Do Men and Women Feel Anxiety Differently?

 

Please let me know what you think about how the genders experience anxiety differently.

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Anxiety 1I looked into his eyes as he asked me about 67 questions about what would happen on his first day of school. My son was anxious and when he gets anxious, he asks A LOT of questions.

Watching him made me wonder if men and women experience anxiety differently. My first response is of course! But not so fast. Anxiety is something big, it is often scary and it is sometimes debilitating. And anxiety is a little like taxes: everyone will experience it.

But is anxiety different for men and women?

I suspect that male anxiety is socialized to appear more as a task-oriented experience. Men get anxious but show it by becoming angry (often an unproductive way to try to demand or bring about solutions), or getting busy doing things that may or may not get to the heart.

Women are socialized to experience anxiety more regarding their ability to make others feel cared for or connected.

Saying that “women or men experience anxiety this way, or that way” sets off a lot of things for me. First, it sets the genders against each other. It assumes that there is one way that anxiety besets women and a separate way that it bedevils men.

There is no gender-specific diagnosis for anxiety, however, we cannot ignore that socialization causes each gender, and each person, to feel their anxiety differently. I suspect this is the reason for the anxiety ‘gender gap.’ We all feel anxious. Some of us feel significant anxiety and we express that differently.

Turns out I’m wrong.

What do you think? Do men and women experience anxiety differently and why?

I’d love to hear from you. I am writing about gender and anxiety. I’d love to learn more from you. Please email me at smswaby@icloud.com or Facebook Message me.

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The Zen of Car Shopping

Car shopping 1

Car shopping can make you a better person… or it can make you want to lick doorknobs.

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I hate car shopping and I bet you do too.

The end product, the car, usually makes you happy… but the process is a grind. I compare it to riding a roller coaster. You get strapped in and most of the time you feel like throwing up. You pretend you are enjoying yourself, but mostly you just want to get off and sit down, happy that your bladder didn’t explode.

After 10 long weeks of carpooling, taking city transit, borrowing and bike riding, we finally found our car.  This article won’t teach you about the process of buying a car, I’ll leave that to the experts. What I want to write about is the human side of car buying.

1.You will experience all of the emotions you can imagine. You will move from excitement to disappointment so fast that you swear this is just a way for life to get you experience the full range of emotions in one sitting.

Car shopping is more like therapy than shopping. In fact, it’s the most expensive therapy you will ever get.

2.It’s more like therapy than shopping. In fact, it’s the most expensive therapy you will ever get. Each dealership, salesperson, and car owner will make your trust issues come to the surface. You will question your judgment and wonder if you should even trust yourself. You will question human nature, other people’s honesty, and whether humanity is heading down the hole. Hold on. When this happens, you are on the right track because the car buying god wants you to stick with it. You will come out a better person on the other side, or at least you will have a little more patience. Look in the mirror, you need it. Be gentle with yourself.

3.You will spend most of your time on what is least important. Literally, there is a lot riding on your purchase: cash, your life, your future, other people who drive by you and maybe even your job. Big stuff. But you will choose your vehicle over the way the seats feel and how the stereo sounds. I turned one car down because it didn’t have Bluetooth, “Who would buy a car without Bluetooth?,” I asked. Amazing. Did I even think about safety? Nope.

4.You will feel manipulated. When I want manipulation, I go for a massage. Or I go car shopping. I choose massage, you will feel better and it’s way cheaper.

5.Sorry to say it, but I have to be loud and proud: You will be disappointed. You will go from excitement to disappointment in under 8 seconds so often that you swear you are in menopause. I probably shouldn’t say that, but car buying has driven me crazy.

You will become more in the process of car shopping and the Zen of car buying says, “When you begin to hate the process, you are closer to getting what you want.

6.You will become more Zen. The Zen of car buying says, “When you begin to hate the process, you are closer to getting what you want.” I literally told my family that quote on Thursday, after 10 weeks of car shopping and what happens? Friday I found my car.

“Car you will find, when surrender you do.” Yoda

7.Most times, you end up taking on a car with someone else’s problems. It’s true, but everything in life is like this, except childbirth. Sorry to ruin your parade, but every new vehicle was built by a crew of people with personal problems. That’s why acceptance is so important. Acceptance is part of the lessons that you need to learn along the way of buying your new, or slightly new, car.

