Gina Perkins

@katienotafraidy | contributor
Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

How Anxiety Prepared Us for Our Daughter's Diabetes Diagnosis

It was December 10, 2020, when our world would suddenly, shockingly, and completely unexpectedly, change forever.  It already feels like a lifetime ago, and yet the quest for learning and adapting places us atop Bambi legs — unsure, wobbly, and insecure in our ability to move forward. Our 11-year-old daughter, DJ, who has always struggled with anxiety, had been complaining about a racing heart and inability to concentrate each night as she got into bed. I had been talking with her therapist about it, wondering if her anxiety was befriending panic disorder.  Together with the therapist, we were trying new coping tools and calming strategies with DJ each night, but the symptoms weren’t subsiding.  Because we were starting to feel that these sensations were affecting the quality of her life, we opened the conversation about anxiety medication with DJ’s pediatrician. Due to DJ’s long history with anxiety, her pediatrician agreed that medication would be worth trying. We wanted to provide DJ a little boost, something to help her mind rest more easily, so that the rest of her body might follow. Rather than just prescribing us an SSRI and sending us on our way, DJ’s pediatrician ordered some standard lab work to be done as a precaution. We reported to the lab on Dec. 9, the day after my 43rd birthday. The very next day, DJ’s pediatrician called to say, “I hate to do this over the phone, but DJ’s blood glucose levels are really high.” Now, I have to admit I didn’t know what that meant. I wasn’t comprehending what she was trying to tell me, but it was obvious that she was trying to communicate something very serious.  Naively, I asked, “Does this mean she has cancer?” I was quickly assured that no, it didn’t mean she had cancer, but it did mean that I would need to check into the Emergency Department immediately.  They were expecting us, and I should pack a bag. This was indicative of diabetes, and we were in for a few nights’ stay at the hospital. When we got off the phone, I was a disaster. I was simultaneously trying to pack a bag despite having a completely blank mind, and communicate to the girls that DJ and I needed to head for the hospital. My husband was on a conference call for work, and I slipped him a note that read: “Emergency. DJ has diabetes. We have to go to the hospital. Now.” He abruptly ended his call to ask questions I couldn’t answer, while at the same time trying to console me and the girls. The rainy ride to the hospital was the longest of my life, filled with tears, questions we didn’t have the answers to, and fear of what would come next. I suppose our journey started the moment we gave our name at the ER window, and they swept DJ into their care. As each moment passed, reality sunk into our souls a bit deeper.  This wasn’t going to go away. This would be forever, and we had no choice but to buckle up and endure the ride. There’s so much more that I want to add to this story.  So many more elements, emotions, gifts and struggles woven throughout those six weeks, but what I want to take a moment to do in this particular post is honor the anxiety disorder that has, at times, debilitated both DJ and I with its suffocating grip. Because of anxiety, we knew how to find perspective in the midst of a storm. We knew how to sift through the truths in a sea of fear-based stories. We knew how to ground ourselves and find our way back into the present when worries blew heavy gusts of lies into our sails. We were ready for the voyage ahead because anxiety had given us plenty of opportunities for excursions into the unknown. And, it had given us plenty of opportunities to demonstrate that we’d always find our way back to the shore.  It’s not that we wouldn’t be tossed about along the way, or that there wouldn’t be storms overhead, it’s just that we’d know how to find our footing despite the turmoil dousing our faces. Looking back, both DJ and I knew there was something amiss happening in her body.  We both had the intuition that it had crossed the lines of anxiety, which is why we took it to her care team. Between her therapist and her pediatrician, we pressed on to understand if her symptoms were “normal.” We felt uneasy about what she was experiencing, and we sought to find answers and relief.  While we had no idea that an explanation would come in the form of a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, our anxiety had taught us to remain attuned to our bodies — not just our minds. Our anxiety had kept us on high alert, oftentimes without any warrant at all, but we had learned to listen closely to that still, small voice in the back of our minds convincing us to zero in and worry.  Sometimes the worry was irrelevant, and sometimes the worry drove us into the hands of a phlebotomist, who would hand us the torn corner of the map, allowing us a clear path forward. Even if it’s not the one we would’ve chosen for ourselves. Is this hard? Yep. Witnessing your child navigate an autoimmune disorder is an indescribable heaviness, but that’s a post for another day. In the midst of the heartache, and stress of it all, we remain floating on gratitude. There are a million ways this story could’ve been centered around trauma, but it wasn’t. We were spared, and deep in my heart, I know anxiety is to thank for such early detection. I never thought I’d say something so wild, but here I am. “Thank you, anxiety.  You were the safety preserver we never expected.”

