If you are here I imagine you are a mom who struggles with anxiety, a mom with a kiddo (or two or three) who struggles with anxiety, or like me – all of the above. The first thing I want you to know is that you are not alone. Take a moment to get to know me, and two of my kids and our journey with anxiety, both separately and together.
Anxiety has been my constant companion (a term I use with complete sarcasm) for most of my adult life, I just didn’t recognize it for a long time. To me, it showed up as a whole lot of feeling like I just couldn’t get myself together. Self-doubt led to trusting everyone else’s opinions over my own which led to a lot of trying to fit into boxes that weren’t mine to fit in (we aren’t cats!).
I choose to tell this story from the more recent events as they are the ones that led me to want to help other moms (like you!) who are struggling like I used to (and sometimes still do).
My daughter, who is seventeen as I write this, just graduated a really intensive counseling program. We are so proud! She got hit hard with anxiety and she started early on. Our first recognition of anxiety in her was in first grade when she said her heart hurt (to her teacher who panicked and called us) and we took her immediately to the doctor which led to a specialist and to her wearing a heart monitor for a month! They didn’t find anything wrong with her heart so everyone just moved on with a wait and see attitude. Later I learned she had been struggling with anxiety.
Her journey is very detailed and much more extreme than my own but what happened to her, to some effect, happened to me because I am her mom and my inability to help her led to a much greater increase in my own anxiety.
By this point, my anxiety manifested more as chest pain, stomach trouble, and a general sense of dread as I waited for either the proverbial shoe to drop or the apple cart to tip over. I just knew something bad was happening and no one wants to watch their children suffer.
My youngest son, who is twelve as I write this, is on the autism spectrum. He should be the poster child for early intervention because the diagnosis barely fits any longer, but for the anxiety and some lingering sensory issues.
His anxiety manifested as social anxiety and panic attacks and they were bad enough that once he started middle school he barely lasted two weeks before we knew that he was having a trauma response to school! We then tried online school, which helped a lot but for the very specific time constraints for live classes. While it was an improvement, it still wasn’t the right fit.
We were determined to help him through it and get to a point where he could at least tolerate it. Several months later we pulled him out of school and are now homeschooling with the interest-led learning model (also known as unschooling). Even though I’m a total believer in changing things to help your child adapt in the best way possible, I was a bit surprised at how perfect fit this is for him. Once we started this model, his panic attacks are now non-existent and he is shaking off the anxiety as he becomes more comfortable with the world around him. Basically, we stripped away all of his stressors to rebuild his confidence in a way that is meaningful for him.
A Different Model
All of that to say, I had feelings – a lot of feelings – about my abilities as a mother and the idea of self-care was ridiculous to me when I saw my kids suffering like they were. It took us a long time but once I started taking care of myself, I was better able to take care of my kids and we all benefited from that.
I had to let go of my previous ideas about anxiety, but even more specifically society’s (older) views on women and mothers especially. I mean weren’t we supposed to be everything to everyone? Who else is going to do x, y, z, if not for us? What a dangerous model for us and for our children. No one can possibly live up to perfect standards and I would argue those are not perfect standards anyway. They do not account for the fact that a healthy mom is better equipped to parent.
We can do better.
Why We’re Here
This idea started within my own community. As I reached out to the many moms I knew who had experience with anxiety in some way, I realized there are a whole lot of us. Many of the women I knew, myself included, were suffering largely in silence and often marinating in guilt. I began encouraging them with some of the advice and friendship I gained from women who came before me and from what I learned in my copious web searches of midnight desperation, and we built a community of hope and healing, just by sharing stories and tools.
That’s what I want to do here. I want you to join us, become a part of a community of women, of mothers, who have walked some part of this journey and to know that you are not alone, that there is help, and that it does get better.
There are so many tools available now to help ease anxiety and even products that can make life bearable when you or your child are going through the worst of it. I have been dealing with anxiety in some form for about 25 years now and have tried so many ideas that I’m tempted to say all of them (though that’s not possible because there are so many!).
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and two of my not-so-little-anymore babies. I hope you find some peace here and some tangible tools and ideas to guide you.
Founder of Anxiety Moms