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Heightened anxiety since parent's death


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14 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

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.

Yes. This. This is what I was getting out too.  It's hard but it's one of the choices that I've seen bring people peace.  I'm glad you were able to do this for yourself.

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Dearest RR.
My heart goes out to you. I always believed that I understood anxiety until last spring and summer. While it's unfortunate that my body's automatic, involuntary responses to the slightest triggers kept me in a living hell for months, I am only now starting to feel a slight semblance of the 'normalcy' I'd enjoyed before.

I will, at least, never again glibly suggest that one 'should' simply master a mind-over-matter optimism as an instant cure, while implying that failing to do so is somehow a lack of decisive willpower.

Anxiety, with or without one's awareness of it or what has caused it, can be so physically devastating that it can actually mimic a heart attack.

I hope that you will respect your physical reactions well enough to reach for the help of a qualified professional. They're trained in this stuff, while the average lay person hasn't got a clue as to how debilitating and long-range such an affliction can be.

Please write more if it helps, and I'm holding you in my thoughts,
Cat

Edited by catfeeder
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4 hours ago, catfeeder said:

I will, at least, never again glibly suggest that one 'should' simply master a mind-over-matter optimism as an instant cure, while implying that failing to do so is somehow a lack of decisive willpower.

Me neither. It's perfectly fine to walk your own path.

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5 hours ago, catfeeder said:

I will, at least, never again glibly suggest that one 'should' simply master a mind-over-matter optimism as an instant cure, while implying that failing to do so is somehow a lack of decisive willpower.

That is not what I was suggesting at all.  I don't believe in that either. I too have had panic attacks, I suffered with a phobia for years that triggered irrational reactions and anxiety and the whole gamut and I wasn't suggesting mind over matter to breath -I was suggesting accepting all the feelings, doing what it takes to calm down and then later considering a choice of reactions -like boltnrun suggested -one choice is to cut contact, one choice is to acknowledge that a text that you interpret one way might be interpreted a different way -it takes work but not mind over matter and pretending that the overhwelming anxiety isn't there.  That's awful advice and not what I meant. 

It's not about willpower either.  Nothing to do with that.  I cannot stand when people just told me to ignore the irrational thoughts and my anxious feelings.  Awful advice. Not what I wrote or meant.

I didn't seek therapy for my phobia but what I suggested above -not what you wrote that I suggested -often is part of the approach in dealing with a panic attack and then moving forward when you're calm and figuring out what choices to make in advance and reach for them.  In this case one choice might be as Bolt suggested to cut off contact since it's a specific situation triggering as opposed to a phobia which might be broader reaching into daily life (like mine was at times).

It doesn't make the feelings go away, but it might let the person breath a bit, it might make the person pause to stop the escalation into the heart attack feeling.  It's an awful experience and feeling and I hope the OP gets professional help.

To me the strength part is in acknowledging the issue, one, then seeking help whether professional or otherwise from trusted and good sources.

Edited by Batya33
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47 minutes ago, Seraphim said:

Sometimes anxiety reaches a height were medical intervention is needed and the OP is probably at that point . 

I wouldn't have made it to where I am now without two things: professional help and being near enough that I could see my family. I was living alone 300 miles from my family. I truly believe I'd still be huddled on my couch in the fetal position if I hadn't reached out to the service provided by my medical insurance and said clearly that I needed help. My anxiety was debilitating enough that I was placed on a temporary medical disability. With professional help and support of my family, I made it through.

Also, avoiding triggers until you have worked with a professional to learn ways to deal with your guilt and anxiety is key. Your mother will always be a source of pain. Your interactions with her will always be upsetting. So for now, cutting her off would be a healthy thing to do.

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There seems to be a number of things going on and when you are in an anxious cycle, telling someone to simply stop it or choose differently isn't helpful.

I appreciate some of the responses and for those who suffer from anxiety can relate.  Once you are an anxious cycle, you are in a hypervigilant state and your ability to cope with life stressors is very difficult.

