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Heightened anxiety since parent's death


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Hi all,

My dad passed away a almost two months ago and ever since, I've been in a permanent state of anxiety.

My family lives overseas and I heard of my father's death via email and phone call. Ever since, I've had a strong anxiety with any sort of communication as I'm always afraid any email / text / phone call will convey some bad news. It also does not help that a week after my dad's death, the management company of my building literally knocked at my door for 10 minutes straight to tell me someone made a noise complaint that had nothing to do with me in the first place. I literally live in permanent fear of another blow to the point where I'm about to throw my phone away and move elsewhere because I can't take any more stress.

Appreciate if anyone could provide insight / help.

Thanks.

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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5 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

the management company of my building literally knocked at my door for 10 minutes straight to tell me someone made a noise complaint.

Why would they do that? Are you being harassed by the landlord? 

As far as a parent's death, that was the only way to contact you since you were estranged from them.

Why not see a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health, discuss the anxiety grief anger and frustrations. 

Ask for a referral to a qualified therapist for ongoing support.

You can't change life events but you can change how you handle stress.

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3 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Why would they do that? Are you being harassed by the landlord? 

As far as a parent's death, that was the only way to contact you since you were estranged from them.

Why not see a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health, discuss the anxiety grief anger and frustrations. 

Ask for a referral to a qualified therapist for ongoing support.

You can't change life events but you can change how you handle stress.

No, I'm not. To be honest, I don't know why they did that. It made absolutely no sense considering I live on my own and I'm very quiet. The way they knocked at the door really scared me. 

I have a GP appointment this afternoon and will discuss this with them too. I feel as though I'm going absolutely insane at this point. 

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I would as one tool gogle weil method 4-7-8 breathing.  Practice when you feel fine.  Make sure your mouth is pursed as tight as possible like you have a straw in it -makes it soooo much more effective.  I use it for sleeping issues, when I feel anxious, upset stomach.   I'm really sorry about the landlord -would make me jump out of my skin. 

Also if you're already doing at least 20-30 minutes of intense cardio every day -all at once -angry clean. Scrub a kitchen floor after vigorous sweeping.  On hands and knees.  Also if social media posts are triggering you don't go cold turkey but shut off screens an hour earlier than usual -I've been doing so the last couple of weeks since I shifted my alarm from 6 to 5am and you know it really helps.  

One of my friends who had a complicated relationship with her mom but helped a lot in the years preceding her passing joined an online (I think it's virtual) support group for people grieving the loss of a loved one. She found it helpful.

I'm sorry you're going through this and what you're experiencing sounds normal to me and I hope it resolves soon.

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I've followed your story since you first wrote of your father's death and your. many issues with your mother and how you were going to see her for the first time in years.  How did that visit go?  I'm no shrink but I would bet that visit has set you off in more ways than you imagined it would.

Go see your doctor, be open and honest with him/her and work on getting yourself sorted out.

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55 minutes ago, melancholy123 said:

I've followed your story since you first wrote of your father's death and your. many issues with your mother and how you were going to see her for the first time in years.  How did that visit go?  I'm no shrink but I would bet that visit has set you off in more ways than you imagined it would.

Go see your doctor, be open and honest with him/her and work on getting yourself sorted out.

The visit is what set the anxiety off. I was fairly OK before the visit. I had work-induced anxiety, but that was it really. 

The moment I landed where she lives is when my anxiety got triggered. I dislike the area because I have so many bad memories attached to it to begin with. Then, I walked into the house and instead of showing enthusiasm, my mother indulged in her usual narcissistic behaviour within 20 minutes of me being there. She said while crying: "God, what happened to my family - my husband is dead, my children are orphans and my oldest daughter is so rail thin and seems to be different mentally". 

She a) body shamed me as soon as she saw me and b) thought I had a mental disturbance because I was quiet and observing a house she left in shambles after my dad died. I was trying to cope with the shock of seeing her, the house and my dad being gone and she literally accused me of having a mental issue right off the bat. 

It wasn't the reaction I expected at all. Anyways, I powered through for the remaining 2 days and sorted some of my dad's estate. I returned home on Friday and on Sunday evening, she asked my sister to send me a text to tell me: "Mom said if you're not busy, you can call". I asked if she had anything urgent to talk about and she said no. The woman literally wants to absorb all of my spare time. I already didn't want to see her to begin with and she now thinks the relationship is salvaged - she has zero awareness. How can she body shame me and accuse me of having a mental disturbance because I'm quiet / uncomfortable and expect me to continue communicating with her?

I was trying to relax yesterday and she triggered more anxiety by asking me to call when she had nothing to say to me.

So yeah, you can say, I should have stayed put. 

