Living with Anxiety: Before and After Becoming a Mom

I’ve had anxiety since I was a child. I cannot really tell you when it started although there a few events I remember I know did not help the situation. Some of it was typical child related anxieties. I was shy but frightfully so. I’m not even sure my parents understood or understand to this day how much it physically hurt me to try to talk to people sometimes. I did not really talk about it and did not explain that much to them. It was not all the time. It did depend on the situation, but I hurt and just could not talk. Those situations included ordering food at restaurants. I usually told my dad what I wanted and had him order for me.

It was painfully hard for me to answer questions in school.

Why? Because if I was wrong everyone would turn on me and laugh. Obviously, this is an irrational thought, but I actually remember a time in elementary school, I do not remember what grade, but I was still pretty young, 3rd maybe 4th, when I answered a question wrong and one boy in particular actually did outburst, laughing at me. This was so traumatizing for me, I actually remember who it was, and honestly, still hold a bit of a grudge against him because of it.

As I got older my anxiety took on other facets.

It became really hard for me to be in big crowds. I felt cramped, I felt claustrophobic, even though I was outside in a big park, it was crowded and often times I panicked. This was so hard I would avoid them, or I’d go but only be able to stay for a very short time. I live in Boise Idaho and we have all kinds of great outdoor festivals. Art in the Park, The Western Idaho Fair, Hyde Park Street Fair, each of these were dreadful to me. I also hated elevator rides but only when they were packed. When it was a very full elevator it was hard for me to keep panic at bay. I hated sitting in restaurants and being on the inside of the booth and I hated being on the side of the table that made it so my back was to the door. If I was in any of these situations I was extremely anxious.

Pregnancy really does change things.

I’m speaking in the past tense in regard to a lot of these specifically because I actually have not been feeling anxious in these situations the same way since I was pregnant with my first child. It’s amazing, chemicals, chemistry and how pregnancy changes your body right?

But I’ve gained new situations. Mostly around the safety and security of my children.

I’m not a germ-aphobe.

Even though my husband tends to say I am. He does not differentiate the difference between being anxious about germs versus being anxious about dirt. I hate dirt. I hate being dirty, I hate my kids being dirty. I cannot go a night without a shower before bed, I do not understand the point of dry shampoo because I always wash my hair if it kills me to do so, my husband on the other hand will shower in the morning. Most mornings. But that means he goes to bed dirty. I hate this. It actually causes me anxiety to sit on his side of the bed because of the sweat stains. It causes me anxiety to use his blankets because they are dirty because he is dirty when he uses them.

I absolutely hate smoking.

It has nothing to do with the people who smoke. I love plenty of people that smoke. It really doesn’t make me think any less of them. I always have lived by the thought process that you can do whatever you want to yourself, but I do not have to stand around you and breath it in or let my kids do so. This gives me panic attacks. The worst in a long time and I don’t think anyone really knows this. My husband doesn’t even understand the severity of my panic of my kids being around smoke. Why? Why am I so anxious about this? My family does not have many health problems in our history. What we do have is cancer, lung cancer, who in my family has died of lung cancer? Those that smoked. I strongly believe there is a genetic factor in each person’s susceptibility towards cancer. Some people smoke all their lives and have no problem, die peacefully without cancer. My family members don’t. I have a heart breaking, panic attack causing fear of my loved ones dying of lung cancer from smoking or even second-hand smoke. There are plenty of people in my family that smoke. My brothers, my aunt, my grandmother did (died of lung cancer), my grandfather (died of lung cancer and had quit 30 some years previous), my uncle did (died of lung cancer), cousins, my father even. I fear so much that my father will die a horrible death from lung cancer because he smoked.

Anxiety is so often misunderstood.

No matter what my anxiety is and what is causing it I find that I’m so often misunderstood. It’s hard to live a life and have anxiety towards situations and have people misunderstand. It’s easy to misunderstand though because I’m very high functioning. I mean I live my life, I go out, I do things, I try my damnedest to not let anxiety stop me. What does that mean for others? That means they may not be able to see it. I may be having a panic attack but I’m sitting silently, not talking, away from everyone else. I may be nervous and have all kinds of thoughts running through my head but all they see is me being quiet.

It’s terrible to have people be angry about something you’ve tried to control over and over again but it’s so dominant. It’s hard to hear “just lighten up a bit,” and there are so many times that I am anxious, panicky, and in tears and I cannot even tell you why.

So why am I writing about this?

Why am I laying out my anxiety for the world to read? Because I need to be more aware of it. I do need to try to control it more in certain situations, but I also think others need to understand me. Others need to be respectful and understanding. It’s not a light switch I can just turn off, get over, and it’s all better.

I also firmly believe that anxiety is caused by environmental factors. Situations like kids laughing at me. A man calling me fat. Being called perfect over and over and over again. Every time a war happens, the news, drive by shootings, robberies, rapes, all of it. I really hate watching the news because it just makes me anxious.

Nobody is to blame.

These situations are things I remember I think contributed to my anxiety. I don’t want to sound like they did anything wrong. It depends on the child, how they hear a situation or view others, to see how they take it. Sometimes it causes anxiety in us and sometimes it doesn’t. I want to be aware of what I think caused me anxiety and try to avoid it around my kids. I cannot continue on how all in one post. I plan to have a series of posts coming about anxiety. How I plan to avoid specific situations for my kids, recognizing anxiety in kids, disciplining kids with anxiety, the kind of things that actually run through my head during a panic attack or anxiety attack, my experience with anti-anxiety/anti-depressants and ways to cope with anxiety.

Tell me a little about yourself. Do you have anxiety? What is one thing you have anxiety about?

Sarah


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11 thoughts on “Living with Anxiety: Before and After Becoming a Mom

  1. It’s never an easy situation to deal with; I can only imagine the added difficulty of facing anxiety as a mother. Thank you for sharing so boldly and openly!

  2. This is such a beautifully written post about such a personal issue. My wife lives with anxiety too and deals with a lot of the same triggers as you. I’m so glad that you are bringing light to this common health issue.

  3. Thank you for being honest. This is quite a difficult situation which is often misunderstood by people around us. There definitely needs to be more awareness on this. Thank you for sharing.

  4. This is so beautifully written, such an honest post. It’s not easy to live with anxiety at all. Well done for spreading awareness.

  5. I have OCD, and have for years. People always assume that because of my diagnosis, I’m a germ-a-phobe with a spotless house. They don’t understand that compulsions and obsessions can vary so much, which can be very frustrating and isolating.

  6. This is such a strong post. The situation does not seem easy at all and the news just seems to make life with anxiety even more upsetting. Thank you for sharing the story for people who really don’t what It’s like to live with this.

  7. I do like the way you have framed this issue and it really does provide me personally a lot of fodder for consideration. Nonetheless, from just what I have observed, I just simply trust as the actual commentary pack on that people today remain on point and in no way embark on a soap box regarding the news du jour. Still, thank you for this outstanding point and whilst I can not go along with this in totality, I respect your perspective.

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