Grounding Techniques

Grounding Techniques

Good morning!

I hope you all are well, but if you aren’t maybe today’s anxiety post will help a bit.

If you suffer from anxiety attacks or panic attacks, today’s post is for you!

First, did you know there is a difference between the two?

Anxiety attacks are provoked by stressors and are short lived. Like if you think someone is in your house at night. As you are anxiously waiting for noises and footsteps your anxiety builds and builds and results in a short bout of racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, and dizziness. (Not a full list of  symptoms.)

Panic attacks, on the other hand, are unprovoked and can occur randomly. I would get them grocery shopping, in church, walking the dog, driving down the street, anywhere! Seemingly out of nowhere, sudden symptoms of dizziness, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, and racing heart hit like a ton of bricks. (Not a full list of symptoms).

It is important to learn the difference between the two because if you are like me and have experienced a panic attack thinking it was an anxiety attack, the fact that it is lasting a really long time only adds to the panic!

Grounding techniques are things that you can do when symptoms occur to bring you back into reality. When we are anxious, we live in our minds, not in reality. As real as the symptoms are, they are all stemming from your mind. When talking with my doctor about my symptoms, I told him that I was having real shortness of breath, real dizziness to the point of having to lay on the ground. I was having real acid reflux and brain fog, and real tremors so there had to be something wrong with me like a disease or something horrible. He told me when someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder, the symptoms are real. The anxiety causes real headaches, real nausea, everything. But the symptoms are coming from the anxiety, not cancer or hypoglycemia, or heart failure, or whatever it may be that we have self-diagnosed ourselves with during our obsessed Googling.

If you are too the point where you are having anxiety or panic attacks frequently, please read last week’s post, The Blessing of Medication. Do not be afraid to accept the help we have available to us.

Whether you are on medication or not, or even if you have an anxiety disorder or not, these techniques are good to know. Everyone has anxiety at some point in their life and it’s helpful to how to get out of our own heads. These techniques are easy but make a huge difference.

Groundings Techniques

Five Thinking Hats

5 thinking hats

My post on the Five Thinking Hats Technique is still my most popular one to date! This is a great way to force your mind back into the here and now. Here’s how to do it.

Wherever you are at the moment…

  1. Find five things you can see.
  2. Find four things you can feel.
  3. Three things you can hear.
  4. Two things you can smell.
  5. One good thing about yourself.

Asking Questions

Asking ourselves simple questions is another great to bring our minds out of the whirl.

ask

  1. Where am I?
  2. What is today?
  3. What is the date?
  4. What is the month?
  5. What is the year?
  6. How old am I?
  7. What season is it?

Trace Your Hand

Five Senses

Trace your hand on a sheet of paper. Write the five senses on each finger. Then for each of the five senses, identify something safe and comforting for each one. For example, the pinky finger represents sound. The waves rolling in at the beach. Pointer finger represents feel. Warm sheets from the dryer.

That was calming even typing that. 🙂

Other Things To Do When In Public

While you could certainly do Five Thinking Hats and Asking Questions in Public, here are some other things that you can do when you are not at home.

  • Step out into cool weather.
  • Wash your hands in cold water.
  • Focus on the voice of who is talking to you.
  • Feel the ground. Take off your shoes if possible.
  • Hold onto a cold drink
  • Turn the air conditioning on in your car and let it blow on your face.
  • Squeeze a ball or stuffed animal.

I hope you find some of these helpful! And there are certainly more grounding techniques out there. Do you have any others that you use? Please share! Let’s all help one another.

Blessings,
Angela

 

 

PPD/PPA/PPOCD: New Baby? Terrified?

PPD/PPA/PPOCD: New Baby? Terrified?

15994836_1646329152330764_7354096273085805893_o

Good morning Peaches!

Today I want to bring more attention to postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. When I was newly pregnant, I read about postpartum depression and my doctor even talked to me about it but I didn’t give it much thought after that. I thought surely it wouldn’t happen to me and if it did, I would just be a little more weepy than usual in the weeks after my baby arrived. Little did I know, I would be struck with PPD and it would be WAY worse than just being tearful. It wouldn’t occur in the weeks following the birth of my baby but much later and it would happen TWICE in two totally different ways! PPD/PPA/PPODC is difficult as it is but not knowing what is actually going on makes it a thousand times worse. This is why I blog. 🙂

Here are some facts about postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD that would have helped me to know before I knew. Hopefully, this finds you at just the right time.

