What to do When You Fear Someone You Love has Distanced Themselves from You

What to do When You Fear Someone You Love has Distanced Themselves from You

First, please take note of the choice of words within the title, ‘when you fear’. This is an important distinction to make from, ‘when someone you love has distanced themselves from you’. Hence, this is the crux of this post.

Fear is the basis of stress and is often displayed through irritability, anger outbursts, and avoidance behaviours. For example, we don’t book a physical with our doctor for fear we might get bad news. We don’t make a point of calling our son or daughter because we fear they don’t have interest in speaking to us, we don’t tell our partner we are lonely in fear of hearing they no longer love us. Fear is the basis of much of our anxiety.

Anxiety can be displayed in many ways. Some suffer in silence while others live life through anger (unable to regulate their emotions), pessimism, or irritability. Some hide their fears with addictive behaviours, such as alcoholism, gabbling, phone use, marijuana use, or food binging.

So, what to do in those anxiety ridden times? You want – but you can’t – you want – but you can’t. Push – pull – push – pull – push – pull. It is energy sucking behaviour we put ourselves through. Before you know it, you realize you are ruminating in these thoughts for hours during the day.

“Fear is the basis of stress and is often displayed through irritability, anger outbursts, and avoidance behaviours.”

via @luellajonk

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my most favourite slogans out there is Nike’s ‘Just Do It’. I try to live by this slogan. Why? Because our mind constantly tells us to do the opposite, ‘Don’t do it’. Why? Why does our psyche seem to battle with our primal needs? Because it wants to protect us from harm. Evolutionally, we are wired to stave away from danger.

Our lizard brain, or deepest layer, is responsible for our deepest fears, emotions, and needs. Think of it as overseeing fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and fornication. However, sometimes we need to rely more on the outmost layer of our brain, or what is called the neocortex. After all, we are not a lizard.

Okay, enough on paleoanthropology. What do we do when we find ourselves ruminating on something that we really have no clue is true or false? It is quite simple. I suppose I already gave you the answer. Just do it. Take the leap of faith. 

I suppose you have the choice between ripping off the band aid and dipping your toe in the water. For those of you that know me, I am the type to do the former rather than the latter. I like being direct. Life is too short to beat around the bush. However, let me provide you with an example of how I would approach one of the scenarios I provided earlier.

You are fearing your child is distancing themselves from you. What to do? Depending on how safe you feel in speaking to them directly, either on the phone or in person, you may choose to write them a letter instead. This is especially helpful when you are speaking with a highly defensive person. Okay then, what do I write? Allow me to provide you with a script.

Hi {son/daughter}

{Insert usual chit-chat about whatever topic if you feel necessary to bridge the communication gap, depending how long you have been non-communicative}.

There has been something I have been struggling with for a while now, so I decided it would be best for me to get it off my chest and down on paper. It is easier for me to do this in letter form than in person. I hope you don’t mind.

For the past X months/years, I feel we have not been able to connect in a way that feels comfortable to me. I realize this is a ME thing, and not a YOU thing, and that I have to be respectful of your role in our partnership. I fear we are becoming distant in our relationship. I miss connecting with you and I am unsure if you are feeling the same or not.

If you are too busy, I understand. But I am wondering if we could problem solve around this. Rather than I just randomly calling you (possibly at a time you cannot talk) we could schedule a time to talk. It of course needs to work around my schedule as well, since I am not available 24/7, but I would hope there would be a time that would work for both of us.

I wonder about your commute time on the way to and from work? Maybe when you are walking the dog, folding laundry, or doing the dishes? I suggest this because I know you are busy, and I do remember those times as well. I suggest these times because they are daily, somewhat mundane activities and connecting might make them a bit more enjoyable as well.

I guess what I am saying is that I really miss you and I don’t want us to lose each other. As I get older, I realize how important family is to me.

Let me know your thoughts.

Love,

Mom/Dad

And there you have it. Done. No more thinking. This script can be adapted to many different scenarios. It is all about being authentic about your feelings and learning how to express feelings without criticism or blame. It is important to practice vulnerability.

And if ripping off the band aid seems too difficult right now, take small steps with someone who is not as near and dear to you. An example of this might be practicing authenticity with a friend by being honest with your feelings. Trust me, you will not regret it.

Past Experiences are not your only Sources of Depression and Anxiety

Past Experiences are not your only Sources of Depression and Anxiety

I am going to apologize ahead of time because this might get too sciencey at times, but bear with me please.

