I was talking with a good friend of mine recently. She, too, has problems with anxiety, although hers isn’t associated with C-PTSD. It still sounds pretty bad, unfortunately. While we were discussing our experiences, I told her that since I got since in February, my anxiety levels have been a lot better. She asked what I have done to change things. Honestly I couldn’t think of what to say at that time. I had to get alone, pray & really look at things later on.
I got a new revelation on how quickly life can change or even end when I got sick. When I got sick that February day with carbon monoxide poisoning, I didn’t realize just how serious it was, nor did anyone at the hospital tell me. I read about it on the Mayo Clinic’s site & Wikipedia after I got home & was shocked at just how close I came to death or the possibility of permanent brain damage. I made myself face how I felt about this situation instead of ignoring my feelings (as I learned early in life to do), & although it’s been painful to go through, it’s been good. Coming that close to death really gave me a new revelation on just how fast life can change, or even end. That revelation has helped me tremendously to have a better perspective. I don’t sweat the small stuff so easily now. I don’t want to waste whatever time I have upset if I can help it. We only have a relatively short time on this earth, & I have wasted enough years upset, angry, hurt & anxious- I want to enjoy the rest of the time I have as much as possible!
Wanting to enjoy my life as much as I can also made me enforce my boundaries better. I’m learning to respect how I feel & say no sometimes. I began asking myself some tough questions: What is good or right about making myself miserable just to make someone else happy? If someone wants that, they certainly are selfish & don’t have my best interests at heart. And, what makes that person so much more important than me anyway? Why is their happiness so much more important than mine?
Before I got sick, I was too stressed & anxious. So much so, my hair is damaged & broken. This was another sign that things had to change. If my hair was showing such awful signs of stress, what could be happening on the inside to my heart or other organs? I made the decision that I deserved better than this- it’s time to fight the anxiety & stress. Making that decision was important. The decision enabled me to slow down or even stop when anxiety kicks in & talk to myself. I ask myself is this going to hurt me, is there something I can do to make this situation better, what am I so worried about? Questions like that make me think about the situation logically, which cuts back on or even eliminates anxiety.
I have begun to focus more on relaxing. When I take my daily shower, I enjoy the feel of the warm water instead of just rushing through it. I exfoliate my skin often & use a good quality lotion I like after my shower so my skin feels great. I shampoo & condition gently with good products to take care of my fragile, recovering hair. Often too, I turn on some good music, & light a scented candle while in the shower. This turns a boring daily ritual into something I enjoy & that relaxes me. I also turn on music when I do household chores, as the music makes me feel good. When I get into bed, I take a moment to relish how comfortable & cozy it is. I have a collection of pictures on my tablet that make me feel good- pictures of serene scenery, Victorian era images or even inspiring quotes that validate me. Little things like this add to squelching anxiety.
Often, people talk to me about their problems. (I think many adult children of narcissists are often the friend everyone talks to about their problems). I’ve recently begun to remind myself that I’m not God- it’s not my place to fix other people’s lives. Just because my parents raised me to fix their problems doesn’t mean that fixing people is my responsibility! My job is to offer compassion, advice if asked, help them in some way if I feel God is leading me to & direct them to God. This has enabled me to feel less anxiety because I can detach emotionally some now in these situations.
Most importantly, I also remind myself constantly that God is in control & is my provider. No matter what we do, God still is in charge. He wants what is best for me & wants to bless me. He has brought me this far for a reason, & has not once forsaken me. Reminding myself of such things has brought me closer to God & our relationship has drastically improved. Not that I have complaints about how it was before, but even so, I feel so much closer to Him now & my faith has grown.
Granted, this doesn’t conquer all anxiety every time it happens. I still battle agoraphobia every time I leave my home or wake up with panic attacks sometimes. However, things have improved greatly. And a bonus has happened- by slowing myself down to deal with anxiety, it’s become such a habit, I’ve also started doing it automatically when dealing with my narcissistic parents. Instead of immediately getting angry or hurt over what they do, I am now able to remind myself that whatever they’re doing isn’t about me- it’s about their dysfunctional behavior. For example, if they try to make me feel guilty for not calling more often, I remember that they don’t want me to call more because they care about me, but because they want that narcissistic supply. The result is I don’t feel guilty- I realize they are trying to get supply from me & I have the right to protect myself from it. Talk about a bonus! I can cope better with anxiety & my parents too?! It feels good not to feel guilty, hurt or angry every time I hang up the phone from talking to my parents!
I believe what I have learned can help you as well. I urge you to pray about what I’ve written & put it into practice if God leads you to do so!