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Parenting a Child With Separation Anxiety While Coping With My PTSD

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I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which often entails high anxiety and panic attacks. I have been criticized for this so much that I became great at hiding it. Anyone who struggles with this knows how challenging this path can be. I used to feel timid and weak, as though I was defective. I have come to realize that having PTSD in no way means you are weak. My God, you have to have a substantial amount of strength to power through those panic-inducing tasks.

• What is PTSD?

One of my biggest challenges is parenting my daughter, who has separation anxiety. I am constantly finding my strength being tested. It takes a warrior to stay strong so your sensitive little one doesn’t pick up on your fear. I power through the panic as I sit in the emergency room, easing her fears, awaiting results from her accident. It takes a warrior to fight off the anxiety-induced panic as I try to keep her calm during her fearful morning transitions at school. When I feel like I am going to pass out, my body is screaming, “Run, get the hell out of here, danger!” Yet I power through to stay her calm comfort. I breathe through the anxiety with her. I reassure her, and I ease her fears.

Some days I feel drained. I look like crap. I’m tired, yet I power through. I mean, that’s what moms do, right? That’s what one does when they think they “aren’t allowed” to have a mental illness.

I took my power back. I’m on a path of undoing the toxic actions others inflicted upon me. I set an intention for myself that nobody gets to decide if I have PTSD. It is not a problem to be fixed. It is the result of a ton of trauma. My daughter chose me as her mother, yet I’m unsure who has saved who.

I am not defined by my mental illness. I am my free-spirited, light-shining, empath-feeling amazing self! I get to choose who I am. I found so much freedom in this. I no longer have be somebody I’m not, to save others from the lies they hide and actions they don’t own. What a beautiful thing to teach my daughter.

Thinkstock photo by Avatar_023

Originally published: March 12, 2017
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