I am glad you've reached out to your physician, and I hope you get the support you very much need during this time.   It helps to acknowledge that a lot of what you are feeling is normal.  We are often hard enough on ourselves that we can't just will the intense, often crazy thinking to stop.  Hearing that same message adds to a certain amount of shame that we can't do better.  It's times like this we need to reach out for help.

Edited by reinventmyself
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Thank you, everyone. I really appreciate the kind help. 

I am indeed in a state of hypervigilance and whilst breathing exercises etc might be helpful during mild episodes, the anxiety I am experiencing is not mild at all. I'm way past the stage where I can acknowledge my reaction and "choose to react differently". I wish I could, but this is not the right type of context. Sure, if my dad was still alive and no shock had taken place, I would gladly apply the "manage your reaction" bit, but we're way way past that, unfortunately. The reason being, my anxiety triggered by different factors, not just my mother reaching out to me to "suggest" something which is in reality an actual request etc. 

The factors being:

  • I work a very stressful job which in itself is an anxiety trigger
  • My dad died unexpectedly and I never got the chance to say goodbye and I got thrown into the deep end right off the bat with being forced to having to reconnect with my abusive mother when I thought I had left this toxicity in the past - it's bound to re-open some untreated wounds that I was not ready to revisit
  • I am the oldest in the family and all the administrative burden is falling on me because my mother is incapable of even finding her ID for the required paperwork, let alone sort anything out (she can't read, write or drive, so forget about her assisting with anything). I'm literally drowning under the administrative burden on top of everything else. It's like dealing with a fourth teenager (the other 3 being my siblings)
  • Because of the above, I've had to set my grief aside to support everyone around me, but I've been getting zero support from anyone in return, just growing demands. 

I am not trying to victimize myself or throw myself a pity party, but my life shifted instantly. I just feel overwhelmed and literally anything additional equals more pressure in my eyes, regardless of what it is. When you have heightened anxiety, you are in a state of constant panic, like a pressure-cooker waiting to explode. 

For 6 years, I lived a peaceful life without any toxicity and solely focused on work, then to suddenly have toxicity and pressure emanating from every angle of my life, it is a pretty traumatic transition. This combined with the fact that I do not have any friends or partner to provide support and spend most of my days alone dealing with all this. It's bound to translate into one thing or another mental health wise. 

As far as pleasing my mother goes - that's where the misconception occurred. I'm not doing all this to please her. If I wanted to please her, you can rest assured, I wouldn't have cut her off cold turkey 6 years ago. I'm doing all of this out of duty because no one else in the family can do this and my siblings can't handle this because they're too young. I'm doing this out of duty, rather than an inherent need to please or be liked. My siblings may not be my responsibility (and I agree), but it doesn't mean I want them to suffer with no one to turn to to sort my dad's estate out. 

If I had an uncle / aunt / older sibling etc, I probably wouldn't have bothered, but my mom is estranged from her whole family except two siblings who live overseas, so not extended family to rely on either. It's a pretty difficult situation to navigate. 

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15 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

I am not trying to victimize myself or throw myself a pity party

I hope you don't think that anyone thinks you are doing any of the above. Personally, I think you are doing just fine considering the circumstances. I hope that you start feeling better faster than you expect. I'm sending you positive energy from my corner of the world. 

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1 hour ago, reinventmyself said:

There seems to be a number of things going on and when you are in an anxious cycle, telling someone to simply stop it or choose differently isn't helpful.

Completely agree.  I am not sure if this was referring to my input. I did not advise the OP to make a different choice as far as not choosing to feel what she feels -I know when I had anxiety I had to come up with ways to make a different choice preventatively since I was aware of the triggers - and to make a different choice when triggered.  For example, choosing to do 4-7-8 breathing when triggered by my irrational phobia was a choice that helped me manage my anxious reaction especially if I was in a public place or couldn't get to a private place (being in public and feeling that way made the reaction so much worse).  Once I could make myself choose 4-7-8 breathing sometimes I would get myself to a calmer place where I could then choose a different reaction to the trigger (like for me hearing that someone else had a stomach virus at the office would trigger me but I still had to stay at work or maybe even be around the coworker who was feeling ill).  

