It Could be Something Bigger Underlying
I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and says with a smile, “I can’t wait to tidy my house today!” Life is busy for everyone and messes happen. Clutter collects and so do dirt and dust. Whether or not you can afford a cleaning service, things still need to be tidied up and wiped up after a while. Especially if you live with a large family and/or children.
My personal mission with Clean in Vogue is to help as I say, “take the dirt out of the cleaning process” while giving you more “confidence, safety, and joy” in it as well.
As boring as cleaning can seem, it can have some very real negative repercussions on the spirit and mental health of many people.
Here’s my story of how bad it got for me and what I learned to stay out of a very bad place in my own home –
When my firstborn was about three (3) years old, I worked a full-time corporate job where I got up five days a week, put on a suit and makeup, and went into an office or client appointments in an office setting. My husband at the time worked a full-time job as well and had a commute, plus many working weekends in his industry in town and away or traveling.
Then I became pregnant with our second child. My first pregnancy was a breeze quite frankly so I kind of assumed (ignorantly now looking back) that my second pregnancy would go the same.
At seven weeks I stopped experiencing the “symptoms” of being pregnant, like being sensitive to smells, tired at 7 PM, little nausea, cravings, etc. I said to my husband, “it’s weird – I don’t even feel pregnant!” Three weeks later I started spotting. Uh oh….
I went to my OB, she did her examination. She broke the news to me that I had a miss carriage. She said quite a matter of fact, “this is very common…..it’s nature’s way of not bringing in a deformed child into the world…you’ll get pregnant again. You’re young!” She gave me two choices, one: to have a procedure in the hospital where they extract everything from my uterus OR what she recommended as more beneficial to my body and that was to take a pill and have the baby and everything come out of me at home. I took her recommendation and then she left the room.
I remember feeling not very well taken care of from a mental health standpoint. Nothing against my doctor, but at the time, they didn’t offer or recommend counseling or any kind of a support group. Nobody talked about miss carriage, although she gave me some super high percentage of women who miss carrying at least one child in an attempt to make me realize this is “normal”.
Even if it was “normal” it was devastating to me.
Well, I took a week off work to “wait” for the baby to come out of me. I planted black flowers (they were actually dark purple but they looked black) in our front yard garden. I cried and cried realizing that I loved that baby as much as my first child who I had the gift of “knowing” with my eyes, hands, and heart taking care of her every day. Those little pills they gave me to make the baby come out made me (unexpectedly) go into full fledge labor. So I had to birth a deceased child. It was terrible. I had to reflect back on the fact that I had been carrying around a dead baby for three weeks because after week 7 the baby lost its heartbeat and I didn’t know it until week 11 when I spotted and ended up in my doctor’s office.
I had one of my close friends call around to cemeteries to see if my baby could be cremated so I didn’t have to flush it down the toilet. Believe it or not, they said, yes, we do that.
This was hard grieving.
Then I went back to work. Wore a smile and hid my loss.
Thirty days later I was in the grocery store to get some things to entertain an out-of-town guest coming in the next day. I was in line and my heart started beating what felt like 100 miles an hour, my palms got all sweaty, I felt like the store was closing in on me and everything and everybody felt like they were moving in slow motion. I set my basket down and left the store walking briskly to the dry cleaners down at the other end of the strip mall.
I needed to use the phone to call my husband because I really thought I might be having a heart attack. This was before cell phones were in mainstream existence. I got my husband on the phone and he was across town at a friend’s house so he urged me to drive home as it was only a mile away. At the moment that felt close to impossible, but I did it anyway.
By the time I got home, I was hyperventilating and close to passing out so I dialed 911. When the paramedics first arrived, they thought I was on drugs.
Then they realized I wasn’t on anything. They put me in the ambulance, and I ended up in the emergency room where the ER physician ran a battery of tests.
He came in an hour or two later and said with a smile, “well, Mrs. Sperry – nothing’s wrong with your heart or anything else we tested for.”
I said, “what? What happened then??” He said, “you had a panic attack.” Then he asked me, “do you have a lot of stress in your life right now?”
