Anxiety is something that affects so many people in so many different ways. Many of us have seen the scours of Buzzfeed articles regarding problems associated with anxiety, and the stigma that still surrounds it. It can affect the way people form relationships and can be debilitating in terms of daily activities.
Today, I want to talk about my experiences with anxiety. It’s something that I have dealt with alone since I was a teenager, and I have done a fairly decent job at concealing it from others. The game has changed now that I have children, and yes, anxiety affects my parenting in so many ways that at times it can be overwhelming.
I’m currently a stay at home parent with two children. My eldest is approaching three years old, and doesn’t quite understand what’s happening with me at times. I know she doesn’t grasp why I’ve pulled over on the side of the road sobbing and shaking, because I can’t always grasp why either. I know it frightens her at times, and it breaks my heart despite knowing that I truly can’t control it. So, for a while, I allow the anxiety to control me. Anxiety becomes my guardian, in a sense, dictating when I can go out and what activities I can do – and thus another parent for my kids.
Before children, it was easier to cope. With children, it’s difficult because on top of trying to manage my brain, I’m trying to keep up with small children and that in itself is impossible at times. Dealing with everything became overwhelming after the arrival of my second daughter a year ago, and I allowed my anxiety to help me co-parent. I would avoid events and places, and would not leave my house for many days at a time.
In a way this would seem selfish. My children deserve to be out enjoying sunny weather and experiencing new things. However, I had to accept that I deserved these things too; I had to find that little bit of self worth to realise that I needed to ask for help to stop letting anxiety be the other parent.
Many will state that “it takes a village” to raise a child, and if that’s the case, why is motherhood still so lonely for so many of us? Why are we afraid to admit we need help at times out of fear of appearing weak, or worse, that we don’t love our children? Why is there a stigma attached to being a mother that reaches out for help?
Of course I love my children, I don’t regret the decision to bring both of them into this world. The obstacles I have felt regarding my anxiety are nothing compared to how much I adore their presence in my life. I adore them so much that I’ve had to do what would have once been the unspeakable for me, and reach out to others. I’ve had to create my own village, filled with people that understand (or try to) and know when to step in and say: “You need a break, and you need to breathe.”
I’m writing this to any parent that might be feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. You are not alone. For so long I felt that needing help would mean I wasn’t a great mother, but honestly I have been a way better parent now that my anxiety is out on the table and I no longer try to hide it from everyone.
Anxiety no longer co-parents, and is just the weird passenger in my mini van that taunts me from time to time. I’m not afraid of going out as often, but I do have my bad days. I have my days where my patience seems thin, simply because I’m already feeling anxious, and that’s okay. I know now that I can get through it one day at a time. I know now that I’m not weak or a bad parent.