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When Anxiety Becomes the 'Am I?' Syndrome

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It’s summer. A time for renewal and relaxation. Except I can’t relax because I’ve been worrying about everything. This summer, my anxiety has kicked into major overdrive.

Six weeks ago I worried about whether or not to start my 6.5-month-old on solids (I did).

Four weeks ago I worried about whether or not I should stop breastfeeding my now 7-month-old (I did).

Two weeks ago I worried about whether or not I had remembered to sign my 5- and 3-year-olds up for swimming lessons (I didn’t. Oops.).

I’ve spent the rest of the summer wondering:

Am I wasting my summer? Because I haven’t written enough or read enough books or gone to the pool even once.

Am I spoiling my children? Because I let them watch Netflix every morning and eat crackers on the couch.

Am I feeding them the right food? See “crackers on the couch.”

Am I reading to them enough? Because I try to read Harry Potter to them every night before bed, but it’s rarely ever the cozy experience I imagined it to be.

Am I playing with them enough? Because I’ve only played catch with my son once this summer.

Am I playing with them too much? Because it’s important for them to play independently, too.

Am I letting them watch too much TV? Because I turn on Netflix every morning, so I can sleep in just a little bit.

Am I spoiling the baby who’s still waking up every night? Because the lack of sleep is killing me.

The list of “Am I?” questions never stops. With every decision I make, I question what I am doing. This is what my anxiety does to me — it’s dark and it makes me wonder if I am enough. After a lot of soul searching, I know I am not. I’m trying to be OK with that. As a perfectionist and typical “type A” personality, it’s hard for me to accept mediocrity. And I realized I can’t do it alone, so I’m finally getting help.

I saw a therapist a few years back for depression and anxiety. At the time, I was able to cope through journaling and exercise. Now, I barely have time for a cup of coffee much less journaling and exercise (as I’m writing this, we are driving across Canada and I’m multi-tasking by writing and soothing the now 8-month-old baby who’s been in the car far too long). I’ve started new meds. It’s too soon to tell, but I’m hoping these will work and help change my never-ending questioning to something a little more positive. Aside from meds, I’m working on a more positive mindset. While I’m still going to struggle with my constant wondering and worrying, I’m slowing trying to replace “Am I?” with “I am.”

I am reading — this summer, I’ve read four Stephen King novels and am re-reading the Outlander series.

I am spoiling my children — a little bit here and there.

I am feeding them the right food — they love fruit and yogurt.

I am reading to them — most nights, we read a few pages of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

I am playing with them — but I let them play and fight with each other.

I am letting them watch TV — because a good television show is almost as good as a good book.

I am spoiling that baby — because he’s the most beautiful baby in the world and he might be my last.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: July 26, 2016
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