The lies anxiety tells me

I was lucky when my oldest was born. Somehow I managed to not fall victim to the postpartum depression my brain is wired to get. Maybe I did have it, I don’t really know because I was too busy trying to figure out how to be a mama and how to figure out how to be a wife and all these new things that were happening in my life.  I was good at it through with her. I fell into it all fairly easy and even survived a brutal fight with colic which I now realize was likely reflux. Poor baby vomited on everything. But I only remember feeling sad a couple of times. Once when I couldn’t figure out the breast pump and then, as I sat on the floor and watched as everyone passed her around. I hurt, felt overlooked and that was probably the first time anxiety lied to me. I didn’t complain I had to sit on the floor because anxiety told me it was selfish to want a seat and that was rude to expect someone to help me, instead of the fragile baby I was supposed to be taking care.

Yeah, I am pretty sure that was when anxiety and I met for real.

I mean, growing up I struggled with all the what ifs. But what teen doesn’t? And it wasn’t till adulthood that he really came at me. And with a vengeance.

By the time I was pregnant with baby number two, I was fully saturated with motherhood. And I was thrilled he was coming. My big girl would be welcoming a brother and I could not wait. But as the due date approached I would cry, often, in the red bathroom of our tiny, two bedroom condo afraid of what I’d done to her and wondering how I’d ever have enough love or time or energy for two. I’d wake up most mornings around 3 am, run the bathtub and cry. His labor started in the night. I called the midwife who sort of ignored my, “I think this is it” and told me to rest and eat. I took my little girl to breakfast and for a yoga ball and waited, scared I wasn’t really in labor. And I waited too long and sobbed in the hall when I couldn’t walk to the door myself. Never have I been so happy to see my husband walk through the door. I almost had Davis in the hospital hall. The midwife who delivered him had food in her teeth and didn’t know my name. I waited to push till everyone got there, anxious I’d hurt someone’s feelings if I didn’t wait, let people in the room before I was ready and I didn’t keep my little girl with me because my anxiety told me my gut was wrong. They gave him a bottle without my permission and he didn’t latch correctly for weeks but my anxiety told me to be quiet. The doctor knows best. I walked the length of SUPER Target with a three-day old, nipple shields in hand, convinced someone was going to take them away from me because I wasn’t a good enough mother to nurse a baby or stand up for a baby or raise a baby. The day after I brought him home,  I sat on my porch and cried on the phone wishing my mom would get their faster. I was afraid to sleep. Anxiety told me he might die… anxiety told me I might too.

These last two years have been a tough go. If you’ve followed this blog at all you know that there has been this series of events. If I was honest with you all, it’s been more than the two years I have written about it. Moving to Pennsylvania ignited the liar anxiety like nothing I’ve ever seen. Things were supposed to be different here for me. Another lie I told myself thanks to anxiety. I felt like I’d check into our new place and that everything would be different. I neglected to realize that I too would have to change. Anxiety lied though and told me while I was “fine”  nobody would ever like me. Ever. I listened. Especially when my newly found church friendships dissolved over something as ridiculous as who led a mother’s group.

As I added two more children, to the three children I’d moved across the country, anxiety grew and grew. Telling me I shouldn’t have a big family. I didn’t tell anyone about Dexter, my fourth till 12 weeks pregnant and Dixon, baby number five, I waited till almost 22 weeks. And if it were up to me, I would have delivered him before I told a single person about him at all. Lucky for me I was overweight and people mostly ignored me so my pregnancy was easy to hide. I hid that little boy like he was wrong because anxiety told me 5 kids was too many. Anxiety was wrong. He was not wrong. And no one should judge how many children I have. Even when it’s with the best intentions.

And that’s not the first time anxiety was wrong. Two years ago my gut told me something was off and I didn’t listen… it will probably be the biggest regret of my life. Not standing up for myself, because anxiety told me I was overreacting. I wasn’t, and it changed everything.

But now, now I am fighting back.

A little over 18% of the adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder. That’s 40 million adults. FORTY MILLION. Statics shows that while anxiety disorders are very, very treatable only about 36.9% of people are getting treatment. That number is even larger for teens. Only 1 in 5 teenagers that suffer are being treated. And should you suffer from an anxiety disorder you’re also likely to suffer from depression and vice versa. That’s a lot for a brain. A lot.

