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Anxiety Disorder Ain’t for the Faint of Heart

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Here’s the thing. I am in a good place right now. I love my life. I love my kid. At the same time, I have been super hypersensitive lately, tearing up at the drop of a hat, and am more of a tightly wound ball of anxiety than I have been since giving up the anxiety meds six years ago. I’m trying my best, but lately it seems like a losing battle. I’ve been thinking very seriously of going back on medication. I don’t know…

So tonight I did something incredibly embarrassing to me. Well, embarrassing isn’t the word, I just don’t know what is right now. My daughter knows I have anxiety. She has anxiety too. The difference is that I have Social Anxiety Disorder and she has General Anxiety Disorder. She likes people. She can march herself into a room full of people and ask any one of them any darned question she pleases. I am in awe. I can’t do that. So for the last few years I have been making a pretty good show of having my crap together. I’ve always been aware that my social anxiety harms my child. It doesn’t harm her in the “I am a bad mother” way, or the “I cannot take care of my child” way, because I am a good mother. A damn good mother. It harms her in the way that I’m not friends with the other moms. I can’t call them and invite their kids over. I’m not comfortable at school functions. I just want to hide in a corner and make a fast getaway. Here I am feeling all anxious and jittery anyway, when she comes home today and tells me something about a Fun Night at the church center. ALL her friends are going. She has not brought home one flyer from school and I have not heard the first thing about this event. She wants to go. Her details are sketchy. I tell her if she had brought home something about it so that I’d know what it was all about would be great, but she didn’t. She frowns at me and tells me that ALL it is, is a couple hours on Wednesday nights where the kids can go to the center and play sports or whatever. She swears it isn’t a big deal and ALL I have to do is go in, sign her in and leave and then come get her two hours later.

I know I will regret it, but tell her I will bring her. Now here’s the thing. I hate – absolutely HATE walking into something that I don’t know anything about. I CANNOT walk into a room with other moms that look like they have all their ducks in a row and ask what an event is about and how it works. I do not like going somewhere when I don’t know exactly what I’m doing before I get there. We get in the car and my heart starts to beat faster. I pull onto the road and now it’s hammering. I’m starting to sweat. My hands are shaking. I’m starting to cry. My daughter is looking at me like she is wondering if I’m about to have a heart attack or something. We get close to the church and there are maybe three cars in the parking lot. I tell her there CAN’T be anything going on, no one is there! Now tears are streaming down my face. I can’t go in there. I just can’t. She looks at me and says, “Don’t worry. I’ll go in and find out if they are having it tonight.”  She hops out of the car and is gone. She’s back less than a minute later. “All my friends are already here. All you have to do is come in and sign me in. I promise that’s all.” I am about to lose my mind. Then I get angry. Not with my daughter, but with myself. Why is this so hard? Then I said something I wish I hadn’t said. I’m swiping at the tears, trying to look some sort of normal so I can go sign her into the youth activity, and I growl, “I just wish I was normal.”

My daughter jerked her head up and said, in a crazy mother kind of voice, “WHAT did I just hear you say?” I mumbled “nothing”, like a chastised child. She grabbed my arm. “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. I’m GLAD I’m not normal and I’m glad YOU aren’t normal.” I just look at her. “You think I don’t understand? You think I haven’t cried over stuff that other people would think was dumb? I’ve cried a lot.” I sigh. “Yeah, but at least you like people. At least you aren’t a grown woman crying because your daughter needs you to walk into a room and look a nice mom in the eye and sign you into the church center.” She patted my arm, she smoothed my hair. “It’s okay, mom. You can do this.”

We got out of the car and she held my hand. She held my hand all the way up to the table where I signed her in. She said hello to the mom and the dad sitting there. She spoke to them while I filled out the paper. She gave my hand a squeeze and said, “See you at eight,” before she ran off to join her friends. I took the walk of shame back to my car.  How could I have done that in front of her? How could I have gotten so worked up that I allowed that whole storm of Anxiety Disorder crazy to get to me? I became angry at the feeling of shame that filled me. Why CAN’T I just be normal? Why am I the way I am? She doesn’t deserve that. Then I realize that I’m lucky to have her. If I can’t show her when I’m fragile, then how can I show her how to be strong, too? That’s all I want for her. I want her to grow up strong and confident in her own abilities. I don’t want her to ever let her Anxiety Disorder or her OCD or her ADHD to stop her from doing what she wants. All my life my Anxiety Disorder kept me from doing things. I was always the outsider looking in, wishing I could join the fun, but not knowing how. I don’t want that for her. I have to show her that she can control this. I have to show her to never be afraid to be vulnerable, but never let her disorder stand in the way of something she wants.

