Saturday, August 02, 2008

What I would like is sympathy, not help.

I'm starting to feel that I need to begin conversations with that sentence. I don't share my fears and concerns with people very often because ..... well, because people seem to want to help me when I do and I don't usually want help. I want is someone to listen to me, to make sympathetic noises and nod in an understanding manner and saying things like "I think that is a normal way to feel given the circumstances." I don't want them to tell me what I should do about it, unless I say "What do you think I should do about it?" I appreciate help, when I ask for it but sometimes you just need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to bend, you know?

The same people who were offering me the advice are also the same people I listen to with sympathy when they are talking about their problems. They just want someone to listen too, and I do. I'm good at listening, not so good at advice. Most of them have said at one point or another that they like talking with me because I just listen and don't offer them advice. Yet, I can't seem to get the same response from them.

Right now I have this fear that I am dealing with and it causes me moments of great anxiety and I want someone to listen and tell me it's normal to be anxious about these things and everything will probably be ok. To say they have felt that way & it's ok to feel that way. Mayhem is having his tonsils out on Wednesday and, I know, it's just tonsils, a common, ordinary, garden variety operation that thousands of people have had with no problems. But what if Mayhem does? What if something goes wrong with my baby? I can barely bring myself to type that, it frightens me so much. I know the odds are better for winning the lottery, I know it is a simple operation being performed by someone who done hundreds & never had a problem. But WHAT IF?

eta*** I'm not constantly anxious about the surgery. It just hits me occasionally, a few times a day, lasts a couple minutes and then goes away. Usually when I am thinking about surgery related things, like grocery lists of soft foods he can eat after it.

What I wanted was a hug and some sympathy. What I got ranged from "Maybe you should see your doc for some Zoloft." to "You have no control over it, so just stop worrying about it." All well meant, by people who are moms or step-moms themselves.

I don't really think I need Zoloft for what is an entirely situational anxiety. When the doc comes out of surgery Wednesday and tells me everything is fine, the anxiety will go away. I know this from previous experience with my own surgeries and assorted invasive dental procedures. Going on anti-anxiety meds seems a bit excessive in this case. And anyway, the 2 times I have tried anti-anxiety meds (for insomnia) they made me extremely anxious and I'm not eager to repeat the experience.

"Just stop worrying about it" felt she was doing the 'tough love' thing for my own good. She believes there is just no point in wasting time & energy worrying about things you can't control. It's perfectly ok to worry about an upcoming test, the results are within your control, but it's ridiculous to worry about an operation because you can do nothing to affect the outcome. It's a perfectly reasonable way to look at the world but to me it sounds like telling a depressed person to cheer up. Was she expecting me to say "Gosh! Just stop worrying about it! That never occurred to me."?

What helps me deal with fear & anxiety is knowing I am not alone in feeling it. Knowing other people are sometimes afraid of the same things, that others stay up at night worrying about what I do, that I am normal for feeling that way, helps me not feel that way. I worry not just about whatever it is that worries me, but also about whether it's wrong for me to worry. No one else is worried. There must be something wrong with me for worrying. Maybe I do need the Zoloft? That's the thing that bothered me most. Not one of them said anything about ever feeling this way themselves. It's not as if we haven't shared our fears about our kids before, we've talked about a myriad of worrying things happen to our kids. But today all I got was advice - it's nothing to worry about and you need meds if you are worrying. I was a bit disappointing.

What I really wanted was hug.

Am I not supposed to be anxious about this? Is there something wrong with me? Do I need meds? Any advice would be appreciated - and I mean that because I am asking for it. Do you worry about things like this or am I overreacting - I really want to know.


Tara @ Feels like home said...

I think it's totally normal to be anxious when your baby is having surgery. It sounds like you are having a pretty extreme response, though, and it might be interfering with your daily life. I wish you the best. I'm sure that everything will be just fine.

Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

I think it is perfectly normal and that the problems you have with others not offering the sympathy is because they just don't want to admit that they do not always have it all together either.
I always overreact when it comes to my kids. There are certainly worse "character flaws"...

Take care!

Nic said...

Your anxiety is perfectly normal, you *sound* pretty good in the circumstances...I'd be up the wall.

I can totally relate to both what you say about the 'help' thing (I feel a little dismissed when people just offer a glib solution - oh, hey, hadn't thought of that, there's me worrying about nothing AGAIN)...and also the anxiety meds...only managed a couple of days each on meds for PPD and REALLY felt like it was time to haul me in somewhere nice and soft and quiet.

I wish your little one and you luck over the coming days and hope for a swift, bouncy recovery.

WkSocMom said...

I'm so sorry-it's such a common thing, to want sympathy not help, and I have to force myself to give that to my husband rather than try to help him sometimes.

It's your baby, perfectly natural to be worried. I would think the only reason for medication (in this case, not every case of course) is if the worry consumed you, made you unable to function while waiting.

My son recently got his tonsils out - I was so worried, but like you it would sneak up on me, was not constant. I would worry about any surgery, and since he rarely gets sick (out for a different reason), I worried that this would alter his whole system somehow. It's totally normal to be worried. It was a huge weight off when it was done and he was fine. The only change - his voice was a little higher :) but snoring totally gone.

I was glad my husband was not worried at all, but he never told me not to worry. It did help to talk to people.