Women are more commonly affected than men. And anxiety often presents as a debilitating fear. For me, it often came in the shape of losing my children. So much so, I was afraid to seek help because I was so afraid someone would take my kids from me for being “crazy”. And when I finally hit rock bottom, I didn’t seek help until the suicidal ideations got so bad, I wasn’t sure I could stop them anymore. Yet anxiety still told me therapy was wrong and meds would steal my creativity again. I listened because anxiety was right about the creativity once. Only it just wasn’t the right med or meds… I wasn’t patient enough to ride it out and find the right medication for my mental health. Anxiety won, again. But only briefly. I eventually sat, filled with shame, in a chair, waiting to meet my therapist. The shame lifted when her blue hair peaked out through her beanie cap and the tattoos showed through tattered sleeves. It took a couple of sessions to raise my head but eventually, anxiety got its eviction notice.

I will have an anxiety disorder for the rest of my life. Every single day will be a battle to win against it and the abusive bipolar/depression/disorders I fight every single minute of every day. And there will still be moments that the disorders win minutes back in my life. But those minutes are getting fewer and farther apart. I can look at last spring and know someone else’s mental health issues were winning and it wasn’t me but themselves, that they were really talking to.

You probably wonder how you can help someone with an anxiety disorder. I can’t answer for everyone. Honestly, it’s hard to answer for me. But here goes:

  • Remind me that I am okay. There have been days I wasn’t sure and sat and wondered if these things actually were happening or if it was the anxiety telling me they did. So, when I ask you for the 90th time if this is really happening or if it really happened, please tell me it is. And if it isn’t or didn’t, please tell me what actually happened. I want to live in the truth and not what my mental illness painted as the truth. I’ve seen first hand what that looks like and it’s not pretty.
  • Don’t ask me if my period is coming. This isn’t about female hormones. I get weepy all times of the month and not just because my period might be coming. Sometimes I just get slammed with an anniversary or a memory. For example, this Monday, I watched a video of my brother, and I cried all day. It was a deep throat cry I couldn’t explain. He’s been gone over a year but it was as if he’d died that day. That wasn’t my period…. it was my sad.
  • Don’t tell me to choose happy. I don’t have a switch in my brain that goes, “oh you’re right. I am being crazy.” Sometimes I am irrationally sad or anxious and I don’t know why. Come into it with me. You don’t have to fix it. I just need you to make sure the anxiety doesn’t win. Don’t let the sadness take me too.
  • If I am being irrational, be gentle in telling me. There is nothing more embarrassing and hurtful than when someone reacts to me as if I am dumb or well, irrational. Sometimes I don’t know. So tell me, without making me feel stupid. If I react badly, forgive me; help me learn to react better next time. And please, don’t ghost me. Tell me, so I don’t wonder forever what I did wrong. We sometimes have friends for seasons. The truth is easier for me than the what ifs.

I know this is a lot for people. I know *I* am a lot for people but I don’t want to be and I am doing the work. Lots of us are.

Anxiety lies. If you’re listening to it right now, it’s lying. Trust me I know.


To learn more about anxiety disorders, click here.

Also, I feel passionate about education. And really passionate about AFSP. Please take a moment to check out their site. Do it for me and do it for Kevin.

The lies anxiety tells me

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

2017, you can…. well, I’ll censor myself

I survived 2017!

At least for the title. 2017  you can just go fuck right off. I mean, let’s  be honest, 2016 was a shit show too. It was like two solid years of utter bullshit and misery. So much loss and sadness and change. I just wasn’t sad to see 2017 go. I was never so happy to be wrapped up in my 19 blankets, watching Moana with my sons and grateful that I actually made it out of the year with more scars.

2017  sucked. It really sucked. BUT it was also a year of discovery. A year for ME. I found my voice, started new things and I am a whole new person.

Yesterday, I sat here for a while trying to write a big 2017, you can go to hell post but the words escaped me over and over. I just don’t have it in me anymore to be angry. The angry only hurts me. It feels better to laugh about it and think, “holy shit, I made it”. Because I did. I made it. And I grew a lot. As weird as it sounds, I can only thank that my life imploded for the growth I gained.

