For two years I hid behind the guise of words hoping that the day where I actually wrote words about dealing with anxiety would simply dissipate into the wind and just be a fading memory.
I would secretly hope that I would never have to share with you that there have been moments where tears have filled my eyes and I have worried and stood in the shower with the water falling all around and me wondering what in the world I was doing with my life? playing over and over in my head.
Today is the day where I write about my struggles with anxiety.
I believe talking about anxiety is critical. I think the real reason lies in my first sentence. I didn’t want anyone to know. So I hid it. I was super good at hiding it – or at least I thought. But you see, talking about the fact that anxiety was something I struggled with would mean admitting that I didn’t have everything always together. And as women and mothers who really wants to sit down across the table and say something that they don’t really like to the other mom? Aren’t we at that place in life where we are supposed to have life all figured out and together?
So think of this as me sitting across from the table from you telling you that I have had my struggles. I’ve had them and they have felt like at times like they were going to beat me up. I’ve had moments of anxiety and fear and sadness. But listen, sweet friend, they didn’t win. Those struggles didn’t break me or bring me down.
They made me me.
I think sometimes it’s hard to see even that – how those things that we hide and tuck away actually in someway define who we are now. I still don’t really like talking about the fact that I had doubts about worth, but if I didn’t then I wouldn’t be able to hold the sign on my Facebook page that you see that states I am Enough. I just wouldn’t – because I never would have gotten to the place where I had the deep deep realization that being enough isn’t dependent on externals but is rather in realizing that we are enough simply because we are who we are.
And I believe that for you too. Which is why now, now I’m sharing more – being real, I guess – in the hopes that deep down one person is reading these words typed out on a Thursday night in a Starbucks in Minnesota would have a moment of hope.
So you see in the past two years I’ve also been on this quest to find that deep peace, that joy and that happiness that life seemed intent on snuffing out. Until I realized that life doesn’t have the choice to snuff out happiness – that lies within me.
And so that means telling you all that I’ve dealt with anxiety and that I am not ashamed.
Because when we live under the cloak for any circumstance – anxiety, fear, shame – then we live with a burden – a brick, a weight, a pressure on who we are that does not define in anyway who you are inside.
Shame and worry and anxiety and that feeling of not ever measuring up or feeling like one is failing can suffocate space for joy in our lives. And this is a place of freedom of seeing that all those little things that we do every day – no matter how we dismiss them or justify them or rationalize them away – those things make a difference in our worlds and the worlds of our families.
I read comment after comment about worry and fear and angst and anxiety and hoping that you are doing this parenting thing right. I know. I know because, I too, have dealt with my own set of worries that seems to be part of the motherhood journey. Listen, I want to be an awesome mom for my kids. I want more than anything for them to some day tell me thank you mom for all you did. But the truth is this – they might not ever get to that place. And it is not my responsibility to make them all of a sudden realize one day when they are adults how awesome I was or how hard I tried or how much I love them.
It’s our responsibility right now to be there for them.
And sometimes that means that you get really frustrated when milk spills onto the floor or they won’t pick out a shirt and they didn’t finish their homework again or they sass back. Sometimes it means driving in the car with tears in your eyes thinking that you’re failing at this whole motherhood thing. Sometimes it means having moments of doubt and worry.
But those aren’t the things that make you mom.
Those don’t define you just like dealing with anxiety doesn’t define me.
Those things are part of the journey. Part of our stories.
Do you know what I realized? Until I just deal with something and give myself grace to have moments where I stumble – well I cannot be free to fill that space with joy and happy.
For you see – our happiness is not ever defined by having a perfect house, perfect meals, perfect health, a perfect body, perfect children, and so on. It is not defined by another person telling you that you are awesome or any of that. It is you.
It is you.
It is you deciding that you are absolutely worth fighting for. It is in you giving yourself grace. It is in you being proud of you – when you look in the mirror at night and not being so hard on yourself. Yes, that. We are just so unbelievably terribly hard on ourselves.
We must stop not seeing our beauty and worth and value.