Car shopping 2If this piece has inspired you, you will want to read about the car accident that started the car buying process 9 Great Things About Car Accidents, or you may want to read about one of my experiences riding city transit, When Life Becomes Difficult, Maybe it’s Time to Get Off the Bus?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.

Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing.

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Addiction and the Unquiet Mind

Unquiet mind 1

Addiction and Mental Health can tear away at who you are inside.

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Unquiet.

It’s not a word, but we all know what it means: Disturbed, noisy, busy and unfocused. On the outside, you and I can seem so… normal. But inside, our minds are unquiet.

People see the behaviour: drinking, arguments, instability, moods, gloom, fear and wildness. You and I feel it deeply. But no one can see the unquiet.

Addiction is an unquiet mind. 

The mind of the person dealing with addiction or mental illness is anything but calm. The inner chaos begins to tear holes into the fabric of your life. 

The thing is, it is not about being more self-disciplined or wiser. Not about being more on top of things or coping better. These things may help, but the drive comes from inside: the unquiet.

Addiction and mental illness are like a great big sea inside of our brains. Sometimes it’s calm, but when the waves begin to move it will shake us… and everyone around us.

Addiction and mental illness are like a great big sea inside of our brains. Sometimes it’s calm, but when the waves begin to move it will shake us… and everyone around us.

The unquiet mind can be a craving, unstable and insatiable creature. But it also craves connection. We may fear it, but we long to be known.

The cure for addiction, for mental illness, is not from a pill or a treatment. It is from connection. Being known changes you. Being alone makes the voices in your head louder and more obnoxious. But being known calms the voices and the cravings.

Treatment is important, and pills can save your life. Never neglect these, but they are not the cure. They are nothing more than markers on the path towards wholeness. They help you and me to be able to connect, and connection… being known… is what changes you.

Unquiet does not have to define your mind, it is merely a state of being. It is how you are right now. What defines you, and what changes you, is how you connect with the people who care about you.

Unquiet does not have to define your mind, it is merely a state of being. It is how you are right now. What defines you, and what changes you, is how you connect with the people who care about you.

If you like this piece, you will like What is Addiction and What is it Not? and Addiction: A Simple Path.

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Photos by smswaby

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It’s Time to Celebrate Your Disasters!

Trailer 4

Your Disaster May Be The Best Thing That Ever Happened to You

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A few weeks ago, I shared how I damaged my trailer while on vacation in a post Don’t Let Disaster Ruin Your Vacation. If you have not read it, you may want to because you will learn from my vacation disaster.

Since that post, I have been amazed. Sharing about my experience has widened my world.

People have shared with me about their trailer mishaps, damaged stabilizers, shredded tires, and burned out engines. Everyone has a story about a vacation gone bad.

This is because camping disasters are what make you and me human!

The interesting thing is that when you share about your disaster, other people want to share theirs too. It’s human nature. But if you don’t take a risk and share your disaster, the connection may never happen.

The interesting thing is that when you share about your disaster, other people want to share theirs too. It’s human nature. It brings out people’s empathy, and our desire to connect.

But if you don’t take a risk and share your disaster, the connection may never happen.

You will find this in addiction recovery, in mental health, in parenting and in relationships. Everywhere you go, you find that people have a disaster in their back pocket. We all have them.

I invite you to take on this task this week: pick one of your disasters and share it. It could be a camping or a vacation disaster. Or it could be a computer melt-down or a technology blow-out. Or you may choose something more personal like taking a hit to your addiction recovery or a set back to your mental health.

A few rules: You are not allowed to feel like a schmuck. This is not about revisiting your pain or making yourself feel stupid. You are not any different than the rest of the human race, so jump in and share your story. You also don’t have to share your most personal, most painful event. Share what is comfortable and what challenges you a little.

Once you do, I’d love to hear about it. Message me on facebook or leave a comment.

You and I are part of the community of the Human Beings. And as HB’s, we break stuff. Let’s talk about it.

If you like this piece, you will also like When Life Becomes Difficult, Maybe it’s Time To Get Off The Bus?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.

Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing.

