I just want to let you know that you’re not alone.
I know it feels like one of those places in life where you want to hide—where you want to pull the hood up over your head but you’re in the carpool line and you need to pull forward and you just want to simply try to ignore the fact that you have this thing called anxiety. After all, anxiety, it’s just not cool. It’s not trendy. It’s not like shouting hey I love Starbucks (which I do). It’s not fun to admit.
So I’ll admit it.
I have anxiety.
I wish I didn’t. It’s sneaky. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without anything and then one thing will trigger me and I’m stuck in this cycle of fretting about something (typically from the past) and it will cloud my outlook for the future. It takes me so much work to break out of it. I’ve tried a bunch of things – lattes, running, wine, crying, cleaning – and sometimes it just sits there.
And then, sometimes, sometimes if you’re just like me you’ll wonder is this really anxiety or am I just making a big deal out of nothing? And I’ll get mad at myself for being, what I love to call it, weak or a bother because I am crying over the fact that I burnt the pizza. But it wasn’t the pizza, it was just the final straw.
Well, let me tell you, when you struggle with stuff or you have those moments of self doubt YOU ARE NOT MAKING A BIG DEAL OUT OF NOTHING.
It’s you. It’s your life. It’s your emotion.
It’s your heart.
Don’t bury your heart under layers of stuff that you think you should be doing or aren’t doing. And don’t let your value ever be defined by anxiety. Because you are priceless.
Now I know how life and other people can tell you it’s just in your head or suck it up or pull up your bootstraps. It’s so hard. Because who wants to sit there with tears in your eyes when someone asks you how you’re doing and you can’t even answer because if you do you won’t stop crying and you cannot risk puffy eyes again?
It can sometimes just feel like WAY TOO MUCH.
And that is why I want to tell you a couple things.
First, I don’t want you to have shame. NO SHAME. Because when we carry around a bag of shame it just keeps us from doing what we need to do. It’s too big a burden to add to our load because when you have kids who call you mom and need you and you’re just keeping up with life carrying around shame is just too heavy. You know what I mean? If you’ve cried behind the bathroom door because you think you’re alone or this is too much or that you’re worried you’re ruining your kids the last thing you need is a kick in the gut dose of shame.
So when you feel shame I want you to deny that feeling and replace it with I am strong and valuable. Every single time.
Second, you are doing a good job. I know, I know. That’s hard to hear. Especially if you are sitting there in a life of crazy. But you are – even if you have those moments of anxiousness. Trust me, life and emotions can paint a picture of everything you’re not doing and you just hear all of this negativity – you messed up on homework or were late or you’re screwing up the kids and they’ll never pass second grade because of you – which makes you forget the power in you showing up. Especially when you struggle.
So even if you’re struggling with that deep pit of I’m just not enough or I don’t know what I’m doing I want you to start telling yourself – the woman sitting in the car driving those kids around, the woman splashing water on her face in the morning, the woman writing notes for her kids – that you are showing up over and over and over.
SHOWING UP IS POWERFUL.
And that matters more.
Even if you feel that you’re not.
Finally, life and motherhood do not have to be perfect to matter.
It doesn’t have to perfect projects and sparkly status updates and envious relationships – what matters, sweet mom, is that you take a moment and breathe and allow yourself the grace to love you for you. Even when you have anxiety moments. I really believe that our imperfect moments – where the grape juice spills and we sleep on the floor and we cry tears of overwhelm – are the moments that we will someday look back and see an amazing woman, an amazing mother who didn’t give up.
So from me to you – this is my heart. I’ve struggled. I’ve had those moments where I simply cannot shake the anxiousness and I want a moment of freedom. I want you to know that you can also break free from this – you will breathe again and you will find those moments of joy.
Here’s the bottom line.
The more you and I talk about anxiety the more we break the cycle of shame. It’s a risky thing to tell someone you have anxiety, but a brave thing because you are now an agent of freedom and change for others. And that’s why I wrote this. And that’s why I want to challenge you to share this with one friend. Even if you don’t have anxiety, but because you can help others speak up and feel loved and not judged.
Break free. Live free.
You are enough.
Such a great topic and love that you are so real and honest. I have recently been talking to moms with anxiety and it sure is tough. My four children are grown now and I am helping provide childcare to grandchildren. I think life is harder today – in new ways, and those new ways can result in anxiety and being stressed. You mentioned ‘perfect’ and if there was something I could say to help at all I would say try to let go of that. We put too much pressure on ourselves and it’s not our kids that are asking for that. I can see spending time with my grandchildren, and maybe from learning a thing or two along the way while I struggled through being a mom, that kids just want your time and your love. And when they are happy, you are happy. That’s not to trivialize any feelings of anxiety because they are real and need to be recognized, but making life a little simpler really can help.
Thank you. I needed this.
