Anxiety, My Silent Enemy

My studies have suffered the past week, thanks to new developments in my parents’ story, which you can kind of read about here. If it were all my story to tell, I’d have out with it and just be done, but since it’s a whole group of stories within stories, I have to quietly contain them. Yes, it’s really helping my anxiety (please hear the sarcasm in my voice.)

A few things have emerged in myself that I can share, though. This situation has made me look very hard at myself and admit to a few things I didn’t want to think about. Mostly because I would never seek a professional diagnosis. Too scared of what it would be. So, I diagnose myself and deal with it myself.

I have suffered from bouts of depression since I was twelve-years-old. Maybe before that, but the first episode that I remember was on my twelfth birthday. My uncle died, and I was very angry at myself for being hurt that my birthday wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I spent the whole day beating myself up and feeling guilty. The. Whole. Day.

It was by no means constant, so I usually overlooked it, until I got married. I wanted a baby. Month after month, I thought it would happen, and it didn’t. Then it did, and I thought it was all better, but it came back in the form of anxiety. “Is my baby okay?” “Will I be a good parent?” I was convinced that everything I was doing was hurting my growing child. I would go off sugar for a couple of days, get anxious, binge on candy. It was a vicious cycle that didn’t end with that pregnancy, but continued into the next and the next.

My parents’ situation has forced me to realize that depression is a thing, and it’s a deep thing. And just because it’s not a constant cloud of doom, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the back of my mind.

It’s not bad enough that I’m thinking of hurting myself or anyone else. It’s mostly the anxiety. Every time my toddlers tumble, every time they get a fever, every time they act out, I find myself crippled by anxiety. Afraid my discipline will be too severe, afraid it’s not enough, afraid that I’m disconnecting completely and avoiding dealing with the problem.

I watch every bite of cereal–because their dad has a love for cereal that they share–thinking, “I’m not doing this right. They shouldn’t be eating cereal.” “They shouldn’t be drinking that sugary drink. It has artificial colors.” “They should have vaccinations.” “They shouldn’t have vaccinations.” “Why am I even trying? Give me a soda.”

I’m stuck in the “What ifs?” So paranoid that I’m going to do something wrong that I don’t do anything. I smile, listening to the people around me fuss at my kids, then feel this terrified, “They think I need to do something about my kids jumping on the couch. My kids should probably not jump on the couch.”

I don’t demand that my kids eat vegetables. I don’t demand that they not eat candy. I don’t demand that they obey. I don’t demand anything, because I don’t feel worthy of being obeyed or overseeing anything they do. At least, I didn’t.

But… I’m dealing with it now. It’s got to stop. I’m tired of suffering heart palpitations when talking to people I should view as my peers. Tired of holding my hurt feelings in, because other people “might be” offended if I share them. Tired of avoiding the questions. Tired of questioning myself to this extent. (Not that I’ll ever stop questioning myself, but could I at least have the courage to believe in what I’m doing?) I’m tired of not sleeping, because my fears keep me awake.

I want to own who I am. To say what I think, hopefully in love, but without the crippling fear of the repercussions. I’m tired of worrying that other people will be offended by the way I parent, by the way I eat, by the way I do anything.

I’m so tired of the anxiety that I’ve shoved to the back of my mind for so long.

My obsession with nutrition, aromatherapy, and herbalism originally stemmed from wanting to be sure of myself. Wanting to be the right weight. Wanting to know that I’m making the right choices for my children. But, it can’t be like that. Because there are too many conflicting sources.

I’m a mom on a mission. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the focus of my mission.

I’ve been obsessed with the idea that modern medicine and natural medicine both have the potential to harm. I’ve been obsessed with what other people thought about how I choose to act upon the research I’ve done. I’ve been obsessed with the idea that diets make or break us. I’ve been obsessed with the idea that there is a fine line between doing right and wrong, and I’ve forced myself to walk it for too long.

