A Mom’s Struggle With Anxiety Finally Leads To Peace

In the spring of 1996 at age 30, I had my first beautiful daughter. It was love at first sight. I could not believe how much my heart grew when I looked at that precious little baby. But I was scared too. I was diagnosed with panic disorder in my early 20’s and so I wondered, “What kind of mother will I be? Will I be good enough? Strong enough? What will she think of me when she gets older?”

Early motherhood was difficult. I had to struggle through post partum depression with very little support. In fact the only support I had was my husband and my psychiatrist. It was necessary for me to be on high doses of anti-anxiety medications as well as antidepressants. I remember feeling so sad that I couldn’t breast feed my beautiful daughter.

I remember feeling very ashamed of what I perceived was weakness in me. I cried a lot, and I spent a lot of time alone. I felt very different from other moms, who seemed to have perfect lives.

Thankfully, the PPD did pass. But for me, what remained was living with panic attacks. It took a lot of the spontaneity out of what should have been the best time of my life. I shied away from doing things socially with other moms. With every Mommmy and Me meeting or Gymboree class, I would torture myself endlessly before going… Would I have a panic attack? Would the other moms notice I was anxious? Do they think I’m weird?

Sometimes the anxiety was too overwhelming and I just couldn’t go. Other times I would go, have a panic attack, and have to leave immediately. Still other times I would go and just feel nervous the whole time, waiting for that next bout of panic to overtake me.

I would observe the other moms talking and laughing and I would silently berate myself: Why can’t I be outgoing like that? Why can’t I be care-free? Why can’t I be normal?

It was common in those days to take turns inviting all the moms and babies from the Mommy and Me group to each other’s houses. While I could make myself go to most of these play dates, I couldn’t bring myself to invite the other moms to my house. I was too anxious. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make small talk without turning bright red. And if I had a panic attack, well I couldn’t just leave.

I didn’t have close freinds- I was afraid if someone knew the real deal with me, they would reject me anyways, so why even try? So on top of the anxiety, I felt lonely and isolated too.

When I look back to those early days of motherhood, I feel very sad. But it is not for my daughter- it is for me. I am in my 40’s now and things are much different for me now, much better.

Here are some truths I have come to know about myself and other moms who must cope with anxiety:

1. We are not “different” from other people. Everyone struggles with something. That “something” may be anxiety, depression, over-eating, compulsive behaviors, anger issues, you name it. There is not one person who isn’t affected with some sort of struggle or pain. And every mom experiences anxiety from time to time. This is part of being human. There is no such thing as a “perfect” life.

2. Just because I have anxiety and panic attacks does not make me a bad mother, wife, sister, daughter, or anything else for that matter. It simply means I am more sensitized to anxiety than other people. Today I know I am and always have been a wonderful, loving, competent mother. My daughters love me and I adore them.

3. I can be kind to myself. I can be my own best friend. When I think back to those early days of motherhood, I see that I judged myself very harshly. I was ashamed of myself. Now this seems ridiculous to me. If I had diabetes, would I be ashamed? Of course not. Well panic disorder is the same. It’s something I have to live with, but it does not define me. Today I have compassion for myself, and this makes room for real progress and healing for me.

4. Moms with anxiety are not doomed to live a horrible life where every day is a constant struggle. I lived this way for many, many years, but around age 40 realized that anxiety was in large part a choice I was making. I was feeding my mind a lot of negative energy. Anxiety thrives on this.

Recovery from panic attacks doesn’t happen overnight. Part of getting better is learning that you do have to gently expose yourself to situations you fear. It takes some courage, but to me this is a no brainer. Living at the mercy of anxiety and waiting for the next panic attack to strike is awful. It shrinks your world and your self-confidence, and makes you a prisoner of your own mind.

Today I am a recovering anxious person. I work a wonderful program that has really helps me deal with anxiety and actually diffuse panic attacks. Now that I no longer fear my anxiety, I have freedom and truly enjoy my life as a mother and a woman. I have learned that the other side of panic is real peace and healing.

Jill Green invites you to read her Panic Away review for more information. If you’re a mom struggling with panic, there is hope, there is help!

About Jill Green

Jill Green is a mom, wife, blogger, and recovering anxious person. Find free tips and help at her anxiety self help blog PanicFreeMe.com.

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