For the purpose of explanation, let’s take a second and imagine a rush hour scenario. It’s Monday morning, you’re on your way to work, or an important appointment. You’re already running 10 minutes late, and you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. You’re at a standstill. On this day, you have to present a very important project or complete important paperwork. This project/paperwork is not finished, and your plan was to leave early to get it done before the big meeting / appointment. You are angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, and anxious. You’re just not going to get there in time. This feeling is the absolute worst. Imagine feeling like this all the time. Could you handle this? All the time? This, for me, is what living with an Anxiety Disorder feels like.
Every person with Anxiety experiences it differently, but this is what it feels like for me. It feels like I am constantly sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, running late on an important day. I feel this way when strapping my daughter into the cars seat, trying to zipper up a jacket, and even answering a phone call. Every day tasks become overwhelming scenarios and my brain tells my body to panic. It’s like I’m stuck at stage left, ready to give a big speech to an auditorium full of people. Except I never move. I am stuck in that overwhelming feeling of fear and angst and I can’t shut it off.
Let’s envision another scenario. Let’s imagine the same highway, the same car, and you are still running 10 minutes late with an unfinished project / paperwork due. Let’s change the scenario a little bit. This time there is no traffic, so you’re speeding down the thruway, rushing to be on time. You’re weaving in and out of traffic and you’re racing against the clock. Now, let’s imagine a large, tractor trailer tire, bouncing fiercely down this same highway, and it’s heading right towards you. You’re overwhelmed! You already have so much going on and now, you have a large object barreling toward you. You’re panicking! Your emotions are running high! You could die! Your sweating, your breathing has accelerated, and you’re in full survival mode! Your chest hurts, you’re throat tightens up, your breakfast is churning so fast in your stomach. You are freaking out! This is what a panic attack feels like for me.
Now, imagine these scenarios with a baby strapped in the back seat. This is what being a parent with anxiety can feel like. I’m usually not in a car, I don’t have a tire coming at my windshield, I’m just trying to comfort a crying baby. My brain puts my body into survival mode without any real threat present and I can’t control it. Depending on how severe, it’s extremely hard to stop it or even slow it down. My brain is constantly telling my body that I am in a dangerous situation and I could be doing something as simple as changing a diaper.
If you are a parent with Anxiety, then you understand how difficult days can be and how overwhelming simple tasks can get. Stressful situations burst into chaotic emergencies and you are talking your brain down from the ledge.
I can feel this way for hours, and even for days at a time. I’m in a constant state of alarm and I’m caring for a child while feeling this way. It’s overwhelming – it’s exhausting, and when you’re trying desperately to parent your children, it’s exceptionally frustrating.
When you are a parent with Anxiety, you don’t get to put your duties on hold. Your emotions are a hurricane inside of your head and you have to be fully present for someone who depends on you. You have to be emotionally sound during a child’s meltdown and you’re barely able to keep it together yourself. You’re drowning while you’re attempting to rescue someone else.
During these days, you can’t call your partner and tell them that you need them to come home. You can’t tell them that you’re having a hard time and just expect them to hand you a life line. Anxiety doesn’t make it on the list of emergency situations, and you’re forced to get through it, alone.
It’s not their fault, they just don’t understand. It’s hard to grasp the severity of an anxiety disorder when you don’t experience it yourself.
You mostly just tell people you’re fine and you do your best to handle it, and you try to be a decent parent in the process.
You pat yourself on the back because you made it through another day. You managed to change diapers, feed empty bellies, and you held yourself together during the nap time struggle. You feel defeated but you made it to bed time. The anxiety creeps back in as you rest your head on the pillow because you wonder how the hell you’re going to do it tomorrow. You toss and turn, and your mind doesn’t shut off. It’s constantly on and you’re always tired because you exert so much energy worrying and wondering. The night fades away, the morning creeps in and the little one stirs. You take a deep breath right before you head off, down the same, destructive highway.
*Disclaimer – Statements made in this post are of my own opinions, views, and thoughts. I am not a professional and should not be regarded as such.
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