It’s been a year since I began coparenting with anxiety. I write that off as a joke but in truth, that’s how it feels for me to battle anxiety alongside motherhood. In whole, parenting is freaking hard. I mean, you’re responsible for keeping tiny humans alive and if that isn’t stress inducing in itself then I don’t know what is- But it’s also so much more than that; It’s amazing and wonderful and my kids are my life, they are my world. How could that possibly make one feel anxiety?
When I compare having Anxiety Disorder to coparenting with it, it’s more in terms of two perspectives; mine, and my anxiety’s. We simply want different things. Anxiety isn’t abstract, it doesn’t have a form but it’s always there with me. It consumes my mind…if I let it. So many moments go by that I am talking myself down from something that from the outside doesn’t even need it. It’s finding the strength to go to the pool when you want to play with your kids but your anxiety wants you to hide. Its finding the strength to move your legs when in your whole being, you know you want to walk to the park but your anxiety says:
“let’s make this miserable and watch you squirm to hide it from the world”
For me, it’s finding the strength from what’s around me because some days it’s hard to find it inside. Most of the time the strength comes from my kids. I see them and know there is so much more to our days then passing time waiting for my hands to stop sweating and my mind to stop racing. For many months all I could ask myself was ‘why?’. Why me? Why now? What’s wrong with me? This isn’t something that just happened one day, it’s something to some degree I have had my whole life but it wasn’t until last Spring that it became worse. All of a sudden I couldn’t talk, I could barely walk, my hands curled and my body stopped. Time was lost. I fought it with everything I could and it took over a month for the medicine to start working. It wasn’t easy. I had to fight to hear what my daughter said to me because me ears rang. We took at least two walks a day to focus on something beautiful because my eyes stayed in a tunnel. I cried. A lot.
I broke and I couldn’t even fix it. My body wasn’t mine anymore, it was controlled by Anxiety and there was nothing I could do to change that. Things I enjoyed shifted and I am still trying to learn who this person is. Days take longer to enjoy, but it happens. I refuse to let this keep me from enjoying my children. Just because Anxiety doesn’t want to do something, doesn’t mean Alexis doesn’t and that’s what I’m still trying to get used to, even a year later.
I have learned to tell myself I’m okay. That doesn’t make the feelings go away but if the better part of me knows I’m okay, that’s half a start. It’s a debilitating Disorder and it doesn’t feel good. The bodily shaking, the chest pain and heart pounding, the out of body feeling like you’re watching from afar, the moment your anxiety laughs and you can’t swallow (even though you can). To this day I don’t know when it will happen or what sparks it and I’m told time and time again that there isn’t necessarily a trigger which is what differentiates nerves from an Anxiety Disorder. I wish I knew. I wish I could make plans without dreading them. I wish when my kids asked me to go to the park it didn’t take an hour to build up the courage to do it. I wish it was easier. I wish I could just stop this forever.
The hardest part of accepting my new place in life is knowing that it wasn’t always like this. Days were as simple as getting ready and starting whatever that day brought and when I think about that, that is when the tears start because now it feels like I took that time for granted. Having a pity party won’t get my normalcy back though, it won’t make me feel better in my new skin and it won’t make anxiety finally divorce me.
Acceptance is the hardest part and I’m still in denial but I know in a matter of time, things will adjust as they should.
Days will become vibrant and I’ll find a balance with my Anxiety Disorder so together, we can parent in unity.