A guest post from one of our moms... Sarah Chenevey
My anxiety is hungry.
It would eat me if it could, but I won’t let it. So it stalks me, hiding in the shadows of “what ifs,” echoing the choruses of “should haves” that rattle around my mind. It lies to me, telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’m lazy, that I am failing the ones I love most, and even that these words I’m writing are trite and cliché.
It feeds on my exhaustion; it gorges itself during my period. It twists my daughter’s (very normal) cries of frustration, tiredness, or hunger (or, you know, hatred of pants) into accusations.
It’s been there as long as I can remember, and it runs in my family.
Some days, when I’m in the trenches and my kitchen is a mess and Amelia’s crying and the dog is eating crayons and there’s just SO MUCH POOP IN MY LIFE, I look down and see that it’s gobbled me up all the way to my knees. I’ve started to believe its whispers.
But I thank God that I have been able to keep fighting it. I am thankful for the therapists who taught me so much, pulling my anxiety into the light and showing me its weakness and my own strength. I am thankful for the medication that adjusts my brain chemistry. I am endlessly thankful for my incredibly patient, understanding, and loving husband, who listens to my fears and reminds me of the truth.
And I am so thankful for my Amelia, who has inspired me to keep fighting. Current research indicates that while a predisposition towards anxiety appears to be genetic, a lot of it is a learned behavior, and while I cannot change the genes that I gave her (not that I’d want to—she’s FABULOUS. Have you seen her hair?!), I can and will model healthier behavior for dealing with stress, a.k.a. with life. I won’t let my irrational fears keep her from exploring and growing.
And do you know what? She proves that my anxiety has it all backwards, proves it every day just by being herself. Her birth and 10-day NICU stay proved my strength, her unwillingness to sleep my patience, and her joy and bravery and curiosity and exuberance mean that while I might not be doing everything right, I’m doing enough. I am enough.
If you’re battling your own anxiety dragon, or drowning in your own anxiety ocean, or you’re too tired to try to make your anxiety into some sort of metaphor, you don’t have to do it alone.
Telling me that asking for help is a sign of weakness is one of my anxiety’s favorite lies.