In summary, there is a lot more we can do to treat anxiety and depression than traditionally thought. Psychotherapy and medication have been the two most prescribed methods of treatment, along with body work, lifestyle factors, etc. But now I want to challenge you to think more outside the box. Let’s talk about body inflammation and overall body burden.

Most of us think about inflammation from the standpoint of tissue injury. This could be from a cut, sprain, break, bee sting, or allergen. The tissue gets tight, red, inflexible, and inflamed. This is a healthy and a normal response to trauma. Acute inflammation is the body’s amazing way of repair. Like almost ANYTHING in life, acute, short-term incidents are fine. Chronic is not. Note the various other examples of acute stress in your life that occur on a daily basis, such as acute anger, acute sense of guilt…all normal. When it becomes chronic, that is when there is a problem.

Now, when our bodies undergo chronic inflammation or chronic illness (because one is the same as the other), because our brain is connected to our neck and hence our bodies (except for the headless horsemen of course) our brain becomes inflamed. Neurons become stiff and inflexible. What does that mean for thought processes? Well, our brain cells, called glial cells, are metabolically compromised, making it difficult for the cell to uptake glucose or ketones to produce the energy used to function. The neurons are not able to fire as they once did, and do not speak to each other in a way that is optimal. You are not able to think quickly and crisply and be present in your natural surroundings. Sound familiar? Mental fatigue, brain fog, forgetfulness, depression, and anxiety are all symptoms of inflammation.

You might be asking, ‘Is it the chicken or the egg?’ What comes first? The inflammation or the depression and anxiety? Well, this is very individual of course. Adverse conditions, social isolation, interpersonal conflict (thought) would all play a role in stress hormone production or cortisol. Cortisol stimulates systemic inflammation in our bodies. And what did I just tell you? Inflammation drives altered thinking processes and therefore, it becomes a negative feedback loop. It is hard to have one without having the other.

Depression and anxiety

Now you might be wondering ‘Why are you telling me this or why is this important’? It is important because now we know that theris another way of assisting depressive and anxious thoughtsIf we can calm down body burden by ridding body inflammation, then we have more leverage managing emotional stress.

How do I know if I have inflammation in my body? Well, there are many ways, but the most rudimentary way is through standard blood work. There are blood biomarkers that test for inflammation including white blood count, HS-CRP, and more. However, there are two problems with solely relying on this method. One, our standard conventional ranges are so wide that there is often a fair bit of inflammation already occurring by the time it shows up on your labs. Secondly, it doesn’t provide you with enough detail in terms of where to start. For example, if your white blood count is low, you know you have an underlying infection…but where? It could be coming from many sources.

You must think of this in the bigger sense of, ‘How do I feel daily?’. Do I feel chronically fatigued (hormone dysregulation, circadian rhythms altered due to poor sleep hygiene, lack of sufficient nutrients or minerals)? Is my digestion off (gut dysbiosis, constipation, diarrhea, parasites or infection)? Do I get sick often? Suffer from migraines, bloating, dry itchy skin or hair loss…Do I experience constant migraines, brain fog, forgetfulness, etc.

“Chronic stress shouldn’t be part of your life. It is important to recognize whether you see this as short-term stress or long term, and to seek assistance accordingly.”

via @luellajonk

Thinking like this is preventative. Because of the feedback loop I just described, we cannot disregard diet, sleep, stress management, screen use (including time on social media), movement, and your relationships may be what is keeping you inflamed. It is another entry way into finding a solution to your labile mood, depression, and anxiety. It may be advantageous for you to explore supplementing with adaptogens or other supportive vitamins and minerals as a way of calming down the inflammation. Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, American ginseng, or licorice root are a few that come to mind when I think of downregulating the cortisol response. It really depends on what stage of adrenal fatigue you are in. Are you at the beginning stages of adrenal fatigue or are you hanging by a thin thread? Food and lifestyle factors come first, but sometimes we need a bit of help to manage symptoms. Chronic stress shouldn’t be part of your life. It is important to recognize whether you see this as short-term stress or long term, and to seek assistance accordingly.

Finally, if you really want to zone in on the cause of the inflammation and you recognize that it tends to be focused more on hormones (sex, thyroid, cortisol production) digestion, toxins in your environment, etc. then there are specialized tests to consider so you can get more granular and proactive in disease prevention. I personally feel these tests are excellent if you are tired of guessing why you ‘feel the way you do’ and you want to take action. Please contact me if you are at this stage of your journey – I can help.

Either way – I hope this gives you a clearer sense on how to approach your mood and overall well-being. Brain inflammation is a real thing and I suspect you will start to hear about it frequently in psychological and psychiatric articles.