Working, school runs, getting dressed… trying to get through the daily routine can honestly feel like climbing the highest mountain when in the back of your mind there is a constant concern that you have a life threatening illness and you don’t know what’s wrong. Yes I know, crazy huh! Even typing those words feels madness but living with anxiety is some pretty scary stuff.
Trying to get the kids ready for school, one won’t get up, the other one is up but won’t get dressed and then she appears in a different set of pyjamas looking proudly at herself. No, no, no – where your school uniform you need to get ready for school. (Quite funny really thinking about it, but not at the time.) I hear myself constantly asking the same questions… get up, brush your teeth, get ready for school. Have you packed your bag? 5 minutes later I’m asking the exact same questions and still nothing has changed. This is all fine really and part and parcel of being a parent but when I’m having one of those days and my anxiety is weighing down on me I feel like I’m trying to accomplish these normal tasks while holding a two story building on my shoulders and it just all seems too much.
The anxiety just takes over, I find myself obsessing about whatever illness I’ve convinced myself I have and constantly googling my symptoms. Big mistake, BIG! I reason with myself and know I shouldn’t do it, but here I am locked in the bathroom googling whatever symptoms I have. It’s like I’m almost trying to find the worst case scenario like a self defence mechanism so I can process it and prepare myself for dealing with whatever issue is to come. It’s crazy really as all I’m doing is making myself a million times worse and giving my thoughts ammunition to run away with themselves. I know this, but still the cycle continues.
I sometimes have quite a few weeks where I can potter along just fine and everything is great. ‘Mum, mum I don’t want this cereal I want something else.’ No problem darling, here is your fifteenth breakfast with different levels of milk in the bowl to meet your 6 year old requirements! I go back and forth changing things and it’s ok. I know I shouldn’t do it but I don’t mind. I then pack my other daughters bag which she should be packing herself now at secondary school but I don’t care. They’re my girls and I am their mum, I like doing things for them. I want to. I go happily from task to task with no time for breakfast myself but then eat a kitkat on my way to work and wonder why I’m carrying some extra weight! None of this matters though, I’m ok, I love my family and I don’t mind any of this.
A week will go by, maybe two or three and then out of absolutely nowhere I’m freaking out and can’t cope with it. I get up and try and do the same tasks, I don’t want to pack this bloody bag and I get stressed about it, why isn’t she doing it herself? Poor thing she doesn’t know why I’m happy to help one day and not the next. It’s the anxiety, the panic, the fear. It comes from nowhere sometimes and consumes me.
Reassurance, I constantly seek it when I’m anxious. I talk to work colleagues, family, friends, sometimes people I don’t even know that well. If I’m really anxious I can hear myself on repeat and my partner listening to the same worry I’ve googled and manifested in to an unmanageable scenario. I try not to but I can’t change it, the thoughts are there and I can’t switch off. Trips to the doctors, more worrying it’s exhausting. I lose sleep, making it worse and I let it consume me.
Anxiety is an illness and millions suffer with it all the time, different types but it’s there and it’s real. My anxiety is health issues, (funny really as all this worry is doing my heath no good whatsoever and I know this, I just don’t yet have the power to control it properly) I’m terrified of dying or something happening to my children or loved ones and I literally can’t cope with the thought of it. In some crazy way I almost think by worrying about it and thinking the worst I’m going to protect us from something bad happening. I know it’s not the case but I almost feel I need to be in control and be prepared for anything (or illness) straight away so that I can sort it out. I know life doesn’t work like this otherwise innocent wonderful people wouldn’t be suffering with their daily struggles but I get stuck in the cycle and can’t break it.
When the anxiety is really bad I don’t even want to get dressed it feels too much of a challenge and yet on a good day it’s not really even a thought. All my energy is being soaked up by my heath worries and the day to day tasks I could do yesterday are far too hard today. Problems at work I can normally sort out and enjoy taking control of just feel pointless. Getting my children to school sometimes feels impossible if the anxiety is weighing me down.
Before I had children I was very care free, took risks, didn’t worry and breezed through day to day not worrying about the next or the consequences of my actions. But now, the responsibility of being a parent and how important my children are has made me reconsider almost everything I do. Flying, this used to be a fun invigorating experience. Now it’s a worrying task, will the plane crash, will something happen.. and so it continues. Going on a course for the day, will I have a crash. Will I come home? It never ends the worry of being a parent but with a heavy serving of anxiety on top it’s really hard.
I want to be able to stop this worry. I know it drives my partner mad and I’m on repeat a lot of the time manifesting every pain or sensation I feel in to a life changing illness and it’s draining on those around me as well as myself.
I know that when you become a mum and these beautiful small versions or yourself depend on you it is a scary thing, you want to do and be the best you can and protect them from any harm, upset and worry. The best way I suppose is to be strong where you can and guide and support them. My anxiety sometimes takes this away from me, it consumes me and my worries take over everything and i find it really hard.
Talking it out is the best thing for me so I’ve taken to this writing it down to see if it helps. If any other mums or people out there feel this way, you’re not alone! I worry regularly that something is wrong with me and that I’m going to be taken from my children. I don’t want this to happen so badly I convince myself that if I know about it, it won’t happen and so the cycle continues. In the unlikely event that anyone has read this and feels the same, I hope it gave you comfort that you are not alone and that it’s ok! Sometimes that’s all we need to hear.