It’s not always easy, but together we can do this. We ALL can.

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6 Comments

  1. sandlu7 says:

    I feel exactly what you go through, and proud of you for trying to not take over. Certainly not to the extent that you do, but I have social anxiety too…not to have ever been diagnosed by a doctor, but don’t need anyone to tell me what I’ve always known, since I was a kid. No tears but definitely the pounding heart, jitters and sweat. I don’t sweat it too much because I usually only put myself in social positions with family members only…my biggest problem is when I have to pick up the phone and make a call,especially to someone I don’t know..I tell myself to stop procrastinating and just make the stupid call…they don’t know me, so what! Lol right now I’m shaking just thinking about it ! So I DO have an idea how it is for you…it’s hard and I am proud of you for ALL you have accomplished, not only in your writing, but especially in your personal life. You have a wonderful ally in your precious daughter…you can help balance each other

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    • Thank you for that. It really does make a difference to know I’m not the only one. A lot of times we see others and we just KNOW they can handle anything, have it all together, or would never have to struggle with the same things we do. But you can’t tell on the outside what people are feeling on the inside. Ugh, phone calls are the WORST and I just don’t know why…then again so can being in a room with people. Especially if i don’t know them well…then I talk too fast, too loud and my voice is all high pitched. Guess I’m just trying to drown out the drumming in my head! Lol!
      Anyway, thanks for such a thoughtful comment.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I am so incredibly proud of you for sharing your truth. It cannot be easy to share such personal details but look at how much people love and support you! We love your IMPERFECT self. Keep sharing. xxoo
    PS

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    • No, it isn’t easy to share those kinds of things. It is easier to share the funny, or the mundane things, but it is our imperfections that make us human, and we can’t really talk honestly about a disorder without sharing the ugly side too. I hope that will help others to realize there is nothing to be ashamed of. I am very fortunate to have found so much support and love.

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  3. April says:

    You have one incredibly compassionate, intuitive daughter. It took my daughter telling me that I need to get some help. She didn’t say it in the kindest way, but it stopped me in my tracks, and I got help. You know what I have learned? There are many anxiety/depression/introvert/ADDs all around. Some can control their’s better than others.

    I belonged to a knitting group. They met in a busy public place. I made myself go because I didn’t know a single person since moving across the country. The first time I went, not knowing what a single woman looked like, I was shaking, dry mouthed, wishing I could just turn around and go home. I just looked for knitters. At first, there were about 12 women of varying ages, but most were far younger than I. It put my social anxiety into overdrive, but I kept exposing myself to it. I left many knit nights early because a person can only handle so much.

    I had to miss a couple of months gatherings, because I had surgery, but when I returned, there were less woman. I finally blurted out all my frustrations with my life over the past 6 years (the group disbanded about 2 years ago), told them I was on medication, and I struggle with many things. Guess what…just about everyone of those women were on medication for their own mental health issues.

    My point, there may be someone near that hasn’t shared their fears or challenges. OR there is someone near that totally understands what you deal with. Your daughter is one, for sure.

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    • I applaud you for facing all the fear/anxiety and going to that knitting group. I’ve always let my social anxiety win and I have never done anything like that. I just tell myself that I prefer (meaning it’s easier) to just be alone. It took a lot of bravery on your part to not only go, but then to open up to them. I know we always feel like we are the only ones dealing with these issues, and are always surprised when we find out the opposite.
      I am lucky that my daughter “gets it” I just wish that she didn’t have to suffer with her own disorders for that to be the reason. My daughter is an empath, which can be rough too, because her anxiety then feeds off of mine and boy, then we are both in trouble!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Always much appreciated.

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