I became a mom almost 21 years ago. I was not yet diagnosed with mental illness. About six months into motherhood when postpartum depression had a strong hold on me, I went to my doctor for help and she put me on an antidepressant. About six years later, after the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 disorder. It is at this point that I think my anxiety developed into something that I could not handle without professional help or medication because I began to have panic attacks along with generalized anxiety and eventually severe social anxiety.
Play dates were difficult at best and attending sporting events were and still are extremely stressful and anxiety producing (hint: wearing earbuds playing calming music helps a lot!) Having children who are growing up with their own anxiety and depression issues only increases the stress of motherhood exponentially for a mom with anxiety. On the up side, having an anxiety disorder has better equipped me to completely empathize with my children and help them in ways I would not be able to if I hadn’t already learned skills to deal with my own anxiety. Some of these skills include the following:
- Setting healthy boundaries by saying no to things when I feel I am reaching my threshold for responsibilities and daily activities.
- Asking for help with daily responsibilities from my partner, family, and friends.
- Taking time for self care activities like reading a chapter of a book, journaling, taking a bubble bath, listening to calming music, watching an episode of a series I enjoy, petting my dog or cat, taking a nap, sitting in the sun for a few minutes, doing my nails, getting my hair done, meditating, or doing some stretches or simple yoga exercises.
- Not being hard on myself when I can’t do things I wish I could.
- Accepting my limitations.
- Praying for the strength to do as much as possible without making myself sick.
- Being thankful for all I can do and for all I have instead of focusing on the negative aspects of having an anxiety disorder.
Being a mom with anxiety has its challenges, but with an awareness of and honoring what your limitations are and following the suggestions above, you can thrive as a mom and a person with anxiety.