I don’t have any resolutions for 2018. Of course, I think a good many of us say that then hope for growth or change or wealth or whatever. What I really want? Is to stay happy. I still stumble. December, in general, was tough for me. I don’t love Christmas like I think a lot of people do. It’s a lot of pressure for me with work and the kids. And there was this looming reminder of what had happened just a year before. But unlike times ago, I took to myself, took deep breaths, found an outlet and got through it without much gloom.  Somehow I got through it without the same broken thoughts; was able to say what I needed and for the most part, I got it. We had a beautiful Christmas tree and I have a beautiful family who loved every moment of Christmas. There is nothing to complain about.

So keeping this short and sweet, I wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope it’s everything you want and hope. May you have peace and happiness and get through whatever valley or journey you are in. I hope the best for you… well most of you. Some of you?  You can step on a Lego.

Here is to a great 2018! May it #suckalittleless (that’s my favorite hashtag ever).

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

It isn’t that I lost my voice

I stopped writing. Here and in my paper journals. I stopped sharing everything. There are no pictures of anyone anywhere that you can see unless I let you. I stopped everything that I thought used to give me power. I stopped being so loud. I’ve disassembled my platform, I’ve turned off the mic. But I didn’t lose my voice. And I am not afraid, I just learned the strength of quiet and the strength of silence.

I have thought about the, “one door closes and another opens” idea. It’s true, I guess. As I closed-door after door this year I wondered what the new doors would bring. But if I was honest, I’d have to tell you that a lot of those closed doors didn’t open anything. There was no new door to go through. They just ended things I didn’t need anymore. And when the needs were filled, there wasn’t a new need to take the old needs place. There was just peace with the ending. And I’ve had a lot of ending this last year. I have chosen to not have such a loud voice. Instead, my voice is quiet, peaceful and privileged. You don’t get to hear it anymore unless I truly want you to. It is my new voice. My new door.

I have found a prize in privacy.

Where there was once pride in sharing, in bragging, there is now just no desire to share. I don’t know why. Maybe it was that someone took all these words and stole and twisted and molded them into a platform of lies. Maybe, it’s because I found it just so damn easy to find all the pain and mean on the internet and that taught me, there is beauty in silence and that there is peace in privacy. I am not sure. It feels safe again though. Even as the end of the month approaches and I wonder if the peace will be shattered, I feel safe, for the first time in a long time.

Christmas is here. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my Colorado brother and his family. When Kevin died my heart broke into little pieces. It was the beginning of the truth for me that evil often wins. But within those shattered pieces I found a new piece of my family. One that had missed for a very long time. I got nephews and sisters and brothers and while there is nothing that can describe the pain of losing a loved one to mental health: I am so grateful for what I gained because of it.

And it was truly a great holiday. Probably the best one I’ve had in a while despite some hand, foot and mouth and other weirdness. We did all the fun we could in the short amount of time we had. I even got a sleepover with my nephews. Those memories are forever mine and I am so grateful. This door closing was one of those few, another opens, moments. I get Sam and Danielle and Casey and Cameron. And while I wish I had an even fuller house this holiday, I will take what I can get with a grateful heart.

I think I’ll start writing again though. About what? I am not really sure. Mental health? Maybe. It feels a little more vulnerable than it used to, to share my journey. Where I found it easy to share before, hoping it would help someone down a light path, I now know that people, most people, speak a little different. And that evil can find ways to twist words and make completely innocent words into daggers. And while the good won here, it still makes for painful memories. But I miss writing and I feel inspired these days to say all the things I am thinking.

I’ve begun the “note jotting”. The little ideas scribbled on random papers. The inspiration I felt when I FINALLY got to visit the MET in New York. The humility I felt when someone looked at me and told me that I helped keep them out of the sad and let them feel not so alone. I feel inspired to find the medium of oversharing and letting go; which is what writing and blogging have always done for me.

My new friend sent this to me this morning. It’s funny because everything this speaker says has sort of becoming the theme of my “new” life. Please take the time to watch it. I hope there is some room in your “fuck budget”. Sometimes I am so grateful for thoughtful new friends. And it came at the perfect time to remind me of where I am.

Happy holidays and all that jazz. I hope to be here more.

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.