Depression and anxiety after the death of a child – Why I do what I do

Depression and anxiety after the death of a child – Why I do what I do

I had always thought that I would have an OK life. That I would journey forward with a smile, and everything would turn out OK. Until it didn’t  A few years ago I woke up to the fact that I was not well. All I knew is that it had something to do with dealing with the death of my son.

I was trying to raise my baby daughter whilst wrapped in a suffocating cloak of anxiety and fear; my smile had vanished. My daughter spent the first year of her life strapped to a breathing monitor to make sure that she too would not suddenly stop breathing. Every beep from the monitor meant she was still here, yet the question always in my mind was, when will that alarm be triggered?

After 18 months, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I saw danger at every turn and was always looking over my shoulder for the next disaster. I was perpetually tired, highly strung, and for the first time in my life, I started yelling at my daughter in a bizarre attempt to keep the universe together and to keep her safe.

It was a nurse friend who, on a walk with our children, asked one simple question that was to blow my whole world open:

“What are you thinking about just before your energy drops?”
“Huh? My thinking effects my energy levels?”

Out of curiosity, I started looking at my thoughts. Sure enough, there it was: I would have a freaky thought, about the world/ my child’s safety/ my to-do-list. I would believe the thought, dwell on it and then BAM! my energy would plummet through the floor. My thoughts were indeed at the very root of my well-being. They came before any of the physical symptoms that I had been experiencing. This was my first way-marker on my road back to well-being.

I started the search to understand my thoughts further. I journeyed through Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), as a patient, and started to understand the loops, curls and dives of my thoughts. I learned to recognise the pesky little blighters: thoughts that were destructive beliefs and panicky whispers, and learn to catch them before the mental and energetic spiral down-wards. I found my feet for the journey ahead.

A few years further along the path, I discovered the work of Sydney Banks and the 3 Principles. I could, finally, give up my fight with my thinking. I didn’t need to change my thoughts, create mantras or positive affirmations. I simply awoke to the understanding that thoughts are simply a projection – they are only a story that I continuously create about the world.

“If your thoughts wander into the negative and rocky path, don’t take them too seriously. Refrain from analysing, because, I guarantee you, you will analyse yourself forever, never reaching an end, and fail bitterly to find peace of mind” – Sydney Banks

Just the understanding of the power of thought, enabled me to see that no person or circumstance has the power to influence my well-being. Only I can do that, by thinking about the person or event, believing those thoughts and then feeling the results of that lethal cocktail (creating anger, frustration, stress…). I had believed that, my daughter was in danger because that was what I was continuously thinking; so that is how I interpreted everything in the world. I was hiding my own well-being with my thinking! When I learned to to let my thoughts be, to not follow the negative ones, I finally found peace.

My journey to discover my wellbeing took 7 years of searching, reading, listening and exploring. The deep irony is that I was searching for something that I had never lost in the first place. I carry well-being wherever I go, and it is accessible wherever I am. I do not know where this journey of life will take me, but I do know that I can walk my path free of fear and anxiety.

iwm dec 2012This story was originally published in Inspirational Woman’s magazine Dec/Jan 2013 (p.29-30).

 

 

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