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I remember when I was a little girl and my parents would go out on date nights, we would have a babysitter at home watching us but I still felt this sense of worry. I would call to check in on them, you know back in the day when they had like the brick phones that weren’t super reliable but were there…yeah those. And if they didn’t answer or call me back, I would go in a panic. I was probably around 10, but my mind would instantly go to – they got in a car crash, something happened, yata yata ya, ALL THE BAD THINGS. Then I would stand by the front window and just watch until they came home.
Flash forward, as a teenager it kind of subsided – I think I was in my own world and just didn’t really care much so anxiety wasn’t really a thing during high school for me. However, there were a whole list of other problems, but that’s for another day y’all 😉
Flash forward again, I got married, didn’t think much about anxiety, had moments of it but nothing like when I was that little girl standing at the front window. Well guys….joke was on me. Things were gonna turn, little did I know and they were gonna turn HARD.
Now, I’m a Mom.
In fact, I’m a Mom with a severe case of what we like to call ANXIETY (in all caps because it’s just that bad). When I first had my little girl, almost four years ago (wow time flies), I remember having this fear of leaving the house. That’s kind of how it all started. I was worried about her getting sick, I was worried about us getting in a car crash, about every other possible scenario and I would literally just stay at home unless I was forced out of the house for one reason or another. I can only imagine if grocery delivery was a thing back then because I would have stayed in even more.
Well, one day as I was driving, I got cut off, you know nothing too out of the ordinary, that’s unfortunately life while driving sometimes 😉 But it was bad and I went in full blown panic attack. I continued driving, but literally pictured in my head, EVERY, SINGLE, THING that COULD HAVE gone wrong in that moment of being cut off. I saw us crashing, I imagined what would have happened to my perfect baby girl in the back, then I imagined the unthinkable, what I would have to do, how I couldn’t live. It was literally a downward spiral in a matter of 10 seconds and before I knew it I was balling, had pulled off down a random street, parked and I couldn’t breathe. Now, I had had panic attacks before – I was aware of what this was, but I didn’t know how to handle it. It took me probably 20 minutes to pull myself together, while my sweet girl was sound asleep, safe, in the back of the car.
In that moment, I realized….I probably needed a little bit of help.
The realization to me wasn’t that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal, it was more of the fact that there was no way I could continue my days feeling like this. This wasn’t the first situation where something like this had happened. I was constantly checking on her, constantly checking on my husband, where he was, was he safe. I didn’t let my baby girl out of my sight basically ever, constantly holding her, making sure she was breathing, putting her down only to really shower or pee, but even during those times she was RIGHT THERE, right where I could see her.
So, I asked for help. I started meeting with a therapist once a week, I went on medication, worked on making changes to help things.
Now, my point of telling you all this isn’t to say therapy and medicine magically worked because well, reality check it didn’t. BUT, it helped and it gave me the tools I needed to teach myself how to turn that anxiety down when huge panics were coming. That doesn’t mean that’s what works for everyone, in fact, every person is different and has to find their own way to cope.
But mainly, I just want you to know you’re not alone. I’m here four years later, with anxiety that still consumes me somedays, but also with the tools (from therapy and years of help) to bring myself back to reality, to say, okay – five senses, I smell this, I feel this, I hear this, etc. – nothing that is happening in my head right now, is ACTUALLY happening in reality right now.
To the Mama with anxiety (or any other mental illness or difficulty, we ALL have them), you’re going to get through this, even if in this moment, right now, you feel like you’re drowning. I know that feeling and it’s terrifying and you literally feel like you can’t breathe. But breathe, push through and forward for us because it’s going to be worth it.
The conversation needs to be open, we need to be aware, open and checking on our friends, sisters, family, etc. Moms need a little time to themselves too. We all need a pat on the back and reminder that what we are feeling and doing is okay, that tomorrow is a new day, that it’s okay to ask for help and honestly, time is on our side. Things don’t happen over night, you’re not the only one that feels like your world is falling apart and you’re also not alone even if in your darkest, hardest moment you feel like you are.
So Mama, hang in there. Lean on those you love, focus on the present and remember, you’re not alone + you’re going to get through this.