Tag Archives: anxiety

What do your children’s dreams mean? #DreamsExplained

If you asked my son what he dreamt about in the night he’d say nothing, if pushed maybe Paw Patrol. I find that really hard to believe, but maybe he is just one of those people who don’t dream vividly and just don’t remember them in the morning. I have the most vivid dreams, often quite terrifying night terrors. I remember as a child having a recurring dream, a dream which I still sometimes have, which still has me waking up feeling panicked.

The dream I had most often as a had me chased through the narrow and maze-like streets of a steep hilled harbour town, dashing through dark tunnels, skittering across slippy and steep cobbled streets and eventually hurling myself over the harbour wall to escape. I don’t know what I was running from, but it obviously terrified me. It was all so vivid and I used to have it almost weekly. 

Of course a quick internet search of that kind of dream can give me an idea of what it was all about, it was an anxiety dream putting me in a fight or flight situation. I think anxiety probably plays a part in a lot of my dreams. Looking back I’m surprised I was having anxiety dreams so young, I don’t remember being an anxious child.

dreams

A Dream Catcher – said to be able to trap the bad dreams and only let the good ones through.

I’m fascinated by the meanings of my dreams and often look up what I’ve been dreaming about and very often it does mirror what’s going on in my life. Often my dreams are very common, such as dreaming my teeth are falling out, or I’m naked in a maths exam. 

Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a window into our subconscious, so trying to interpret and find the meaning behind your dreams can give you an insight into what’s really going on inside your subconscious. Dreams are a snapshot of who you are, what you need and what you believe, and are also a way which your brain works to process difficult emotions such as loss or grief.

Adjustable Beds have teamed up with world-leading dream psychologist Ian Wallace to look at what’s going on within our minds when we dream. They have just launched a fascinating #DreamsExplained YouTube series where they are making sense of the wild world of children’s dreams.

Having watched the video a few times I’ve found it really interesting how their dreams are interpreted and how the meaning relates to their real life experiences. It’s hard for me to look back and try and put my dreams into context, because I don’t really remember what was going on in my life back then to give me that particular regularly recurring dream.

I would hate to think of my son having similar terrifying dreams like mine. I do ask him sometimes in the morning if he had a dream, maybe he will remember and tell me about one someday. Maybe he really is just dreaming of Paw Patrol. 

What do your children dream about?

= This is a collaborative post =

Anxiety spiral. Make it stop.

I feel like a bit of a fraud. There are people around me with real problems making a better fist of this life than me. Yes, ok so I got dealt a bad hand, but life could be a helluva lot worse and I feel like I’m full of first world problems and petty rubbish.

Right now I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. Struggling to cling onto the safety raft, my fingers keep slipping and I keep floating away before someone grabs me and pulls me back. Drowning, I feel like I’m drowning. I’ve felt like this for a couple of weeks, I did think that it was hormonal, but I don’t think it is, not entirely. I did think it was because I’d had a big drink one night, and maybe that didn’t help, because it does negatively affect my mood. I just think I’m overwhelmed and instead of methodically working my way through everything, my brain has just thrown me into the anxiety deep end with a dodgy floatation device.

Here I am, struggling to focus, struggling to breathe, my mind racing and racing and racing. There are real people with real problems and I can’t breathe and I feel so selfish. Anxiety makes you selfish though. It makes you want to scream out and stamp your feet, it overwhelms you and takes over everything you think and do. I’m in another anxiety spiral and I’m tumbling and tumbling through it all. Trapped in the rip tide and I can’t escape it.

The self care kicks in. Pills for sleep. Pills for pain. Caffeine to wake me up. Go for a walk. Walk, keep walking, breathe the fresh air, walk, breathe, walk, repeat until calmer. Do something nice, hug the small boy, laugh together, watch the stars in the sky. Remember how small you are in the universe and how big and important you are to some people. Walk, breathe, walk, love. Be loved. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until calm.

Repeat until calm. Repeat until calm.

Repeat.

Anxiety spiral

Anxiety, self discovery and all you need is love

The other day Facebook dutifully reminded me that it had been three years since my last spinal operation. Whilst these daily Facebook memories are meant to be a nice thing, perhaps reminding you of lovely memories of years gone by, my reminder that three years ago I was in hospital wasn’t a great one.

