How Anxiety Helped Shape Me Into an Awesome Mom
I know I’m supposed to tell you about my struggles and how hard it is to parent with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). And believe me, at times, it’s so, very hard. Parts of it are ugly, tough and sometimes seemingly all consuming. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned on my journey to better understand and accept my chronic anxiety, is that it never hurts to look on the bright side. Learning how to implement small shifts in my perception have meant the absolute world to my journey with mental health, so I thought it’d be great to celebrate some of the ways my anxiety has helped shaped me into the mom I am today — an awesome one!
I’m sensitive. Even “too sensitive,” as I’ve been told! But it’s helped me connect with my children in a way I never thought possible. By being openly sensitive and not associating shame with my vast realm of feelings, I’ve made a safe, accepting space where my children feel like they can do the same. Emotions run high in our house and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We’ve learned how to be supportive through all sorts of feelings and we now know we can better navigate them together as a family.
I also talk it out a lot. It helps me to share my challenges and victories with my inner circle. And it’s also gotten my children talking, too. From the start, we’ve been using words to help them express their feelings. I knew my new found love of sharing was paying off when in the middle of an emotional meltdown my 3-year-old son was able to utter the words, “I’m just having a tough time. I need help.” It may seem tiny and obvious, but to me it was monumental. Open communication is key to my success with GAD, and open communication is key to ensuring my children can properly identify the depths of how they feel and share it with us, the people who care about their wellbeing the most. One my proudest mom moments for me thus far!
Living with chronic anxiety has given me perspective I sometimes take for granted. When you live in an ongoing battle of sorts between you and what’s going on inside your head (sometimes your body,) it reframes life and highlights the most important bits. Even in the depths of my anxiety, the most important things in life become crystal clear. Thanks to that, I truly know the value of a unconditionally loving and supportive family. My comfort, my joy, my support and my everything is my family. Living my life with those family values at the very core shows my kids just how valuable we all are to each other and I hope one day they too celebrate our family unit!
Though challenging, isolating and at times, terrifying — chronic anxiety has not only taught me many important life lessons, but it’s also given me a new found confidence as I learn to successfully navigate it. When we made the decision to have children, my own apprehensions about becoming a mother living with anxiety skyrocketed. I am so proud to report that with plenty of professional and social support, with a new motivation to cultivate personal growth with my GAD (something I think is important to model for my children) and with plenty of affirmation and celebration of small victories, I can truly say I’m proud of the mother I’ve become — flaws and all!
The Mighty is asking the following: If you’re a parent with a mental illness, tell us about a time you tried (either successfully or unsuccessfully) to explain to your children about your mental illness/mental health issues. How did they react? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.