Gina Perkins

Why You Might Be Struggling To Make Decisions During COVID-19

As I write this, I am eavesdropping on my daughters’ nightly practice of asking the other to rate their day on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest rating of a wonderful day. Once they rate their day, they then share their highs and lows. This sweet and honest conversation between sisters is all done after my husband and I tuck them in and turn out their lights. I am often caught off-guard with how generous they are in their recollections of the day. Since the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic began disrupting our lives in March of this year, I have found myself to be less patient, less creative and have less energy in general. With a teaching background, I’m not typically low on any of the aforementioned qualities. However, in this never-ending season of togetherness, I am growing weary and more anxious by the day. I often tuck the girls in at night, still burdened with guilt over some poor decision I flippantly made that day, which disappointed them in some way. So, when I hear the “8” ratings, and listen intently to their highs and lows, I am increasingly grateful for the grace that my children extend to me. Tonight’s ratings were 10s across the board. I wasn’t that surprised because we spent the day at the beach with friends.  The girls chased waves, built sandcastles, dug channels and made their own tide-pools. They ate potato chips and cupcakes, splashed, laughed and saw jellyfish. They also got sunburned. From the time we got home from the beach, and up until they crawled into bed, they were complaining about their sunburns. Somehow, these sunburns on their backs were causing them to walk with a limp, and required ice-packs and excessive wardrobe changes — they have a flair for the dramatic. I must admit that the presumption I should know how to solve the sunburn problem felt excruciating (newsflash — this is my job).  I just wanted to stop … managing, deciding, dealing. At the time of writing this, I am also caring for my husband who has been laid up with a serious back issue for the past five weeks. While our marriage has historically been very well-divided in the responsibilities department, I am feeling his absence in our partnership. It’s so disheartening to see your partner in pain and not be able to fix it. It’s also hard to manage the emotional roller coaster and depression that comes along with chronic pain — unsure of how your decisions might rock the boat, again, adding to the anxiety of the season. I’m not suggesting that I have it bad here. I don’t. I have a million things to be grateful for, and I am. What I am realizing, however, is that I am experiencing “decision fatigue.” Decision fatigue is a syndrome coined by social psychologist Dr. Roy F. Baumeister, and describes the deterioration of our ability to make good decisions after a long session of decision making. I might argue that COVID-19 has forced us all into a long session of decision making. What began as deciding how we’d approach distance learning leading up to summer break, morphed into examining each decision we’d make with regard to every single interaction we’d have over these past five months, and into the foreseeable future. Will I brave the grocery store or order online? Should I actually be worried about a toilet paper shortage? Will I be safe without protective gloves, so long as I have hand sanitizer? Is it OK for my children to interact with their friends so long as they’re outside, and 6 feet apart? How can I manage their physical health and their mental health ? Should I look for a new job after getting laid off, or commit to full-time home-schooling my children? Should I learn how to edge the lawn while my husband is laid up, or should I just let the yard go? A thousand decisions every single day. Decisions we’ve never had to make before, which makes all of the mundane choices feel nearly impossible. For instance, how to manage a sunburn. I’m 42 years old. I grew up in the age of baby oil and aluminum foil … if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to manage a sunburn. And yet, at the end of a really long week — I should mention that it’s Monday — I am literally debilitated by the question. “Mom, what should I do?” Uhhhhh. I stare blankly at my kids, half-irritated that they’re forcing me toward yet another decision. They follow me around the house like wounded soldiers desperate for salve, forcing me to squeeze out the last bit of cognitive resources that I have to find a solution on the fly. However, when the lights go out and they liberally shell out 10s, I become aware that the quality of my decisions over the mundane stuff doesn’t hold much weight around here — and perhaps that’s the goal. As former President Obama once told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits … I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing, because I have too many other decisions to make.” Obama was wise enough to reserve his decision-making senses for the stuff that really mattered. I think that, in this unprecedented time of a global pandemic, where nothing at all is routine, I need to get into the practice of paring down my decisions. Things like extended home-schooling, and how we proceed with my husband’s health, are big things that require intentional thought and sound contemplation. Which dish towel to wet and drape over my child’s sunburn is probably not that serious. I need to reserve my energy, as there’s seemingly no end to this season in sight. For now, I’m just going to cozy up with my dog and delegate some decisions on over to her. Naps all around! For more on parenting during the coronavirus pandemic, check out the following stories from our community: Creative Activities to Try With Your Kids While We’re Isolated at Home Why I’m Inspired by This ‘Hard Email’ a Mom Sent About COVID-19 and School Work 25 Hilarious (and Sweet) Photos That Show What Parenting During COVID-19 Is Really Like Mental Health Resources to Help You Cope During COVID-19