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1 minute ago, RuedeRivoli said:

It wasn't the reaction I expected at all.

Why not? She's been acting like that your entire life.

Are you going to finally stop accepting her calls and messages?

How about instead of taking the drastic step of moving to another continent, you just change your number? Yes, you can. I did. It only took me about 20 minutes to text my new number to everyone I wanted to have it. If you use it for business you can send a mass email advising your clients and associates of your new number. That way the only way she can get ahold of you is via regular mail or email. Then set her emails to go directly to a specified folder. You can choose to read them or wait until you feel like seeing what she has to say.

And yes, you can still keep in touch with your siblings this way too. They live with her. They understand how she is.

You can do any of this to protect yourself. If you choose not to, then it's probably worth exploring with a therapist why you choose to continue to punish yourself and deliberately expose yourself to toxicity. Also why you dodge the suggestions people here have been making and choose instead to keep listing all the things she does to hurt you instead of proactively doing what you can to stop it.

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5 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

Why not? She's been acting like that your entire life.

Are you going to finally stop accepting her calls and messages?

How about instead of taking the drastic step of moving to another continent, you just change your number? Yes, you can. I did. It only took me about 20 minutes to text my new number to everyone I wanted to have it. If you use it for business you can send a mass email advising your clients and associates of your new number. That way the only way she can get ahold of you is via regular mail or email. Then set her emails to go directly to a specified folder. You can choose to read them or wait until you feel like seeing what she has to say.

And yes, you can still keep in touch with your siblings this way too. They live with her. They understand how she is.

You can do any of this to protect yourself. If you choose not to, then it's probably worth exploring with a therapist why you choose to continue to punish yourself and deliberately expose yourself to toxicity. Also why you dodge the suggestions people here have been making and choose instead to keep listing all the things she does to hurt you instead of proactively doing what you can to stop it.

Well, I really didn't dodge any suggestion. 

She tried to get me to talk to her yesterday and I refused. I haven't spoken to her since I returned from my trip. Given her reaction her I walked into the house, I think I've now seen her true colors for what they are. I think part of me thought she had changed with me cutting her off, but she has just gotten worse over the years and the "widow" card is one she now uses to her advantage to justify her narcissism. 

My phone is currently broken, so I will be changing phone and numbers for sure. She doesn't have my home address or email address and I intend on keeping it this way. I'm not crazy enough to give her my home address and have her show up at my door randomly. 

I think moving to another continent is deeper than me trying to put some distance between her and I and I was thinking of it before my dad's death, so it's not a sudden temptation. 

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20 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

Mom said if you're not busy, you can call". I asked if she had anything urgent to talk about and she said no. The woman literally wants to absorb all of my spare time.

This is an easy one.  It's only a text.  With a suggestion.  Which you can ignore. I think you're reading too much into that suggestion as outright pressure.

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4 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

This is an easy one.  It's only a text.  With a suggestion.  Which you can ignore. I think you're reading too much into that suggestion as outright pressure.

Coming from my mom, I know it's not a suggestion. I know how she phrases things and when she says that, it means she wants me to call her. Last time she phrased it this way and I didn't call, she rang me at work at 9am the following day to ask me why I didn't call. With all due respect, I know how my mom operates. 

I think it's not about the text, but the fact that she thinks our relationship is salvaged after 6 years of no-contact. I left on Friday and already she wants me to call on Sunday. She's just being unnecessarily clingy. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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5 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

Coming from my mom, I know it's not a suggestion. I know how she phrases things and when she says that, it means she wants me to call her. Last time she phrased it this way and I didn't call, she rang me at work at 9am the following day to ask me why I didn't call. With all due respect, I know how my mom operates. 

I get that and completely got that when I wrote my post and I think you are overreacting.  However you want to analyze it you received second hand typed words with a suggestion -you get to choose the reaction.  You are choosing to react with stress and anxiety and projection.  It's not like your landlord banging on your door.  

Edited by Batya33
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Maybe it would be easier on you to learn to accept that your mother is who she is - a disordered narcissist.

Consider that when you look at it that way, her behavior will make sense. No, sadly, people like that don't get better, they only get worse and worse with age. So you are right to cut her off and keep it that way. However, maybe acceptance and understanding her condition/behaviors will help you feel less anxious because quite literally nothing that she does or has ever done, is about you or anyone. It's all in her head and her own madness of sorts. The playing the victim thing, the staring at you the way she did, etc. - all textbook narc behaviors.

Anyway, above aside, there are therapists/psychiatrists who specialize in helping those who have had to deal with narc family members. I think it would be good for you to find one of those rather than going to someone who doesn't quite get it. 

