In an old building with horrible lighting I sat in my desk with my backup against the wall. I was in a geography class and I wasn’t prepared for my test. The girl who sat in front of me was talking about some boy drama and I was trying to drown out all the noise. The noise wasn’t her or my other classmates. It was the sound of my heart beating.
Years later, in a different desk in an organic chemistry class taking a test that I had studied so much for I again heard my heat beating. But this time I could feel the beats in my calves. I was fighting back tears (who wants to be the girl in college crying during a test?) and I felt cold.
I had never really talked about these incidents (or the lesser ones I don’t remember) to anyone until one day I was brave enough to talk to my doctor. She gasped. GASPED! Not at what I was describing but that I hadn’t talked about it.
After a lot of conversations, I found myself crying in the CVS parking lot. The one on the corner of Highland and Lee! I was parked in the furthest parking spot facing the west. Feeling like my world was ending. For a year and a half I took anxiety medications. And I was so ashamed. I felt like a failure. I felt incapable. I felt crazy. I didn’t want to be “dependent” on anything to go through life. But I was in college, working crazy shifts in the LSU Vet School Emergency & ICU, and my husband was deployed. I mean….none of that should make anyone anxious, right?
Almost a decade has gone by since I’ve taken medication. Will I ever take it again? I don’t know. Medications change, new ones come out, but I didn’t like who I was and how I felt on medications.
Motherhood has poked the anxiety bear. And just when I think I’m being flexible or beating it, something happens.
Side note/Truth moment…the other night I went to a gathering of people at church. J stayed home with an angry teething toddler while N and I went to enjoy some fun. When it was time to find a seat, I felt like I was unprepared and out of place. I couldn’t catch my breath and tears started to well up. Standing in a room full of people that I know, I panicked! Seriously I could have sat on the floor alone and I would have been fine, but at that moment the lies of being unworthy, unwanted, and unwelcome rushed in.
I’m fully aware that none of this makes logical sense. But I’m also aware that anxiety makes no sense.
Anxiety in motherhood for me looks like…
- Watching the clock // Part of this is good for me. I can prepare for what’s ahead and combat anxiety. But sometimes I get too rigid about timelines that I can’t stray from the routine.
- Irrational worry // This is much better now for a few reasons but there’s tons of worries about sickness and death. Not necessarily the dying part but the part of leaving my children to be someone else’s responsibility and leaving them without a mother.
- Control freak // My husband might try to put it nicer (maybe) but I know this is what he would call me. Not that I’m controlling him. But that I want to control our environment, the plan, the what/when/where/how, etc.
- Comparison // Just don’t do it. About yourself, about your kids, about your home or life or husband or whatever. If you have to call yourself out do it! If you hear me say, “Don’t do it” aloud ever….sorry (not sorry) that’s just me reminding myself to not compare.
The thing is, with all of these reasons that I struggle with anxiety I feel better because I can NAME them. I (mostly) can see where and what leads to my issue and can try my best to prevent it or work through it more logically than emotionally. This isn’t easy and it’s taken a lot of work and self-awareness and Jesus. I have to try to identify the lies that I hear and know that truly my worth is found in Jesus. This is something I repeat to myself a million times a day, mostly everyday. It doesn’t always work. I still have panic attacks and I still get anxious. But I haven’t felt my heart beat in my calves in 10 years. So I’m counting that as success. For me. Even if it’s because I’m not in college, working shift work, and my husband isn’t on a ship circling islands in the Pacific. Obviously a lifestyle change was beneficial for my anxiety. I’ll keep working on my own issues. I’ll keep talking with my doctors. I’ll keep talking with my supportive family and friends. I’m sure I’ll have anxiety issues sometimes
next week later today. But I won’t let it win. I will not let the anxiety beat me.
*Please know that I am ALL for talking with whoever you need to if you suffer with anxiety, depression, etc. If medication helps you, please take it. My journey is not like someone else’s and we cannot expect any of us to have to same feelings, mental health, physical health, etc.
**If you feel alone, please reach out! To me, to a friend, a professional, SOMEONE. You are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Do not let that lie win. You are loved, cherished and very worthy!