Digging to the root of it all.

by heirtoblair on October 27, 2011

When it comes to fight or flight, I usually like flight.  Namely the kind of flight where I crawl under covers & eat cake & disappear from the world.

I don’t like to “deal.”  Or face uncomfortable truths.  I like to control & when I cannot hold power?  I crumble with the hope of being rescued.

“What’s wrong with me?” I cried in therapy. “Why do certain things paralyze me yet leave others unfazed?”

This is the very core of my mental health, my heart-gut, my battle with postpartum depression.  The overwhelming urge to control, coupled with immature coping skills.  “So basically,” I closed my eyes & laughed sarcastically.  “You’re telling me that I’m a control freak with a horrible personality.”

She laughed. Yes.  “But no, not really,” she explains.  “I think you just feel things strongly.  You react strongly.”

It’s an exhausting way to live.

“My husband calls me ‘tenacious’ when he is being kind,” I said with a wry twist to the corner of my mouth.

“Exactly,” she smiled.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura S. October 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

Very similar to what my therapist has said. People with ppd and anxiety are people who are very in touch with our feelings. When we feel something we feel it with all that we have. And personally, I dont think that it is always a bad thing. :)

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natalie October 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

we don’t have kids yet but PPD is something that really scares me, almost like i’ve already accepted the fact that i’ll have it. i’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for a long time and your sentence, “the overwhelming urge to control, coupled with immature coping skills” perfectly describes how react to certain situations! last night i actually caught myself stomping my feet in frustration. when i act like that my husband does NOT know what to do with me! at any rate, it’s good to know i’m not alone ;)

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Meghan October 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

I totally get you. I hate confrontation, so I am almost always a “flight” gal. I like to be in control, and when it’s something like not being able to have more of my own children because of my health complications when I had Kenzie, I just don’t cope well. At all.

Hang in there and remember that God sees the greater picture and when you aren’t in control, know that He is!

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veronika October 27, 2011 at 10:43 am

I too live with anxiety and what you said here “it’s an exhausting way to live” is exactly how I feel. I can’t understand why others don’t feel as strongly as I do or why they aren’t affected in the same way or always worried like I am. I wish I knew a way to ease the constant worries. Has anything worked for you in particular? I have been going to therapy and things have improved but not to the level where I want them to.

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heirtoblair October 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

The BEST non-medicinal thing that has worked for me sounds totally crazy, but I love it.

My doctor suggested that when I start feeling anxious, I rub my arm. Take the flat of your hand & just gently & slowly rub a part of your arm. The touch will release endorphins to calm you. It sounds so weird, but it works beautifully.

Also? Stress balls. Something to squeeze in my hand.

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Nicole October 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

the “immature coping skills” was the best phrase i’ve read in a very long time. i’ve almost the equivalents of a temper tantrum. i’ve wanted to lock myself in the bathroom. i’ve wanted to pack up my things and stay at a hotel for the night. i want to run away so far and hide. just so that i dont have to deal with these….feelings.

(and yah, i’m in therapy to deal with my sh7t. like this kind of stuff.. )

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molly October 27, 2011 at 11:07 am

Beth Anne, we are so alike in some ways. When I am in therapy I ask a lot of “why am I like this?” questions. I have always been a reactionary person. I hate that about myself. I also have immature coping skills. My biggest problem is angry “blow ups” as I call them. I feel so out of control of my own emotions sometimes. It feels like it comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t even “rise” before it happens. It just happens and then I’m left picking of the pieces because of my mistakes.

Most recently my therapist has been amazing in giving me new coping techniques. They are different than anything I’ve ever done. But they are WORKING. The most recent skill is called conditioning. I wear a rubber band around my wrist. Every time I have an intrusive thought or negative self talk, I lightly snap myself. She said it reconditions the brain. After 33 years of my brain thinking one way, boy, does my brain need reconditioning.

I applaud you for staying in therapy. We must do the work to be well and stay well. That is the key. We cannot be cured. But we can find control.

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mandie October 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

Wow- I don’t have any kids yet, but everything you’ve described feels like me, and like Natalie, I have *almost* accepted that I’ll suffer PPD as it’s almost as if I feel it already. It’s a hard & scary thing, to feel SO much and to not be able to change the feelings, or control them. I’m so glad you write about this- thanks for sharing & helping others.

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Brianna October 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

I can relate, even though I don’t have kids. I try to keep my emotions inside so that it’s less intense for the people around me. I tend to deal with things via my writing and personal journaling, but rarely through actually talking about what I’m feeling. I know it’s probably not good, but my situation right now warrants that I keep to myself and not involve too many other people in my life. It’s just something I have to deal with on my own.

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Megyn October 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

Funny, because I was told the EXACT same thing. My therapist said that those of us sensitive/feel things strongly people make great politicians. So there’s another career option for ya lol! As inherent as personality is (I actually researched personality in college lol), it IS changeable….fucking hard to do, but you can do it!!!!!! And giving up control & using a wise mind isn’t always fun, but doable. You can do it (said in my best Rob Schneider impression)!

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Cari October 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

I HATE that I feel the need to control things when I’m completely out of control and it turns me into a Batch! I realized once I admitted that I act that way and needed help, I began to have a ‘little’ better control over it (Who am I kidding… I’ve only been able to understand and get a slight grip on it, because of my therapist)!

Just by you blogging about these kinds of things has helped me to see SO MUCH!! In fact it’s what convinced me I should get some help and it was ok to ask for help!

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Kimberly October 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Immature coping skills…I know. Growing up we were never allowed to express our feelings (the negative ones) because we would get tormented by a backlash of nasty horrible words. I have 31 years of bottled up emotions. I still have no clue what to do when I’m angry or upset etc aside from running into the bathroom. It’s terrible.
It’s unhealthy.
Sending you lots of love today.

