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When Anxiety Raises Anxiety


I have anxiety. I always have — for as long as I can remember. Back during my childhood, kids weren’t diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. We were told to suck it up, stop crying, don’t be a brat. So I learned how to cope on my own. I learned how to shut down certain emotions and feelings. I learned how to control my anxiety. I had no choice.

I had to evolve so as not to perish under the weight of my own fears. I created my own coping mechanisms and adjusted my inner thoughts and feelings.

When I was 26 years old I had a daughter. She was a beautiful and happy baby. Loved people and had no fear. Until she suddenly was terrified of everything. 

Her anxiety was triggered when she was a few months shy of 3. I’d decided I’d had enough of the downward spiral my relationship with her father was taking. It was headed into a dark territory I wanted nothing to do with. So, I left. I took my sweet girl and we moved out. Just two weeks later my brother died from a heroin overdose.

Bam!

My adult world was rocked — and her little toddler world just crumbled.

She suddenly was afraid to leave my side. She was afraid of the dark. Of everything. It continued to get worse. Everything made her angry. Her 3-year-old brain couldn’t process the emotions she was having. Lucky for me, I knew the signs. Lucky for me I knew what grief at a young age could do to a child’s psyche. Lucky for me… she was a miniature version of her mother.

With proper counseling she learned how to cope. How to control, most of the time, all of those emotions. And I learned how to help her… and myself!

She is now 10 years old. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is smart. But most importantly of all, she is coping. Every day we both battle our own selves. Every day we cope.

Her anxiety triggers my anxiety. My anxiety triggers her anxiety. Life happens and we both lose it sometimes. But we have each other. No matter what happens, I understand her, which is more than I ever had.

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? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.