So back to that anxiety thing – you might be wondering how in the world it relates to motherhood and all of this? Well, I told you that I struggled with anxiety because I realize that there is nothing in that for me to hide. I think that is a pretty normal thing for a person going through marital issues and separation and all of that to deal with. I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, I hope that me being a bit honest about that opens up some breathing space in your heart and a sigh of relief.
Because at the core we all are moving forward trying to do our best and oftentimes doing our best means stumbling, catching our breath and starting again. And sometimes, sometimes it is so much easier to brush off the dust and start again when you look across the horizon or across the table at Starbucks or read words on a computer screen where you realize that you are not alone in this journey.
I so believe in you.
Like really really believe in you.
Sometimes when I sit down to write I just get so grateful for the opportunity to write my heart and hope so deeply that it resonates with you. I hope that my being real and talking about my struggles – including that bout of anxiety – gives you hope and a bit of peace and encouragement. Not in a cliche, artificial, bubble gum way – but rather in that deep way where you stand up and look at you and you feel yourself smile.
A smile for you being you. A smile because you are awesome.
Not because I told you that.
But because you are seeing and believing it.
You are seeing you and the beauty and the life and the awesome that you bring to the world.
Because, my friend, you truly do.
Thank you. I have the life I always dreamed of and sometimes I’m a jumbled mess. It’s a struggle, but I’m trying not to let it define me! It’s just a part of me, not who I AM!
Exactly, Amy, exactly! Thank you so much for your words.
Wow. Just wow. You have so elegantly put into words what I’m sure so many of us needed to hear… especially me. I have been dealing with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but it’s really “acted up” over this past year due to some unpredictable extenuating circumstances. I’ve been terribly embarrassed by it, but I’m learning that so many others are dealing with it, too – and that we can learn from each other.
I think I lived with the embarrassed part for so long – like I kept telling myself if i just tried harder or pushed the thoughts this way or that way that it would go away – and then I finally came to the place where I realized it doesn’t define. I can learn from it, grow, and do my best.
Thank you for your words – I truly value them.
I love your posts!!! I have loads of anxiety! I always thought I was fairly chilled out, it seems I am until I’m with my children, then I’m a complete mess! Lol this is what I’ve always wanted. I was older when I got married (than most of my friends) so I’m older having kids, so I don’t miss anything from before, as I did the things I wanted to and was very happy to move on 🙂 I frequently feel like I’m a complete failure as a mother (if you saw my house, you’d see I fail as a housewife lol) but by some miracle, my husband and kids still love me and miss me if I go anywhere without them. Thanks again for your glorious posts! 🙂
You are so very welcome, Helen. I am incredibly thankful for your words to me — I love the realness that this community has developed and reading your words are a tremendous blessing.
Your posts always seem so timely for me or someone in my life. This one was definitely timely for me. I am struggling horribly right now with anxiety about being a full time working mom. I hate it miserably and feel as if I am not there enough for my children. There is never enough time in the day for anything and I feel a lot of anxiety about this and many other things in my life. So this one hit home today. I love reading your posts. Thank you for putting what motherhood truly is for a lot of us out there!
Bless you Jen for all you do everyday – in that constant giving and giving and those thoughts and worries and at the core wanting to be enough. You really are enough – I appreciate all you do. Thank you for your words too.
Thanks Rachel, for writing this and posting it on a night when I especially needed to hear these words. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression/anxiety and OCPD shortly after having my little boy (who’s 21 months today). It’s been a struggle some days to just deal, and I think “shouldn’t I have my act together by now?!” Hearing your words and knowing that you struggle too (along with those other moms in my PPD support group) helps. A lot. So. Just. Thanks.
You are most incredibly welcome, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me too as well. You are not alone, my friend. i think knowing that has helped me greatly.
Bless you for taking this brave step! I hope that doing so brings you freedom … Or at least more breathing space! And for what it’s worth … I think you are doing amazing things with your one beautiful life and many beautiful kids!
