Hi, my name is Ash, and I struggle with anxiety. Did you know that 40-million adults in the United States also have anxiety? As I type this, I can already feel my anxiety finding its spot on my chest and my heart beginning to race. Okay, let’s ignore that feeling for a minute because here are five things I wish my friends and family knew about my anxiety.
Sometimes I don’t feel like a good mom.
To be honest, the only reason I find strength to move out of bed in the morning is because of my two daughters. Although I find the energy and calmness (or faked calmness) to live life, I still think that I’m doing a terrible job at motherhood. That’s usually when I fish for compliments from my husband or want my mom to tell me that I’m a great mom. I need validity in those moments of weakness.
I want to meet up with you, but I just don’t have the energy.
Please don’t be upset if I cancel our plans or avoid you for a few days. I need to take care of my mental health, and sometimes that means alone time and working through my anxious thoughts on my own. Anxiety isn’t something that I can just get over, and I hope you can wait for me because I promise it’ll pass.
I know my anxiety makes me jump to the worst conclusions – don’t ridicule me.
For the longest time, I felt as if others thought I was being “dramatic” for worrying about death or my little ones being kidnapped in broad daylight at the zoo or park. I even felt ridiculed when I told someone that I dress my girls in specific colors when we go out together because “if one of them goes missing, then I can point to my other child and let them know exactly what she was wearing.” While my anxiety isn’t that bad anymore, I still jump to the worse conclusions when it begins raining too hard or when I see a stranger near us at a park. Hold my hand through those moments of intrusive thoughts; I need it a lot more than your judgment.
I don’t know why some anxiety overcomes me.
Really, I don’t. It just happens, and there is no way to explain it. There are no triggers, and it could happen on a beautiful spring day or on a gloomy winter night – it just happens.
I feel shame when I talk about my anxiety.
Now that we have gotten to our last point, a bit of shame has brought tears to my eyes. I don’t like feeling this way, and even with medication and therapy, it still happens. I’m not brave or strong because I can talk about my anxiety. I’m simply trying to be truthful, and with that truth comes some shame (some of it placed by society and some of it placed by my own mind).
So, what can you do to help someone with anxiety and who possibly has those same thoughts as me? Sit with them and let them know that you are a safe place. Check on them when they cross your mind. Reassure them that you love them no matter what their anxiety whispers in their head – that’s what we need more than anything else.