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Anxiety, what a pest it is. Saturday July 12, 2014

Someone asked me recently if my insomnia got worse if I was worried about a future commitment.

I hesitated on this one as I was feeling so dreadful that day, I didn't think it could get any worse even if I had to make a televised speech to the Houses of Parliament in a few days.

However I did reply and said "Yes it can do!"

But not really believing that it might actually get worse and anyway this person obviously didn't know how ghastly I was feeling.

But then something happened, a light bulb moment as they say and it wasn't a good moment! I realised that yes, my insomnia can be directly related to something I have committed myself to months ahead.

For instance a lunch party at my house which I happily invited a few friends and their spouses weeks ago. I imagined a summer day, sitting outside, wine, nice food prepared by me (even though I dislike the thought of cooking), bunting etc.

And hey ho what happened? Yes, you guessed it, my anxiety levels rose as the day got nearer, weeks before actually and my sleep got worse as I was forced to think this lunch was actually a reality and not a dream in my head.

I got to the point where I lost count of the number of times I cancelled it, the excuses I made etc. Would I feel worse if I cancelled or better?

In the end I am going through with it. Listen to that language. "Going through with it"! It sounds like such an ordeal!

And also here's the irony. The lunch is tomorrow and of course I have been thinking I MUST sleep the night before the lunch, I must, I must and guess what happened, I slept soundly last night, the one night I didn't care if I didn't sleep. Of course I won't sleep tonight but by the time you read this, it will all be over, but I can guarantee I will still be analysing the whole event in my head still.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 6:47am

Dear Julia, the Bible says "sufficient unto the day ",
We have worries enough for one day - try to 'blank
out ' other, as our Lord IS after all...

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 7:14am

Oh Julia, I've just woken from intermittent sleep, read your post and empathised. Me too: ten days loom with several fun events and I'm very aware of my anxiety levels rising and my sleep diminishing. For me it's rooted in the belief that I am not good enough therefore something will go wrong, or I will say something deeply inappropriate or someone will not like me...and so it goes on. Wish I could anticipate events with joy. Thanks for your post, it makes me feel better to know I am not alone - it's not the sort of thing I can discuss without sounding weird or self-obsessed. Hope your party went well and you are now sleeping sound!

suraj Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 8:19am

But how to tackle the anxiety ?

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 9:00am

Yes that is the question suraj. I don't have the answer.

Mary Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 9:21am

Hi Julia, I hope your party was wonderful and a relaxed and enjoyable time was had by all, not least you!
When you have an event like this, an adrenaline surge is inevitable (anxiety and adrenaline are interlinked of course). I don't tend to suffer too much myself but my sister does. she deals with it by micro-managing things to the last detail so that everything that can be cooked in advance and frozen is, she has a timetable to work her way through the prep. The bunting has been obtained and several strong friends engaged to hang it (with lots of time to cope with things going wrong). Until I realised what was going on with her it used to be a prize pain, but now that understand we let her get on with it and help her rather than telling her "don't worry; chill; it'll be fine" which never does any good whatsoever. In fact, it's great to have at least one organised person in the family to counteract my "Hey - let's have an impromptu party - right now!" attitude - which drives people just as crazy as the micro-managing bit! All the best with your next party! May you have many more.

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 9:27am

Hi Julia, this is me!! I only realised recently that I suffer anxiety. It's been there since childhood, such an enormous part of my life that I felt such a fool not to have noticed this giant walking around with me! I hide everything related to feeling low and so I would be the chatty, smiley one, sipping a lot of wine to get through situations. Now I'm sorry to say I avoid almost my head I have friends for lunch, but it never materialises, when I find myself thinking I might...I remind myself how ill I get as the pressure builds and I stop before I commit. I know this is not the answer but its how I manage for now. I find friendships just as anxiety ridden and so they have floundered but I remind myself of the quote "those who mind don't matter, those who matter don't mind".

Gosh I talk a lot. One very useful thing I have discovered is youngest child has sadly been driven by anxiety since he was very little. I only identified if when he started school and it became persistent and worsened. I found a really good book, it's a cbt book for children. One, it has been brilliant for him. We read it together and do exercises from it. He now coaches himself and can identify what is a 'worry' where before he would just meltdown. Two, for those of us who are struggling with is so much simpler to read and understand a children's book than to struggle through adult version. Or perhaps it's just me!! :-D The one I found very helpful (and simple) is called What To Do When You Worry Too Much. It hasn't brought me to the point of entertaining but it has taught me how to identify my behaviour and what to do with it. If my beautiful child can learn and really act on it, I should too. Thank you for your post, it's made me see that I need to revisit this book.

Now, you said when we read this your lunch would be did it go? Love from the room above the garage.