And sometimes I had to choose to prevent the trigger -for example, I said no to an important company event because it involved going on an evening cruise on choppy water. I was a new employee, it was important for me to go, I'd never had motion sickness but I knew if I even felt off I'd react with anxiety -not in my control - and I couldn't deal with what I would do next in front of my new coworkers.  So at the end I didn't go.  And one of my new coworkers shamed me for not going (no I didn't share about my phobia).  Yes, I could have told myself -if I get triggered I'll do my breathing, find a restroom, etc but I would have felt trapped on the boat.  It was my choice to balance the risks and benefits of being triggered and the range of choices I would have had.

That's similar to you choosing to go see your mother.  You knew in advance you would likely be triggered by what she said or did - being triggered just happens -you dont' choose that..  You felt it was important for you to go and more important than feeling anxious. 

So my input was, having made that choice -the risk of being triggered - you also had the opportunity in advance -when you're calm -to come up with ways to deescalate the anxious, panicky feeling like "if I feel myself getting upset by something she said I will [walk away/leave/breathe]" whatever. 

Sometimes planning in advance what do if you are triggered (which you can't control) can help the anxious feeling.  Like you know texts can trigger you - even though it's irrational sometimes - so you can choose to put the phone away, to silence notifications from family members and then look at them when you're feeling calm/stronger. Or cut them out completely as Bolt suggested.  

I hope you seek professional help and find a good therapist!

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Two questions:

You said one of your brothers is 25. That's not "too young". I handled my mother's affairs when I was 19. I thought he just wasn't doing anything to help rather than being too young.  Is that not correct?

Why don't you have any friends? This question is not to belittle, make fun of or accuse you. It's a legitimate question. I have friends, albeit none of them live nearby but we communicate frequently via electronic means. I had to cut off my local friends because all of them are connected to a toxic ex, but I made friends in my new city, primarily at my work place. They are a great means of support. Have you just not met anyone at all? 

Actually, one more question...your mom is completely unable to read? How is she able to operate a phone if she can't read her contacts list?

I agree, severe anxiety does not allow you to just choose to react differently. It's completely debilitating. 

Are you actively receiving professional help?

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5 hours ago, boltnrun said:

Two questions:

You said one of your brothers is 25. That's not "too young". I handled my mother's affairs when I was 19. I thought he just wasn't doing anything to help rather than being too young.  Is that not correct?

Why don't you have any friends? This question is not to belittle, make fun of or accuse you. It's a legitimate question. I have friends, albeit none of them live nearby but we communicate frequently via electronic means. I had to cut off my local friends because all of them are connected to a toxic ex, but I made friends in my new city, primarily at my work place. They are a great means of support. Have you just not met anyone at all? 

Actually, one more question...your mom is completely unable to read? How is she able to operate a phone if she can't read her contacts list?

I agree, severe anxiety does not allow you to just choose to react differently. It's completely debilitating. 

Are you actively receiving professional help?

Correct. My brother is 25. I wasn't referring to him because the issue is that he doesn't want to partake in any of the paperwork despite my requests, so I'm not factoring him in the equation at this point. He spends his days sleeping (presumably because he's struggling emotionally). I asked him to do a few things before my visit and he only did one thing and left the rest hanging. I told my mother on countless occasions he needs to step up, but all she does is say he won't do anything. There comes a point where I might as well absorb the burden myself than to parent a 25 year old and his mother which is far more draining the paperwork itself. He saw my dad die in front of him and experienced another traumatic event a few months prior to my dad's death, so I'm trying not to push too much. 

My 20 year old sister helps when I ask for minor things here and there, but the main chunk is on my shoulders really. 