I go, “nooooo” and I laughed. I said, “I didn’t have a panic attack. I’m not that stressed.”
He said, “yes you did, and I recommend you make an appointment with a therapist on Monday.”
I still didn’t really believe him. I was the kind of person who overachieved pretty much anything I set my mind to. I “had my act together,” or so I constantly tried to appear that way.
Nevertheless, I trusted the medical doctor enough to take his advice. I got into therapy that week.
One of her first three questions was, “have you had any major loss in your life lately?”
I said, “hmmmm……yes……I had a miscarriage about a month ago.” She goes, “oh. Well, that explains a lot.” Again, I felt surprised to hear that. I thought I had coped quite thoroughly, healthily, and intentionally with losing my baby. I had quite a bit of support from family and my closest friends.
America doesn’t give people much time to grieve like other countries. Part of our culture back then and even somewhat now was to move on…accept death and keep on being productive!
So I visited the therapist for several weeks in a row for 1-hour sessions, and she taught me the mind-body connection; how the mind or brain triggers adrenalin to flow through the body as a protective mechanism. She advised me to get off of coffee (caffeine) temporarily, which I did. And she taught me how to “ride out” the very scary adrenalin rushes while I was learning how to calm my anxiety over time through therapy, exercise, periods of relaxation, and self-care. So the next time I was somewhere (typically in a public place) and the anxiety would surface and my heartbeat started speeding up, to tell myself,
“This is the adrenalin flowing and it will pass……it will pass, it’s okay, this is your body trying to help.” I slowly became pretty good at riding these rushes and eventually through a combination of intentional “healing” they went away altogether.
She taught me that unhealed loss will lay “dormant” in the subconscious and can come out in indirect mind/body experiences like a panic attack.
I learned so much. And I decided, well, maybe when I get better, I can help someone else. And I have helped more than one friend understand the mind-body connection and the role of adrenalin. One of my friends was having panic attacks while driving and then it escalated so far as she became incapable of driving on highways and then eventually not able to drive at all! She was a high school Spanish teacher and this was a major inconvenience. It affected her young children in the back seat while she was completely freaking out in fear. I helped her. She got a therapist and cured herself.
What does this have to do with cleaning you ask? 😊
I remember I would walk into my house around this time in my life….every night after work at about 5:30, set my purse down and look around the house and ask myself,
- Why does my house always seem messy?
- Why doesn’t my house look as clean and organized as Lucy’s, (who had more money, more time, and more help than I, by the way)
- How am I going to do all this by myself?
- Why can’t I do a better job keeping my house clean and put together?
- What if someone wants to stop by – I am too tired to do all this
Then I would just feel like lowering my head in defeat. I never talked about it to anyone. It was just a personal struggle. My house wasn’t even THAT messy or dirty! I just had this constant expectation of myself that I wasn’t meeting up to.
I shared self-awareness with my therapist who was helping me through the panic attack healing/management. She said, “Carey, it’s like you are standing with your back against the wall and if you move two inches to the left or two inches to the right then everything is going to fall apart!”
I said, “yes! That’s exactly how I feel.”
She said, “you gotta stop this negative self-talk.”
I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself by questioning myself every day and then getting down on myself for not doing a better job with all the other responsibilities I had at the time.
As soon as you hear yourself beating yourself up, you reverse the statement to a positive one. For example instead of “what a mess this place looks like and I shouldn’t let it get this way,” say instead, “I do my best with what I have to work with.”
Then, plan small action steps to support the positive affirmation. Acknowledge what you do. Recognize and applaud yourself for what you DO do. And as you attempt to add anything on or ASK someone in your inner circle for help or motivation or tips, then acknowledge that progress.
What this does is give the brain positive reinforcement and even scientific dopamine hits. This re-trains the subconscious to see, feel and believe the positive, instead of the negative, defeating feelings.
Are you negatively self-talking?
Try to reverse the statements or questions of yourself. Then keep doing it every day, every week, and all month.
Comment below if you notice a difference in how you feel and what energy comes from it.
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