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 9:30am

I admire your family ethos...all open about difficulties and therefore they diminish. I need to take many leaves from that book! Love from the ratg.

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 9:51am

Yes I agree.I admire families who talk, help each other and struggle together too.Yours sounds just that Mary. Thank your for your nice reply; I agree, preparation is the key when you are feeling low. I know I cannot contribute in a lighthearted social dinner party way but can make the house look nice and make sure the food is cooked etc. But my family has always skirted around issues and I guess pretended they are not there.To quote Lex, I feel another blog coming on. RATG..The lunch went well but I didn't enjoy it. Everyone else seems to and they stayed till 7.30pm. It started at 1pm and I was exhausted by 5!. I am still going over it in my mind and of course all the things I should have done etc etc. At the moment I am saying "Never again" as the build up of anxiety was too much as is the post analysis.(Everyone said they enjoyed but I'm in that don't believe you, you are just saying it mode. Oh dear) I take it you are back from holiday now room above the garage? Thank you both for such helpful replies. xx

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 9:57am

Hi again ratg. I have sort of replied to you above but not mentioned your advice re. the book. I certainly need to read it. You sound a wonderful mother by the way and no you don't talk too much. And if you do, well you really help me and others I am sure so please carry on talking. We would miss you if you stopped. X

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 10:10am

I am glad I am not the only one too. Thank you!

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 10:21am

I appreciate this is your way of trying to help so thank you. My mother always used to say "Sufficient unto the day" I never knew what she meant as a child. But you have reminded me of her which is lovely.

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 10:43am

Oh a Christian my heart sinks when I hear or read the words 'the bible says...' This phrase can rarely be helpful to someone who is not in relationship with our Triune God. Speaking from my own experience, accepting and believing that I am a child of God has enabled me to lay down anxiety, take one day at a time, not be bothered about rising to other people's expectations (eg entertaining friends to meals etc). If they are friends they will accept you as you are and be happy to be invited to tea or coffee. Get your confidence up with this first and maybe gently build on doing say, sandwiches etc. Something that can be prepared beforehand. 'Don't bite off more than you can chew' is my motto!

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 10:46am

Julia, you are very gracious and I'm glad you have been reminded of your mother from Gill 10.43am

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 10:50am

Anxiety is normal, it keeps us safe but when we become over sensitised it pops up and becomes a tiger all of the time. How about a plan 'B' rather than telling yourself you have to sleep? There are lots of CD's with relaxation on them that you can put on an mp3 and many designed for those who cannot sleep. If you listen daily then can help. I have some old films like Boy on a Dolphin, Shirley Valentine and lots of Dorris Day films that are more fun than sleeping but do have that effect. Cognitive behaviour theraphy can be very helpful, for maybe there are things that you are doing that worked when you were younger but that you no longer need to do. We have to look after ourselves before others, for if we cannot then we cannot help others. Why for instance would you invite guests round when even the idea was somewhat alarming for you. We often continue to do things because of what others might think of us and then we have to be mind readers in order to keep considering what they might be thinking. No wonder you cannot sleep! Make yourself lunch/dinner and enjoy your own company. Learn to say 'no' and mean it. Your real friends will understand. Go for a walk, watch a programme. Take the pressure off and read Claire Weekes Self help for your nerves. She has all the answers. She is on Utube and you can get CD's. There is always an answer, but one step at a time, keep it simple and you only have the minute you are in, so to think about the evening or the next day means you are not living in the minute.

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 11:01am

All your advice is good and yes anxiety is normal. Thank you for all this. I used to be a great fan of Claire Weeks, years ago and was happy to see her name pop up recently and today in the comments. She must still be relevant so I will go back to her.I have made strides with Mindfulness which is to do with living in the moment but of course it would impractical to live in the moment all the time but as a way of grounding ones thoughts, it's wonderful.So..many thanks for your helpful comments. I'll certainly be thinking of a plan B!

Anonymous Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 4:00pm

Good to see I am not the only one who overanalyzes everything, it is good you went through with your lunch (I may have cancelled). But then again I am having friends over today myself and I'm feeling pretty good about it. They learned to become very insistent though or it doesn't happen. They learned to become forward with me in making the plans so they happen. Ha ha- I guess real friends will find a way to spend time. Hope you slept well and enjoy your time- so next time it may be easier.

