Anxiety is a pain in the ass.
Anxiety and being a parent, that’s a whole other level of hard.
There are a lot of people who are out there bringing awareness to the mental health space, and I truly admire them. It takes a lot of courage to say, “Hey, this is me, this is my life, and I’m dealing with it and I’m not going to be ashamed any more.”
But there’s something in this awareness that I’ve allowed to make me feel like “less than”. See, my anxiety isn’t “severe enough” to incapacitate me. My anxiety takes a bit of a different form than what’s being brought to light on social media. The anxiety I experience now, as a wife and mom, is very different than the anxiety I experienced in my twenties, and even in school.
So, for months I sat and told myself, my husband, and a few people close to me that I want to help others who have anxiety. Because I’ve managed it before, I’ve successfully managed it for more than three years before it started its bullshit again.
And then I would see someone whose anxiety has a crippling effect on them and I would tell myself, “You won’t be able to help anyone, you’re going to fail, you’re the only one who struggles like this, if they had the anxiety you claim to have, they wouldn’t be complaining, it wouldn’t be anything to anyone else.”
See, that’s part of my anxiety. That “imposter syndrome” as it’s referred to in business. That negative self talk. That voice in my head that tells me nothing I do is ever good enough.
My anxiety doesn’t prevent me from going into public or being in groups of people, but it does make me go all super-introvert (as if I needed help in that area) and it makes me appear unapproachable.
When I was at my last job, the job I was at for 11 years, my anxiety took a “high performing” turn & actually helped me get promoted twice. But, the flip side of that, that high performing anxiety, the high expectations I have of myself in every aspect of life, that kind of anxiety leads to anger.
Because if I don’t get shit done, and get it done right...I get angry with myself but I also take it out on everyone else. I don’t blame them, I don’t say things like “because of you this didn’t turn out” or anything like that, but I snap and yell over nothing and quite honestly, I’m just a bitch when it happens.
So, this is where anxiety and parenting come in. How do you parent yourself and your children at the same time?
How do you write a batch of blog posts, telling yourself you’re not going to worry about formatting or SEO or any of the behind the scenes bullshit that comes with blogging, in a designated time frame when they’re singing and arguing and irritating each other and calling your name to tell the other one to shut up, and not completely lose your mind?
How do you lay down the law calmly and set boundaries while you feel your fingers shaking as you type, you feel your heart beating just a little faster, your breathing a little more shallow, and your throat is tightening & and you feel like you’re going to throw up?
You don’t. You snap, you swear, you catch yourself, you take a breath and explain to them that if they can play nicely together for ten minutes, you’ll be done typing, but the more they ask how long it’s going to take and the more they purposely irritate each other five feet from you (the joys of a semi-open floor plan), the longer it takes you to write, because you have to write, read, re-read, re-write, re-read, and re-write again.
I know there will be people who criticize me for “snapping and swearing” but I’ll tell you something, I NEVER swear at them, I NEVER call them names, I NEVER blame them for anything. But I will let out a strategically placed F-bomb, Jesus Christ, or even a Goddamnit to make my point.
Now, most people would say, just stop what you’re doing and pick it up in a couple hours when they go to bed. Here’s the thing, my anxiety has me doing other things when they go to bed. I utilize that time, most times and most recently, for pivoting my business and setting up this new blog and all the things that go along with it. There’s a lot, and I have a very short amount of time to do it in.
So, how do you parent yourself and not totally mess up your kids?
Well, I’ll tell you how I do it. And right now, as I’m writing this, I’ve only been consistent with part of it. I’m inviting you on this journey with me to next level the control over my anxiety.
There are three parts, for me, to controlling my anxiety. I’ll be implementing a fourth part soon.
I’m not completely against using medication, if necessary, but for me medication is a last resort. I’ve been on it before and I wasn’t a huge fan of how it made me feel. When my diet was 90% clean, my anxiety was much less of an issue, which is why I’ve decided that it’s right for me to make adjustments in - and to - my environment first.
So, if you have anxiety and you keep telling yourself that yours “isn’t as bad” as other people’s and you keep pushing it further down instead of just dealing with it. I want you to know something.
There’s no such thing as “a little” anxiety. It’s all different for all of us. We all have our different levels of what we can handle and what’s easy for me might be hard for you and what’s hard for you might be unbearable for someone else.
You deserve to be in the driver’s seat of your life. You deserve to enjoy your spouse, your kids, your pets.
You deserve to have the life you dreamed of...and I’m confident that that life doesn’t include anything you experience when anxiety takes over, whether that’s for a minute, an hour, a week, or whatever length of time it decides it wants to stick around.
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