First time mum/referee/ sleeve snot wiper to a wild toddler. Designated household bum changer. Blogging about this motherhood malarkey from a refreshingly honest and unfiltered perspective.

Parenting Anxieties

I have been known to catastrophize, overthink, obsess, worry myself into crippling unease. I have struggled with anxiety disorder since as young as I can remember. I am anxiety and anxiety is me.

Even now, I remember at 11 years old being absolutely overcome with this tenacious feeling of dread, this unrelenting terror that had clasped its hands around my throat, unforgiving.
At 11, I had no idea what was happening. I don't remember when (although I now know why) it first began, though I do remember that I was suddenly scared all the time, so so unreasonably scared, petrified and untrusting of everyone around me, terrified of myself and this overwhelming panic that was paralyzing my body.

I was buried under an avalanche of fear. Everyone was a threat, every stranger was out to get me. I was convinced people were reading my mind and plotting against me, I constantly thought that if a man walked the same way I was headed, that he was following me, not that perhaps he lived in my general direction.
I wouldn't go on a bus because I couldn't stop shaking and crying, convinced that anyone who had a reasonably sized bag accompanying them, had a bomb inside it. I would panic if I had to go anywhere busy or crowded, crippled with this panic that I couldn't escape.
My fear was directed toward anyone I didn't know, they were a threat, they were dangerous.

This went on, unknown to those around me, for several months. I was constantly in fight or flight mood, I could never relax, my hands would shake, my heart would pound and my mind was constantly racing and reminding me that I was never safe, that I had to be on guard always.
I wanted to claw myself out of my own skin, pleading for some small alleviation. I was completely and utterly at breaking point.

I suffered extreme panics attacks that sprouted out of nowhere. Anywhere I experienced one, I would then not go back there, in fear it would trigger another. However, that soon became anywhere, everywhere. The only safe place was my home until the terror followed me there, too. Nightmares haunted me every night that were so vivid, I'd wake drenched in sweat, shaking uncontrollably and I'd lie in the dark, trapped in my own head.
I was scared to sleep, desperate for relief, alone, confused and seeking an escape.
I had to shut myself away.

It's hard to explain in words just how terrified and how bound I was by these anxieties. Imagine whatever terrifies you, most, that thing you can hardly dare to think of because it washes you with a dread so haunting, it's unthinkable, unbearable.
That's how I felt, every minute of every day, but I didn't and couldn't understand why.

When I eventually managed to cap the irrational fear pouring out of me, it escaped and leaked into other parts of my life I had tried to shield from it. In so many ways, that I'd be here all night writing it all down.
I eventually was sent to the GP who explained that what I was experiencing was night terrors and panic attacks (which I had never heard of before) and due to the extent had lead to agoraphobia.

It did become less overbearing, I learned to work through it, acknowledged the reasoning for it and identified my triggers. At one point, I felt confident enough to say, I had beaten it.
It was always there, though, lurking, waiting for an opportunity.

It's almost as though my anxiety is triggered when I come close to losing what means most. It appeared when I was feeling content, as if I had to explode with worry as though recognizing that it was there, obsessing over it, somehow would make it less intense.

Even when was I pregnant, I felt flooded with an anxiety that couldn't be appeased.
I had these images. So clear and vivid in my mind it was like conjuring a fresh memory. I would be consumed with this terror when the thoughts would flash through my mind, pressing their way to the front of my head, demanding they be seen.

I pictured holding Arthur for the first time and him falling out of my grasp to the concrete floor. I couldn't shake the images of finding him lying still in his cot, lips blue and skin white as chalk, of something terrible happening to him. I would get these images daily. I couldn't sleep for them circling in my head.

I still get those images in my head, though different now. I have this paralyzing anxiety that I will die and Arthur will be left alone. It keeps me awake at night, fills me with that same stomach rolling nausea, that promise of impending doom.
I envision I just die unexpectedly one night, alone, and Arthur will wake up unsure what is going on, I will feel a slight twinge or pain somewhere in my body and that anxiety will burst out of me.

I lie awake worrying that, if something happened to me, how would he understand? And that he would grow up not knowing me. These young memories, unremembered.
If I feel even slightly off, if I feel more tired than normal or if I see the word cancer branded anywhere whether its an advert on TV or an article in a newspaper, convinced if I speak the word, I'm doomed to be next, I feel the panic start to settle in.

It's this pure fear of dying, but not because my life matters or because I'm scared of death or dying young, but, instead, this terror that Arthur will grow up without me and be too young to comprehend why, this horror that he will learn of death and be exploited to the darker parts of life too soon, that he will feel abandoned (more an anxiety I project onto him from personal despair), by the one person who is supposed to always be there. I can literally feel the nausea in my stomach, the drumming of my heart at the thought of him being scared, confused, or wondering why his Mum suddenly isn't there anymore. It seems like such a small thought to be so dragged down by but anxiety has a way of blowing one tiny thing out of proportion.

It's irrational, understood, but it overwhelms me, some days more so than others. I fight back tears when the thought dances around my mind. Sometimes, I lie awake and let the anxiety explode through me because I can't contain the hysteria any longer.

My anxiety, to me, feels like a bug. A bug that embeds itself in my flesh, and when it conquers one part of me, swiftly works its way to a new part to be tampered with, multiplying as it goes. It's exhausting. It affects me, not only mentally, but physically, too.

I wish it didn't have such a hold on me. I wish I could be more carefree, more 'live and let live' and all that jazz. I wish, like other things, it wasn't something that I've spent more of my life fighting than not.

But I'm working through it, I'm trying to not let it win, and as of yet, it hasn't. Almost, but not quite yet.

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