‘I think I am losing it’ a woman confided in me the other day. ‘I have started to let things slip. Yesterday I forgot about a meeting and sometimes I struggle to find the right words. What is happening to me?’
Sometimes when we are particularly stressed and anxious, or there is more than usual going on, our minds get overloaded and do a bit of a shut down. We forget things and make mistakes.
Jackie is a typical mum, balancing home and a demanding job.
How many of us have Jackie moments?
“It is a typical Saturday morning, Jackie is in the kitchen looking around thinking where to start to get things sorted so she can enjoy her weekend. She is flustered, the children are making a lot of noise, they need to get dressed and wrap the presents for this afternoon. ‘I must put on a wash’ she remembers. Her sleek black hair is tied into a pony tail, she has not had to fuss over it today. She touches it anxiously, a habit she has got into recently, like finding a bit of comfort or security amid the chaos all around. She is feeling a constant level of anxiety that these days seems to always be there. Is she ok? Is this serious? Should she just keep going? Stop? But she can’t stop there is so much to do. If only she could just get through it all and then find time to relax.
There is a family party this afternoon, the children need to get ready, they must buy a bottle of wine to take. Should she call Ron to get it on his way back or just put the girls in the car and do it herself? So many decisions. It won’t take long, perhaps it is just easier to get it done. Once she gets everything done she will feel better. But she never does feel better it just goes on and on, it never stops.
She notes her feelings of constant unease and nervousness. Is this what life’s like now? She asks herself. Will it change when the children grow up? Perhaps it is just a phase. But deep down she wonders if it ever will. Exhaustion sets in, her head feels like it is going to burst, thoughts are going round and round. She has noticed recently that she has started to drop thoughts from her memory and forget things which is worrying. ‘Am I getting Alzheimer’s’ She thinks, ‘Can’t think about that now, too scary.’
But this adds to the never-ending pile of concerns. And that situation in work, the report, that is playing on her mind, what if she did make that mistake, her reputation would be in tatters? She can’t do anything until Monday she tells herself but every time she thinks about it a well of panic sets in. She picks up the youngest who is standing there with outstretched arms crying ‘mummy ‘and tries a smile. ‘All will be well, all will be well’ she says to herself ‘it will all be ok’. But she feels panicky again ‘What if it isn’t?’ What if she is going mad?’ Ron arrives home, it is time to wrap those presents. ‘Oh, and I must pick up the bottle of wine”
I was a Jackie once, balancing family, home and a senior management post. I remember being torn between various priorities and feeling constantly exhausted. But one thing that made a big difference to me was when I learnt to breath! A lot of us anxious types breath quickly high up in our chests. We are rushing around, multi-tasking and shallow breathing. Not good for our stress levels! When I learnt to sit, and take my breath lower, watching my stomach rise and fall, things started to change. At first I felt a bit dizzy, but once I got the hang of it, just taking those few minutes a couple of times a day seem to make a real difference.