Monthly Archives: October 2016

Only Child on anxiety and intolerance of uncertainty

Only Child 's garden - temporary refuge from problems

Only Child ‘s garden – temporary refuge from problems

Life is full of uncertainty. But when the uncertainty turns into too many plurals running together or right after each other, it is too much. And we become anxious.

That seems to be so much lately. “Lately” being relative – it could refer to the last few weeks, months, and even years.

Considering all the crap that is happening in our world on a macro basis, when we get down to each of us individually, the micro basis is also high. And I think it has skyrocketed a lot since we entered the new millennium. I’m not saying life was smooth sailing before 2000 but it wasn’t as strenuous – even technology was reasonable. For example, we had computers; we had word-pr0cessing programs (eliminating typewriter use – and take it from a former journalist and secretary, typewriters were a slow frustrating pain to use), we had e-mail and we had the beginning of high speed Internet.

But we weren’t obsessed with constantly being online, constantly being connected with everyone and having  little or no privacy.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like some of this millennium’s technology – for example Skype, blogs, the expanded Internet with it seemingly unlimited  information. I particularly like the health info (keeping in mind there is bogus stuff as well as accurate info on the Internet), restaurants for location and menus, public transit info up to date and trip planners, etc..

But I don’t like it all in my face. I don’t like all the problems that technology generates and heck I don’t like some of the technology to even use. I really don’t need all the widgets and gadgets on a fridge. My stove’s oven is set up digitally as is the clock, but the burners still are turned on by hand. My stereo system is digital and some of that I like – except for figuring how to get and save different stations.

This technology is only a part of what fuels people’s anxiety. Everything is rush-rush and too-much to do. Add in someone, like me, who is anxious to begin with and you can have a recipe for anxiety disaster.

But a core issue for many people might be a medical condition called intolerance of uncertainty. Think about those three words and what they mean. “Intolerance” (besides the racial and ethnic intolerance) means  “exceptional sensitivity” (Merriam-Webster online). “Uncertainty” “something that is doubtful or unknown”. Put the two meanings together and someone with intolerance of uncertainty is  someone very sensitive to the uncertain things in life. And life is about uncertainty. And in these times that uncertainty racks up at an extremely high level. So people find ways to try and deal with this.

Some people get angry a lot (me); some turn into hoarders. See this study about uncertainty and hoarding. The premise is if you hoard a lot of things – furniture, food, etc. you feel you are protecting yourself from problems that might arise. But that doesn’t really work because we don’t know what these problems are – we can take guesses from weather reports, and warnings of computer viruses, software snafus and the like and a host of other things. But none of this safe-guards us from what’s out there coming at us

Praying doesn’t really help; I’ve tried it asking for this and that not to happen (and I don’t even cover more than the basics) for myself and those close to me. I preface it with expressing my gratitude for what is going right (sometimes a short list) for that day. I don’t think a Pollyanna attitude will do either. Remember Pollyanna (the Disney movie from 1960 staring Hayley Mills) fell from a tree and was crippled.

Of course, much less problems for each of us to deal with would be the best answer. Not going to happen in this life, in this world. So I use three tactics. My main focus is getting rid of/solving the damn problem(s). While problems keep hanging around and charging, in I use another device – distractions. I read, write, spend time in my garden (winter will kill the latter; one reason I hate winter with a passion), spend time with friends, watch TV. Sleep used to be a good distraction but now with insomnia I don’t sleep long enough and wake up in spurts and my mind grabs onto the latest big worry or worries. I’ll go more into the sleep end in a future post.

And my third tactic. I yell a lot. I get angry. Not 24/7 though. I have my lighter moments. But yelling and anger keeps me going to solve the problems. So, relatives and friends who wonder why I’m angry a lot. That’s one reason why.

Here are a few more links to check out about intolerance to uncertainty and anxiety.

Intolerance of Uncertainty: A Common Factor in the Treatment of Emotional Disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712497/

While I don’t agree with the article’s calling the person’s beliefs “negative” per se, I like their take on using worrying as a way to get through this and get to solving the problem(s). My mother, the Queen of Worry Warts may have had a good idea after all.