I believe, whole heartedly, that I have struggled with depression and anxiety since my early teens. And I remember anxiety from before that! It was never diagnosed or treated because we were Christians and Christians didn’t have issues with mental illness! Jesus was enough. My faith just needed to be bigger … Stronger. So not only was a sick … I was a failure and a lousy Christian!
In 2007, in my 40s, my world was spinning out of control. I wasn’t sleeping and the only emotions I had felt in months were sorrow and anger. Suicidal sorrow. Scary anger. I asked a pastor friend what Christians were supposed to do with depression and he gave me a compassionate answer include the fact that refusing to treat depression was just as silly as refusing to treat broken bones or cancer. There is something in my mind that is broken, but God didn’t wish me to live in defeat! I went to a doctor and started meds for depression.
Last year, my marriage fell apart, I lost my family and my home, my world was badly shaken and I landed in th emergency room convinced I was dying. It was a panic attack. A bad one! I found a gracious doctor who was willing to work with me to help me find balance and who insisted that I needed to be in counseling because I was facing too much to even try it alone! I’m still a work in progress!
What I wanted you to do is this … Once I accepted the fact that my depression was not my fault and that God had gifted doctors to be able to help me in this journey … I decided that I would not hide! Partly because I just prefer honesty. But mostly because I know that there are others, facing similar struggles who need to hear a voice saying, “this will be okay, you can do this, you’re not alone.” Even if no one else was willing … I would be that voice!
Sometimes my honesty and openness have cost me. Mostly it has been gratifying as people have come out of the woodwork to thank me and tell me that they thought they were alone!
This is the platform that God has given me and whenever I find the energy and desire to blog again … Mental health will be a big part of it! It’s a big part of me! And in telling my story … Instead of hiding it … I have found healing!
In the 5th paragraph it was supposed to read “what I wanted to tell you is this” NOT ” what I wanted you to do is this”
I think I love you more after this Beth. You have always held a sweet spot in my life – your unwavering support, kindness, encouragement and love throughout the years. I am sorry to hear that your journey has been filled with trying and hard times. That makes me teary. Your heart has always been so full of grace. I am so grateful for you sharing with me your story – it is truly a blessing to walk this earth and to know that one is not alone.
I am always grateful for you. Always.
Thank you for these posts. I wish I’d had this blog to read when my kids were much younger. I’ve been through/am going through a lot these same things, and hopefully coming to the end of a dark journey. Now, I am finding joy, though, and I am finding healing for a lot of hurt. I just want to shout to all of the women going through these same things, that “YOU are okay!” “You are NOT failing.” “You are a GOOD mom”. Bless you for the posts that you write. There are so many moms out there that desperately need to read them.
Thanks for sharing! I have been dealing with anxiety for the past 18 months and it has been rough because so many people want to label you crazy and run the other way. I feel so isolated by this but I’m on my second therapist and I hope and pray each day that this too shall one day pass because I want my life back;(. God Bless!
Tami – I want that for you too. I am sorry people have run from you – that is such a hard thing to deal with. Over the past year i have had many people exit my life and it’s been so challenging to see them go. I’ve started to realize that it opens space in my life for those who love me for where I am at the moment. I pray the same for you.
Thank you for your kind comment. Sending hope and encouragement your way.
Thank you so much, dear Rachel!
You are welcome, Elena. 🙂
Thank you for having the courage to share that you’ve struggled with anxiety. I can relate, and I think the more we talk about it and write about it, the easier it becomes to share with others, and the less we feel alone. Best! Jennie http://www.jennierosedesigns.blogspot.com/
I feel for you, anxiety is something that many people who haven’t experienced it, can’t understand. I know my kids are ill and sometimes the anxiety that comes is hard to deal with.
The first year of my daughters life was normal year then that day came, the day that changed our lives forever. My daughter was healthy up until that day, when the first seizure came. For the first few years the doctors said she would outgrow them, then she developed ketotic hypoglycemia, then her brain started to deteriorate. But they didn’t know why. She was like any other normal child but with memory and balance problems and thee seizures that wouldn’t go away.