You Are More Likely To Experience PPD/PPA/PPOCD If You Have Struggled With Anxiety or Depression in the Past

When I was pregnant with Ryan, I didn’t think that I had gone through bouts of anxiety or depression before. This was silly because I struggled with eating disorders for years. Of course, there was depression and anxiety at the base of all that! Have you experienced bouts of depression and anxiety in the past? Have you struggled with eating disorders? Does alcoholism run in your family? If you answer yes to any of these, be on the lookout for symptoms post pregnancy.

PPD/PPA/PPOCD Does Not Always Strike Right After Having Your Baby

THIS would have been great for me to know beforehand. Because I seemed more than fine weeks even months after giving birth, I had no idea that I was experiencing postpartum anxiety when it struck! It can hit anytime in the first YEAR after giving birth. I had postpartum anxiety after both of my pregnancies. Both times I was fine until my babies were around seven months.

It’s NOT Just Being Extra Weepy.

I didn’t know what was happening because I wasn’t just sad… I was utterly terrified! I was overcome with feelings of sadness (depression), feelings of terror (anxiety), and for me, the thoughts and feelings centered around very specific thoughts (OCD). These feelings were intense and overwhelming and didn’t go away.

The Thoughts and Feelings Do Not Have To Center Around Your Baby

You would think that if you have gone through PPD once, you would be better prepared for it the second time around right? Wrong! Not when it comes at you in a totally new way! After Ryan was born, I was convinced that I was dying. I was having all of these crazy symptoms but when I went to the doctor nothing was wrong. Now I know that the symptoms were all from anxiety even though they were very real at the time. Anxiety causes real headaches, real knots in your neck and back, real stomach issues, real exhaustion. Anxiety attacks often times mimic heart attacks symptoms so of course, I thought something was wrong with me. But the only thing wrong with me was that I was experiencing postpartum anxiety.

After I had my daughter, my thoughts were not about myself, they were about my son who was four years old at the time. I was obsessed with terrible thoughts that something awful was going to happen to him. I kept thinking if this was postpartum anxiety, why was I not worried about me dying again or at least worried about the actual baby I just had! The answer is that you don’t get to pick. Obviously if you did you would pick not to suffer at all.

Oh! I almost forgot. It doesn’t always happen after the first baby either. It could strike in the second, third, or fourth even though the other pregnancies were perfectly fine!

It Is Very Important NOT To Isolate

Ugh. Isolating has always been my downfall. 😦 When you’re feeling crazy, the last thing you want to do is be crazy in front of others. It never failed, conversations always ended up in tears even if the discussion wasn’t anything deep. Then of course, when people see your tears they want to help… but, bless em, they can’t. The season of postpartum anxiety is a jumbled mess of tears, terror, and embarrassment. But take heart! It is just a season. This too shall pass. It will. But isolating will only make it worse and prolong it. When we are left alone with our thoughts, they gain more and more significance. Even though it may be embarrassing, I have found that the best thing to do is just be honest about what is going on. But even though it’s difficult to get out or even just be honest with your spouse, you must. The more you isolate, the more you lose touch with reality.

Your thoughts and feelings are not reality.

Seek Help

I know I tell you all to seek help a lot in this blog. It’s because it’s so important! If God wanted us to do things alone why would He give us doctors, medicine, therapists, hospitals, technology, and ALL the things that He has so graciously gifted us with! Don’t white knuckle it. I did not know what I was experiencing after my first pregnancy. Although the thoughts and feelings did ease up a bit in the years between my son and my daughter, they never went away completely because I never got help. I had given so much significance to the thoughts that I couldn’t let them go. Then when I had my daughter, the anxiety was way worse! I am so glad that I finally did seek therapy and you need to as well if you are going through this. You need to learn to sort your thoughts. and question the significance. If need be, you need medication to quiet your mind and bring you back into reality. There is nothing wrong with this. When our loved one is sick, we are thankful for doctors and medicine. When you are sick, be thankful for doctors and medicine.

I hope this helps some of you moms out there! If you are dealing with this, remember you are a great mom, you are not alone in your struggle, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Blessings!
Angela

 

 

Anxious?

Anxious?

No Bad Days Bouquets

Hi Peaches!

When I was in the depths of anxiety and OCD, I became an excessive Googler in search of some sort of help or hope. I didn’t even know what I was looking for but it turned out to be the brave souls out there who shared their stories and experiences that opened my eyes to what was going on and actually directed me to the help I needed.

Because of this, I have decided to group all of my posts on anxiety and OCD together in one place so that those of you searching can find them.

