This is my first blog post for a little while. I have had to
take some time out to fight a few demons. Restorative introspection, I suppose.
My anxiety – already increasing slowly over the last six
months – suddenly shot up to a degree that I have experienced only once before.
Perhaps it was the realisation that after another attempt at accessing treatment,
all I achieved was being added to a waiting list for an unspecified period. The
uncertainty was eating away at my resolve, as it always does. I was finding the
relentlessness of life exhausting.
For several days I was constantly tense, either already shaking or on the brink of it. The slightest amount of stress would tip me over into an anxiety attack. I was having trouble sleeping and undertaking mundane tasks. I didn’t feel able to go out with the children. I couldn’t form thoughts coherent enough to write down.
However, I think I have now reached a point where the anxiety
is more manageable. I am still having palpitations a couple of times a day, but
for the most part the shaking as subsided along with the sweating, rapid
breathing and sleeplessness. My mind is quiet enough for me to process thoughts
again. I am able to rest. I am able to exercise some degree of self-care.
I am lucky; I had another option available to me. I realised
that I had a choice – I could either wait for the NHS therapy referral to come
through or to access the workplace counselling service provided by my employer.
I was assessed and referred within a few days and I am now waiting for
confirmation of my first session, which should be within the next week or so. I
still feel fearful that my manager might judge me, but I don’t have to communicate
with them in the near future so at least I have the luxury of deferring that
So I’m still not writing what I want, but for now, I have hope again.
Anxiety has an annoying consequence of making regular life activities harder or even downright scary. Add a couple of feral lemmings into the mix and the results are terrifying.
If you’re wondering what could be so bad, here are some real life examples of anxiety-inducing parenting stresses:
- The responsibility. A pretty obvious one sure, but it’s a biggie. Being responsible for the wellbeing of someone else when all you want to do is hide under your duvet is hard. Just don’t read the news, ever, or you’ll never leave the house.
- The social interaction. Yes, you absolutely have to speak to other people, or even seek them out on purpose. Whether it’s a medical professional, health visitor or (the worst) other parents, there are times when it is simply unavoidable and actually in the best interests of your child. Don’t even get me started on social anxiety of toddler groups – because evidently misery lives company. Clearly there is nothing you want to do more when you are stressed and sleep-deprived than publicly argue with your toddler about the morality of snatching, or negotiating their participation in ‘singing time’ before dragging them out to the dulcet medody of their tantrum with your free arm (newborn is in other).
- The lack of hygiene. Nappies aside – given the choice, would you wish to spend your time around little people who like eating everything from fluff found under their bedroom rug to their own snot? Me neither.
- The lack of a schedule. Time for kids works on a more relative level than we are used to. For example, pooping exactly two minutes before you are leaving the house, being sick exactly one minute after being passed to a kindly relative and being asleep/awake at the exact opposite times you need them to be. You can plan your days until you are blue in the face, but don’t think for one second that the reality will be anything like you are imagining. If you are the type of person that gets tummy pains at even the idea of lateness, I recommend just throwing away your clock and winging it.
- The lack of control. No, you may not poop/have a shower/do anything in peace. Self-care is now a distant memory. Just face it, you are no longer in control of your own destiny. Young children operate on a different plane of existence and there is no changing this. Suddenly, you appreciate the little things so much more.
- The lack of logic. When the toddler years hit, you may find yourself stuck in an argument with a small person who was insistent that they wanted to go to the park during nap time, but now they would rather lie on the cold floor and nap than put their shoes on to go to the park. Also, beware possible arguments about how you don’t actually influence the TV schedule, or the forces of magnetism (when applied to toy trains).
- The lack of personal space. My partner has to ask special permission to hug me now, because having two kids constantly touching me is so overwhelming.
- The inability to relax. From storming into your room at 3am demanding cuddles, to suddenly running down the dark hallway towards you like a crazed animal while you are watching TV, you are always at risk of nearly soiling yourself. For mothers of breastfeeding infants, it’s the constant threat of them biting your nipple without warning that keeps you up at night.
So whatever your triggers are, parenting is sometimes likely to feel akin to immersion therapy.
The good news is, your child is probably one of the people on the planet that you can spend time with without it being too socially draining. Plus, they love nothing more than hanging out with little old you!
Also, while parenting may contribute to anxieties in the present, it can also be a reason to feel more positively about the future.
Honestly, I don’t think I ever really considered the future at all before I had kids as I never felt sure that I had one. But now, no matter how hard the day has been, I always look forward to tomorrow (even if it’s just because today is over!).