Keep it Real

Photo by SMSwaby

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My Journey Through Depression

Depression 1

Depression can feel like hell. It is an internal prison with no key and a lock made of your own thoughts. It’s a prison that you carry your prison with you wherever you go.

For most of last year, I was held down by a depression that twisted it’s way through my mind. My first inclination was to write that it wrecked my mind, but no, it did not wreck my mind. Depression has changed me. Anything powerful will change you.

If you are interested, you can read more about my experience here, Inside Male Depression.

Today I am quieter, more reflective. In a way, my mind feels quicker and more agile. But not all of it is good. My mind is quick to assume, quicker to cycle into negative areas. But I am also better at reframing, reminding and bringing myself back. I also feel more anxious as I consider my decisions and interpret the words and behavior of other people.

No matter how bad your depression, there will come a time when you can see the sunlight again, but your experience will change you.

No matter how bad your depression, there will come a time when you can see the sunlight again, but your experience will change you.

Science confirms that it is our experience that changes us. Trying to think yourself out of a problem will only lead to frustration. But when you combine thinking and action, that leads to change.

To say it more simply: Depression changes you.

Said this way, it is stark and real. But it’s not all bad. Depression will reveal more about who you are, your mind and your emotions. You become more sensitive and you learn better ways to cope.

Lessons learned  from a year of depression

There is meaning behind your moods. It may be to make you more aware of something, have you feel deeply or just make you feel something.

Some days there is no meaning behind your moods. Some days there is absolutely no purpose behind your moods. You just feel you feel deeply, and badly. On those days, you just feel and live to the best of your ability.

Depression makes you pay attention. Our moods get our attention. Hopefully, that will lead us to get the help that we need, get more support, and get out and get more daylight.

Sometimes you just think too much. You can’t stop thinking too much, but you can give your brain more to do. Being more active, exercise, reading fiction, practicing meditation, and being with people you love seem to help to slow me down. Thinking more about the life I want to have rather than my regret has helped. Remember that depression can make your thoughts into a judge and jury.

Don’t allow the depression to win over your routines. Maintaining control over your routines will keep control over your mind. Getting daily exercise, getting to bed at the same time have been very important to my recovery. They have also kept me on the same rhythm as my family, which helped me to maintain a connection with them.

Isolation will add gasoline to your depression. I am an introvert, and introverts are more likely to experience depression. Introverts value alone time and normally that will recharge, but depression can wreak havoc with this. I learned to open up and accept the support of people who care about me.

Make peace with people who want to help you. Medications are not the enemy. Your family is not the enemy. Depression is. Sometimes you need medications. No matter what, you need the people in your life. Healthy relationships are life-giving and will change your mind in a good way.

Telling your story is how you heal. You may think it is not working, but talking to other people makes your burdens a little easier to bear. It just will. It is true that you should not over-burden the people you love. For me, I did not talk enough. I learned that it really takes a lot to burden the people you love.

Some of this content is from my article Depression Will Make You a Better Human Being, but most of it is just from living through the longest depression I have ever faced.

Keep it Real

Photo by smswaby, Ogden Point Breakwater (Victoria, BC)

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Dust may be Killing Your Relationships

Dust

Have you let your heart, your ideas or your relationships collect dust?

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The items once held promise, but now they are nothing more than a destination of dust.

A few weeks ago, I helped a crew of family and friends de-clutter a part of my parent’s back yard. We carried load after load of wood, concrete, old tires and wire. It struck me that every item was a project never came to life. The items once held promise, but now they are nothing more than a destination of dust.

20 years of dust to be specific.

I told my brother about that, and he said you could write an entire country album off that one line: 20 Years of Dust. I checked, and no one has done it yet.

Everything we do carries promise along with pitfalls. One of the pitfalls that we get caught up into is that we may be nothing more than a carrier of dust.

Everything we do carries promise along with pitfalls. One of the pitfalls that we get caught up into is that we may be nothing more than a carrier of dust.

Dust is not a sign of health. Dust chokes. Dust grinds our gears to a halt. Dust can be a health hazard. Dust is part of the debris that collects after days, months and years of misuse.