I hope so much that you are well, but if you aren’t, maybe at least one or two of these will help.

Blessings,
Angela

Grounding Techniques

The Blessing of Medication

How to Make Sure Getting Help…Helps

OCD: What Have You Assigned Meaning To?  

PPD/PPA/PPOCD: New Baby? Feelings Terrified? 

Anxious? You Must Let Go To Find Peace

Anxiety: When The Valley Is Dark 

Anxious? Suffering? How to Run to God

The Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

The Impending Doom – Relentless “Warnings”

The Searchlight of OCD

The Refining Fire

His Sheep Hear His Voice

I Didn’t Know God. I Wasn’t Hearing God. Sadly, I Didn’t Know The Importance of Christ

The Truth Comes Out 

Postpartum OCD Update

5 Thinking Hats Technique

The Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

The Thoughts That Won’t Go Away

Good morning!

I certainly hope it’s a good morning for you. But if it is another anxious morning and you aren’t sure why, welcome to my Friday anxiety post!

First, I have noticed that you guys have been frequenting my 5 Thing Hats Post. It’s my most popular blog post week after week! So I thought I would go ahead and share the technique again for you guys today.

5 Thinking Hats Technique

This is a grounding technique to use when you feel the symptoms of an anxiety attack coming. It really works! The next time you feel your legs about to give, the room spin, your heart racing, sweat bead on your lip, or whatever symptom your body decides to scare the crap out of you with this time, do this!

5 Hats Technique

When we are anxious, our thoughts are constantly in the future or the past. This technique brings you into the here and now telling our brains there is nothing to run from. Everything is ok.

Also, make sure you are breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. This has a HUGE calming effect. Close your mouth and make sure you are only breathing through your nose until you calm down and make sure to keep breathing through your nose most of the day. You are going to be tempted to open your mouth and take huge gulps of air but just remember, that will only make the anxiety worse. Close your mouth, breath through your nose.

The Thoughts, the Thoughts, the Relentless Thoughts!

The thoughts that relentlessly keep stabbing their way into your mind and scaring the ever living poo out of you are called intrusive thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you are at a wedding, your child’s first birthday party, or sitting on a cloud with unicorn’s jumping through rainbows, those nasty little intrusive thoughts like to ruin any otherwise happy and memorable moment.

If you are reading this and thinking “What in the world is she talking about?”, you are not who this post is for. But there are many of you who know exactly what I am talking about in the above paragraph and you my friend are not alone and believe it or not, you’re not even crazy.

OCD is an anxiety disorder. Everyone, OCD or not, has weird thoughts pop into their minds. Everyone. But in the mind of the person with OCD, the thoughts stick and there is a fear response causing their brain to give significance to the thought and obsess about it. Understand, this is a chemical imbalance.

If you break your arm, your arm is broken and there is pain. You can manage the pain. You can breathe. You can tell yourself that many people have dealt with this pain before and you will get through this. You can hold your arm in place making it better for the time being. But at some point, you will have to get up and try to live life with this broken arm. Unless you go to the doctor and get a cast, you are going to be painfully holding your arm in place while trying to do your daily tasks. When you finally let go because you need to arms, excruciating pain will ensue making it almost impossible to do anything other than hold your arm in place and cry through the torturous pain. Day after day of this managing and then giving in wears on you. This torture wears you down and begins to affect other areas of your body. If you would have just gone to the doctor, you would have gotten a cast for a while and then your arm would be fully healed!

OCD is the same. Because of the chemical imbalance, our brains shoot these terrifying thoughts and images into our brain constantly. We are overwhelmed with feelings of doom. Seriously, doom! We go about daily life trying to focus our minds on work and our families but like the broken arm, we just hold it together until life gets even just a little hectic and then bam, anxiety attack. It’s torture.

But there is hope!

Know you are not alone and get help. Do not take this lightly. Go get help. The reason I share my experience is to direct you to help. There is too much shame in all this and too many lives lost from years of mental torture. There is help and there is hope.

When I was suffering, I thought to myself “This is all in my mind, I can think myself out of this.”

No. Not when it is a chemical imbalance.

You all know I am a Christian. I share my experiences on here for everyone but especially for Christians because there is kind of a stigma against medication and even just being anxious. So what does the Christian do when the thoughts and feelings won’t stop?

When I was struggling, I had never felt so alone. I was scared so of course, as we do when pain strikes, I was brought to my knees before the Lord and read the Bible almost obsessively. This was a blessing and just goes to show how pain drives us to the word.

