I have struggled with anxiety for practically my entire life. I remember being in elementary school, sitting at my desk, and worrying. As I grew older, there were times in my life when my anxiety was almost crippling. A horrible relationship in college left me reeling with anxiety. Sleepless nights filled with racing thoughts of worry became an all too familiar situation for me.
With the help of my supportive parents and a really amazing roommate, I moved passed that bad relationship. I found a great man, and we got married and started a family. Becoming a mother brought out an entirely new and different level of anxiety because I then had a huge and unfamiliar responsibility. When my first child was born, I sat in the hospital bed and nervously told everyone who held my newborn baby to be careful not to drop her. This was partly from some killer medication due to a C-section, and partly from new mother nerves.
The days and weeks after my daughter was born were filled with anxiety. I felt as if I were floundering through the first few months of motherhood. There were so many unknowns that I had never dealt with. There were so many situations and worries that I had not expected, and I was unprepared for the overwhelmingness of it all. The sleepless nights coupled with caring for an infant consumed me, and the anxiety set in.
My search engine was filled with searches about things like SIDS, and I was so worried that I would make a mistake. I was the first out of all of my friends to have children, so I didn’t really have any girlfriends who were new mothers to be my sounding board. I constantly worried about my choices as a mother. A mother’s love is overwhelming, and I wanted to do everything perfect. I found myself anxious and guilt ridden over all of my choices. I was a perfectionist, and I beat myself up a lot over minor things.
As my daughter grew older, I struggled to balance work, motherhood, and finding time for myself. I focused on my insecurities, and looking back, I was lonely. I had let anxiety and worry swallow me up. Anxiety had crept it’s ugly head in, and was slowly sucking the joy out of my life.
I still struggle with anxiety, but not like I used to. I eventually left my job that was stressful, demanding, and, quite frankly, many times unpleasant, and I felt like I had finally breathed for the first time in years. I now know what triggers my anxiety, and I have learned to avoid those things in my life. I stopped worrying about situations that I can’t control, and I learned to trust my gut as a mother. I cut out negative people, and I make it a point to find friends who are uplifting and encouraging. I have surrounded myself with a great support system of friends and family who are an amazing sounding board of advice.
Most importantly, I have finally learned to accept myself, flaws and all, and I am pretty confident about who I am. I still have moments of anxious thoughts. However, I am glad to say that for the most part, the days of crippling anxiety are in the past. And that’s where I want them to stay.
Do you struggle with anxiety? What helps you cope and deal with anxiety?