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“Dear Anxiety: You’re Robbing My Kids of Their Mama”

My kids are so excited to see me when I get home from work, but all I want to do is sleep because, well, I haven’t done that in years.

I remember spending many family dinners gathered around my grandma’s kitchen table with cousins, aunts and uncles, and my grandma. But sometimes my mom was absent. I never understood why anyone would choose to stay home to do laundry or nurse a headache instead of spending time with our hilarious and loud family.

Until now. Mom, I get it. I get you.

For me, anxiety has been a tricky thing, because I didn’t know it was a thing until our son was diagnosed with it last year. Then, suddenly, I was flooded with thoughts, emotions, and memories from as early as age five. This behavior, this incessant worrying, these intrusive thoughts, stomachaches, sleepless nights — they’d all been my norm since elementary school. How could I have not known I wasn’t normal?

But I’m not. And guess what? Lots of us share these same concerns.

So I talked to a trusted friend and nurse practitioner, I did my research, and I made what was a courageous decision for me at the time to go on medication. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my health and for my family.

[Take This Test: Could You Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?]

But now, in times of extreme stress (we are planning a two-month trip, buying a vehicle, changing jobs, launching a new eCourse, and prepping for speaking engagements), it comes rushing back.

I haven’t slept well in two weeks. Let me define: I average 20 minutes at a time, in spurts, that add up to maybe two hours a night. I have gone back to drinking soda and eating crappy food this last week. I haven’t been to the gym in over two months. I. Am. Dying.

Anxiety, you’re the worst.

My kids are so excited to see me when I get home from work, but all I want to do is sleep because, well, I haven’t done that in years. They want to play outside and go swimming, but my mind is a tornado of what ifs and due dates, pressures and deadlines, and I am just plain missing out.

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So, Mom, I finally understand. The hours that my husband has our kids at the rec center are maybe the most blissful in my entire day. I try to work, but fall asleep because I’ve had a migraine since last week. That nap is glorious! I am able to take a nap, send and respond to work emails, write a post, clean the house, and make dinner all before they get back home. That to-do list would’ve taken three days and a miracle of the Lord to accomplish had the kids been home.

A clean house is comforting. Maybe I’ll sleep better tonight.

Anxiety, you’ve got to stop, because a tidy home with sanitized toilets is nice, but enjoying making memories with my two- and six-year-old is something I won’t be able to do for much longer.

[Related Resource: Make Mindfulness Work for You]

3 Comments & Reviews

  1. I think you are living inside of me! Hugs!!!!! I’m in bed now, middle of Sunday w migraine a million things to do before work tomorrow, then when I get there too.

  2. I’ve responded to my tendency toward worry and anxiety by being an underachiever, and while I have some hope that I can improve in this general area, I know that I will never be a super woman. And that’s ok. Our society glorifies the super woman, but not everyone is cut out for that, and, again, that’s ok. (Even the super women, I suspect, aren’t necessarily cut out for being super women. They are always “on” and always running on empty bc they feel pressure to perfect.)

    I vote for slowing down, for taking care of yourself, for seeing what’s really and truly important, and for not succumbing to the pressure to do it all and have it all in life.

  3. My doctor just told me that my body doesn’t like the way I’m living my life! I need to let go of all my shoulds and live a life that makes me feel complete. I agree with the comment above, I’m working on being an underachiever! We need to let go of the idea that we can and “should” be everything!
    So if family time will help you relax and enjoy and unwind, then let those dishes wait and go be with the family. Or if what you need is rest; when you husband takes the kids, use that time for YOU and rest. Not cleaning the house. I just hired house cleaners! Best investment I’ve ever made for my sanity and families.No guilt!
    And when my husband takes the kids for the afternoon, I rejoice and spend some much needed me time, reading and relaxing – or of course shopping if I have the energy which is rare!

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