My advice to mums with anxiety.
A Guest Post by Kat from www.MyRawSelf.com
I woke up at 5am this morning as my husband was leaving to go to the gym before work and my two month old Hudson was ready for his morning feed. I knew that my five year old Benny was going to be up in about an hour or so which meant my day had started. So I cried.
I absolutely love and adore my kids. I love spending time with them. BUT the thought of getting through another day with them on my own was terrifying. When my husband asked what was wrong- without letting him into what was going on in my head which would have taken a while- I simply said “I’m scared”.
You see, my anxiety is triggered when I feel that I am losing control. As a mum I can only do so much to ‘control’ my kids, but them being cranky or moody is out of my control. What if Benny’s aggressive again like he has been on and off over the last two months since Hudson was born? We’ve made such progress with him, but what if he takes a step back today? The day I’m alone? What if Hudson doesn’t sleep all day like yesterday? What if he really is teething and I’ll have to hold him all day again? What if one of them gets sick? What if they break an arm? What if someone tries to break into our house? What if the house catches on fire? What if….. ?
I fell asleep after midnight worrying about today and here I was up at 5am crying uncontrollably terrified of what lay ahead of me. Clearly the odds of one of the kids breaking a limb were slim because ones a baby and doesn’t move, and the other is scared of everything, but these are the thoughts that run through my head.
I was diagnosed with anxiety a few years back and with therapy, naturopathy and hard work, I’ve managed to stay on top of it. And most days I’m completely fine, but because being a mum and my anxiety triggers are directly related, there are moments where it takes over.
The more mums I talk to, the more I realise how common anxiety is. It sucks. And what sucks even more is that most feel that they can’t talk about it. They don’t seek help or openly admit how they’re feeling. So here they are trying to be the best mums they can be while dealing with this inner demon that is slowly taking over their lives. It doesn’t just make your heart race, or fill your head with noise, and heart with fear, it physically hurts! Sometimes you want to run away, but your body feels frozen, almost glued to the floor. Other times you literally run. Run around the house trying to get everything done before the pre-schooler notices you haven’t said a word in an hour and asks you to play, or your baby starts screaming for their next feed.
If you’re one of these mums that live with anxiety every day but are afraid to ask for help, here’s my advice to you.
- TALK IT OUT
This doesn’t necessarily mean talking to a professional.
My therapist and naturopath together saved my life, but I have never been afraid to talk to someone – anyone- about how I’m feeling.
If therapy isn’t your thing, talk to a friend. A fellow mama, a colleague, your husband, your mum, your bestie. Sit down with them and tell them you need them to listen to you ramble. Talking through your thoughts out loud and not just in your head late at night, will help you filter through them easier. You’ll be able to maneuver your way through the nonsense to reach clarity. I’ve found that having someone to talk to helps make sense of the noise in my head, and helps me find calm and peace a lot quicker.
- DRINK WATER
It sounds so simple and I know that we all try to drink as much as we can, but personally I find my anxiety is a lot worse on the days that I’ve been lazy with my water. Just do it. Drink plenty. Trust me, you’ll feel better.
- TAKE SOME TIME OUT
This may seem impossible because as mums, we don’t have time to go to the toilet, let alone have some ‘me’ time. But something as simple as going outside to check the letter box by yourself to get away from the chaos that’s going on inside, will give you a chance to clear your head, take some long deep breaths, and hopefully find the latest Kmart catalogue you can flick through before bed that night. The kids will be ok for five minutes. I promise.
You know those days where everything seems to be falling apart? The dishes need to be done, you have a load of washing in the machine, the rubbish is overflowing, the carpet is disgusting, the toy room looks like a bomb hit it, none of the beds have been made, you totally need a shower, you didn’t take anything out for dinner so feeling guilty that you‘ll be whipping up some eggs on toast, your legs are hairy… and… the kids want to paint?! You know those days?
If you’re like me, you’ll start with the top of the list and work your way down. But why? Why do we have to do it all? At once? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect? All the time!
And why do the kids come last?
When Hudson was first born, I struggled with accepting that I can’t get to the housework in the morning like I used to. I felt anxious being stuck on the couch feeding him when I could be vacuuming. But once I realised that as long as the house was tidy(ish) and hygienic(ish) and everyone was fed, alive and had something to wear(ish) (because pjs all day is totally acceptable at our place) then everything else could wait. Because I know that on the weekend, when my husband is home and outside playing with the two boys, I’ll have an hour or so to get everything back in order.
So my priority now, is and always will be my boys. Instead of looking at the carpet while feeding Hudson, I now look at him while talking to Ben.
- KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
Even if you haven’t been ‘formally diagnosed’, or are still struggling to understand your anxiety, it’s really important to know what your triggers are. What makes you anxious? Think about it. Write it down. Tell your husband.
Being aware of what can send you down that spiral, makes it easier to manage. Having those around you know, helps them understand.
When you feel the anxiety coming on, tell yourself that it’s ok for it to take over. Anxiety is never cured, but it can be managed. You’re not weak for feeling anxious, or for having a panic attack in the middle of Coles. Absolutely not! You’re human and you’re a mum. And you suffer from a mental illness.
But knowing what’s caused it, can really be the difference between crying in pain and fear for the next hour, and taking a few deep breaths before gaining back control after a few minutes.
My therapist made me tackle my triggers head on, and while I ABSOLUTLEY recommend this type of therapy, I don’t recommend you do it without the help, guidance and support of a professional.
While I don’t have all the answers, I do have personal experience. I know that openly sharing my story not only helps me, but it shows other mums going through the same thing that there is no shame in having anxiety.
Please don’t hide it. Don’t suffer alone. I promise you, there are so many other mums out there that ‘get it’! Talk about it. Talk through it. It can be managed!!