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 5:01pm

You have some really good friends. Mine are lovely too and I can see a time coming when we all feel as natural together as you and your friends do.Your comments and others today have made me see things differently. Hope you have a really nice anxiety free time with your pals today.

heather Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 5:15pm

How I can empathise with your problem Julia. When I am feeling good I make arrangements and often, for me, I appear to materialise some physical ailment which means I have to cancel. I think this is probably anxiety manifesting itself. There is so much help for us all in the comments above I can hardly add anything, but to say I have learned to offer basic buffets or easy food (I can easily add special bits and pieces at the last minute if I feel like it). Proper cooked sit down meals I keep for the immediate family and I certainly don't try any of that courden bleu stuff any more (can't even spell it.) If I have a bigger group I invite only people who I know will enjoy a get together what ever ! and often we operate on a bring a bottle or plate system. And I try to resist the obsession that I have to do everything perfectly. However, I still had to cancel a garden party last week because my "hand was hurting badly".
I am very sad you did not enjoy yourself today, Julia, you so deserve to, and I am sure the others did. I have a strange thing whenever I am in company, I may thoroughly enjoy it but when I get to bed that night I get awful peculiar feelings that I haven't enjoyed it at all and feel really wretched and can't sleep - how weird is that ?
At present I am on a 5 day steroid course for asthma and it always has the most wonderful effect on me. I am getting down to all the jobs that have been sullenly lurking around the house for weeks - even months. Does anyone else react to Prednisolone this way? Whey can't they sort out something like this for us, Julia, and we would never have to cancel. Love Heather x

Lex McKee Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 6:19pm

I wonder if shifting your awareness may help (and I don't say this as an expert)? For example, if helping a couple with a conflict, mapping out each party's perspective on a large sheet of paper in front of them can really help them hear one another (by literally seeing each others view.) Putting the issue on the paper moves the challenge from an inner awareness to an external focus. So, my thought was that writing out your plans (complete with all anxieties) may give your mind 'permission' to let go of needing to cling on to those anxieties - keeping you awake.

One concept I am really fond of is "Open Loops" - where we know that the unconscious mind keeps reminding us of things we have yet to finish. Finishing the things closes the loop. Many people find that writing down their open loops on paper frees them from the inner mental reminders. This works only as long as they are faithful to go an pick up the reminders from the paper and do something with them when the opportunity arises. Writing out what's on your mind, externalising it, and then being faithful to your brain by picking it up again when it better suits you, might just work some mental magic and bring you peaceful sleep. I hope so x

Julia Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 6:25pm

What a lovely reply Heather.You did make me chuckle about your hand hurting badly. My lunch party was on the 4th July so I really should be over it by now. The replies today have really helped me get over it once and for all as I know others feel the same and the suggestions as to how to get round or stop it ever happening again are terribly helpful for someone like me. I think that time lag you speak about is so true.While an event is happening you actually seem to enjoy it but after a few hours have elapsed and especially when in bed, all the negative aspects show themselves to me.Honestly I have never really put two and two together like this before.
I did enjoy it until 5pm when any normal lunch would be well over (except for our Spanish Moodscopers). I wish there was a drug which gave us all some relief from time to time without side effects. I have heard of Prednisolone.Enjoy it while you can! (I mean for the 5 days!) x

DawnC.Ritchie Sat, Jul 12th 2014 @ 8:39pm

I wonder if anyone does what I do.
I plan a party and then invite people at the last minute or tell people I'll have a party in a few weeks all enthusiastically, and then don't plan it. I don't understand myself. I learned recently that I may suffer from anxiety.

Julia Sun, Jul 13th 2014 @ 8:21am

Dear Lex. Thank you. I read this yesterday and spent all night awake thinking about it. Ha! But what you suggest seems workable for me. The first idea for partners sounds so sensible. It's taken me a number of years to realise that my husband and I see life very differently. If I had the benefit of your understanding years ago, I might have done things differently. But most of us have to work out how to live with a partner short or long term and for me it is one of the great mysteries of life until the sudden realisation/ epiphany moment (Suzy) dawns on one (me).
Your second suggestion is great. Plans and tasks yet to be done written down and checked regularly until the tasks have been completed. Then can I have a Kit Kat, a chunky one? But seriously..thank you. I am definitely going to do this when a future big event is on the horizon and see if it helps my anxiety.It is so kind of you to think of me and to help in this way Lex. xx

Julia Sun, Jul 13th 2014 @ 8:26am

Hi Dawn. This does sound on the face of it, the opposite way one normally goes about inviting people round but you may have a point! It sounds an anxiety free way of planning and going through with a party.I'm not sure if my anxiety levels would allow me to do this though especially the not planning bit. If you have discovered only recently that you suffer from anxiety, I am sure you can get effective help for it.Good luck and thank you!

Anonymous Mon, Jul 21st 2014 @ 3:23pm

Julia! Wonderful post
Kudos on going through with it and doing it despite the anxiety!
As well as stepping outside and providing a wonderful time for others to connect.
Hope it wasn't too tiring or exhausting. I remember being pretty burnt out hosting, cleaning and also kind of putting up a happy face even if it wasn't so great, everyone else always enjoys though ;)

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