And here’s a link to a study on I General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11225502

How do you deal with anxiety and uncertainty?

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Anger, Anxiety, Gratitude, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prayer, Problems, Stress, Worrying

Only Child on dreading the day

Dreading the day or night? That can be a sign of having an anxiety disorder. High anxiety has followed me through most of my life from the early teens. It is my black dog and no matter what I do or don’t do, it hovers and often strikes. The difference may be just that some of the anxieties have changed since I turned senior.Sharon CLB mid 1990s

Well, it turns out that up to 15% and counting of seniors suffer from anxiety. Medical experts, research and the like didn’t cotton on to that for some time and instead focused more on seniors’ physical ailments, dementia and depression. See information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Now they are taking note.

That 15% figure comes from the NCBI  PubMed. And they are saying that a lot of us seniors with anxiety disorders got them first earlier in life (with some exceptions such as acrophobia). Research is also finding that the anxiety is chronic. They got that one right. I have a few other ideas of my own here. For example, today many seniors, especially women, live alone, so don’t have someone to support them emotionally. Not that all duos are supportive, but often you get some opposites in there, someone who will listen and offer some suggestions, hopefully in a non-judgemental, friendly way.

And I can hear the “pie in the sky” and “when cows come home on roller skates” skeptics reverberating in the background. I know that the above supportive scenario is the ideal situation rather than the norm. And I don’t know what the solution or solutions are to decrease this menace. Certainly less big problems popping up so often in people’s lives would help. And I’m not going to even go into how confusing, complicated and over-busy our world is today. Just think too much technology, to many things to -do and of course dealing with our weather around the world. Enough said about that here.

I will be looking into some more information on anxiety in older adults with some ideas on possible help (I don’t say solutions; the only solution may be to get the hell out of Dodge, but we will all be doing that at sometime. High anxiety can  make that happen sooner as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cognitive disorders. It’s that last one that bothers me.)

For now I would like your comments on anxiety – and it doesn’t matter if you are a senior or not. Anxiety really doesn’t belong to any age.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Seniors, Stress, Worrying

Only Child has mixed Thanksgiving thoughts

Only child in her home

Only child in her home

Yesterday Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving. But I have mixed feelings about the meaning of the annual holiday and the role of gratitude in our lives today on planet earth.

Today, I’m playing devil’s advocate with questions and I would like your comments about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to express our gratitude. What about the thousands of people in Haiti killed from Hurricane Matthew? What about those that survived – so far? Cholera is a big shadow hanging over Haiti. What about those on the east coast of Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and even up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia that are victims of Hurricane Matthew?

Are the survivors grateful for losing family members, their homes, their cities and towns, their livelihood?

I am always flabbergasted and yes, troubled, when survivors of floods, winds, fires say “we’ve lost everything but we still have our family.” Are they suffering from shock and that’s their initial reaction? As they try to put their lives together, how many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. You don’t go through all that and come out feeling good, feeling gratitude. In the long run, doesn’t it take it’s toll?

I can only speak from part observer – what I see on the news and weather network. My own personal experience (so far) with floods is a flooded basement (about four to six inches) from the main water drain backing up (the official diagnosis) in November 2005. That was devastating enough. If not for the help of my friend and next door neighbour, Alex, it could have been much worse. Right away when I banged on his and his now late wife, Tanya’s door, Alex came over with a super-charged Shopping Vac and  cleaned out the flood. There was still aftermath to deal with – insurance people, drain company, restoration. I was so upset I refused to have anything done beyond the initial cleanup the restoration company did until the spring. My reason was with my allergies to many chemicals I didn’t want work done when windows couldn’t be opened in the winter. But now I wonder how much was shock.

My rec room looked like a war zone and the tiles in other rooms were broken.  I moved all dry food stored downstairs up to the spare bedroom because I couldn’t bear to go down there. My trips downstairs were limited to getting food from the freezer and doing laundry. And I had to be careful going down the stairs to the basement because the steps were no longer cushioned by carpeting – that was all ripped up the day after – and that includes carpets in the foyer and hallway.

It is only a tiny experience of what those devastated by floods (or fires or winds) go through, but it gave me a taste of the reality in our world today.