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Stephanie Appel October 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hey lady – longtime reader but I rarely comment (I think the last time was to say that I liked your boobs. Whatever, that’s the kind of relationship you can expect with me!) :)

Anyway, not that you need another book to read or anything, but if you’re looking to dig a bit deeper into this, I have some recommendations… you’re not just super excessive in your reactions, it is actually quite normal to feel things a lot more strongly than other people do. This sounds a lot like me, and I spent a lot of time with my life coach talking about it. Basically, she says we are something called an HSP – a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’… and the god news is, there’s a book! :)

Check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Highly-Sensitive-Person-Elaine-Ph-D/dp/0553062182/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319734432&sr=8-1

I found it really helpful to understand a bit more about myself and how I tick… and the better you can put language to your own issues, the better you can explain them to other people and ask for their understanding and help.

I know you’re already super busy, but I thought you might find this interesting. Also, hang in there mama – you are awesome and I absolutely love following your journey. Keep it up!!!!!

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jess liv October 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm

i know exactly what you’re talking about. up until a few months ago i was crippled by severe anxiety, depression, & social anxiety. growing up, i never gave a crap about what people said, & suddenly i was shoved into this position where i was obsessed with what people thought of me. i had been on antidepressants & sedatives, & the exhaustion of constantly “trying” was killing me. finally i saw a therapist who asked me if i ever tried to work on things by myself — it was like i had an epiphany. from the moment i stepped into my doctor’s office with concerns about my depression, i was prescribed something & made to think that i was incapable of helping myself. i was bounced from med to med, trying to find something that worked with my chemistry but didn’t kill me with a billion side effects. finally, to get off meds not because i was a hopeless case who didn’t fit with anything, but because i was going to try & help myself — it was empowering. i don’t recommend this for everyone, but by using breathing techniques & pushing myself to think rationally instead of getting so caught up in what i thought people were thinking, i found an approach that worked for me. i still struggle immensely with control & i’m working on it, even if sometimes i feel like a failure.

though i haven’t suffered from a miscarriage or PPD (i’ve never even been pregnant), they’re two of my biggest fears, mainly because they involve me being stripped of my control, stability, & dreams of a family. i can handle any situation if i’m in control of my future, but if you pull the reins out of my hands & trust someone else with my fate, i might either shit my pants & cower in fear for the next 3 days or cut a bitch.

on the other hand, i’d rather be tenacious than a twit, so … at least we have that going for us.

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Isha October 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I can relate. Only, my reaction depends on the situation. With fights with the husband, it’s silence. With any other situation? I am pure fight. But it’s also because I feel things so strongly. I just have a poor filter. However, i also have the overwhelming urge to control. And supreme anxiety about things I cannot control–for instance, I am going back to work this week after 3 months home with my baby. I am already trying to plan our morning get-ready routine. But I cannot schedule a 3 month old. And it terrifies me.

Regardless, feeling things strongly can be an asset, although I am sure by this point, you know that. Being passionate is one of my favorite things about myself. Sometimes it gets channeled the wrong way. But at the end of the day, I want it because I don’t want to not care. I love caring, in fact. Just, not what other people think :)

That got rambly. In the end, you should be (and hopefully, already ARE) proud of how far you have come. Being able to recognize your faults is a hard thing to do. Wanting to “flight” instead of “fight” isn’t a negative thing about you. It doesn’t give youa horrible personality. It gives you YOUR personality and you are loved just as you are. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work to improve, but you should embrace you. ALL of you. Because I know Harry does :)

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Lilly October 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I can empathize. I’m a very anxious person, and have to be in control to feel secure. However, I think I disagree with the idea that anxious people feel everything too strongly. It feels that way, but I’ve started to notice that the anxiety seems to be almost a cover-up for other feelings. I don’t know how to say it, but it seems to me to be almost like an escape from a “now” that feels unmanageable, if that makes sense. For me, the anxiety makes me fight or retreat, but hardly ever lets me experience the feeling. I have the sneaking suspicion that if I experienced it, it would either go away, or I would respond reasonably (which hasn’t happened in a long time). So for now, I get anxious, whip myself into a frenzy, talk myself down, think reasonably, and then feel like I ran a marathon (bruising myself and many people on the way!).

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Jill Franklin October 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

If you tend to retreat, then thank goodness for blogging. It’s good to know you’re not alone and have lots of support.

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Mrs.TrophyWife (aka-Sally) October 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I can relate in some ways, BA. I tend to be very reactionary and stubborn. It can be difficult and exhausting. I love you, and I am SO proud of you taking care of yourself.

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Heather of the EO October 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm

This is a big part of the reason I’m a (recovering) alcoholic. I just had to NUMB because everything just pokes out all over my insides. Every feeling. It’s exhausting. Learning to deal with all of that in a healthy way is also exhausting. And totally worth it. I’m really slow…but I’m trying.

xo

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Erin October 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Oh my. I think control freak w/ immature coping skills describes me pretty well too. Wanna get together to drink coffee and avoid confrontation? ;)

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Hannah @ Peggy Ann Design October 27, 2011 at 11:29 pm

I think we are very similar this way. my old boss used to tell me that I “feel things very deeply” – whether its happiness or anger or frustration or whatever. basically, we don’t half-ass our emotions. ;-)

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Jenny in WI October 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I am very similar to you as well. My oldest daughter who is only 4 is the same way. One of her daycare teachers described her as having “big emotions”. I still struggle with overreacting and my need for control. I am slowly recovering from PPD and PPA.

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