I have a lot on my plate over here, although probably no more than you.
I am what you might call a ‘high-strung’ person, which is great when things are going well. Being high strung can come across as being cheerful and energetic. But when life gets stressful, that energy becomes anxiety.
I thought I had a handle on my anxiety. Exercise and a nice glass of wine were my go-to remedies. I found out recently that I might need more than that to cope with my growing list of stress-inducing triggers. My list looks something like this …
My 80- year-old mother, who used to travel, do yoga and loved photography, has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now her traveling consists of trips to the memory clinic at Kaiser. She doesn’t like to socialize much, takes a lot of naps and needs help sorting her pills.
My job is to handle the medical end, while my brother is handling her finances and bills. We are not the first to go down this road with an elderly parent, but it is devastating nonetheless.
Moving on to stress trigger number two: my five kids.
What the heck was I thinking having so many? It is worse now that they are older, because I have absolutely no control over them! Why do they have to do stuff like hike on precarious mountains, take selfies on rooftops, dive off cliffs or fly to Belize and scuba dive?
Why can’t they all come back home and sit on the living room floor in their pajamas and build Legos?
By the way, I recently raved about that family map app, but don’t do it! I became a family map addict. I was staring at that thing all day and night, trying to figure out why my son was in San Francisco when he lives in San Jose. Why was my daughter, Mary, on a desolate road in Berkeley at midnight? It didn’t relieve my worrying, it caused it.
I had to go cold turkey. I may have to delete the app altogether. It’s just so tempting to spy on your kids.
Moving on to stressor number three: Haley’s driving.
It’s not good. She still has two more lessons with Driversity. To be honest, I think she needs a lot more. I cannot explain the physical reaction my body exhibits when sitting in the passenger seat next to her. It’s a cross between sheer terror and a seizure. I am literally unsteady when I exit the car.
Please pray for her safety and my heart.
Stressor number four: birthdays … mine.
I am in deep denial about my age. How am I 59? I can barely say it. I still wear Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatpants with the word ‘PINK’ across the butt, which by the way is flat and almost nonexistent.
I have a lot to look forward to – I can’t wait to have grandchildren (I will probably spy on them too!), and I don’t mean to take birthdays for granted. It’s just that in my head, I still think I am 29 and sometimes try to flirt with the good-looking checker at Trader Joe’s, much to his obvious horror.
I woke up last Sunday after a horrible nightmare that I had Alzheimer’s like my mom. In the dream, I couldn’t find my car, and when I did, I couldn’t find my way home and ended up crying and afraid. I woke up in a sweat. The feeling that I was in that dream lingered, even after my cup of coffee. I felt off, not myself. It was terrifying. I thought I might be wigging out.
I Googled my strange symptoms – the dream-like state and the feeling that things weren’t real. I had an answer almost immediately. It is a common yet terrifying symptom of anxiety called derealization. It’s the brain’s way of protecting itself from stress. Just knowing there was a name for it made me feel better. I made a conscious effort to relax. I made Maury take Haley driving.
I can’t get rid of the stress, but I can try to change how I react to it. I’m going to give meditation a try and maybe even take up yoga. I might just invite my mom