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What does anxiety look like?

I think I may have always suffered from anxiety but didn’t realize the feelings I was having had a name. I was always very concerned about being on time whether it was an appointment or just going out with girl friends on a Friday night. I worried constantly about what I had said to someone and about what people thought of me. Eventually I would experience stomach cramps, an elevated heart rate and chest tightness as the thoughts would consume me.

I have learned that on the outside anxiety does not look like any one person. It can affect the young and the old, the career woman and the SAHM, the employee and the employer, it can affect us all. It feels like the inability to breath, to think, to rationalize, to see clearly.

On a particularly anxious day recently

Parenting and anxiety

Trying to be a parent and having anxiety has proven to be very difficult at times. I have embraced the fact that we will never be anywhere on time, but I still find myself being overly concerned about school events, getting homework done, how my kids are behaving in school, etc. I scramble all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get work done so I can get my son to karate on time which fills my whole day with anxiety from start to finish.

After suffering from post partum depression (PPD) after the birth of my son my anxiety really sky rocketed. I did not seek treatment which was the worse thing I could have done but the mind has a funny way of convincing you that you can get through it on your own and nothing is really that bad. But it was. Things calmed down for me for a couple of years. Then when I returned to work to face a whole new computer system an a new assistant to work with and everything just exploded in my head.

Having to still be present for my children

When you are trying to parent and combat your own mind constantly the world can seem very muddled and confusing. I began to take every comment, every look, every gesture as a personal attack. I could feel myself holding my breath for long periods of time. I could feel myself just fading away as my children required my attention each day.

Feeling better

As I have mentioned I sought counseling for the first time in my life in the fall of 2019. My therapist really opened my eyes to what my real concerns were, and what was just background noise in my head. It really helped me to understand that I had legitimate problems that I needed to deal with, and my anxiety was getting in the way of fixing them. She gave me some tools to use and for the first time in my life I am starting to feel like I feel better more days that I feel bad.

Another tool I have been using lately is the Anxiety Workbook by Arlin Cuncic . I have just started it but what I like about it is it describes the types of anxiety and has you work through each section with your own experiences much like therapy. It is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and so far it has been insightful for me. I will give a full review once I have completed it!

I don’t believe my anxiety will ever be “cured” by right now it feels relatively managed with having gone through therapy and start to work things out with this book. My co-worker who completed this book reported to me that she feels she is better able to handle her stress and anxiety. As a mother of two herself and in the same field, I’ll take her word for it!

If you are struggling like I was I would highly recommend seeking the assistance of a professional. I can’t emphasize enough what a world of difference my therapist made for me in a short amount of time. As parents our biggest role is to provide and nurture and set an example for our children-we can’t do that well if we are struggling to feel capable of doing so.