Frankincense has helped clear my head these past few days. It’s what I’m giving partial credit to. I finally broke down and diffused it, even though it’s so expensive. Frankincense, Jesus, and two adults who can’t seem to understand that their behaviors toward each other also influences their relationships with their children.

I’m going to be open about my anxiety, because I finally feel like being heard. My silence wasn’t because I thought nobody wanted to hear it, but because I felt petty. Like I didn’t deserve to be heard, because other people have bigger problems.

Now, I research aromatherapy–not just because I love the idea of essential oils, but because it has helped me. I’ve used it to ease my physical pains. I’ve used it to calm my mind. I’ve used it to relieve that crippling tension that has had my stomach in a constant knot for the past month and a half. (I even discovered that Ylang Ylang eased my heart palpitations. That’s been an amazing helper.)

Now, I research food, because I love food. It’s delicious. It’s an integral part of my personality, because feeding people is my love language. I want all people to be drawn to my table, to feel nourished in my kitchen, to taste and see that the Lord is so good. Good food has been a real delight these past couple of days, as my husband worked his culinary magic on grilled chicken and a seafood gumbo that was so delicious I’ve shared a bite with everybody who would taste it.

IMG_7425God has worked this situation with my parents to my future good. Even when I couldn’t pray or focus on the Bible He’s been right there, shining a light in my darkness, bringing me back to the light. Reminding me of His love through friends and my mother-in-love, who has been a constant friend.

My anxiety will be back. It’s one of those mean friends that hangs around, jumping on you when you don’t expect it. But, for now, there’s peace.

 

 

P.S. I also got a really short haircut like I’ve wanted for years and never been brave enough to go through with. I actually love it. Should’ve done it a long time ago.

Real. Great. Mom. 

Today, I would like to present myself with a trophy…but it wouldn’t be for greatest mom ever. 

I left home this morning, headed to a birthday party, forgetting diapers, sippie cups, snacks, shoes… I had my wallet and keys. That’s about it. 

With two toddlers and a three month old, you’d think I’d be an old pro. But…I’m not. I sat looking around my car, which is messy, wondering how I could have towels, two blankets, four books, twelve stale French fries, three abandoned fast food cups from our last adventure out, and a pencil…but no diapers. I had wipes jammed into the overflowing glove box.  How did I not have diapers?

My children enjoyed the birthday party. I bummed a couple of diapers off my sister-in-law. And everything was going great! 

Until my two-year-old took a flying leap into the deep end of the pool with no floats. I got him out, which was a chore, since I don’t swim very well, and–as I spat water–he did it again. This time I was scrambling, but people were all around us, hauling him up. I felt like a real great mom…dripping…coughing…Real. Great. Mom. 
My two toddlers thought it was funny to climb down the ladders and run around the pool. Every time I reached for one, the other took off. I heard other moms gasping in fright, I couldn’t keep up with my kids, and they weren’t listening to me. Real. Great. Mom. 

On the way home, I realized that the two year old had eaten nothing substantial for lunch or snack. On top of that, somebody gave him a Dr Pepper. While I’m usually laid back about that, I couldn’t help thinking I was setting him up to be a junk food junkie…after all my research about the badness of junk food. Real. Great. Mom. 

Now I’m hiding in the bathroom while they play in their playroom. The three month old is hungry, it’s time to go feed him. I barely got the other two to eat any supper. Real. Great. Mom. 

Tomorrow, we’re going on a bug hunt. We’re going to read Bible stories. We’re going to swing. We’re going to eat something besides chips and cupcakes. 

We’re going to be fine, because I am a real great mom. I’m fun. I’m a pretty good cook. I’m happy. I’m a bad dancer, but good at beginning dance parties. 

The bad days don’t define me. And you shouldn’t let them define you either. Wherever you are, you’re the best you there will ever be. You’re special, created in the image of a loving God. You’re His workmanship, and He loves you. 

Have a beautiful life!