In many ways, it's almost impossible to feel like motherhood and anxiety don't go hand-in-hand. You suddenly become entirely responsible for another human being, and every decision you make can affect their well-being so, in many ways, it can be overwhelming. Believe it or not, though, there are plenty of ways suffering from anxiety actually makes you a better mom.
I spent the majority of my life with undiagnosed anxiety. Growing up, I would have panic attacks late at night, imagining all the ways my parents might die or what would happen if my dog ran out into traffic. I had nightmares of all sorts, and couldn't sleep without a light on. Despite this clear warning signs, beyond a brief stint with a child psychologist I was left to manage it on my own. Once I became an adult, those fears just morphed into adult versions. I worried about my parents still, but now it was a fear of being out of the country when my parents died. I imagined all the ways my partner might die and, eventually, it turned into debilitating and intrusive thoughts I had as a new mom.
Believe it or not, I think the time I've spent worrying about how to deal with non-existent scenarios has actually made me a better mother, overall. While I have the tendency to be a glass-half-empty person, it's kind of nice to look at things through a glass-half-full lens, for once. So with that in mind, here are eight ways suffering from anxiety actually makes you a better mom:
Let's face it: having anxiety as a mom means imagining all the horrifying things that could happen to you or your kid. It sucks, but I bet if any of them actually happened, you'd know how to respond because you've likely already spent hours playing it out in your head. I know. I'm morbid.
Lately, I've been noticing my daughter asking a lot of "what-if" questions any time she's faced with doing something she doesn't want to do. The more nervous she is, the more ridiculous the possibilities are that she thinks up. It didn't take me long to go from rolling my eyes, to remembering how many of those questions I used to ask, myself, as a child.
Sometimes, it's nothing. Sometimes you get sent home with a pat on the shoulder by your doctor and you assume they're rolling their eyes as you walk out the door. Regardless, there's a reason so many moms talk about developing anxiety only after they have kids, and I think it's because we're just programmed to think about the possible scenarios our kids may face. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was a mom who came up with the phrase, "Better safe than sorry."
Once you suffer from mental illness of any sort, there seems to be some kind of cape that settles on your shoulders. You instantly become a mental health advocate, because you don't want others to experience the terrible stigma that is often attached. Multiply that by a thousand when it comes to your own kid.
Even if your kid doesn't suffer from a mental illness, you'll be better equipped to advocated for them in all aspects of their life. Whether it's getting a second opinion from a doctor or questioning a teacher, you're used to fighting stigma which, sadly, simply means you're used to fighting.
Recently, my daughter started asking me questions about death and dying. Naturally, the topic turned to what would happen if I died, and it's been strangely comforting to talk through it all with her. Giving her positive answers has, in some ways, helped to alleviate some of my own anxiety about how she would handle my death, because I have the chance to frame her response positively.
What if my kid has an accident? Better pack an extra set of clothes. What if my kid gets hungry? Better pack a few snacks, and some water, too! What if we get where we're going and they have to go pee? Better scout out bathrooms. Do you see where I'm going with this? It's never wrong to be prepared, even when it's anxiety driving you to be that way.
Part of learning how to successfully manage anxiety is learning to take care of yourself, something that not all moms are good at. That already puts you a step ahead of all those moms on verge of burnout. Yay, you!
Instead of letting things build up and then exploding at your partner, when it becomes too much, moms with anxiety are far more likely to have an open line of communication. It's kind of necessary to be open and honest with your partner, when you're trying to manage your anxiety, so that they can help you in whatever way they're able.