Processing Anxiety as a Grieving Mum

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Anxiety is part of my journey as a grieving mum. It is new an unfamiliar, just like learning to live with the death of my child.

Today I went to a kids indoor climbing place with a playground on the side.
Luke took us there with our 3 1/2 year old Mackenzie, to get out of the house. We discovered that 10am-12pm is a Mum’s and bubs climbing session.

How cool.
I was a mad tree climber as a kid, I did some rock climbing and I loved high wire courses. It was kind of exciting. It had been ages since I did anything like it.

Climbing up quickly, I reached the top of the first wall. I held on there for a moment, realising I was terrified to let go.

I had never experience this before.

My logical mind was talking me,
‘Those ropes are perfectly safe…You’ve done this before… It’ll take up tension once you let go.’

My brain was not having it;
‘When?…What if I hit every bump on the wall on the way down?..What if I don’t fall fast enough for it to know I am falling?..They have waiver notices for a reason.’

Many questions ran through my mind as I hung on. I looked around expecting Luke to start teasing. He hadn’t noticed me, un-moving, hanging onto the wall.
My arms and legs would start to get tired soon. I started to sweat, more than just because up there it was SO hot.

The most difficult part of this?

This isn’t me. I was so mad.
I am NOT afraid of heights, of adventure.

Before caring for Matthew, the ‘what if’ thoughts would never have even entered my head. The risks of injury, however minor, wouldn’t never have even made me pause.
I’ve done boating, snowboarding, climbing, shooting.

The fear that nearly had me stuck at the top of a climbing:
It isn’t me.

It isn’t me.

That sucks. That makes my want to cry, it makes me angry. It makes me feed controlled by my emotions. Something my logical mind cannot fathom.

I didn’t know what else to do. So I climbed wall after wall until my time ran out. Did the feeling go away? Nope. Did it get easier? Nope.

It took Luke long into to the session to realise it was happening.

I haven’t figured out the process yet, how to put anxiety behind me. I have only known I have anxiety since I started grief counselling. The psychologist warned me, ‘This could make things worse before they get better.’

I wasn’t impressed with this warning. I am learning new things all the time though, some of the most painful realisations.

While I was Matthew’s carer, I was his advocate. His voice. I didn’t trust anyone else (mostly) to have the complete picture of his condition. Matthew’s condition was so rare it doesn’t even come with a description. No matter how specialised the specialist they had no idea what was going to happen.

So I became the expert and at times, the worse the situation, the more focused and professional I was. Telling doctors and nurses how to care for and treat my child.

Was is worth it?
Absolutely. I probably saved Matthew’s life hundreds of times. With many small decisions.

Today I am counting the cost.

The costs of constantly planning and trying to control the outcomes. The cost of not processing the feelings and emotions of the horrifying things that happened to Matthew and I. Taking the unfamiliar path of anxiety as a grieving mum.

Would I change anything if I had to do it all again? Maybe not.
Perhaps I would seek professional help sooner.

  • I would find someone who would stop me in my tracks.
  • To point out when I was minimising my emotions, or laughing off a traumatic situation.
  • Who would challenge me to acknowledging my feelings processing them so I could let them go.

Feelings that are held onto, not processed and let go. Those are the feelings that turn into anxiety.

Along this journey with anxiety, as a grieving mum I have learnt;
I did a great job taking care of my physical needs, nutrition, exercise, relationships, & personal development needs, I didn’t take the time to process my feelings.

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