I have what’s called “high-functioning” anxiety. Basically, although I’m usually dealing with paralyzing worry inside, you’d never know unless I told you.
Although it impacts my ability to interact socially, my anxiety disorder has never hindered my ability to do things I HAVE to do – like working or going to school. My anxiety and I have always kinda co-existed.
Until I had kids.
Once I had kids my anxiety became a whole new ballgame. My doctor told me it’s probably because once I had them I had so much more to lose.
I think most parents feel anxious or worried occasionally when it comes to their kids.But when you’re a parent with an anxiety disorder, those worries are intense, overwhelming and intrusive. My anxiety effects my parenting in some major ways:
1. Going out in public
When you have kids, leaving the house is already an ordeal. Getting everyone dressed, packing diaper bags if they’re babies, racing against nap and meal times to get back home. These are pretty basic worries. But my concerns are more like: What if one of them gets lost? What if I don’t watch them closely enough and someone kidnaps them? The world is a crazy place and these things are possible. But my mind convinces me that these things are almost certain.
2. Leaving them with someone else
I’m won’t leave my kids with just anyone. It takes time for me to build enough trust. Even so, the list of people I would allow to babysit can be counted on one hand. And even though I know my kids are somewhere safe, my mind convinces me of all the worst case scenarios that could occur. What if there’s a fire? Or a carbon monoxide leak? What if they choke and no one knows the Heimlich maneuver?
I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep for the past eight years. Anxiety lies to make me believe that terrible things can happen in the hours from night until morning. And if my kids need me I have to be able to hear them, so I can’t sleep too deeply. So for almost a decade I’ve dealt with broken sleep. Shout out to caffeine for getting me through motherhood.
4. Dying and leaving them behind
I worry about leaving my kids too soon even more than I worry about them leaving me. Sometimes I obsess over what would happen if I got terminally ill or into a car accident. What would happen to them? I know they’d have loving people to care for them, but how would they fare emotionally? Would they be raised in a way I would approve of? Would my death throw their lives into a tailspin from which they’d never recover?
I hope these fears are soon alleviated now that I’ve started receiving treatment for my anxiety. I’m confident that in the future motherhood will feel a lot more simple.
Are you a parent with anxiety? How does it affect you? How do you deal with it?