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22 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

I get that and completely got that when I wrote my post and I think you are overreacting.  However you want to analyze it you received second hand typed words with a suggestion -you get to choose the reaction.  You are choosing to react with stress and anxiety and projection.  It's not like your landlord banging on your door.  

I don't think I'm choosing "stress and anxiety" - it's pretty much an automatic reaction at this point. I really do not think anxiety is something you can control. That said, it may have very well been a suggestion. However, to me, personally, I view it as pressure because I don't like her clinginess, especially as I'm not comfortable with her. I think I view it as pressure because I simply don't want her in my perimeter. 

About the knocking on the door piece - again, it is a result of generalized anxiety. Anything can throw you off the edge, even if to your normal person, it seems to be absolutely mundane. Anxiety is irrational most of the time. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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Yes, you can choose your reaction to your anxious feeling.  I have to do that sometimes when I have an irrational anxious reaction and I need to go on with my life, take care of my child, do the thing I am afraid of.  You can't control the feeling when you see typed words.  I felt really irritated automatically when my needy friend texted me AGAIN to call her and gave me no chance to call her when I had time.  I had a choice -I can't control the irritated and even anxious feeling but I can choose to keep on moving, keep on breathing, choose actions or self-talk that allow the feeling to exist on the periphery but not overtake her.  

I have to choose reactions every single day -almost every single morning - to my son's often bratty behavior about getting ready for school.  At around 7am.

This morning he did his whining/venting thing.  I was triggered. I felt like yelling, I felt like interacting with him to get him to STOP so I could actually take a sip of coffee calmly.  And maybe -gasp -even breathe normally.

That is what I wanted to do impulsively.  You know what I did instead -I ignored him.  Tuned him out.  The whining eventually stopped and I avoided escalating it, using my limited voice, etc. 

You also can choose to tune out the text -which in a way is easier -she is not whining in your face.  It's a text.  You can put the phone face down, turn off your notifications, whatever.  So please I don't buy the whole "I can't control it" -you can control your reactions.  I have to do so regularly.  It's really really hard.  It can be done. I highly recommend it.  Understatement.

You view it as pressure. I get that.  But you can choose a different reaction to being triggered by second hand typed words. 

Edited by Batya33
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So most of us called it right that you'd be upset after the visit and you can see that now as well.  I'm glad you survived, but at what cost?  I hope you have decided that you won't do that to yourself ever again.

You want body shaming?  I am about 20 lbs overweight and have been for years.  My mother never missed ab opportunity to comment on it.  Many years ago I had a stillborn baby and was in the hospital.  She came with my aunt so see me.  The first words out of her mouth were - hi tubby.  i wanted to smack her upside the head.

You are not the only one with an insensitive a$$hole for a mother.  So I really do totally understand how you feel.  Go see your doctor, and therapist and work on healing yourself from this outrageous incident in your life.  If you have to change your phone # or block her, do it.  you seem like a good person who needs some solid direction at this time.

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When you finally accept who and what your parent is, you become free from having to react . I knew 51 years ago my father was not right in the head and things were in chaos. I was 4. When I was about 25 we became for the most part estranged. In my later 40’s I finally mentally let go of the idea that he was ever going to be the father I needed. He was not capable. I also accepted the fact I was always without him in any way that mattered. I understand he was not capable and far far far too mentally ill. 
 

It never changed the fact I loved and do love my dad and miss him very much . It is still so hard to accept he is gone . It doesn’t change the fact I am still angry about his abuse of myself and my entire family . 
 

Remove your expectations for a daughter / mother relationship. You are clinging on, I understand, it is in hope of a loving and nurturing relationship. You HAVE to understand she isn’t capable. THAT will set you free to live your life .  

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4 hours ago, RuedeRivoli said:

I don't think I'm choosing "stress and anxiety" - it's pretty much an automatic reaction at this point. I really do not think anxiety is something you can control. That said, it may have very well been a suggestion.

I understand what it's like, because I deal with a similar parent and sibling. And I've been through years and years of therapy. I know my reaction is not rational, but an emotional part of me was stunted as a child and isn't able to catch up to my adult brain. The smallest interaction with my mom or my sister often confounds me. I get livid to the point of short circuiting. When I was in therapy as a kid, I used to just blank out when I'd talk about my family, and I still do it to some degree. I know they can't change, yet some part of me always hopes that they will--maybe because I find the reality so, so sad. These are my only people and they fcking suck. It is truly maddening.

My dad died, too--12 years ago to the day, actually. My mom and my sister both still hate him so much, and they won't let up about it. I don't even know why they hate him so fiercely--their reasons don't seem to add up to their level of hate. But they think that I should hate him as hard as they hate him. It feels like they won't stop hating him until they erase him off of the face of the earth. My mom loves to say, "I've never told you girls to hate your father," but really she has. I know that she's glad my sister hates him and frustrated that I refuse. It literally turns my stomach when I think about this and it makes me fighting mad. So, I try not to think about it. 

