I did not notice the presence of the twins until they began to wreak havoc. They did not come into my life quietly like Bip. Nor were they shoved in loudly and angrily breathing fire like Pots. They sneaked up behind me, blew an air horn in my ear, and then ran around me laughing and singing.
Who Are the Twins?
This is a very good question. The twins are part of a severe anxiety disorder that I did not know I had until it got out of control. This disorder has two possible causes:
- Genetically handed down through my family. Like one of those gifts you would love to have never received.
- Induced by the combination of Bip the bipolar dragon and Pots the Post-traumatic stress dragon.
The girl is named Ann which is short for anxiety. The boy is Nick which is short for panic. They are like the twins from Hell.
Ann is much easier to deal with than Nick. While overly rambunctious, she is not completely out of control. Nick, on the other hand, is totally out of control. When he gets out I don’t.
What is the difference you might ask? A very good question since you can have anxiety without panic, but you cannot have panic without anxiety.
Anxiety – Everyone Feels It
We have all dealt with anxiety in one form or another. Nervousness, agitation, and jitters are all normal forms of anxiety that are part of everyday living. We often feel anxious when we:
- attend a new school or start a new job.
- try something new.
- meet someone new.
- go on a date.
- have a big test or presentation.
An elevated heart rate, feeling fidgety and the inability focus on anything are signs that you might be feeling anxious. Most of the time these feelings go away as we get more comfortable with whatever is happening.
This is NOT what I’m talking about.
Anxiety – Serious Problem
An anxiety disorder is different. You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason. These feelings of anxiousness do NOT go away without intervention.
Go see your doctor and get a recommendation for a therapist and, if necessary, medication. Don’t be embarrassed or think you are weak. Just remember, it is not you. Ann has come to play.
Here is what Ann does to me:
- Thoughts race through my head with no rhyme or reason. They often run in circles creating ruts in my brain where I can get stuck.
- My heart can race up to 130 beats per minute causing me to feel breathless and dizzy.
- I have chest pains. It feels like a heart attack but, it most likely esophageal spasms. I have it checked fairly regularly just in case.
For me anxiety is something that once started is difficult to stop without intervention. I have medication, supplements, and activities to deal with this.
Here are some of the activities that I have found helpful:
- Get outside into the fresh air and go for a walk.
- Have friends over to play games or watch movies and don’t forget to include your favorite snacks.
- Go out and do something you’ve been wanting to do.
- Do you have a hobby that you find relaxing? Take some time and just enjoy immersing yourself in
- Volunteer somewhere or do some community service.
- Make bread by hand. It is great for working out your frustrations and calming the mind.
This is where things can get really interesting. Nick is an overly excited child with ADHD, on a sugar high, and taking crack.
Panic is like anxiety only multiplied by 100 with the added need to pull off your skin and run down the street screaming at the top of your lungs. At this point, do not touch me because my skin will explode, and I will implode.
Usually by this point all the anxiety management techniques have failed. Often the best thing you can do is medicate (See your doctor!) and then sleep it off. Allow a minimum of three days for recovery.
Yes, three days can be a long time. Except when you sleep the whole time. After a panic attack I have the following challenges:
- a hangover from the medication
- knotted muscles in my neck and shoulders (Because that is where I carry tension.)
- a rebound migraine with nausea, tremors, and light and sound sensitivity
- severe sensory overload
- extreme fatigue
Ann and Nick used to come and play all the time. I had multiple anxiety and panic attacks a day. Every day. Needless to say, I had difficulty functioning.
I chose to function (sort of) anyway. The life I wanted and worked so hard for required it. Even if it was just going through the routines on automatic pilot.
My children suffered the most because I could not be touched. Try to explain to a toddler or a preschooler that s/he cannot snuggle with mommy because she will freak out and start sobbing uncontrollably. I felt like a horrible failure as a mother.
When to send myself to my room was an important thing to know. Why? Because if I didn’t someone would suffer extreme harm. Reasons to go to my room:
- An overwhelming need to sob uncontrollably.
- Watching some psychotic bitch yell at my children only to realize that it is me.
- For the safety of my children.
- Space to do my deep breathing and self-hypnosis techniques.
- To pray for peace and help.
There were rules when I went to my room. Do NOT knock on the door unless:
- The house is on fire.
- Someone has died.
- Someone is bleeding and needs to go to the ER or they will die.
My oldest was responsible for holding down the fort for the time I would be in my room. I always set a time limit. If I didn’t, I would never have come out. And it allowed Oldest to reassure the younger ones that I was all right and would be out soon.
