Currently, I am experiencing some intense anxiety. Figures. Anxiety hits people whenever it pleases. For us moms who experience anxiety regularly, we know it not only affects us, but it affects everyone around us, including our kids. While my anxiety is no longer debilitating, for the most part, it’s still hard to handle (and more so on certain days). As such, I feel the need to share with you some of the things every mom with high-functioning anxiety needs you to know.
If you’re wondering what I mean exactly by “high-functioning,” I mean anxiety that doesn’t necessarily affect you in large, obvious way on a daily basis. It can affect you in smaller ways, like giving you a sinking feeling in your stomach when you need to make phone calls or leave your home. It can cause you to drive home instead of a social gathering. It can make it difficult to focus on your work (I’m having this issue as I type). It can keep you up at night with somewhat irrational worries.
However, it doesn’t get so bad that you lose your job due to weeks of missed work because you just can’t leave your home. It isn’t as bad as when your anxiety is so intense it completely destroys your relationships. You can still take care of most “regular life” stuff, but you just have a lot of yucky internal feelings about having to open mail or speak up at meetings or even order a damn pizza. It’s tiring and you want to shake it off, but you can’t. If that all sounds like you, or you know someone who might be going through this, read on.
Every Day Can Feel Exhausting
Anxiety kind of keeps your nervous system in an altered state. Your heart might beat faster, you might feel dizzy or disconnected, your palms might sweat, you might fidget more than others might prefer, and it often disrupts your sleep. So imagine feeling like this nearly every day.
Making Any Parenting Decisions Can Be Absolutely Nerve-Wracking
Making any decisions can be difficult for people with anxiety. The possibility of making the “wrong” choice, even if it’s something as small as what to have for dinner, can flood an anxious person with all kinds of terrible feelings.
When it comes to your children, the anxiety multiplied, because you worry that any incorrect decision could lead them to be unhappy, hurt, or even dead.
We Want To Take Our Kids Outside More Often
Anxiety might cause you to fear going out in public. It can cause you to avoid big crowds. It can cause you to avoid noisy places. Since most kid-friendly places involve all three, well, you do the math.
We're Terrified Something Bad Will Happen To Our Kids
Whether it’s related to choices we make for our kids, or choices they make themselves, we are frequently much more worried that something awful will happen to our kids than non-anxious parents. That whole idea of “free-range parenting” doesn’t really sit well with anxious parents.
Sometimes We Just Need Everything To Stop
In a sense, you feel anxious because you simply feel too much. You might get overwhelmed by loud noises, crowded places, strong smells, or from being touched out. That’s when we will put on the breaks and either leave the situation (often without explanation) or ask whoever is causing the trigger to just stop.
It’s Much Harder For Us To Connect With Other Moms
Not everyone understands anxiety or how to handle being around someone with anxiety. Also, anxious people aren’t always great at making conversation with new people or being in new situations. All of this makes it way harder to make mom friends, or any other friends, really.
It’s Sometimes Hard For Us To Connect With Our Kids
I love my son so much, and love spending time with him, but sometimes I just can’t. Sometimes everything just feels like too much, especially around him because he can be a handful. I really hate having to step back and away from his excitement simply because I’m not feeling well, but it happens occasionally.
When Things Get Overwhelming, We May Shut Down
While some folks take on the flight response when anxious, many just completely freeze and shut down. They might be unable to talk or react to things. And it may last a few minutes, or a few days.
We Usually Won’t Be The First Ones To Volunteer At School Functions
Much like how it is difficult for us to make friends or take our kids out all the time, it can also affect the way we parent our school-aged children. We might not always feel comfortable speaking to teachers or other administration. While some parents jump at the chance to attend a kid’s Valentine’s class party or winter show, we might have trouble attending.