Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Helped Me

When I posted about the work I've been doing to get out of my emotional hole, one heart mom asked me to share what worked for me. So, here it is--the tool that changed my entire outlook on life.

I had been working with my therapist for a while. I had been writing many journal entries and entries on this blog that were very heavy, full of worry, full of sadness. So, to get to the root of my problem, my therapist suggested I keep an anxiety log. The idea was for me to write down what I was doing, what I was thinking and feeling doing it, and my anxiety level from 0 to 10. I was to do this once an hour for a week to see if I could figure out from where my anxiety was coming.  I started on a Friday and was religious about writing everything down. It didn't matter what I was doing, I was always anxious. And the anxiety was always something that went back to DQ. I would read an article online and freak out about something that could happen to DQ. I'd get a phone call from the school and worry about the next doctor's appointment. My anxiety level was above 6 every hour of the day and it was always something different I was worrying about, but I was always worrying about DQ's future prognoses, to the detriment of everything else in my life, including loving and accepting DQ's illnesses.

I stayed at work late that night because I had spent so much other time worrying and had to get work done. When I left around 8:30 pm, I forgot all of my papers and my tracking log. So, over the weekend, I didn't track my anxiety. I fully intended to start back up first thing Monday morning. So, when I returned to work, I closely read through Friday's log. Reading that log again after a couple of days off is what clicked for me. I realized that I was spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about worries. There is nothing useful in worrying about worries. Some worry is good. Worry about a problem that exists allows me to be proactive and find solutions. But, worrying about worries does nothing. It made me anxious and out of sorts over things I could not control. I cannot worry today about what I might do if and when DQ's pulmonary hypertension comes back at dangerous levels. That is something I have to know may come. I have to look for symptoms, but we have done everything we can today to help her. Worrying about the what ifs and how I will address those what ifs doesn't help me.

I had all sorts of worries like that. Non-productive worries. And on that Monday morning, I realized that I didn't have the time or the energy to continue tracking these ridiculous worries. Nor did I have the time or energy to hold onto them any longer. And I gave them up. I didn't bother with the log again and I, surprisingly, didn't have the overwhelming anxiety. I started concentrating on what I can control without being overtaken by what I cannot.

It has been over a month now since I came to that realization. I keep expecting to fall back into the emotional pit, but I'm not. I worry, yes. But I don't worry about worries. I channel my energy where it can be useful. And when DQ gets sick or looks bad, I don't automatically jump out 5 steps ahead to begin worrying what I might do if she needs another surgery, if these medicines don't work, if, if, if. Instead, I look at her symptoms, make the pertinent phone calls and address the situation. So far, this is working for me.

And because of this, I don't think I will be doing the testing I discussed yesterday. It doesn't help to worry about those things when there is nothing to be done. All of your comments helped me to see that. Thank you. That being said, I still wonder.

What tools have you used to get passed the fear of the unknown?


  1. When I was 29 weeks pregnant with the twins, my husband lost his job and I had SO MUCH ANXIETY that my blood pressure climbed dangerously high and I was hospitalized. My ob/gyn threatened to do a c-section that day if I couldn't get it under control.

    So from that point on, I just focused on doing whatever I COULD do, and not focusing on the things I had no control over. It became about getting through each week, and growing stronger healthier babies.

    Even now, I try to force myself to focus on each day as it comes when I find myself getting too overwhelmed.

  2. To quote Scarlett O'Hara, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

    That's my basic strategy. I have enough to deal with trying to handle two autistic boys and my own problems. Thank heaven that they are both high functioning! If I allowed myself to start worrying about how their futures are going to turn out (jobs, college, relationships, if they'll ever leave home, etc) I would break down. So, fiddle dee dee! I will (try) to only deal with things as they happen.

  3. I love the journal idea. I am guessing I am probably very similar...worrying about worries that may never happen. I get caught up in it sometimes and can't seem to pull my mind out of it. I try to stay positive and look at all the good stuff around me, but there are days when I totally dwell on everything and all the possible things that could happen. I am going to start that journal next week and see how often it really happens...although that is kind of scary because I am afraid it probably happens all the time.


Having a child with a CHD is like being given an extra sense---the true ability to appreciate life. Each breath, each hug, each meal is a blessing when you've watched your child live off a ventilator, trapped in an ICU bed, being fed through a tube. Each minute is a miracle when you've watched your child almost die and come back to you.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...