When I anticipate a stressful situation, I have this sense of internal panic that occurs. As the time draws closer to the situation, my stress levels rise and my perception of the event (whatever it is) morphs from being like a quiet walk up a gentle slope into an impassable mountain range. At times like this my perception gets ‘out of whack’ with the reality of the situation as I anticipate what can only become a difficult event.
OK, so some of the above sounds a bit melodramatic looking on from the outside but when I’m actually in the thick of the situation, my perception is my reality. And if my perception is skewed, then that becomes my warped and chaotic view of reality. And from the inside, all I can see is a blizzard of feelings and a sense of panic taking flight, feeling trapped and scared, fearful that I’m going to lose it all, and fall down in a pathetic heap and emotionally crash and burn.
So what I’m trying to say is that the view from within this turmoil is a TOTALLY, TOTALLY different landscape from what one sees from outside it. This is probably a fairly accurate picture of how I see my own issues with anxiety and depression. It’s probably also how I would describe mental health issues to someone who hasn’t experienced them but wants to try and understand where someone else is coming from.
The reason I’m writing this is that this coming weekend I have invited some friends from out of town to come and stay. I’m not sure how many nights they will be staying. I’m not good at having other people in my space so this has the potential to be a challenge. Add to that, that my friend is bringing her new husband who I have met but my husband hasn’t. We have a family birthday this weekend and some of my husband’s family coming to town for a few days. On top of this I had invited my nephew and his girlfriend for dinner over the weekend (forgetting I had invited my other friends to stay). At the time it all seemed manageable, but as this weekend approaches I sense the stirring inside me of little fingers of panic. I want to clean and tidy the house in a manic and obsessive manner in an attempt to keep control over my world -which at any point might spin off course and totally out of control.
So in an attempt to keep sanity in both my house and my mind, I have chosen to stop. To be calm. To take stock of the situation and see it for what it really is.
- I don’t need to race around the house like a mad woman and clean and tidy everything in an attempt to control my world.
- I have called my friend from out of town and they are coming Friday night only and heading off to do other things on Saturday morning. We agreed that we were getting together to catch up on our friendship so there is no need for me to race around and clean the house to within an inch of it’s life. This is about friendship, and I am not being judged on my housekeeping.
- I have a call in to my nephew to see when they can come over for dinner – if necessary I can always postpone this for a few days.
- That just leaves the family birthday which will predominantly take place on Sunday at a restaurant (not at my house for which I am thankful). Even if this takes most of the day, that still leaves me some time to myself on Saturday afternoon.
OK, so life is now in order and there is space to breathe. The trick was to BE CALM, and to take a step back in order to evaluate the situation, and then to alter/manage my expectations of accordingly. I explained to my friend about my sense of panic/anxiety and emphasized that I want her to come and stay, I just need to be mindful of the internal stuff that may be going on and try to manage those feelings and the associated self-talk. So far, so good.
I want to leave you with this delightful quote:
“You can’t calm the storm so stop trying. What you CAN do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” – Timber Hawkeye