I wasn’t living life. But I was surviving it.
I’m Not Crazy! Am I?
I did not understand what was happening. I just thought I was losing my mind. Ann and Nick had totally messed up my brain.
I don’t know how many years it was like this because it is all a just blur with blank spaces. I felt like I was failing at life.
I Love Oldest!
What I didn’t know was that the younger children weren’t as affected by it as I thought. Oldest stepped up at a very young age and buffered for them.
As she tells me today, “I just got out the safety helmets and settled everyone into the bunker.”
It wasn’t a real bunker. She just made sure that the little ones went outside to play or played in their rooms when I was out of control. She would even suggest to me that I needed to spend some quiet time in my room. Or that maybe I needed a nap.
There were some difficult times for both of us and our relationship was rocky at times. In the end (and with some serious therapy) we are close. We have become good friends and enjoy doing things together.
Good Things My Children Remember
It wasn’t all doom, gloom, and a raging mom. No matter how bad I felt, I remembered my goal. To create the life I wanted for me and that I wanted for my children.
Things my children talk about today:
- Cookie Day—Yes, I had it even then.
- Me being class mom and going on field trips.
- Silly times and laughter.
- Holiday traditions they want to continue with their children.
- Having their friends over to our house.
I hung on to the hope that someday things would be better. And eventually they did. Much better than I could have ever dreamed.
I know this post is already long, but I don’t want to end on such a serious and depressing note. So here is a . . . .
This happened on a hot summer day when I was 8½ months pregnant with my 5th child. My youngest sister had come to help out with the children, so I hold her partially responsible for this.
The children going stir crazy in the house. There was “nothing to do.” Sister suggested we drive to the park. Sister said that she would keep and eye on the kids while I rested in the shade. There was excited agreement from the children. I consented thinking I could probably drive the car that far.
I was so pregnant that driving was very difficult, especially with a manual transmission. But I was tired of the whining and knew it would do us all good to get away for a little while. We buckled the kids into the car and I attempted to get in our 1990 Isuzu Trooper.
I put one leg into the car and started to slide into the driver’s seat. I got so far but could not go any further. I then realized that I could not get back out. The seat was as far back as it would go. I was stuck. I call my sister but all I hear is gut busting laughter. I look over and she was literally rolling on the ground with laughter.
I remember thinking, “This is NOT funny!” I told her so, but she just pointed at me and laughed harder. The children were getting frustrated and wanted to know why their aunt was laughing and why we were not getting into the car.
I am wedged in so tightly between the seat and the steering wheel that the baby is kicking in the hopes that what ever is pushing on him will go away. It doesn’t so he does the next best thing. He moves his little feet so that they are resting on the steering wheel and he can get comfortable.
My sister stops laughing long enough to ask if I wanted her to call my husband at work. I close my eyes and sigh. He works for the sheriff’s department as a deputy. They gossip worse than old women. Husband would never live it down.
I start to giggle. Sister and I start talking about newspaper headlines:
- “Jaws of life used to extract pregnant woman stuck getting into her car!”
- “Deputy’s wife gets unborn baby stuck in steering wheel!”
My sister then offers to take pictures and send them to the news.
Sister offers to get some butter or grease in the hopes of getting me unstuck. Neither would work at this point because the baby’s feet are resting comfortably on the steering wheel.
I look down at my poor abused tummy. In my mind’s eye I see a picture of this fetus laying back with his hands behind his head while resting his feet on my steering wheel. I start to really laugh.
It has been 15 minutes now and the kids have climbed out of the car. They observe me with disgusted curiosity. Obviously, we are not going to the park and it is all the baby’s fault.
The leg that I couldn’t get into the car is taking most of my weight. It is getting tired and shaky. The leg that is in the car is quickly going to sleep. Now I am laughing so hard I would have fallen down had I not been stuck. That knowledge makes me laugh even harder.
My sister is still on the grass gasping for breath because she hasn’t stopped laughing in all this time. Suddenly (because of the laughter wiggling my belly) I pop free of the steering wheel and almost fall out of the car.
I do not try to get back in and we do not go to the park.
The kids get ice cream for being understanding. I do not get off the couch for the rest of the day.
That evening when my husband gets home my sister proceeds to tell him what happened. He laughs and shakes his head. He then says that is couldn’t happen because there is plenty of room between the steering wheel and the front seat.
All the children then chime in and start complaining because they could not go to the park because “Mommy got really stuck.” My husband was very glad that I had not needed to call him at work. He couldn’t even think about what his boss would have said if he had tried to explain the problem that required his immediate attention.