We had hoped to have another child but the risk seemed great. Finally, years after begin reassured that it was so slim a chance this would happen to another child we decided to try. A few weeks after my daughter turned 10 she got a baby brother. Everyone was so happy, he was so healthy. We thought for sure he would be fine, until the day after Christmas when he was 9 months old and this disease hit him too. He has progressed just like his sister.
There are days I take long showers in the evening to be able to cry it out. I don’t want them to see me cry, I don’t want them burdened with this anxiety, I feel. I can’t help or fix this and a mom wants to fix everything for her child. No one can even figure out what disease it is.
This week was especially trying after visiting the doctor, nothing major has changed it’s just a reminder of what we are dealing with and it threw me off more than normal.
Sometimes the weight of what our kids is going through seem so much, it feels like it could crush me, it feel so unfair. I want the normal life for my kids. But I have faith that God will keep his promise that he will not give us too much to bear. Even though at times I feel it is too much, I remember this will only bend me, not break me. It will make me stronger, and make the person I am meant to be. When it gets to be too much I know God will lift the burden just enough.
I pray Rachel, when the anxiety begins to feel like it’s too much, you will feel it lift just enough. You are right these struggles make us who we are. Through experiences like these we can come alongside others who are just starting the journey and lend support and encouragement. Thanks so much for being so brave to write about it.
I’ve been following your blog for a while but this is the first time I’ve been compelled to comment because I too deal with anxiety. It’s a very lonely road and I’m grateful whenever anyone speaks up about their experience. After having my third I developped pretty severe ppd and anxiety. It’s been the biggest challenge of my life to heal from this and some days it still takes its toll. Thanks to meds, therapy and trying to work on taking care of myself as much as I can, which isn’t a lot, I’ve come to a better place at least. it’s so nice to share our struggles. Thank you.
And to borrow from Glennon: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for he gave me Lexapro!”
I literally burst into tears when she said this. Anxiety, depression, etc… having the courage to admit they’re more than can be fixed by praying “enough”, and finding the courage to ask for help.
It’s amazing how beautiful the world is with my brain chemistry sorted out.
first of all kudos for being so brave!
I have always been an anxious person but never told anybody about it cause I felt and still do feel so ashamed! As a mother we want to be perfect, we want everything to be perfect, but most of all we want to see our kids being happy and healthy – but what if even with all your efforts things just don’t go right? What if you have a husband that just isn’t supportive or even worse, does everything to make you feel bad when you already blame yourself enough for everything, even for things totally out of your power to control it? What if you get blamed that I have raised my son to be autistic? What if he ignores said son and only plays with the other? What if to all that you also have to add worrying constantly about finances as well? (Just to name a few!) What if all the burdens are just on ONE shoulder? My shoulders!!! I guess anxiety is programmed to happen! Just today I got bad news that knocked my breath away – I tried to breath but I had a panic attack (blurry sight, ice cold hands, feelings of fainting, dizziness and I couldn’t breath) and all I wanted was screaming, hiding, running and yet there I was talking and explaining and calmly answering questions to my autistic son nonstop about a new game – pulling it together – I went washing the dishes with tears rolling down and feeling so weak when my son was back in his room but again pulling it together instantly when I heard him coming! Guess that is the real power we mom’s have – we are strong!!! …and yet so fragile – but we survive – even when at times life makes us bend so much that you think it’ll break us!!! …and there – I think right there is what defines us – anxiety or not – our capacity to keep standing up, to keep going, to keep fighting and to keep smiling! Our kids need us! …did I just go a bit off topic? My apologies – all I wanted to say is that I hear you! Be strong – I know sometimes all we want is to quit but we won’t, we keep going and our anxiety will go with us, sometimes more sometimes less, but it doesn’t define us!!!
I also struggle with anxiety and more often with depression. But I’m learning every day that anxiety and depression are not who I am…..they are what I deal with. I am a child of the King…..a beautiful woman…..who is dealing. How cool is that? Thank you again, Rachel.
We ARE enough! Thank you for again reminding us we are not alone.
I suffer with anxiety and so does my 13 yr. Thanks for writing this.