That's the reason why they tried to find me when my dad died and I was in no contact. My mom told me they were panicking over how they would handle all the paperwork and my brother said he'd track me down and find me, so that I could handle the paperwork. They were blocked from all angles from my end at that point. They basically only tracked me down because they were stuck with the paperwork and didn't know who to turn to. This was my mom's own admission when I visited last week. The worst part is I'm doing all this paperwork and having all this stress added to my plate, but I'm getting peanuts from all this as my dad left it all to my mother (cash in the house, cash in the bank, car, house and even life insurance ... all under her sole name) and yet she wants me to absorb some of my dad's debts with my own money. I have no skin in the game. I don't care much about the money or any kind of inheritance, but ultimately, I'm only doing all of this for their benefit, not mine. 

She is unable to read and write. She can recognize phone numbers and contact names, but that's about it. She can't text me or anything of the sort. I get second-handed texts through my siblings. She just knows where to click to call someone with her landline and that's about it. 

I had friends and a great network until COVID hit, then people moved and it was a bit difficult to keep in touch during lockdown, so that's how I ended up all alone. I've always been a bit of an introvert, but I'm quite a personable individual. Maintaining relationships, especially at a distance due to COVID was a bit too difficult for me. 

I went to the GP yesterday, but I'm now looking for a therapist because I've been to a few over here in the past and didn't really find a good match. I'm doing my research at the moment. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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4 minutes ago, RuedeRivoli said:

They basically only tracked me down because they were stuck with the paperwork and didn't know who to turn to..... The worst part is I'm doing all this paperwork and having all this stress added to my plate, but I'm getting peanuts from all this as my dad left it all to my mother (cash in the house, cash in the bank, car, house and even life insurance

So, why are you doing this?

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On 2/14/2022 at 8:35 PM, melancholy123 said:

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.

I'm really sorry for your loss and what you experienced. I was really horrified when I read your post yesterday. This is a whole different level - insensitive is a severe understatement. Truly awful words coming from someone who is meant to protect you. 

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You are taking responsibility for things that are not your responsibility -- two of your siblings are over 18 and live in the house. They can help your mother or not, that is their decision and it will affect how and where they live. You said you have no skin in the game and they are trying to get money out of you in order to pay off debt -- that is unacceptable. You are being used, this is in no way your responsibility, and  I know you think this is your father's legacy but really, it is you trying to control a situation you cannot. If they end up spending all the money stupidly, if they all fight and break up, if they all live there forever and never move out -- not your problem. Block everyone, do not do one more thing, and go to therapy. This is totally not working. 

 

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3 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

So, why are you doing this?

Well, now I committed myself to doing it as I gave her my word before her admission and before I realized even the life insurance stipulated her as the only beneficiary. I don't care about the life insurance, but I feel cheated now. Not because I'm not getting money, but because she admitted that they tracked me down for the paperwork to be sorted. I'm already far too involved in the process to back-track at this point. 

She asked me to do the paperwork for her own retirement benefits this upcoming summer and that's where I draw the line. Sorting out supposedly "complex" estate paperwork following my dad's death fine, but I won't spent my entire life doing her paperwork on top of this when she has three other adults living with her (18, 20 and 25). She even asked me to go and renew her own passport when I was there and was begging me to stay longer. She has my brother to do that type of stuff, which I politely reminded her when I declined. 

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17 minutes ago, arjumand said:

You are taking responsibility for things that are not your responsibility -- two of your siblings are over 18 and live in the house. They can help your mother or not, that is their decision and it will affect how and where they live. You said you have no skin in the game and they are trying to get money out of you in order to pay off debt -- that is unacceptable. You are being used, this is in no way your responsibility, and  I know you think this is your father's legacy but really, it is you trying to control a situation you cannot. If they end up spending all the money stupidly, if they all fight and break up, if they all live there forever and never move out -- not your problem. Block everyone, do not do one more thing, and go to therapy. This is totally not working. 

 

Agree 100%. 

I'm not absorbing a single debt unless absolutely critical. I made that very clear when I told them how they could revise their spending to pay off the remaining debt and offset certain items.