An item once meant to be a part of a better life becomes nothing more than a reminder of our unfulfilled intentions. Each item tells a story of what could happen if we pick it up and reuse it, but dust muffles the cries.

My parents back yard told the story of so many projects that were meant to happen but couldn’t. Doors meant to swing on a hinge that now did a lonely lean against a quiet corner of the fence. Tools designed to create hang expectantly, layered with dust. Wood that still smells fresh now waits for loving hands.

Dust covers our dreams.

Sometimes the dust gathers because of neglect, but not always. Sometimes we are genuinely busy or we have taken on too much. Other times, new passions take us in directions that result in ever deepening dust.

However it happens, dust builds layer after layer. In our sheds, our hearts and our minds. Dust can hit our relationships the same way that it sneaks into our backyards.

However it happens, dust builds layer after layer. In our sheds, our hearts and our minds. Dust can hit our relationships the same way that it sneaks into our backyards.

Dust is unkind to our relationships. At first, it can feel like a warm blanket, but it slowly chokes us. I notice the dust in the distance, when I forget the little things, when I haven’t seen people I care for, and when I neglect to spend time with my wife or my children.

Your dust might look a little different. I don’t know, but I doubt that your dust is made of angel dust or pixie dust. Dust is real and it is unfriendly.

But dust also tells a story of muffled dreams and wishes from a different day.

Have you let your heart, your ideas or your relationships collect dust?

I won’t give you five points to change or six to reinvigorate yourself. Just one is necessary.

  • GET UP. Because dust falls. When it falls, the shackles fall off. Then get to it. Take the time to love, to use your hands, to hold. I don’t care whether you need to re-love a neglected project or a neglected relationship. The process is the same. Now is the time and you are ready. That is, unless you like the dust.

Relationships thrive with attention and they choke when we rob them of time, love, care and attention. Get to it, because you are worth it and the dust is flying.

If you like this piece, you will also like The Best Relationships are Dusty And Do You Know The Four Keys to Relationship Resilience?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.

Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing.

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Photo by Ingo

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Don’t Let Disaster Ruin Your Joy

Trailer 1

Lessons from Wrecking Your Trailer

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It was an accident. And I felt like an idiot. 

You know those signs entering some parking lots that say “Maximum “7′ 7” “? Normally I ignore them because my truck is way under that height.

But then I went on holidays. And I towed my trailer. Yea.

I didn’t realize my trailer wold hit the over-height-bar. Did you know that those things can do quite a bit of damage. In fact, my trailer received a hair cut. Everything shaved right off the roof. Vents, antenna, toilet vent… ripped off and littered on the pavement behind me.

As of right now, I don’t know how much it will cost me financially. But it strikes me, there are some important lessons here.

Trailer 3

Slow down. I took a wrong turn, but was in a bit of a hurry. I didn’t give myself enough time to think. A fast brain is a brain that makes mistakes.

Read the directions is just the first part. They don’t tell you to think about them. If I would have thought for a second, my trailer is way taller than my SUV, so more than likely it will hit the over-height-bar.

Don’t ignore that little voice inside of you that tells you to pay attention to the sign. The voice was there, it was just very faint and lasted only a second. That was the last thing I heard before the crunch.

Don’t beat yourself up, it just makes things worse. I have a hard time with this one. Professionally I help other people to not beat themselves up, but I do a good job of it myself. The only thing that seemed to help was talking about it a little, feeling some empathy from my friends and family and then doing some exercise. Exercise seems to get the negative emotions flowing out of you.

Trailer 2Go on your vacation anyways. You can’t stop your joy because something bad happens. You deserve joy. You deserve life. Life will happen and you will face challenging, humiliating and painful things. Live anyways and go on your vacation.

Asking for help is the beginning of joy. And often it takes a difficult event, or even a crisis, for you to ask for help. I hate asking for help. But I have had do do it more now than ever. But I realized that asking for help causes you to trust other people, and even yourself more. And trust is the root of joy. You cannot feel joy without having a level of trust for yourself and the world.

I have more plans for camping. I’ll get the trailer fixed and then head out next year.

Stay tuned for more camping adventures!

Keep it Real

If you like this piece, you will also like When Life Becomes Difficult, Maybe it’s Time To Get Off The Bus?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.

Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing.

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