On one hand it’s nice to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come since then, but on the other hand it’s an unwelcome reminder of a dark and unhappy time in my life. Three years ago I was a mess, I spent much of the summer in the grip of anxiety and having the worlds longest panic attack. I couldn’t bear to be in the house after eight months of enforced exile and once I got out it was one long non-stop party, all great fun until the hangover kicked in and I was alone with my racing, panicked thoughts again.

During that summer in many ways it was like being a teenager again, always out at parties and on boozy nights out. I was part of an intense little group of friends who propped me up and enabled me in equal measure. I still see them now, though not as often and our nights out are less wild and carefree than they were.

Since 2013 I’ve been on an intense and sometimes painful journey of self discovery, there have been long and intense periods of navel gazing and introspection. I know and understand more about myself and what motivates me than ever. I’ve had therapy and CBT which were useful and useless in varying degrees, but importantly, most importantly, I’ve had very good people around me.

People who have posed questions about me and my actions and what drives me. People who somehow manage to completely understand what is in my heart better than I do. People who love me for who I am and without coddling me, love and support me when I’m down and champion me when I’m up. I am lucky, so bloody lucky.

Some people come and go, but they always leave their fingerprints on my heart however fleeting our friendship. I am intense, I know this, but if you’re my friend I will love you, support you and fight your corner. My best friend (who knows me better than myself) says that I love unconditionally; which is a beautiful, innocent thing, but it does leave me open to bumps and bruises. A slight snub that most people would brush off, a passing remark, a small criticism, it all hurts and scars.

I know I’m not alone in being tender hearted. The world is full of people quietly breaking their hearts over a half imagined injustice. There’s no known cure other than toughening up, but why should I? I have a heart full of pure love, why should I harden it and become like the others? I know I probably sound like some old hippy, banging on about love, but an old hippy once said “all you need is love”, and they might just have been right.

How it feels to be the victim of online bullying & trolling

Tuesday was a funny old day really. I got trolled on Twitter by some men with nothing better to do than pick on someone for being not very feminine. They suggested a number of things about my lifestyle and life choices, but were unnecessarily nasty about it and then patronising when I failed to respond. This is online bullying. I’ve encountered these types before, they were doing it to provoke a reaction, so I gave them none, but it just made me feel very sad and cast a gloomy cloud over my day.

I’m not perfect, but I try where I can to be nice to almost everyone. Online I’m friendly and supportive, occasionally forthright in my opinions, but more often than not I am very happy to see both sides and as a result I rarely get any stick. I’m not used to it, I’m not a fence sitter, but I’m not naturally argumentative. I hate conflict, so when it happens, when people turn on me for no other reason than for their own entertainment, it shocks me and gives me an unwanted shake up.

Of course the right thing to do was to block them and try to give no further thought to it. It’s something or nothing in the grand scheme of things and I doubt they’ll go to bed with anxiety about it twisting in the pit of their stomach.

I’m not even going to attempt to figure out why randomers are mean to people on the Internet. If I was putting myself out there with maybe a slightly outlandish political opinion, or I was inviting heated debate into my Twitter timeline, then I would almost expect some stick or some online bullying, but I’m not. I’m a normal girl who writes occasionally amusing tweets, chats online to friends and Tweets pictures of her breakfast (a lot, sorry about that).

There are plenty of women, ballsy women, who take this unwanted attention in their stride. I am not one of them. I had thought of a rather good retort, but I felt a response would give them some satisfaction that they had got to me in some way, which of course they had.

My anxiety is always there, sometimes it is a big voice, a grinding in my stomach, a pounding in my heart and I can hardly catch my breath. Sometimes it just whispers that I should be fearful, but when it whispers I can usually ignore it. Today it’s been the big voice anxiety. I’ve seen Twitter pile-ups happen and I have a dread that my notifications would be swarming with hate. Thankfully (touch wood) just a couple of nasties said their piece, got bored when I wouldn’t bite and then I quietly blocked them.

Quite simply. Why do some people need to be so mean?

