Today’s post is a little different than my typical style. I’m not here to share with you tips on homemaking or a guide for managing your day as a stay at home mom. Instead, I want to open up to you, my readers. I know that a snappy how-to article gets more blog traffic and free printables are always a hit, but I feel that this topic is too important to ignore. So today, I am writing a letter to you, the mom struggling with anxiety.
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A Letter to the Mom Struggling with Anxiety
We all have anxiety. It’s human nature. In fact, if you truly never have anxiety, I think that’s more concerning than having a full-blown disorder. For some, anxiety comes at the appropriate times, like waiting to be called in for an interview or to find out if that pregnancy test is positive. But for many, anxiety comes whenever it feels like it. It seems out of our control and can often be debilitating. For whatever reason, anxiety seems to be extremely common among moms of young children and, unfortunately, many of them suffer silently.
You are not alone
If you’re a mom and you struggle with anxiety, I want you to know that you are not alone. In fact, far from it. I can honestly say that I thought I was in the beginning. I saw other moms out there who didn’t have a panic attack when their little one wouldn’t take their nap and seemed to be perfectly content with leaving their newborn baby to spend the night with family members. In the meantime, I struggled to breathe in these situations. I would see moms hanging out with their mom friends at the coffee shop as I rushed to get home back to safe seclusion. I felt like I was the only mom in the world who had trouble handling the day-to-day mom life.
It wasn’t until I started blogging that my eyes were opened to the world of honest motherhood. Something beautiful happens when moms start blogging. They find their voice, and their confidence and they start sharing real stories, challenges, and emotions. They start chatting with other bloggers who they have never met before and, before long, those connections become closer than you would ever expect. Never before in my life have I seen so much open dialogue about motherhood and anxiety.
Evaluating my own anxiety
When I write posts about self-care, the overwhelming response I get from moms is “I really need to do this.” In other words, most of us aren’t. I blog about self-care for two reasons. One is to help other moms find ways to implement it and to stop feeling unworthy. The second reason is for my own benefit. The more I research and write about self-care, the more I start to make it a habit in my own life. Since it’s important to me to practice what I preach, I find that blogging holds me accountable and forces me to evaluate my own behavior.
In doing so, I was able to really hone in on my anxiety. I started sharing my feelings more with others and was pleasantly surprised to find not just support, but true empathy. Just about every single mom I talked to felt the same way I did.
But why moms?
I don’t have some crazy scientific reason to provide to you, but I do have my own thoughts on the topic. This is based on my own personal experience as well as experiences shared with me by others. I believe that moms feel a greater deal of anxiety because there is more at stake. There is something so extreme about the love a mother feels for her children that it heightens the severity of what used to seem like minor daily issues.
Before we had kids, we really just thought about ourselves. When we were sick, it likely didn’t cause much anxiety. But if our baby is sick, we think the worst. We fear that their fever will get too high and we feel their pain more than we would feel it if we were the ones that were sick. We go about every day anxiously trying to avoid illness, sadness or pain for our little ones and, in the process, we become sensitive to everything. In other words, we live in a constant state of anxiety.
Now, some moms may handle this better than others. But I’m willing to bet the number of moms who have it “all together” is lower than we think. Think about it. When you are out and about and you are feeling anxious, you’ll do whatever you can to hide it, right? My theory is that the majority of those moms who don’t seem to have a care in the world are simply better at hiding their anxiety than the rest of us.
I could be wrong. I have no evidence to back my case, other than the kind, honest words from fellow moms. My point in all this is to let you, an anxious mom, know that you have a friend who gets it. I know what it’s like to struggle silently.
I also know what it’s like to finally let it out. To talk with other moms and even share it publicly on my blog. And I can tell you one thing, with certainty. Nothing has had such a positive impact on me as sharing my struggle with others. I still have minor panic attacks at the most inopportune moments. I still fight with my inner dialogue from time to time. But what I don’t feel anymore, is the guilt that comes along with it. My anxiety is not my fault. Your anxiety is not your fault. It just is what it is.
Don’t give up
Of course, there are ways to improve. Stating that it “just is what it is” is not my way of saying that you should accept anxiety and just deal with it, but rather than you should accept where you are now and go from there. When you really break it down, the idea that we would feel guilty or stupid for feeling the way we feel is ridiculous. You may not be able to kick anxiety to the curb, or at least not yet. But what you can do, right here, right now, is own it.
You are a mom, which means that you are capable of loving beyond expression, enduring pain only known by other moms, and unleashing hell on anyone or anything that threatens the health or happiness of your offspring. You are worthy of being loved by others and by yourself, and you are entitled to feel whatever you feel, free of guilt or pain. Own your anxiety, love who you are, and open up to the world. You might be surprised at what you receive in return.
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