This is the saga of “Dad’s Walking Stick”. In my Update 6 I told of how I managed to use an image of my worry beads in my head to diffuse an anxiety attack. This saga shows how effective this technique has come on. It starts with my parents almost achieving 60 years of marriage. To celebrate this my mother has organised a surprise for my father. Many years ago he was awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to scouting and this, as my mother found out, meant that he qualifies to get married in St Paul’s Cathedral, a bit late really! My mother armed with what he was entitled to, proceeded to negotiate with St Paul’s to see if they could re-new their vows. An exception was granted and the very kind gentleman also said their three children could attend and be witnesses.
When we last visited my parents my father said he had bought an antique walking stick to help him walk, however the cane has split. He asked if I could get my wood-turner to make a new cane to incorporate the “very comfortable” horn handle from the antique stick. I duly took the broken stick away with me and commissioned the replacement cane. I have not mentioned I have managed to do this as I am going to take the stick to London for the St Paul’s ceremony. I shall use the stick and hand it to him when we meet up.
Yesterday afternoon I was to pick up the stick as the ceremony is later this week. I don’t know how I did it but I completely forgot the time and was prompted by an email from the wood-turner that he could not wait any longer. He had left the stick with a neighbour to his workshop. I dashed out of the house and jumped in the car. I was worried that I might miss the neighbour as I know he only worked part time in his workshop. I hate letting people down and even more being late so my anxiety shot up. Knowing this was a dangerous situation as I was now behind the wheel of a sports car I breathed slowly and talked to myself coaching me to take it easy and not drive dangerously.
I arrived at the workshop, although my heart was racing, I was still in control. Any thought of worry beads was far from my thoughts, I was so focused on ensuring I got the stick safely in my hands for the trip in a few days. The neighbour was there and the stick leaning against a work table, I had it! I got back in the car and started to drive home. I suddenly realised that I had not picked up my rail tickets and I also needed a rubber stick end so that my father could use the walking stick after I gave it to him in London. It was now that the residual anxiety from getting to the workshop acted as a base to take my anxiety to a dangerous level with the new stresses I had forced on myself.
As I drove I became worst, my mind trying to prioritise how to achieve the additional tasks I had added to the days duties. It was not until I approached a queue for traffic lights that I looked over at the stick. The newly turned cane was made of oak and looked stunning. That briefest of glances reminded me of worry beads. I knew I could not touch the set in my pocket however I remembered my success at the dinner party. I created the image in my head as then and wow! I could actually feel my heart rate dropping. It was like I had turned on a switch of a magic chemical and my anxiety vanished.
Thinking back to when I used to see various psychologists and counsellors I remembered something that might explain what had happened. I was taught that if I became anxious I was to think of something nice to diffuse the attack. At the time it was a struggle to come up with anything that was good to diffuse myself with but end the end I used the image of my boys laughing. I am ashamed to admit I could not get this technique to work. Every time I had an anxiety attack I was so caught up in it I could not summon the emotional strength to create a positive image. I think I have worked out why an inanimate object such as the worry beads has worked and not the image of my two sons, who I love and are really important to me. The thing with my children is that they are part of my life, they are always there for good times, bad times and the routine. With the worry beads they exist in my life as a tool for my anxiety and depression. When I think of them I associate the feelings as “a switch” to make me relax. With the best of intentions not all the time do my boys make me relax, in fact sometimes they make me positively mad!
As I have said on many an occasion I have no medical of psychiatric training but I have paid attention to all the advice I have been given by professionals. It is the occasions when I can explain what the worry beads do with something I have been taught that I know worry beads are a really help to managing my anxiety and depression and I am not imagining it.
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The English Worry Bead Co