She has her own money coming in every month, my dad's retirement, his cash, his bank account, his life insurance soon, his car which they can sell for a good 5-10K as it's just sitting there parked in front of the house, refunds from mortgage overpayments etc.. Plus she doesn't have to worry about my siblings because they all live under her roof and each have money coming in on a monthly basis. She can't tell me she can't afford to pay a 500 tax bill. Instead of paying her 500 tax bill or a portion of it, she forked another 250 to add some additional decorations done on my dad's grave when the grave is absolutely fine as it is. It could have waited an additional couple of months until she cleared the remaining debts and while everyone in my dad's family insisted to contribute because they're his family, she refused because she said she wants people to know she's the one who paid for it because it belongs to her. What kind of logic is this? 

It's just poor money management and poor decision making. 

None of what they're doing makes any sense and I'm getting the short end of the stick by being expected to write-off money I worked hard towards to benefit them and drain my mental health in the process. She is literally going to drain me of all the things I worked so hard to accomplish when during these 6 years of no-contact. I'm really worried to be honest. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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15 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

What would be the consequences?

That it all comes to a halt and the money they're due to get will be left up in the air because I'm the one in touch with the various stakeholders and filing all the paperwork. 

Edited by RuedeRivoli
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What exactly has your mother done for you that obligates you to sacrifice your health, well being and finances for her?

Have you looked into codependency? 

I presume your doctor gave you a list of professionals you can contact for mental health counseling. IMO, this cannot wait. Your mother's phone calls can wait. She isn't going to be tossed into the street today. Please make an appointment. This situation is not sustainable.

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Just now, boltnrun said:

What exactly has your mother done for you that obligates you to sacrifice your health, well being and finances for her?

Have you looked into codependency? 

I presume your doctor gave you a list of professionals you can contact for mental health counseling. IMO, this cannot wait. Your mother's phone calls can wait. She isn't going to be tossed into the street today. Please make an appointment. This situation is not sustainable.

No, she did not. She said I should consult a psychologist, but didn't provide me with a list, unfortunately. That's why I'm doing my research because I don't want to spend my money on the wrong therapist. I agree, it can't wait. I'm not feeling OK at all. 

My mother won't get tossed into the street for sure. She hasn't done anything for me, aside from placing burdens on me my whole life and torturing me emotionally (on top of beating me up every single day). She really does not deserve any of the efforts I'm putting in right now. That's part of the reason why my anxiety has kicked in. She literally does not deserve any of what my dad left her and on top of this, I'm the one suffering through the process of handing it to her. Ultimately, my siblings will profit from this, so I don't care but her on the other hand, is a different story. 

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Please make sure it doesn't take weeks to research. There are many websites that provide instant help along with referrals. If you're in the US you can find them online.

I don't think going on like this for weeks and weeks would turn out well for you.

And please be 100% honest with the psychologist. Don't minimize, downplay or insist things aren't that bad. They can't help you unless they know the truth.

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I'm sorry you're anxious. I just want to throw in here that I lost my Dad to a car accident when I was a child. Very unexpected. I still suffer from that trauma, and I would advise you to deal with it with a professional asap. I sadly addressed it later in life, when I should have dealt with it sooner. I get anxious if I don't hear from loved ones in an (to me) unreasonably long amount of time and my brain jumps to the worst scenario. I have since learned to ground myself, but am by no means a zen master. I've also learned that others are not responsible for my anxiety. Losing a parent unexpectedly is always horrible. I'm so sorry for your loss. 

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16 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

Please make sure it doesn't take weeks to research. There are many websites that provide instant help along with referrals. If you're in the US you can find them online.

I don't think going on like this for weeks and weeks would turn out well for you.

And please be 100% honest with the psychologist. Don't minimize, downplay or insist things aren't that bad. They can't help you unless they know the truth.

I'm not in the US, but I'm aiming to book something for next week. Even if I don't click with the therapist, it will be a first step. 

I keep telling myself I'm a strong person and I can handle this on my own, but that's part of my problem. I'd rather suffer than admit I need help because I had this fantasy in my head that I'm a strong person at all times (which is highly unrealistic). 

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