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To My Fellow Mommies With Anxiety

One of the struggles many people face is having and living with anxiety. Anxiety can be debilitating, to say the least. It can fill your days and nights with paranoia and obsessions over things you may or may not have said or done that day, restrain you from doing things that the average Joe would typically do with no hesitation and destroy your mental daily schedule you made with nothing but good intentions. It incapacitates you to the point where you miss out on social events with your friends and instead, you lie in bed wondering why the heck you can’t just be normal and go out like anyone else would. Can we not feel like this for just one day?

Something that seems to be taboo among the mommy community is feeling like you aren’t cut out for motherhood or “complaining” — for lack of a better word — about how motherhood is just too hard. If you are a young mother with anxiety and try to explain why your kids were just too much for you to handle today, you might as well have walked the plank as you spoke the words. Go ahead and hand out the pitchforks that will pointed and jabbed at you for admitting that today was a struggle to complete.

These days being happy and collected is “in.” It’s not “cool” to be depressed or troubled, so no one wants to hear about it. God forbid anyone admit their kids weren’t exactly filled with rainbows and glitter today. What a terrible, shameful mother you are.

The reality is anxiety makes motherhood a million times harder than it needs to be. When you’re already sleep deprived and lacking the amount of caffeine needed to even have the energy to match your clothes, anxiety is the beast that awakens before you to remind you that today is going to be hell because you can’t handle all the chattering of tiny voices constantly needing something from you, or the ruckus “Hot Wheels” toys make as they fly off your coffee table and the sounds of blocks tumbling all the way down the stairs.

Anxiety is the ghost that haunts every action you attempt to make as it is in your ear whispering, reminding you that you have too much on your plate and need to give up now. Anxiety is the rope tightening around your neck when you’re already in a hurry and can’t catch your breath long enough to remember everything it was you had to do, so you obsess over the things you can’t recall in the first place. Anxiety is the massive elephant in the room blocking your view from reality when you’re trying to maintain your composure as your children are frantically trying to tell you who hit whom, how it all started and what’s wrong with them now. Anxiety is the reason why you scream in order to stop hearing so many thoughts at once and your kids don’t understand what they said to make you so frustrated.

It’s not something easy to talk about with anyone because you love your children more than anything else is this world but sometimes one more word, one more cry, one more spilled glass of juice is enough to set your entire world ablaze.

You are a constant ticking bomb that need not be tampered with but no one on the outside can see it. They never know what they’re dealing with until you’ve had enough and spontaneously combust. It’s no one’s fault but everyone’s fault all at the same time, and you long to find someone or something to blame for how you unreasonably reacted to someone just trying to be there for you. Someone was just trying to love you when you decided their presence was too much for you and you pushed them further away than last time. One day they’re going to decide not to come back and you obsess over that happening, too. Everything is a regret; everything is an obsession; everything is one thing too much.

Anxiety makes your life a lonely place. It creates your own little world inside the world we already live in, where all the things you are most afraid arrive to remind you they’re still watching you. You know the faces of your loved ones are there but you can’t look them in the eyes. You know people are wanting to reach out to you but when they do, you feel the grip of a thousand hands around your neck. Most importantly, you know a few of those hands belong to your children and they’re dying to have their mommy back.

As mothers, we all sometimes feel like we’re screwing up this thing called “life” for our children. Whether you have anxiety or not, you always question whether or not you’re making the right decisions and handling every situation the way you should. With anxiety, however, those questions never end and are on repeat inside your head on top of everything else you feel you must over-analyze — because if you don’t worry about this, then who will? We need to remember to take a step back when we’re getting to the point of becoming overwhelmed. Excuse yourself from the room and count to 10 or 100 or 10,000. Most importantly, apologize to your children when you have a freak out and make sure they are aware they are not why you’re overwhelmed. Let them know it’s hard for Mommy to handle things sometimes and no matter how frustrated she becomes, it will never affect her love for them.

It’s OK to admit you were wrong. It’s OK to admit you didn’t handle things the way you should have. It’s OK to say, “I didn’t get it right today.” What is not OK to say is, “I give up.” Hang in there because you love them. Hang in there because they are your world. Hang in there because they are the only ones that unconditionally love you, even when you can’t love yourself. Hang in there because we all make mistakes.

No matter what society says, you are a fantastic mother because you are resilient. You are strong. You are fierce. You are going to wake up and tackle this day because you know if you come with less than your “A” game, you’ll never get anywhere. Just because some days are harder for you doesn’t mean you aren’t trying your best. It means you put forth more effort to make your days better. You, my friend, are a superhero.

This story originally appeared on Thought Catalog. You can follow this Kelli’s journey here.

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