No place is safe to live in.

So, I ask my question again, reworded somewhat.

Do you have anything to be thankful for? And if so, what?

And yes, I do have a few things to be thankful for, including my son and his girlfriend, my friends, my garden, my writing, and dare I say it my home? Fortunately or unfortunately I am stubborn and tenacious and I don’t take it lying down. I think that’s why I became a journalist too many years ago and while I no longer am a journalist, my writing – personal essays/memoir, this blog and my fiction  – all  deal with the bad in life. And I also yell a lot and try to make sense of what has no sense.

As Shakespeare wrote “Now is the winter of our discontent.”

Notice his choice of seasons.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Gratitude, Life demands, Only child, Overwhelm

Only Child on fears about getting old

Only Child with Mom and Dad in the early 1960s.

Only Child with Mom and Dad in the early 1960s.

A artist friend has sent out a survey of four questions on aging for those 60 years and over. The survey is in connection with an art show she is exhibiting in fall 2017. I haven’t done the survey yet, but the first question has really got me thinking. Her question?

As a woman approaching/over the age of 60, what is my greatest fear?

Before I answer it, I’m going back to my mother and my father as their lives as seniors or almost seniors are influencing me.

My father had some form of cancer the last six years of his life. An operation that removed half a lung stopped the cancer there, but it spread to his brain and surfaced twice in two different places. Radiation stopped it in the one area, but four years later it returned in another area of his brain. That one killed him. He was 66, So much for three times is a charm – unless it is a bad charm.  At least Mom and I were with him at the end. I was 16 and despite expecting this to happen, still felt the loss. We had all gone through so much suffering and for this?

After Dad died, Mom was never the same. She had lost her soul mate and her body began to betray her. Arthritis appeared in mega-doses – rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, feet and ankles, causing much pain and disfigurement. If that weren’t enough, God threw in something just as bad – schleroderma – which attacked her insides and her face – hard puffy cheeks and a low (as in not loud, not timbre) almost squeaky voice. She had lost her autonomy and no  matter what her youngest sister and I did, she got worse. She decided to downsize to an apartment and so began the long job of getting rid of stuff. Looking back, I wished I had done more. But I was a typical late teens adolescent, although I was working at my first job as a secretary for the Ontario Government. My boyfriend (later my husband) stepped in to help and organized the two of us to at least get some of the smaller stuff to the apartment, stuff we didn’t want to go in the moving truck. He didn’t have a car or drive then. So there we were, making many trips back and forth (a five-block walk) with as much stuff as possible crammed into her bundle buggy.  And once we were moved to the apartment, I took over most of the grocery shopping, including paying for groceries. But she helped – she taught me how to budget and how to shop. Something I use to this day.

Mom would visit her sister on her sister’s farm in western Ontario but that brought problems too. She fell on the steps (two steps) and back home, she fell off her vanity bench. The latter sent her into a coma and despite an operation, she died five days later, officially of a brain aneurysm. I say arthritis killed her. It happened to fast and I, at 22, was in a daze. Her sister, my godmother, took me back to the farm to heal. But a few days don’t heal. Especially when Mom died at 63.

So, here I sit, in my late 60s, surpassing both my parents in age, and faced with Ramune’s first question.

As a woman approaching/over the age of 60, what is my greatest fear?

It’s a multiple answer, hung together by three words “losing my health.” The litany for that goes something like this. “I fear getting cancer, any cancer, stroke or aneurysm, completing losing any of my senses (and in the last year I’ve had a taste of temporarily losing 85 per cent of my hearing and being threatened with going blind in one eye), losing my mobility and losing my mind.”

Any of those could put me over the deep end. I am not one to wait it out and/or live life not to its fullest. I would like to live to 80, barring the above happening (and I do have health issues which at this point I live with – complaining a lot of course). If any of the above in quotations happens, get me out of here.

Funny, I don’t even consider heart issues as a fear. Maybe I think I could deal with that?

What is  your greatest fear in life? No matter what your age now.

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

Only Child at 13  and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Albert Langevin, cancer, Dad, Death and Dying, Family, Health Seniors, Mom and Dad, Only child, Seniors