I agree with DancingFool-- Find a good therapist who specializes in narcissistic family dynamics. I'll probably seek one out again too in the near future. I think I need a tune up every 10 years or so lol.

Another thing: you've been going through a lot lately. You have (or had) a horribly stressful job, your dad died, and your family sucks. Cut yourself a little bit of slack about the anxiety.

You know, about a month ago, I went through some intense anxiety that seemed to be related to my job. I couldn't figure out why, because my job has been pretty awesome. And yet I felt totally pinned down by this anxiety to the point where I actually started the ball rolling with the employee assistance program that my insurance offers.

Well, that turned out to be a pointless clusterfck, but in the process I remembered the therapist I went to when I was in graduate school. I thought about going back to him, and I started thinking about what I would talk about. It then occurred to me that it's been almost 12 years since I've seen him, and that a sht-ton of crap has happened since then. When I went through all of it in my head, I realized that I've been dealing with a lot of sht. Of course I have anxiety! 

I do still plan to go back to therapy, but that tiny slice of perspective made me feel so much better that it stopped being a burning issue. I'm not sure what you need to do to achieve the same peace of mind, but I encourage you to remember that you are and have been facing pressure on many different sides and anyone in your circumstances would feel as stressed out as you do right now. It's ok.

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7 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

know my reaction is not rational, but an emotional part of me was stunted as a child and isn't able to catch up to my adult brain. The smallest interaction with my mom or my sister often confounds me. I get livid to the point of short circuiting.

I have had those experiences too many times.  It's still a choice -the reaction -therapy can help the process of making a different choice. It's not easy but the reaction -that triggered livid feeling that you choose when seeing that text or the eye roll or the "innocent" comment Is a choice within the person's control.  The initial feeling is not.

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1 minute ago, Batya33 said:

It's not easy but the reaction -that triggered livid feeling that you choose when seeing that text or the eye roll or the "innocent" comment Is a choice within the person's control.  The initial feeling is not.

Batya, I actually lose my memory. Gone. What's going to get that back? Hypnosis?

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2 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Batya, I actually lose my memory. Gone. What's going to get that back? Hypnosis?

Sorry I read your words and don't see the connection to what I wrote.  I'm sorry you have that experience though!  I'm not sure how one regains memory in that situation.

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Just now, Batya33 said:

I'm not sure how one regains memory in that situation.

Neither do I. What I do know is that I have gaps in my memory of the sequence of events. They literally disappear as I try to talk about them. And I know when it's happening but I can't stop the blanking out.  So to say I can choose not to lose those memories as a result of a trigger isn't realistic. Believe me, I'd stop the memory loss if I could. Remembering helps me analyze and understand. 

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9 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Neither do I. What I do know is that I have gaps in my memory of the sequence of events. They literally disappear as I try to talk about them. And I know when it's happening but I can't stop the blanking out.  So to say I can choose not to lose those memories as a result of a trigger isn't realistic. Believe me, I'd stop the memory loss if I could. Remembering helps me analyze and understand. 

I understand.  That's not what I was suggesting to the OP.  At all.  I'm sorry you have those yucky experiences!!

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18 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Neither do I. What I do know is that I have gaps in my memory of the sequence of events. They literally disappear as I try to talk about them. And I know when it's happening but I can't stop the blanking out.  So to say I can choose not to lose those memories as a result of a trigger isn't realistic. Believe me, I'd stop the memory loss if I could. Remembering helps me analyze and understand. 

This happens to be continuously. I think the damage to my brain caused by PTSD has damaged how memories are stored and how I process. 

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Talking about my "father" upsets me. I can feel my blood pressure rising. I gesture way more than I normally do. My voice gets louder. I use language I normally would not use.

Since I know this, and since I prefer to feel happy, I choose not to have any kind of relationship with my "father". Problem solved. I don't feel guilty. I don't feel bad that he's old and single and only one of his four children speaks to him. That's his fault. HE did it, not me. If he wanted a relationship with me he should have seen to it that we were fed, clothed, housed and educated. He did not, so therefore I owe him nothing. I will not cry when he dies and I will not attend the funeral. I will not feel guilt or regret because of HIS choices.

The key is I am not trying to get him to love me. I feel that's the root of why so many people have these kind of issues. Getting to the place of indifference is so liberating. But you have to want to get there and you have to do the work to get there. And it has to be deliberate and you will have to make an effort, probably daily or even hourly.

First off is refusing to allow her access to you. Just say no. Feel the guilt if you must, but again, guilt is not a summons or a subpoena. You can acknowledge it and then go on with your day.

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