Spurgeon said that adversity is what sharpens the knife but the knife is the word. Very true! The more I read, it was like God was pruning me.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2

God speaks to us through His word. Man did this help to know when you have thoughts and feelings literally blasting through every particle of your being telling you to pay attention to them. I sometimes thought those were God!

But it was through His word, that I saw the truth. My anxiety was suffering and this is meant to bring me closer to the Lord.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5 

Remember, when our loved one has cancer, we thank God for healing them through chemo. When our loved one has diabetes, we thank God for insulin. When we have a broken bone, we thank God for doctors and for casts.

Friends, when your mind is broken, thank God that you live in this century with doctors, counseling, and medicine.

I thank God for my wonderful counselor, Sarah Beth Wheeler. I thank God for medication. And last but certainly not least, I thank God for my sweet, strong, and loving husband Jason who only supported me though he had no idea what I was going through.

IMG_3006

If you are suffering, do not be afraid to get help. In fact, you need to get help. Run to God, pray, read His word, and ask Him to direct you to the right doctors and the right treatment.

Blessings,
Angela

 

 

 

 

 

The Impending Doom – Relentless “Warnings”

The Impending Doom – Relentless “Warnings”

FEELINGS

Good morning!

I guess Fridays have become my day to blog about anxiety. That’s fine!

In case you are just tuning in, I have dealt with OCD for most of my life with especially terrible bouts after having each of my kids (postpartum OCD).

In today’s post, I am hoping to give some of you obsessed Googlers out there just a little relief. (No offense, I was said obsessed Googler.)

Having an anxiety disorder is like being placed inside a nightmare. In a nightmare, you don’t know that it isn’t real but you wholeheartedly believe it is. Because it seems real at the time, you end up scared out of your whits until you wake up and realize, that thankfully it was all a dream.

Your brain is amazing. When you are in a real-life dangerous situation your brain sends you warning signals telling you to run! It’s a life-saving defense mechanism. But when you have a chemical imbalance, these “warnings” go into overdrive resulting in an ongoing feeling of doom and fear. There isn’t any real threat, but because you are overcome with the feeling that something terrible will happen, you wholeheartedly believe it! When you refrain from running because you happen to be, you know, trying to live life and be an active member of society, you are hit with sweat, rapid heart rate, dizziness, feeling faint, and all of the symptoms of impending death that does absolutely nothing to help the already existing anxiety but only makes it worse because now you think that if the office building doesn’t blow up any minute like you feel it will, your days are numbered anyway because there is obviously something physically wrong with you.

Man! My mind spends just reliving it! Haha!

But sufferer, rejoice! Those who deal with extreme anxiety, when they finally make it through to the other side, often times they actually end up mentally stronger than someone who never had to deal with it. This is because they have had to force themselves to live life for months or years on end through all-encompassing fear. I keep trying to describe it for those of you who do not have a chemical imbalance but it’s the kind of pain you can’t explain to someone that hasn’t gone through it. Like childbirth.

Hebrew 1211

So now, given you have a chemical imbalance, we have to remember that you cannot do much about that until you receive help (CBT, ERP, medication, etc.) just like a person with a broken leg likely can’t mend it without a cast (and think about trying to do that yourself!) This blog is not to take the place or professional help but is just a vessel to hopefully direct you to it and a place of encouragement and relief.

So here’s today’s “relief” message.

Your Feelings Lie To You All The Time

In our feelings driven society, our first response is to give significance to our feelings. Most people do this, not just those who have an anxiety disorder. Let me put your mind at ease, your feelings are not facts. They are feelings and they lie all the time. If the Lord wanted us to be led by our feelings, He wouldn’t have given us a written Bible.

When you receive a feeling, bad or good, do not be quick to believe it.

Challenge Your Thoughts!

When a thought comes into your mind, know that doesn’t mean it is true. Step back and challenge the thought. Your brain will try to prove that it is true so your job is to actively prove that it is NOT.

It takes work to do these things but when you do them day after day, guess what happens? Your brain begins making new pathways and begins thinking this way on its own! Isn’t that amazing? I am always so fascinated by how God has created us!

I hope you are at peace today, but if you aren’t, don’t give up! Pray, reach out, and know that there is a purpose in your pain.

Blessings,
Angela

Questions:

Have you suffered from an anxiety disorder? 

Have you ever had an anxiety attack?

Brave ones, describe your experience. Anxiety is a LONELY place. Please help those who are suffering now by sharing your story.