I’ve always had a mind that constantly races, even as a child. I remember my thoughts going so fast that my mouth couldn’t keep up. I would stutter and then become embarrassed. Little did I know that back then, I’m sure I suffered with the same symptoms as I do now.
Anxiety. It’s something that most people don’t know I have. When people describe me, they usually say I’m rather laid back and easy going. I admit that I’m glad I can easily fool people so they don’t see what is going on inside my nonstop brain.
I didn’t even know I had it. I figured it was just a normal trait of myself. I now take medication for it, but it is still there and it’s hard to explain what anxiety feels like to those that don’t have it. Because of that, I usually don’t advertise to others that it’s something that I struggle with. Maybe because I’m partly ashamed.
Becoming a parent has only elevated my anxiety. If my child complains of a simple tummy ache, my mind begins to race. Will he throw up? Is it food poisoning? Is it his appendix? My mind goes through a whole downward spiral while my heart begins to race and I start to break out in a sweat. ALL over a simple tummy ache that, 90% of the time, turns out to be nothing.
This is what my anxiety looks like in my experience.
One of the things I don’t want my kids to notice is my anxiety. I try to hide my shaking hands and my scared face as I begin to go into an anxiety attack. This is not the mother I want to be; I want to be the calm and caring mother. Instead I feel like a child; I feel like I need someone to console me. I should be the one caring for my child, not someone else caring for me.
I live with obsessive thoughts that the worst things may happen to my children at any given moment. Most people can have a fun pool or beach day with their family. I, on the other hand, am constantly applying them with sunscreen, watching any water go in their mouth (terrified of the dry drowning), and not taking my eyes off of them for one second in fear of them drowning. It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? Just typing it out makes me tired.
I see how ridiculous this must sound to some people. However, for those who can relate, you are not alone. I’m tired being told to calm down and relax; if it were that easy, I would. This is more than just being uptight; this is my struggle daily with anxiety.
One of the best things you can do to help someone with anxiety is to not downplay it and act like it’s not true, that it is only in their heads. It is most certainly true. And, whatever you do, never call them “crazy!”