By Anon, a working mom who’s anxiety surfaced after she had kids. Despite her love for her kids and family, she says “my anxiety consumes my every action and thought” She shares her thoughts with you and other moms out there that might feel the same.
My alarm clock rings at 5.30am, the same time every day. And every day, I turn it off and oversleep. I’ve spent the night, as I do every night, tossing and turning, worrying about what needs to be done, making sure I haven’t forgotten anything, wondering if I turned the stove off and trying to solve the world’s problems. That’s what I do: I worry incessantly about things within and beyond my control, as a mother and as a human being. Funny thing is that I go to bed the same time each night, I’m pretty sure I fall asleep but when morning comes, I feel as though I haven’t slept in years…
I pedantically prepare everything in advance to make things easier for myself and my family. Lunches, suppers, grocery shopping, laundry, even play dates. So why then am I always on the back foot? Always struggling to keep up, feeling like every day is Groundhog Day? Same struggle, same stresses, same feeling of inadequacy… Anxiety disorder, it seems, is what drives this manic feeling of “never-good-enough” and “can-never-do-anything-right”. These are the symptoms (in my experience):
Feeling overwhelmed: whether it’s the school run or my kids’ party, I always seem to be on the edge. Only once the event has taken place will I sit back and wonder what I was so overwhelmed about in the first place.
Irrational: Being overwhelmed all the time is the perfect basis for being irrational too. (“I wonder why that nice lady didn’t wave to me after school? She always does… maybe she’s angry with me. Wait, maybe she did and I didn’t see her.. that’s so rude. I should call and apologise”
Frustrated: Despite the fact that I plan ahead and prep everything, I am somehow always running late or believe it or not, unprepared!
Dread: From parent meetings to shopping in a mall, I dread them all. In fact, even a night out with old friends will have me wanting to cancel just because when the day arrives, I dread it (even though I know I enjoyed the time out the last time)
Guilt: This has become a way of life. Guilt for not being perfect, guilt about feeling the dread above, guilt for always being preoccupied making lists, guilt for never savouring a moment to remember it.
Regret: A close friend of guilt’s, this one ends a meltdown where overwhelmed turned into raving lunatic and that brought on the fire-breathing-dragon, for absolutely no logical reason. Regret is, in my book, the worse feeling in the world, especially towards my children and family.
Disconnected: The preoccupation with trying to keep my head above water makes it difficult to feel connected to people. Instead of relaxing and enjoying the board game with my kids, I’m disconnected thinking about what next to do once the game ends.
Averse to change: routine is a big part of me, without it I feel out of control. Problem is that if 1 thing is out of routine, everything falls apart. (not really but the irrationality kicks in big time!)
Exhausted: Aside from the sleeplessness, pure exhaustion from thinking so much! Exhaustion often then leads to a foggy mind which doesn’t help much… (Do you see the vicious circle here?)
Uncomfortable: yes, in my own skin, in the clothes I chose to wear today, in the company I find myself in, in circumstances I’ve been in numerous times but somehow can’t handle anymore.
Indecisive: Being an indecisive parent is the perfect breeding ground for chaotic kids. They need firm rules and decisive adults who can guide them. (The new rule is no TV during the week…. After a bout of nagging from the kids, ok fine, you can watch for a little while) Not a good way to do things.
No willpower: I know exactly what I need to do to fix a few things in my life yet I don’t or can’t do it. That’s a terrible thing for a mom to say, what kind of role model is she to her kids then? A loser kind? One that will stay the same for all of her life just because she is too anxious to change?
So if it’s so easy for me to recognise all this then what makes it so difficult for a seemingly intelligent person to just sort themselves out? Just snap out of it, as they say? Just get over yourself? With all the advice on meditation, foods to eat to combat anxiety, mindfulness workshops and retreats… oh and wake up earlier than your kids so you avoid being late and your whole day will go better…. Yes! But I can’t wake up! Perhaps, and hopeful that tomorrow or next Monday or some Monday soon, will be that day.