I’ve been watching The Island with Bear Grylls (which has been brilliant). He has a saying which I’m quite taken with, “with courage and kindness you can conquer the world”. And do you know, I think he’s right. I need a bit more courage and mean people need a bit more kindness. Wouldn’t the world be a better place for us all if kindness, compassion and courage were at the heart of everything we did? Nannight xx

Online bullying

“With courage and kindness you can conquer the world.”

Mean girls – how playgroup destroyed my confidence

Now my boy is five years old, we’ve more or less settled into a group of friends. He sees them at school, out in the park, at parties or at after school clubs. He, like any five year old has a better social life than me, and that’s saying something. It wasn’t always this way.

When he was a baby I felt some pressure to attend baby groups and classes with him, something I thought would be good for his development. I didn’t really want to do it but I did it for him, the thought of making awkward parenting-competitive small talk with people I had nothing more in common with, other than our bodies had expelled a child at roughly the same time filled me with anxiety. But still I persisted, taking him to a music class where we banged tambourines, rang bells and shook maracas to encourage his development; to the local library for baby story time where we sang and jiggled; and to the “Friday playgroup” which filled me with weekly horror.

If the thought of sitting on the floor of a church hall making music, with a baby who was at best ambivalent to my finest Bez impressions was bad, then “Friday playgroup” still gives me hideous palpitations of anxiety. They were a bunch of stuck up, cliquey yummy mummies, who even after six months of me attending and smiling weakly at them, still failed to find out my name. They would literally turn their backs on me and my attempts at small talk over coffee and biscuits.

Each week I spent an hour each Friday crying in front of my wardrobe, desperately searching for something to wear which would make me one of them. Hysterical, I would push my baby to the church hall and pull myself together just in time. I’d sit, huddled on the play mat with my baby and my one friend who also felt like an outcast.

Little did I know that the “Friday playgroup” had form for being an unwelcoming hotbed of bitchy cliques. Subsequently I’ve met and made friends with many people who attended for a week or two, discovered how dreadful it was and moved on elsewhere. I knew no better, I had no yardstick, I thought this was what groups of mums were like, horrible, bitchy, judgemental and just mean. My heart fills with anxiety at the memory of it all.

I’ve no doubt they didn’t realise what a bunch of complete bitches they were, they probably looked at dumpy old me in my less than designer post-maternity wear and decided I wasn’t from their set. I wasn’t a chartered accountant, I wasn’t the wife of a partner of a firm of solicitors, I was just some dowdy mess who didn’t belong in the same room as them.

I credit this awful group of mean girls (because that’s exactly what they were) with denting my fragile confidence, it’s coloured my every interaction at baby groups, all the way up to school. My natural response to another parent isn’t one of friendly welcome, but a cautious backing off and shying away so they can’t hurt me, and so I don’t care enough for them to hurt me.

I let very few people in (if you’ve made in into the circle of trust, then welcome, here’s your special badge, wear it with pride) and I know that means both me and the boy are missing out on a whole load of good stuff. So this coming year I will try harder, trust more, open myself up for more disappointment and rejection and hope that I’ll never encounter those mean girls again.

FYI, I found a better, more welcoming, more lovely playgroup, made some nice friends there, so there was a happy ending after all.

Playgroup

Healing, happiness and the beauty of my recovery

I was sat in the autumn sunshine at the weekend. I was feeling happy. It’s a rare feeling for me, any happy I have usually has a small undercurrent of my ever present anxiety running through it. But the sun was shining, I had a pint in my hand, was in great company and I felt relaxed and happy. Carefree almost.

I sipped my drink as I listened to my companions chatting away, it was warm and I was wearing a t-shirt. I’m not so self conscious of my scars these days, they’re part of me and my history and whilst I regret one or two of them, I don’t hate them so much.

The sun lit up the silvery lines of my scars and made them shimmer slightly in the bright light. For a moment I ran my hand across them, trying to hide them or rub them out so the others wouldn’t see, but I can’t erase them, so I paused and made a conscious choice to admire their beauty rather than be ashamed of them. I looked at the shimmering silver on my arms, like rivulets of precious metal running over my flesh and I was reminded of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold, silver or platinum. It literally means “golden joinery”. It’s a beautiful thing and rather plain and ordinary bowls and dishes become breathtaking and rather astonishing works of art when they are repaired in this way. I am Kintsugi. I am an ordinary thing made beautiful by my scars; the rivulets my of scars in shades of silver and platinum show the world my recovery. They tell everyone how I am healed and that I am stronger because of these shimmering silver lines, not in spite of them.

