Alyice Edrich

If you came here looking for The Dabbling Mum online magazine, it closed down back in 2015.

Hello Anxiety!

I am Alyice (u-lease) and I used to own a small homebased business until my seasonal depression and anxiety made it difficult for me to keep it going.

You see, all my life I wanted nothing more than to be that stereotypical 50’s housewife portrayed in television shows like “I love Lucy” or “Bewitched”. I wouldn’t even have minded being Caroline Ingalls, from “Little House on the Prairie”, if it meant I could still have modern luxuries like a running toilet, washing machines, and a functioning kitchen. And, thanks to a very understanding husband, my Prince Charming, I got to be that.

Even when the entrepreneurial bug beckoned me, and I started a homebased freelance business and online magazine, I was still able to put that business on the backburner any time it interfered with my ultimate dream of being a 50’s housewife and mommy.

Then my mom (the only parent I ever knew) passed away and my children grew up and moved on with their lives. And there I was, in the second half of my life, with no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. On top of experiencing the "empty nest syndrome" and dealing with the loss of my mom, life wasn’t being so kind and the isolation of living in a new state began to catch up with me.

Eventually, seasonal depression turned into everyday depression; followed by an anxiety that was sometimes so debilitating I couldn’t even leave the house. Looking back, I think I always exhibited signs of anxiety... it's probably one of the reasons I was such a control-freak and why it was so easy for the anxiety to grow into such a troublesome problem.

I'm not sure what I hated most about my anxiety, the physical symptoms like a nervous stomach, racing heart rate, heavy chest, trembling body, uncontrollable tears, and insomnia or the way my mind wouldn't shut up about all the awful ways things could go wrong. It didn't matter if I did my best to do everything right, if I researched the heck out of an idea, or sought the help of a licensed professional, my mind would always go to the worst possible scenarios and stay there for weeks.

Every day was a struggle to move past the anxiety and move towards living a "normal" life... and trying so hard to hide how I was feeling from my kids and the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, I sought the help of my physician and, at the suggestion of my husband, I started painting and making arts 'n crafts projects for the pure joy of being creative... no business goals, no high expectations.

I didn't believe that it would help my depression, let alone my anxiety, but I was willing to try anything. Every time I felt a panic attack coming on, I gathered my craft supplies and got lost in the act of creating.

With each new piece I created, I began to find myself again. The stress and insomnia became more manageable, the loneliness seemed more bearable, my self-esteem increased, the anger outbursts lessened, the irrational fear that had been stifling me for so long began to subside (became less intense), and most importantly, I began to find my happy place—a place outside of being mom, wife, daughter, and entrepreneur.

With my newfound confidence, I began gifting my art to anyone who would graciously accept it. I even mailed my art to distant relatives and long-lost friends.

I created art to tap into my inner strength and calm the anxiousness that engulfed me, but the more art I created, the more I wondered if my art would sell and thought I owed it to myself to find out. So I expanded my business license, redesigned my website, posted a few designs on Zazzle, and started to open up an Etsy shop. But it only made matters worse.

Trying to figure out how to find an audience that would appreciate my style of art, and then trying to make art that would sell to that audience, took away the therapeutic benefits of creating. And truth-be-told, my depression and anxiety made it very difficult for me to run a business that I had a lot of success in running in the past, so I had no business trying to start something new.

Despite wanting desperately to hold onto a dream, my business had suffered for far too long and as a result, it had to be closed.

In an effort to not allow my depression and anxiety to control me, I got a part-time job. I chose a job with a controlled environment; an environment that allowed me to interact with different people, while still being around a group of familiar faces, on a daily basis. I became a cashier at The Home Depot and it was the best decision I could have made! With each new experience, I began to take back control of my life.

As time went on, I learned how to deal with my anxiety in a more positive and productive way. I learned to breathe and calm my nerves through positive affirmations and prayers—instead of sleeping the day away in hopes that I'd wake up feeling like a new person. And in time, I learned that while anxiety has a way of turning molehills into mountains, I didn't have to entertain those thoughts—I could change my thoughts by focusing on something else, like a funny sitcom or movie, a good book, uplifting music, and yes, creating.

I wish I could say that my depression and anxiety lifted almost immediately using these techniques, but they didn't. It wasn't always easy to turn my anxious thoughts off or find my way out of the darkness, but I refused to give in and I refused to give up. I just kept thinking how much I loved my kids and my husband, and how I wanted to grow old with them.

After some time, I started sharing my original paintings on Instagram. The results were so positive that 9 months after opening my account, I thought I was ready to start another business. I even went as far as getting a local business license and looking into how to build inventory and sell a physical product.

But, I wasn't ready.

Every time I set out to move forward with the business, anxiety would cripple me. Eventually, the anxiety got so bad that it began interfering with my sleep and stole my joy of creating.

After several weeks of trying to understand what was causing the anxiety, I realized that I didn't really want to start another business. I only chose to start one because I was out of work and worried that I wasn't going to find another job—and I was afraid that the isolation of being out of work would cause the depression and anxiety to come back stronger than ever. I just wanted to go back to work, get a steady paycheck, interact with people on a daily basis, and then come home to my family, so I cancelled my business license and decided I would try volunteering until a job came my way.

Today, I do not have everyday depression—though seasonal depression likes to creep its way back into my life from time-to-time. I do, however, still have anxiety.

Most days my anxiety is manageable. Some days, however, it still causes me to lose sleep, gives me a panic attack over phantom problems, makes it difficult to take trips that are more than 5 hours from home, and prevents me from leaving the house at night.

Every day, I wonder what it would be like to live without anxiety. Every day, I look at people and think, "How do they do it?" And every day, I work hard towards moving past it permanently.

Today, I continue to use art therapy—along with prayer, positive affirmations, regular sleep habits, moderate exercise, healthier eating, venting sessions, and changing my focus—to heal my soul. I even avoid any type of social media, news, or form of entertainment that raises my anxiety levels in an unhealthy way while constantly challenging myself to take baby steps towards new, healthy adventures.

The truth is that until I experienced anxiety in its most debilitating form, I didn't understand how catastrophic anxiety could be. It robs you of joy, steals your energy, deprives you of sleep, destroys your ability to think clearly, obliterates your decision-making abilities, makes it difficult to comprehend what you've read, causes an array of physical symptoms, and strains relationships. For these reasons, and so many more, I wouldn't wish anxiety on my worst enemy.

I am sharing my story in hopes that it inspires you to find your own path to healing. And I ask that you consult a licensed physician or therapist if depression or anxiety is crippling your way of life. The proper help can be crucial to your healing; it was—and is—in mine.

As for my art, I still gift it to family and friends. But because I realized that I get the most joy out of giving it away, I've also incorporated gifting my art to retirement homes—to elderly folks who don't receive visitors or gifts during the holidays. And yes, on occasion, I still gift it to strangers.

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I do not receive any monetary compensation for sharing the following videos, I just found them helpful. Please understand that these videos aren't meant to replace the help of a licensed professional. If you suspect that you have anxiety or depression, please consult a licensed physician or therapist.