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weather anxiety help

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I don't know where to post this. I posted about the tornado we experienced here last March so I guess I'll put it here. Therapists have told me that going through a tramatic weather event like the one we went through gives the same effect as losing a loved one. I've been through some grief counseling and recently started seeing a therapist again. Things just keep getting worse.

By things, I mean my weather anxiety. If I know a front is coming I start worrying and watching several days before. I live in the south. There will always be frontal storms and I will have to learn to live with them. I just don't know what to do. I feel like if I had someone to talk to who had been through the same thing it may be helpful.

I get completely distressed by storms. I watch and worry and panic in the days before, then when the day comes weather is expected I freeze. Completely paralyzed. Frozen in front of my computer watching the dopplar. I can't even get up and take a shower on those days. My dh has to become responsible for the feeding of the kids (except the nursing, of course). The flashbacks become more vivid. It's awful.

My logical mind says, it's okay. The liklihood is very low of going through something like that again. But there is a chance of it happenning again. A CHANCE is a CHANCE. I worry that in the case it happens again I won't be able to protect my kids as I did the first time. I have 3 now, where I had 2 when that tornado tore through.

I won't ramble anymore. I really could benefit from talking or emailing with someone else who went through a weather event similar to this. I've googled to death and can't find anything. It seems like there'd be some type of online support group for this.
This is the original thread that tells what we went through^^^^
post #2 of 7
I remember reading your original thread and being so impressed by what an awesome mama you are and what an amazing job you did keeping your babies safe. I think about you often and wonder if I could do the same if I ever had to.

I can totally imagine how an experience like that would create anxiety. I think that having an infant and the hormones involved would only heighten that fear. I live in an area where a big snowstorm is the only most likely big weather event but I am still paranoid about making sure my family is prepared and safe.

Is there anyway that being proactive about your fear might help lessen it? It's possible you've already done this but what about making a safety plan for the big "what if". You could plan out in as much detail as you want an escape plan or a location in the house that would be safest. If your loved ones are away from you in the day, detail a plan about how they would get home or head for safety in the event of an emergency.

You could work on making an area of your home "tornado proof" (I assume that is possible but I admit my experience with tornadoes is pretty much all from TV).

If you would leave your home then plan some emergency kits for your car. There are tonnes of prepacked ones out there nowadays. Also, you could think about what you would most what to take with you and come up with a way to make that easy to do. Most important to me is my family pictures so I am planning on making extra copies on CD and will be storing them at another location such as my SIL who lives an hour away.

I hope this helps and I hope that things get better for you. Never forget what a strong mama you are and the fact that you SAVED YOUR BABIES' LIVES!!!

post #3 of 7
Oh I know the horrible pain of anxiety. While mine is not weather focused (I worry about health issues, mainly my fear of cancer) I know how it can consume your every thought and action.

I do live in tornado country in Illinois and usually have the sirens go off a few times a season. I too hate bad weather and get worried as soon as the national weather service starts running scrolls across the screen about the weather headed our way. I have found that if I have a corner of the basement with some simple supplies in preparation for a storm I am much more relaxed. All we really need is some bottled water, a weather band radio, some snacks for the kids that we switch out to keep fresh, a land line phone (one that isn't cordless) that we can plug in if the power goes out, and some coloring supplies for the kids. I have found that being prepared helps just enough to make me a bit calmer.
post #4 of 7
I remember your story too, and was actually just thinking about you, because the local paper here (in Montgomery) was planning a retrospective on the Enterprise tornado. s

I was in a small tornado up at a local lake about 13 years ago. Before the tornado, I had always loved storms - in fact, I was out on the porch of the lake cabin (watching the storm) 30 seconds before the tornado came down and pulled the roof off the house! But after that night I suffered from such horrible panic every time the smallest rain cloud blew up. As luck would have it, the following summer was incredibly active, bad weather wise, and was capped off with Hurricane Opal that October. I really really get what you're feeling, and I'm so sorry you're going through it! That happy shell of invulnerability that you used to live in has been smashed, and you can see now how close to peril you really are (and ALWAYS were). That sucks. It is traumatic, and it is paralyzing.

I mainly wanted to post to let you know that I do NOT still have those feelings - time really does build that "denial shell" up around you again, and you will feel better. I think what has to happen, though, is that you have to fully experience the scary situation over and over again, using that adrenaline to HEIGHTEN your awareness (and fear!), even though all you want is to feel numb and avoid the situation. If you can be aware of every gust of wind, every color of every cloud, every hailstone, then eventually your animal brain will be re-trained to stop freaking out over every sign of "danger" - because the danger really never happens! I know it doesn't help for me to tell you how unlikely it is that you will be in another tornado, because it was just as unlikely for you to be in the first one, and still it happened. Rational thought will not re-train your animal brain. Your animal brain has decided that tornados happen all the time, and it rains during them, and therefore any rain that comes along WILL result in another tornado. You can't reason that fear away, but you can use experience to convince the animal brain otherwise. Because luckily (or unluckily, depending) the animal brain has a short memory, and puts a LOT of stock in recent experience.