I am Kintsugi. I am beautiful.

healing

101 reasons why I’m anxious

Ah anxiety my old friend. You come, you go, I might not see you for a week or two, then suddenly you’re back, waving at me from afar, moving closer, your shadow looming over me and across my life. But why? Why won’t you leave me alone?

Tonight anxiety is casting her ugly shadow again and I don’t know why. I always figured if I knew why then I could make it stop, at least for now. So my brain runs through all the likely and unlikely reasons for my anxiety, so here goes. I might not get anywhere near 101 reasons why I’m anxious, but we’ll see…

  1. Is my son ok?
  2. Is he developing properly?
  3. Has he settled into school ok?
  4. Am I a good enough mum?
  5. I’m lonely
  6. I’m tired
  7. I work too hard
  8. I don’t work hard enough
  9. I can’t pay a bill
  10. Are things ok with my husband?
  11. Is my house about to fall down?
  12. Worry about friends
  13. Worry about my health
  14. Worry about my pain levels
  15. Worry about dying and leaving my son alone
  16. Worry about my family
  17. Is my Dad ok?
  18. I’m tired
  19. Am I working hard enough?
  20. I can’t afford my prescriptions
  21. I’m lonely
  22. I miss my friends
  23. I want to go out for a drink
  24. If I go out for a drink am I an alcoholic?
  25. Is my work good enough?
  26. I’m stupid
  27. Why am I stupid? I used to be so sharp
  28. Terrorism
  29. The world
  30. Dying children and heartbroken parents
  31. Do I live in a bubble?
  32. Do I care that I live in a bubble?
  33. Do I think too much?
  34. Do I think enough?
  35. What can I do?
  36. What can anyone do?
  37. Are we all going to die?
  38. Are we all going to die alone?
  39. Am I going to die alone?
  40. Yes.
  41. I’m going to die
  42. Will it hurt?
  43. Everything hurts anyway
  44. Everything hurts
  45. I’m hungry
  46. I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat in the house
  47. What can my son have for breakfast?
  48. Rivita.
  49. My son will hate me
  50. He hates me anyway
  51. He’s not the only one, lots of people hate me
  52. I am worthless
  53. I am ugly
  54. I am useless
  55. I have let my son down
  56. I’m stuck here
  57. I’m lonely
  58. I’ve got no one to talk to
  59. Why do I feel empty?
  60. Am I dead inside?
  61. How would I know if I were dead inside?
  62. Why do I care about people who don’t care about me?
  63. Will I always be anxious?
  64. I’m feeling anxious because I don’t know why I’m anxious
  65. Why am I anxious?
  66. Remember that dark place? Lets not go back there
  67. Please don’t get like that again
  68. Oh god, the thought of it is terrifying
  69. Panic attack!
  70. Why can’t I breathe?
  71. Gah. I wish I had someone to talk to about all this.
  72. Hey did you know I have an anxiety disorder?
  73. You want me to stop banging on about it?
  74. Me too. Stuck record and all that
  75. *texts friend* why won’t they reply?
  76. *sends another text* WHY WON’T THEY REPLY?
  77. They hate me. I don’t blame them
  78. I’m worthless
  79. I’m ugly
  80. I’m useless
  81. I’m always asking for help
  82. They’re bored of me
  83. I’m boring
  84. I hate myself
  85. Sorry I’m boring
  86. *texts friend* sorry for pestering
  87. Hates self for texting about pestering because it is actually pestering
  88. I’m the worst person
  89. Why am I the worst person?
  90. I hate myself
  91. Why can’t I breathe?
  92. Why am I so anxious?
  93. Why can’t I just calm the hell down?
  94. Why doesn’t anyone love meeee?
  95. What have I done wrong?
  96. Why am I so hateful?
  97. My life is basically an Alanis Morissette album
  98. Oh god my life is an Alanis Morissette album
  99. I’m so lonely. Isn’t it ironic. Don’t you think?
  100. Agh I’ve got that as an earworm now?
  101. So THAT’S why I’m anxious. Crap.

