I’ve always been a fairly calm, collected person. There isn’t a whole lot that stresses me out too much, and I have a pretty positive outlook on most things. Thankfully, I never dealt with anxiety growing up. I didn’t really have a clue what anxiety looked like either. Because of that, I selfishly had the assumption that anxiety was an excuse people tossed around when they were just uncomfortable with something.
I remember being on a ski trip with a friend in high school and she was so overwhelmed by the thought of flying down a mountain on two skis for the first time ever that she started breathing really hard and fast, her heart was pounding, and she couldn’t focus. We wound up having to call ski patrol to drive her down the mountain, and it was later diagnosed as an anxiety attack. It was then that I assumed that I would always know when a person was anxious based on their physical reactions.
Well… I was wrong, because anxiety is more often that not something that isn’t seen or shown – especially in moms.
Shortly after becoming a mom, I remember my mind being intruded with horrible, unwanted thoughts. I had visions of someone running over my baby and of me accidentally dropping him off of a balcony. These thoughts were horrendously scary and I couldn’t figure out why I would be having them. I loved and adored him more than anything before.
I chalked these visions up as baby blues, but they didn’t go away after a few months. I remember talking to a friend about it months later and she informed me that it was actually a form of anxiety that I was experiencing.
It was then that I realized that anxiety doesn’t always present itself as sweaty palms and the need to breath ferociously into a paper sack.
It’s laying in bed at night questioning if you read enough books to your child or got on the floor to play enough that day.
It’s pushing away negative, unwanted thoughts and not letting them take up residence in your mind.
It’s checking your child’s bedroom window every single night to make sure it’s locked, even though you know full well that nobody opened the window since you checked it the night before. (Yes – I do this.)
It’s constantly worrying that you aren’t parenting “correctly” or disciplining the right way.
It’s feeling bad for giving your kids a happy meal while seeing another mom on IG prepare a four-course meal.
It’s worrying that you work too much or too little.
It’s feeling guilty about taking your child to daycare so you can have a few minutes to yourself.
Anxiety is real. It’s exhausting. It’s scary. It’s a real jerk.
So, to the moms with anxiety…I get it now. And I’m sorry I ever doubted the severity of how crippling and what a pain in the you-know-what anxiety really can be.