SO, the whole point of this is that LUCKY YOU - you live in Enterprise AL and will have many many many chances to re-train that animal brain this spring! Use every chance you have - study every cloud, smell every raindrop, watch that doppler! Just don't allow yourself to feel numb while you are doing it - emotion & adrenaline are all your animal brain understands, and even though it sucks to feel that anxiety, the truth is that FEELING it is the only way to beat it longterm. s
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
I really do appreciate all your kind responses. It helps to know that someone else has gone through this and doesn't have those feelings anymore. It's really a daily struggle for me even when the weather isn't bad I'm looking
ahead to see when the next front may be coming through. I'm not afraid of just rain. Rain is cool and I love it. It's the storms that freak me the eff out. We have a system coming through in the morning, as does half the country. I don't know how I'll handle that. I'm already getting nervous and have stopped doing things. My house is a mess and needs to be cleaned. As it normally goes, I freeze up during the time before a storm and my house is a wreck afterward. Then I spend days trying to catch up.

I don't know how to LIVE when weather comes. I run a business and when weather comes through I just stay home. Everyone else goes to work as normal, and I stay home. I think things like, how could people be out shopping and just doing stuff when this weather is here? It's like they completely ignore it and do whatever they originally planned on doing... and that's normal. I'm not. I literally watch the dopplar until I see no more red threatening to cross over my area. How do people just continue their life when severe weather threatens? I have to get to that point and don't know how. I'm glad to know that maybe, one day, that feeling will go away.

Do you mind me asking the strength of that tornado and how long it took for you to feel normal again? Are there things you did to help you get through the passing storms? Man, I feel crazy. I need help.

Thanks for the hugs and support. It really means alot from all of you.
post #6 of 7

It was nowhere near the one you were in (it was an F2), and the damage to the house I was in was not as severe (and it was not MY house), and I did NOT have kids at the time, so obviously it's a different animal altogether. But I think it's still true that the primitive part of your brain has drawn a wrong conclusion ("red on radar = certain calamity"), and that the only thing that will change that conclusion is lots and lots of experience with the opposite.

Do you get any sense of relief when the front does pass? Can you meditate after the fact, and feel some peace? It helps, with anxiety, to feel completely saturated with the fear, and then to realize - "Hey! Bad things did not happen!" That's what re-trains the panic center, over time...

Also, I know this will be a tough one, but you need to NOT watch the weather coverage. You can get the little pop-up radar on your computer and obsess on it all you want, but listening to those weatherpeople will screw with what you are trying to do. You want to teach your panic center that this fear is irrational. Meanwhile, here are these apparently rational little people inside that box, acting like it's the end of the world! Just remember, they WANT you to feel the panic because then you won't change the channel and start watching the fishing channel instead, so they are NOT ON YOUR SIDE right now.

It took me about 2 - 3 years to get to where storms were no longer scary to me. The sirens go off in the middle of the night now, and I just roll over and go back to sleep. I know that sounds impossible to you now, but I really do think it will happen for you. I remember when Opal hit, and we were in a TWO HOUR tornado warning, and I seriously felt like I would fly out of my skin in panic. About 5 years ago we had another hurricane (Ivan) and I was positively BORED!

If you decide you need help, you should look for a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist - they have the best luck with anxiety disorders, and they can do a lot in a very short term to help.

I wish you the best.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
I turn into a type of bipolar personality when bad weather comes. I get depressed, anxious, frozen, etc. before the storms come. When the front passes over and the threat is gone I go to the completely different extreme. I get almost giddy, start cleaning up the mess I've been ignoring since the threat of weather is even mentioned. It's a gigantic rollercoaster.

I really don't put much credit into the tv weather forecasters. I know they make their money off fear. I watch what they say, but I don't assume we're going to have terrible weather just because they say it. I put more reliance into the NOAA and the dopplar radar. It's way more concrete. I've studied this so much now that I can see when clouds appear to be rotating on the radar and plan ahead. I've hooked up with several weather specialists on yahoo answers. They've been very kind in helping me learn how everything works, as much as we know, anyway. I've passes all this info to my dd, who is so scared by tornado watches, as am I.

I just want someone to say "It's not going to happen again". That sucks because I know it's not possible to say that.
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