Home Improvement Induced Anxiety – have you ever seen a post title like that one before? I wonder if this post is a first? Read on to better understand what I mean.
Painters are coming!
At the time this post publishes it will probably be about 1 hour shy of the arrival of house painters at our home. One half of my house will have been packed up and stripped bare in readiness and the other half of my house is now in cluttered chaos.
The end result of all of this will of course be fabulous – a freshly painted house indoors and outdoors (yes getting some of that done too). Meanwhile though, it is going to be a real test of my easily heightened menopausal anxiety! That’s embarrassing to say because that is not the Min I used to be but sadly it is my truth these days.
So I (and anyone else out there who lives with anxiety) don’t feel like a crazy person who is alone with this problem, here’s some evidence that Menopausal Anxiety is in fact a thing – here it is documented and explained by The Australian Menopause Centre. Also, interestingly just as I had decided to write on this topic the other day I saw an Instagram post by Shelly Horton (a journalist and TV personality here in Australia) where she shares that she is suffering with peri-menopausal induced depression and anxiety. We need to talk about these things much more so that we don’t feel alone and like we’re going crazy, and so that women are more broadly informed on what symptoms of peri-menopause/menopause might consist of. For instance, I thought menopause would involve some hot flushes, a few general mood swings, and maybe some itchy rashes on the skin, and voila – like magic you get to the other side and it’s all over red rover. I also had no idea that the whole process could go on for up to 10 years or so! Some women get through it without noticing much at all. Others (like myself) have a more challenging … um ‘journey’!
I need to add that actually it is ‘Peri-menopause‘, the transitional period leading to Menopause, that is the hard part. This is where the hormonal changes are happening and the symptoms, like anxiety, are more likely experienced. So in reality the anxiety I’m experiencing should be called ‘peri-menopausal anxiety’ but it’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it?! Menopause, of course, is the point when a woman has not had menstrual periods for at least 12 months. Post-menopause is the stage after menopause.
What is getting painted?
The rooms that make up the back half of the house were painted in late 2019/early 2020. It was all painted beautifully but was not without problems. It was in fact very stressful, which doesn’t help me at this time. Here’s something I posted to Facebook at the time once we were out the other side and order was restored.
The painters we had used were the same ones that painted our kitchen and dining room after we had the new kitchen installed. They were fabulous when they did the kitchen/dining – in and out quickly and did a fabulous job. When we got them back next time they were supposed to do the entire indoors of the house and the exteriors (eg. fascias, eaves, gutters, etc) but we called time out as they were causing too much stress due to delays by not turning up when they were supposed to and days and days going by with no-one here doing the job while we were living in packed up cluttered chaos.
Now it’s time to bite the bullet and get the rest done – all the rooms in the front half of the house that didn’t get done (so, the master bedroom, ensuite and walk in robe, the lounge room, my study, the entry, and the garage) and the exteriors. They will be asked to do the indoors first, starting with the Master bedroom etc.
Are we getting the same painters back? Why yes we are! I know! Seems crazy! BUT The Tennis Player decided to give them another chance. Let’s hope they prove they are worth the second chance. They offer the best pricing we’ve come across. They do a good paint job, and the owner promises all the staff problems have been sorted out. Trust me, if there are any problems this time around, never ever again!
Why will this test my anxiety levels?
There are many reasons!
Before the painters have even arrived my anxiety levels have elevated far too much, for example:
- Overthinking how anxious the whole process will make me (thinking ahead & catastrophizing instead of staying present in the now).
- The extra work by having to pack up several rooms, working out where to put everything, what I’ll need access to, and the clutter & chaos caused.
- Worry about the animals (1 dog, 2 cats) escaping and having to limit their access in the house and keep constant watch on them.
- Hoping we don’t have the same problems and delays with the painters as last time.
- Concern about not getting enough quiet time to myself that I usually need.
At the time of typing this (Thursday 8 April) my anxiety has at times almost reached panic levels. Not fun but it made me realise that I needed to take some time to think over some strategies and ways to help myself through this. It also led to the decision to write about this topic for next Monday’s post, schedule it to publish on Monday, and then close down the computer and step away from blogging until the house is back to normal (apart from some posts to Instagram which will feed through to FB & Twitter). My computer will be packed away along with the rest of my study/office area!
Anxiety isn’t about being nervous or shy. It’s your body existing in a physiological and mental state of emergency in the absence of danger.
Once the painters start:
- I love my privacy and I’m not fond of having strangers in my home from 7am every morning till dark at night for extended periods.
- Cluttered home = cluttered mind for me. Cluttered mind = stress/anxiety.
- I’ll need to sleep on a sofa bed in the spare room surrounded in clutter most likely – at least for 2-3 nights?
- Not having easy access to my clothes and things.
- The need to be on constant alert to keep two indoor cats and a dog safe from escape.
- Noise and inability to get the quiet down time I need in my days.
- The difficulty in getting my much needed alone time.
- Unable to follow my normal daily routine.
Finishing the painting is something that needs to be done and so I’m just going to have to find strategies to help me survive this short (hopefully) period of time. Here’s some strategies I plan to use to help me through this time.
What strategies will help manage my anxiety through this time?
- Try and get out of the house and away from the chaos at least once every day
- Take the dog for walks
- Borrow my son’s noise cancelling headphones when I need some quiet
- Calming guided meditations when I can
- Get outside in the sunshine by the pool
- Practice mindfulness when I can
- Focus on the end result (visualise freshly painted rooms and everything back in place and order restored – more so than before!)
- Gratitude (grateful we can afford to get it done, grateful that a great deal of indoors has already been done)
- Lighten my load – e.g. no more writing for the blog after this post has been written and scheduled until the house is restored back to normal (although freshly painted)
- Find a way to feel a sense of control and order in the clutter & chaos
- Try and find the humour in it all!
- Accept my anxiety and get on with it.
Anxiety isn’t weakness. Living with anxiety, turning up and doing stuff with anxiety, takes a strength most will never know.
There’s no choice but to get through this time. It’s up to me to find and use strategies to help myself cope during the process. In the meantime, I may be slow to reply to comments and to read and comment on other blogs and there may not be another blog post here for a while (at least until things here return a bit more to normal and my computer is unpacked and study/office restored).
Postscript (written on Saturday 10 April)
It’s Saturday 10 April and I felt compelled to update this post because I’m feeling a little differently to when I wrote it on Thursday 8 April. I spent much of yesterday (Friday) packing up rooms and will be doing more today and tomorrow in readiness for the arrival of the painters on Monday. At this point in time, as I look around at the emptying rooms, I’m feeling more optimistic. I’m less anxious and more excited about the prospect of freshly painted clean rooms. In the process of packing I’m finding things I’d forgotten or lost, I’m washing things, and I’m cleaning things. Before everything goes back I will do a cull and get rid of as much as I can to reduce clutter. It’s actually quite a cleansing process and in the long run will be totally worth any anxiety caused.
It goes to show that Anxiety can be a moving feast. My anxiety was worse before anything had actually happened. This is in a large part due to ‘overthinking’ everything. When you accept your anxiety and do what you have to do anyway, it can help relieve it. My anxiety levels are bound to go up again when the painters arrive but I’m guessing that as I see progress and the end in sight my anxiety will start to ease again. Anxiety is not something that can be fixed and then go away forever. It’s something you have to learn to live with, and by understanding it you can better manage living with it.
Midlife friends – have you noticed anxiety that you never used to have before? Does having tradespeople in your home along with clutter and chaos cause you stress and/or anxiety too? Have a great week and I’ll be back on the blog again soon.
Ciao for now,