Feelings of stress and overwhelm can be sickening. There’s no other way to describe it. But I probably don’t have to tell you that.
By definition, these feelings are overpowering. All consuming. All controlling of your thoughts and behaviours.
Often you just have to wait it out until the storms start to fade. There’s no other remedy. But sometimes the storms don’t fade or you’re never sure when that might happen.
In Ben’s early days, I wasn’t sure where I stood just about every day. There were so many heart-stopping events, so many panic incidents, so many interruptions, so many hospital visits, so many specialist appointments.
It wasn’t anywhere close to being a “normal” family life and my fear was that it would only get uglier.
About 4 months in, I began to write things down everything into a crude list of notes, thinking I could get some control over my life. It was the only way I could remember what had happened on any given day, or the day before, and what was scheduled tomorrow.
Taking the time to write it all down was strangely comforting. For months, I hadn’t felt comfortable with anything in my life. Getting my fears, especially, down on paper made them less frightening. Here’s a sample:
“Seizures (even the thought of them) seem to be the worst to deal with. We seem to think that each time he throws out his arms (we call them “the clutches”), he may go into a seizure simply because that was how his other seizures began.
Dr. Campbell, however, says that this overactive Moro reflex (his clutching) is not a precursor to a seizure and not only that but Dr. Norris said he cannot have a seizure if he is crying. So why does that not alleviate our fears?
We have to stop (knowingly or subconsciously) comparing what Ben does with what a “normal” six-month old does. Ben can never be measured with the standard yardstick—he will set his own standards—and the sooner we accept this and accept that this is not something bad or something about which to be ashamed, I believe, the sooner our fears will be lessened and dealing with setbacks will be easier.
Do we forget the fears and the nervousness we felt when Conor was a baby? Perhaps.
Tonight when Ben was crying uncontrollably and we were having trouble coping, Conor came to us and said, ‘Ben just cries because he is a baby. He doesn’t understand.’
He’s right—crying is the only way that Ben (and all babies, for that matter) can express that he is unhappy, he wants something, or he is in pain.”
At the time, I didn’t know why it felt good to write it down. I just knew it worked.
And now, years later, there are dozens of studies and experts who can explain the why and extol the benefits of writing things down. Just Google it and see how many different references pop up.
You see, one of things that happens is that you get both sides of your brain working – while your left side (the problem-solving side) processes the situation that is overwhelming you, the right side (the creative side) is thinking about new ideas on how to tackle the situation.
Writing it down gets it “out there”. Out of your head. Into the air. On paper. The very act of doing so lessens the power it has over you because it’s out there for all to see.
It’s out there for you to take it apart. Once in pieces, the situation is not so daunting. You may not be able to solve it right away but it will you more clarity, more focus and more attention on what’s in front of you.
It helps you to cut through the clutter and the noise of the situation, and even increases your self-awareness.
When Conor (the 4-year old) told me that Ben was crying because he was a baby, the haze cleared.
I know I claimed, “want instant relief?” OK, maybe it’s not instant but relief does happen, “more” sooner than later.
Try it. You’ll see!