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom

Gina Perkins

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Daughter About Her Anxiety

Dear Baby Girl, Yes, I realize you’ve been tall enough to ride Space Mountain for the past few years, but you will always be my baby. My first born. The one who made me a mother. The first to know what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You have my freckles, my blue eyes, and sensitive (yet fierce) disposition. Much to my dismay, you also have my anxiety disorder. Well, I mean, you have your own anxiety disorder — but I often wonder which of my genes is to blame. As you actively work to navigate your anxious thoughts, I work just as hard to release myself from the shame of having passed this beast along to you. I do know that shame has no place in either of our stories, so I turn my angst into advocacy for you. I want to ensure you never feel alone, or different, or worse yet — broken. Today wasn’t my finest moment, sweet girl. I have already asked for your forgiveness, and you have already graciously granted it to me. I wasn’t mad at you, I was enraged by the small-mindedness of your anxiety. I was infuriated with your Story Bugs, as we refer to anxious thoughts in our home. Your Story Bugs were telling you lies. Heartbreaking, debilitating lies. I have watched your relentless battle with anxiety increase as each long, new day of our governor’s COVID-19 Shelter in Place order passes. It has been 51 days since you’ve seen any of your friends — since you’ve had any glimpse of normalcy. While I expected we might be used to the isolation by now, it seems a cruel reminder that there is something bigger than us, something threatening and scary, looming around out there. An eerie feeling that leaves you, my precious daughter, on high alert. I’m not sure if you’ve even realized it for yourself yet, but your sleep has been interrupted, your sense of security has been threatened, and your desire for independence has been thwarted. Your anxiety is having a heyday. This morning when we set out to take our walk, and I grabbed the leash of our biggest dog, I saw the panic set across your face. You’ve been afraid to take him out of the house ever since he got loose and got into that scuffle with our neighbor’s dog. You lost trust in him that day, and maybe you lost a little trust in me, too, since I couldn’t stop him. I made a promise to you, that we wouldn’t take him out without daddy, because you trust in daddy’s strength to control those 90 pounds of solid pup. This morning, I overlooked that promise, and then I got angry at you when red hot tears came pouring out of your eyes.  You looked at me, and with sheer conviction, you said, “I can’t.” I can’t. Those words nearly broke me, love. I felt the anger rise up inside me, from somewhere deep within. I was instantly filled with rage, and the Mama Bear in me wanted to wage a war against your Story Bugs. How dare they have the audacity to trick you into thinking you can’t. How dare your anxiety convince you that are incapable or inadequate in any way. I immediately dropped the leash, and stomped through the house, asking you to follow me. You were likely concerned with my anger, feeling unfairly targeted — and, in those first few seconds, you were. It took that transitory walk from our front door, through the house and into our backyard for me to realize that your Story Bugs were the object of my fury. Not you. We sat down under the sun in the backyard, and I pulled you in close. I felt your wet face lean into my ribs, and we sat quiet for a few moments. That’s when I asked for your forgiveness. That’s when I accepted responsibility for mindlessly attempting to break a promise to you. It’s also when I told you that I wouldn’t allow you to use the phrase, “I can’t.” I told you that you could be “too afraid,” “too nervous,” or “too uncomfortable,” but that when it comes to your anxiety, I will not accept “I can’t.” I refuse to allow your Story Bugs to reduce your abilities. I refuse to allow you to believe in their limitations. You are too talented, too intelligent, too passionate and too courageous to believe you are anything less than capable. You have far too many gifts to offer this world, and too many small wonders to uncover, for you to ever believe that you are bound by the lies that anxiety dictates to your brain. As your mother, whose pride in you runneth over, I will not tolerate a mental illness which wrongly convinces you that you can’t. You are not broken. You, my precious daughter, have a fire within you. A fire that fear cannot stoke. A fire that is only fed by what is honest, and good. The fire within you is grown only by truth. You are brave, and you are enough. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be worried, unsure and unsettled. I battle generalized anxiety disorder, too. I’m assaulted by the lies, too. But, I’ve missed too many moments of life by backing down when anxiety has whispered, “I can’t.”  Because I have promised to walk alongside you as long as I am alive, I promise to also raise hell against those same doubts when they make rise in your life. Baby girl, there is nothing that you can’t do. Love,Mom