I hardly ever watch the news. The news is a trigger for intrusive thoughts. My brain goes crazy with horrible thoughts of things happening to me and/or my family when I watch it, so I don't. I’m told that this is fairly common as a mother. I cling to this so I don't feel completely crazy.
But social media is a different story. I want updates on my friends, but seeing those updates means sorting through stories of happenings from all over the world. Over the last month my news feeds have been full of sad, very scary things. I began having intense intrusive thoughts because of what I was glancing over to get to the personal stuff. I’ll admit I clicked on a few articles, and that definitely didn’t help. Horrible scenes were playing out in my mind. Whether my eyes were open or shut, I was seeing whatever my imagination was conjuring up based on what I was reading on Facebook or Twitter.
The thoughts primarily centered on something happening at my eldest son’s school. I slowly realized I was having to talk myself out of keeping my son home from school. I panicked when I dropped him off. I felt paralyzed. My mind was foggy and I was having panic attacks and felt like I was having a never-ending heart attack from the stress and anxiety the thoughts gave me.
Then, last Saturday, I was sitting in a parking lot watching people go about their day. All I could do was watch them and think, “These people have no idea something horrible is about to happen.”
I never think like this. For the first time in my life, I made a call to my therapist on a weekend. I was scared of the way I was thinking.
My therapist put me at ease when she said she’s had several mothers come into her office lately who are all worried about similar things as me. She reminded me that they are just thoughts and suggested I distract myself and tell myself that in this moment I am safe when the thoughts got really bad. And pull myself from social media. Which I’ve tried doing. Sort of. Just talking to my therapist about my thoughts helped me out of the fog I felt trapped in but it’s nice to be reminded that pulling away from social media very now and then can be beneficial.
I felt better after that phone call, but I guess the universe decided it wasn’t enough. Apparently I needed more than a chat with my therapist to get my brain back on track because both my boys came down with colds the next day. The day after that, I took my youngest to the doctor because he was working too hard to breathe.
This was nothing new or scary to me. What is a normal cold for the average child/person typically turns right into bronchiolitis for L and nebulizer treatments are usually in order.
L’s blood-oxygen level was low when we arrived and didn’t improve with the nebulizer treatment the nurse gave him. We needed to be taken by ambulance (a first for both me and L) to the ER at Spotsylvania Hospital. There, his oxygen level still wasn’t stabilizing so we were taken -- by ambulance once again -- to Mary Washington for admittance, because apparently Spotsy didn’t have a pediatrician on staff for us to be admitted there.
L and I spent Monday night through Wednesday morning in the hospital. It was the first time L had to be admitted to the hospital for his bronchiolitis. My intrusive thoughts dissipated as I focused on the oxygen numbers on the monitor he was attached to during the majority of his stay and worrying about his brother, who I’d said, “See you in a few hours!” to when dropping him off at Granma’s for cookie decorating right before L’s pediatrician appointment.
Now that I’m focusing on nursing both boys back to health (G still has the cold and L, oh poor L, has bronchiolitis and an ear infection) and get ready for Santa’s arrival later this week, I find my head isn’t consumed by the intrusive thoughts. They’re there, but I’m having a much easier time letting them pass now.
I definitely wouldn’t have chosen sick kids, ambulance rides, and two nights in the hospital as a way to distract myself, but I’m glad they’ve given me the means to quiet my brain enough to enjoy the fun parts of Christmastime.