Anxiety: DON’T pass it on.

I have been told by my kick ass therapist (from now on referred to as KAT) that anxiety is hereditary. Not that genes are entirely to blame- sorry people- but there is a genetic component to it. As I have been working on myself and being aware of my anxiety, I have noticed that my mother is an anxious person. Her anxiety manifests itself in the “OMG YOU’RE GOING TO CHOKE, OMG YOU’RE GOING TO FALL” panic variety. I notice it now that my anxiety is mostly in check. I’m pretty positive she isn’t even aware of it herself. It’s interesting how much you notice about others when you start to get your own shit together. Something else KAT and I talk about is stopping the cycle. One session I had a moment of “I do not want my kids to be anxious. I don’t want them picking that up from me.”

This was a really REAL moment. Like if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your babies. The thought that Biggie was hearing every anxious thing I said to DadingWITHOUTanxiety, every comment I made about my weight, every time he saw me cry when the stress overwhelmed me was a hard pill to swallow.

I do NOT want my boys to be anxious, to self doubt and self hate, to struggle with insecurity and not know who they are. I want them to be able to find themselves through a natural progression of growing up, not trying to overcome a struggle that I projected onto them.

I am not ashamed of having Anxiety Disorder- come on I started a blog about it! I am so proud of finally admitting that I had a problem and doing something about it. By asking for help when it was hard. By going on medication when it made me feel like I was pill shopping, then realizing sometimes that wasn’t enough and having to ask for something in addition. Learning that I can’t take care of my family if I am struggling to take care of myself. And this is an ongoing journey- I have good days and bad days. Some days I’m at a zero, some days I’m at a ten.

So for you moms and dads that are struggling, that might feel like you could benefit from talking to someone, that you need help but are afraid to ask for it- remember that our kids are impressionable little sponges who hear everything. Especially the things we don’t want them to. (And like 10% of the things we actually tell them. If you don’t repeat yourself at least three times are you even a parent?) What kind of things are we teaching them when we aren’t paying attention? I am always going to have Anxiety. I hope to get to a place where I can keep it at bay almost all the time. But I do know that of all the things I want to pass on to Biggie and Smalls, anxiety will NOT be one of them.

Anxiety triggers and soothers

What sets off your anxiety? I think knowing that is half the battle to getting a handle on it. For me, being around other high strung people is a big one. I totally feed off that energy and find myself agitated by it. Money stress is a big one- I have 2 kids in preschool, so you know we aren’t living the Kardashian lifestyle. I try to tell myself that we will never be as broke as we are now, but it’s still hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. And then when I am amped up, or tired (those of you with anxiety know that tired=anxious) the noise of Biggie and Smalls running around being crazy sets me over the edge. I find that I am totally derailed by the volume that is to be expected in a house with little heathens in it.

So then- how do you soothe the anxiety? I take 2 different prescriptions which were recommended to me by my therapist, which have made me a functioning anxious person 🙂 and I talk to someone who helps put everything in perspective. For those of you thinking about therapy, I can’t recommend it enough. 45 minutes of a safe quiet space and an outside perspective have made all the difference for me. I always feel like I have someone in my corner to talk me through the bad times and help me sort through it all.

I think it’s easy to lose yourself in the all consuming job that is parenting. I’m talking to you dads, too- DadingWITHOUTanxiety (aka my husband) and I both give 100% and despise the Dads=secondary parents moniker. Dads rock! I do find that he has an easier time of taking time for himself. And I don’t just mean hiding in the bathroom (back me up Moms we know they all do it). He has his photography and PS4 and YouTube. Honestly in trying to deal with my anxiety, I found my hobbies- Cricut, gardening/yard work, and now this blog. I think it’s important we support each other in doing things that are just for us. Finding those quiet times to clear our minds and do things for ourselves. Sanity, kids, we have to find it in the chaos of being a parent!

For me, putting on my noise-cancelling headphones and listening to Audible or music and blocking out the background noise is a big one. And when she isn’t playing Baby Shark (do do do do), Alexa is playing soothing music at night, like rain sounds or spa music, etc.

What do you guys do to de-stress? What are your triggers? I have a feeling we share a lot more of both than we think. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

-Mandy