Tag Archives: pollyanna

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

 

 

1 Comment

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

Only Child on health of women living alone

Only Child and her parents when they were still alive and together

It is happening frequently. I find yet another woman, 60 and over, living alone who has escalating health issues. Last week, it was a writing colleague just diagnosed with Diabetes 2. She’s had some scary “nearly dying” experiences. Another writing colleague has food allergies and a thyroid condition.  Yet another has thyroid and eye problems. Still another has had many eye problems. Then there is my friend with the back problem who was mentioned in a recent post. And me –maybe I have some nerve complaining of my health issues compared to what other women have to contend with. For what it’s worth I have a lot of foot problems, IBS, osteoarthritis, and allergies. Mind you I’ve had the allergies for over 20 years, so that isn’t a seniors’ health issue.

These women and their health issues are only the tipping point of the list.

Does something about older women living alone bring on these health problems? Is it hereditary? Is it age?

All of the above, I think. I also believe that living alone can aggravate these conditions. When you have to cope alone and there is no one to lean on/to give support, the coping mechanisms go down, down, down. The “hope factor” also can take a big dive.

In the journal article “Perceptions of Living Alone Among Older Women” written by Elaine M. Eshbaugh of the University of Northern Iowa, 30  per cent of the women interviewed (there were only 53, so not a wide variety)  were afraid of falling or getting hurt. Eshbaugh also cites previous studies which found a couple of horrors – older women living alone are more likely to suffer from falls and other injuries, infections, and dehydration. When the medical services finally arrive they often find the women already dead. It’s not a case of who you going to call but who is going to call?  The article also cites a study of a group of older women with deteriorating health who lived alone in Baltimore. These women’s health became worse than their counterparts who lived with someone. The article was published in the Journal of Community Health Nursing in 2008 and can be viewed online at http://www.uni.edu/csbs/sites/default/files/u27/perceptions%20of%20living%20alone.pdf and also goes into the cultural aspects of why more women live alone now than in the past.

I find it interesting that the article’s title uses the word “perceptions.” This conjures up more questions: how much of ill health is related to our perception? If we always had a positive attitude about our health would that keep the health and injury issues away? Remember the 1960 movie Pollyanna starring Hayley Mills? Pollyanna fell when climbing down a tree and became paralyzed. But…Pollyanna had close family and friends (including the stern aunt she lived with) for support. Maybe “support” is the crucial factor. “Support” as in living with someone who is at least there if you fall, have a heart attack or suffer the side effects of chemo treatment for cancer. Just someone for the moral support can lessen the worry burden of going through the illness journey alone, although if my late mother were still alive she might disagree. After Dad died, Mom’s health deteriorated – arthritis and scleroderma appeared – she landed in the hospital several times, had to quit her job and was constantly in a negative complaining state. I lived with her and while I listened, I was in my late teens and early 20s, and definitely not my father. Or maybe after years of dealing with Dad’s cancer and other illnesses, once he was gone, she just gave up.

I’m also not sure my yo-yo attitude is the right one. I jump from worrying about the current health issue flaring up to being defiant. I will go for my walks and garden despite my foot problems. I will eat well and healthy despite my food allergies…but I am persistent in making sure I don’t get what I can’t eat when dining out. I’ve come a long way from when first diagnosed and I attended a meeting of volunteers. The only snacks available were baked goods (I’m allergic to wheat, barley and rye for starters). I remember the hostess, an elderly woman who lived alone, asking me “Well, what can you eat?” I’m not sure if her living alone is connected in any way to her take on food allergies. But this was 22 years ago when food allergies weren’t all that well known. However, today, despite all the publicity and change in gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. food available, there are still some people, particularly in the restaurant business, who are clueless. I won’t eat in some restaurants because of this attitude. Thank goodness many restaurants do go that extra mile to make sure that I, and others like me, don’t eat something that will make us sick or in some cases, kill us, especially if we live alone. We might not make it to the phone to call 911.

I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe it is partly something I mentioned in an earlier post. We need to connect more with our friends, particularly the older women living alone, to make sure they are all right. I’ve been guilty of not doing this because of the time factor. Perhaps this whole issue needs a slight switch in mindset – both on the part of the women living alone, their friends and family and yes the healthcare systems. Dumping sick and old women in a nursing home isn’t always the answer, although sometimes it is necessary, unfortunately.

I’m also wondering if in finding keys to living longer, we (the collective “we”) have not made it more difficult in some ways for older women living alone to enjoy life as much as possible.

Comments?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

1 Comment

Filed under Aloneness, Family and Friends, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Old Age, Older Women living alone and health, Only child, Seniors, Single women statistics