Saturday, 16 June 2012

More Improvement & Anxiety

Yesterday, I had a quiet day and as a result, I had energy today. I cut the grass without any breaks and did it in 45 minutes!  Our trimmer wasn't working, so I trimmed by hand with my grass cutting shears the grass that had grown up and weaved itself throughout the chain link fences around our property.  It was a good day.  As I rested on our patio at the end of the day, I saw a robin flying in and out of our grapevines.  She is building a nest!  That will be more developments that I can watch over the next several weeks.

On Thursday, I watched a program on CBC,called Doc Zone, about the prevalence of anxiety in our society.  It left the viewer (me) with the question of why is there so much more anxiety being diagnosed compared to a generation or two ago.  I mulled this question over throughout the last couple of days.  It is appropriate that this subject has come up as it is one that I thought about throughout my diagnostic tests and chemotherapy treatments in the last six months.

Our society is one that believes a person must be busy at all times in order to be productive.  We praise multitaskers.  We believe in competition at the highest levels at all times and in all things.  Society strives for perfection in all things such as perfect looks (you see very few females of any age going outside of their bedrooms with no makeup), perfect jobs, perfect houses perfect yards,  and perfect children with perfect grades.   We have to constantly be "on". On top of all that, we have helicopter parents that hover over their children at all times and at all ages.  The children are not left alone for a moment so that they can learn to go responsibly out into the world and develop their confidence.  As a result, we have teenagers and young adults who arrive at post-secondary education or start a job with no confidence and they are filled with fear of failing and anxiety.  As the program pointed out, people are having panic attacks and anxiety disorders as their bodies go into "fight or flight" mode.

Add to the "fight or flight" mode, the fact that parents allow children to watch explicit violence on television programs, movies and video games and in my mind, it is no wonder that by the time children are teenagers and young adults, their bodies are strung tight like a guitar string.  As for the adults, they are often living beyond their means in an effort to have the perfect, large house which then needs hired cleaning/yard help and all the latest and chic furniture and knick knacks to fill it.  My parents used to call this "keeping up with the Joneses".  I don't know who the Jones were, but I never did keep up with them.  The financial stress that adults are facing is unbearable as they carry high mortgages and credit cards that are filled to the limit in an effort to have everything.  When you add to this mix all the external stimuli which is in our culture, you have worried, tense and overstimulated people.

The CBC program went on to say that doctors are routinely prescribing pills to cure the anxiety rather than encouraging cognitive behavioural therapy which takes longer to cure the anxiety.  Our society is obsessed with instant gratification.  So a pill works faster as the patients want a cure NOW.  I totally understand having anxiety.  We were burglarized when my son was about 1 1/2 years old.  We had gone out for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon in the Fall of 1995.  When we arrived home, our CD player was gone and CD's were scattered on the floor.  Other items were also stolen.  We did not own a lot of "nice" things at the time but what we did have had sentimental value.  Two small brass rocking horses were stolen and they had been given to me by a dear friend who had died of cancer.  Our son's favourite Disney video was stolen.  We didn't have very many of those at the time.  Our camera was stolen and it had our son's first visit to the beach on it.  Other items of sentimental value were also stolen. After the burglary, I couldn't sleep at night.  I was always listening to hear someone trying to break in.  I was on edge and anxious all the time.  My doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for me but I didn't want to rely on medication forever.  I wanted to learn to handle my thoughts.  I eventually got over my anxiety as I learned to self-talk myself out of my "silliness".   I don't really mean what I thought and felt was silly.  I mean that it helped to talk within about how illogical my thinking was.  I found the anti-anxiety pills made life "gray".  I didn't feel the anxiety as deeply but I also didn't love as deeply or passionately.  I didn't feel sorrow as deeply.  I felt like part of me was missing.

I was definitely dealing with anxiety again in December of 2011 as I went for diagnostic tests to determine what kind of cancer I had.  I'm so glad that I felt deeply and was cognizantly aware.   This helped me to contemplate and think and make changes to relieve the daily stress and pressure that I have lived with for the last several years.

My thoughts regarding anxiety over the last couple of days have led me to sincerely believe that if our society slowed down, there would be less people suffering from anxiety and stress.  We need to realize that it is OK to not be perfect.  We should all schedule quiet time into our day.  For some people this may mean spending time meditating or praying.  For others, it may mean communing with nature or reading a good book.  I think that in addition to daily quiet time, we should all have a full day of rest once a week.  This is hard to do because we can do our banking and shopping seven days a week.  Our day of rest should mean exactly that.  Resting.  The day of rest should not be a day to cram it full of errands, chores and activities.  It should be a complete day of rest to recharge our bodies, minds and souls.  This is really hard to do.  As I'm recovering from my chemotherapy and getting stronger, I have days that I have no energy to do anything.  I'm forced to have a day of rest. When I have my day of rest, I feel lazy and guilty as I think of all the things that I should be doing.  This is when I need the quiet time to stop and contemplate life and how to make it less stressful and less busy.

I am still trying to strike a balance between being non-stop busy and practising one of the seven deadly sins called sloth.  I have to remind myself that a day of rest does not make me idle or lazy.  Of course, our society does not encourage us to have a full day off without "doing" anything.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Cathy!

    The prozac nation; that's what we are becoming. Popping pills that doctors prescribe may alleviate the symptoms, but they do not deal with the underlying cause. This society is too fast paced, too competitive and too eager to build their material world believing that it buys happiness. It doesn’t. Happiness comes from within, and it comes from simple things in life.

    As for helicopter parents, I am so against this that I can’t begin to express how much it bothers me. I think there is nothing more crippling to a child than parents that do not allow them to grow up. Stumbling once in awhile and having to pick yourself up, making decisions on your own even if some of them are not the best, being responsible and accountable...etc...all build character and help in maturity. I don’t think children of helicopter parents ever truly grow up as long as mommy and daddy are there to run their lives. And fix everything when things go wrong.