person. Animals get scared too when hearing yelling. Everyone does.
The fact that you were fed and had a place to sleep.. well, the yelling greatly disturbed your ability to be relaxed enough to enjoy the food and the sleep then and now.
What I wrote above is what I am sure of, no doubt, because it is true for everyone. The following are possibilities that may be true:
1. “I used to be afraid of going to restaurants because I was afraid I would throw up and embarrass myself”- it is possible that you threw up as a child and your mother yelled at you for throwing up.
2. “One of my first memories was being afraid to go poop (as a toddler) and so I held it in for days”- it is possible that as a baby and toddler, your mother yelled at you when you pooped at her inconvenience, let’s say soon after she changed you or when there were guests over.
3. “In terms of the mono, the dizziness actually all started.. when I was getting a bad grade in 6th grade”- it is possible that your mother yelled at you when you got low or bad grades.
Notice the following:
-You think that the reason you were afraid to throw up in a restaurant was your fear of embarrassing yourself- but it may have been the fear was of her yelling at you.
-You think that the reason you were afraid to poop was that it will be painful to poop- but it may have been that the fear of her yelling at you.
You connected your fear to physical discomfort (“I do not like being physically uncomfortable and out of control”)- no one likes physical discomfort. But because she yelled at you when you were physically uncomfortable, ex., when needing to poop, you connected your fear to the physical discomfort, not to her yelling. What happens next is that physical discomfort becomes excessively distressing and scary, adding to the natural discomfort a measure of panic.
You are welcome to share more of your thoughts and feelings and I will reply further.
November 20, 2019 at 11:43 am #323771
- This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by anita.
Thank you for getting back with such a detailed reply. Upon further reflection, I can definitely see how my mothers yelling would have kept me on edge and scared as a child. However, I would need to ask her about the other correlations….ex: her yelling at me when throwing up, pooping, etc.
I like the progress that I am making through this reflection, but I still am at a loss for how I can begin to improve myself for the better.November 20, 2019 at 12:46 pm #323791
That your mother yelled at you frequently- that is a fact (you stated so). Whether she yelled at you when you threw up or pooped, these are possibilities that I brought up, not facts. If you ask your mother, she may say she didn’t yell at you in those particular occasions because either she didn’t, or she doesn’t remember very well. For example, she may have yelled at you at one time when you threw up, but didn’t the second and third time, and she may remember only the second and third times.
It is also possible that she would lie, not wanting to remind you of something you forgot.
“I can definitely see how my mother’s yelling would have kept me on edge and scared as a child… I still am at a loss for how I can begin to improve myself for the better”-
1. If your mother is still yelling at you, or at anyone else while you are present- there is something you will need to do so “to improve myself for the better” -let me know.
2. If anyone yells at you at times, same thing- let me know.
3. Understand that your mother’s yelling (even if it is in the past), is still keeping you “on edge and scared”. Your brain was formed as a child with her yelling in it. It will take you being mindful, meaning, hearing her yelling that is still going on, in your brain, reactivated. And then hushing that yelling. This mindful kind of work requires time, patience and a whole lot of persistent practice.
I will wait for your response to this post.
anitaDecember 10, 2019 at 11:38 am #326915
Fortunately, my Mom no longer yells at me. In fact, nobody in my life yells at me. Not my friends, boyfriend, parent, sibling, etc.