Nope. Still anxious!

101 reasons why I'm anxious

Little girl lost – another anxiety attack

I used to have a general feeling that my mood, my mental health went in cycles, often dominated by the extremes of hormones rushing through my body each month. To some extent I think that’s true. It became normal for my mood to dip, for anxiety to pulse through my veins, for wild swings of rage and despair to appear and to feel the unrelenting panic of an anxiety attack. I never really mentioned this to my GP for fear they’d put me on the pill, something I’d like to avoid at all costs thank you very much.

Sometimes I found that I just was depressed or full of anxiety. Sometimes there was a trigger; maybe a comment or action by someone towards me. Something that would just edge me closer to falling into the black hole of my mental health. Swirling. Spinning. All consuming.

Sometimes there was nothing. No rational explanation for why everything was black.

I woke up yesterday and everything was black.

What I want to do is go to bed and cry it out. What I want to do is be held tight while the darkness seeps from my body, the little girl inside me wants to stop being frightened and fearful and anxious. She wants daddy to make the demons go away and to kiss it better. But I’m 38 and I’ve been standing on my own two feet for twenty years, so my two feet need to find their way out of this.

What I want to do is go to the pub and to drown the noise with drink. I want to sit and talk through the blackness with someone who knows and to laugh a little, cry a bit and go home with a grey heart, not a black one. But I can’t do that.

What I want and what will happen are two different things. It’s the school holidays, so I go to a soft play centre, the worst place imaginable if you’ve got a head full of negative noise and a heart as heavy as lead. So I force myself to go for a walk with the boy, who runs ahead laughing and chatting his head off about fire engines and dogs, and I try and focus on that, because it makes a small dark corner of my black heart glad. I make myself engage with people, because my silence and introspection achieve nothing but more darkness.

I do what I can to force myself into normal patterns of behaviour, edging slightly further back from the edge of darkness and negativity with each positive action.

But what I need, what the little girl inside me really needs, is a cuddle from my daddy to soothe the anxiety, and for him to shoo the dark demons away.

PS. I am often reminded of the artist in The Fast Show whenever I get like this, strangely watching a clip or two on YouTube can often brighten my mood. Top tips for depressives with a sense of humour there.

Art Therapy for Adults – Calm Colour Create Magazine

Adult colouring books have been a bit of a thing for a little while now and  there is a part of me which really likes the idea of sitting down and doing a bit of colouring. I was sent a copy of Calm Colour Create Magazine so I could see if colouring in was for me.

Calm Colour Create Magazine

I have anxiety disorder and when I’m in the middle of it all and I can’t find a peaceful place in my head, the thought of focussing on some colouring in seems like a really good idea. It’s not a new idea, it’s a form of art therapy and something encouraged by mental health professionals. The great thing about adult colouring books is that you don’t need any artistic skills other than the ability to hold a pencil.

Calm Colour Create Magazine

Rather than the simplistic designs you would normally find in a kids colouring book, the adult designs in Calm Colour Create Magazine are quite beautiful, featuring intricate patterns. The first issue of Calm Colour Create Magazine featured sophisticated ocean themed patterns and illustrations, and it came with a packet of colouring pencils, though I’m tempted to delve into our craft box and dig out a more extensive selection of colours.

After a tiring, stressful few days I took myself off to the quiet sanctuary of my bedroom to watch the Great British Bake Off and wind my mind down a little. I spent a restful hour colouring in and not thinking about the thousand things that have been on my mind recently. Doing some colouring in helped me switch off from some negative thoughts, focus on the task in hand and wound me down nicely in time for bed.

Calm Colour Create Magazine

Calm Colour Create Magazine has 64 pages of black and white patterns and illustrations to colour in, including intricate mandalas and tangles. Each issue has a different theme, next month is florals. There’s a lot of colouring in in each magazine, so this one will last me a while, it’s handy to have something to focus on and distract me when my anxiety peaks.

Calm Colour Create Magazine is widely available, priced at £4.99 and definitely worth a look at if you’re interested in adult colouring or art therapy.

Note: I was sent a copy of Calm Colour Create Magazine free of charge for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.