This hits straight to my heart. I needed this soo much. I need to doo these things you mentioned. Thank you
So true and so beautifully written! Loved reading it… It’s so so encouraging it got tears in my eyes!
I am the mother of a 4 and 5 year old and I have generalized anxiety disorder. Every single day is a struggle. I had no idea how hard motherhood would be or how alone I would feel.
Thank you Rachel for sharing your truth and your story. I’m deep in shame and anxiety and for these few moments as I read your blog I don’t feel as alone. Thank you again for being real! LA
Thank you for this 🙂 This spoke to my heart. There are days I just feel like giving up.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed this today. Thank you <3
Thank you for being brave and starting the conversation. It’s so hard not to feel shameful about anxiety, especially in motherhood. I really needed to read this today.
It made my day by reading it 2😉
This really made me feel good. I am amazing person n mother😉
Thank you. I needed this. The struggle is real. Hugs. Tears. Gratitude and best wishes.
Also this: I am strong and valuable.
Thank you so much!! This article brightened my day and was definitely needed thank you so much!! Bless you Rachel!
i think we would all be helped hugely if we could someone muster up a bit of transparency in the mom game. Thanks for doing so! I also have a lot of anxiety … mostly when I feel like I’m being authentic and then it’s not returned to me….I start questioning my vulnerability. What I’m learning lately….even though the urge is to stay hidden…is to instead embrace who I am and CONTINUE being that real person, that real friend, that real mom and not feeling anxious about what I expose. Great post!
I’m Beth. I have major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and a bunch more letters! I didn’t get treatment for my illness until my marriage fell apart because “we couldn’t afford it” and it “wasn’t a real illness.” “I just needed to grow up, toughen up, make better choices. I tried, and failed, for over 30 years! Then the man that I stood by through cardiac issues, carotid artery surgeries, strokes, and cancer, left because he was tired of my “control issues.” I sound bitter. I’m not. I found the medical and emotional help that I’ve needed since childhood. I found friends who choose to be my family. I found my connection to the Lord again. I probably wouldn’t have any of that if I had stayed! I’ve lost 250 pounds (not counting the ex-husband), had both knees replaced, got a semicolon butterfly tattoo on my right forearm, and colored my hair purple. I’m sorry for the pain that my untreated mental health conditions caused in my marriage and family but I am not ashamed! I didn’t want this! I didn’t do it on purpose! I didn’t know HOW to handle it on my own! I didn’t receive the medical care that I needed. Did I cause pain? Yes! Was it my fault? No! And you know what… even given the negatives, and there are plenty, I did a good job! I loved well. I stayed when it was hard. I raised amazing kids! (God gets the glory!) 2 of the 3 have even realized that it was an uphill battle and they’ve forgiven me. I am healthier, physically, mentally, emotionally, and Spiritually than at any other point in my life!
This isn’t the kind of comment you were looking for here and you may feel free to delete it if you wish. I just think that we have to share these stories so mental illness, of all kinds,can finally come out of the closet and be treated appropriately!
Love you Beth.
Today was a great day for me to read this ! All day I have been asking myself will I ever be happy again is there happiness outside of this crazy life of mine ! I just wanna feel & be happy again for myself & my son ! Thanks so much for sharing !
Wonderful article…. thank you for sharing
Reading this now was perfect timing. I am struggling with anxiety today – it has been a tough week. I felt stretched with so many demands and almost to the point the elastic was about to snap. But I truly believe the things we need show up at the right time. I am letting go of perfect (for today at least!) and I am spending some time listening to my son….really listening. Thank you Beth – for your courage, your empathy and your eloquence x
Completely agree.. moments that appear in our minds from the past… Things we worry about, that may occur in the future… Hurting our moments of joy.
It took me many years to finally be gentle with myself.. to accept my anxiety, name it, love it as part of me.. and to stop it stealing my moments of authentic living.
Have you read The Power of Now?
You should check it out.
Thank you, for this… We do all need to talk about it more, and realize that there are many ways to help ourselves too… And Help each other. No shame!!!
I will look into it. Thank you.
Thank you….I struggle too…
On my Facebook page, I’m sharing videos of my story of recovery and managing my anxiety from a Catholic mind-body-soul perspective. I’ve had 5 kids and massive anxiety after the third. Please watch and share so moms don’t feel alone. http://m.facebook.com/belikelilies/?ref=bookmarks
As I read this article tears rolled down my cheeks. I am seriously struggling with this and I have had people I love say I worry to much get over it. And as I try to hide the tears and worry from them I’m breaking inside. Yes I know I worry I truly don’t need to hear that right now. But to be honest I don’t know what I need. I feel I am carrying a load that I can’t carry and I cry a lot. I’m like is this what getting older does to you? I have secluded myself from friends and family and I’m not proud of that but I can’t seem to figure out how to handle it. My introvert personality doesn’t hekp. I miss my time with friends and family but I’m just too nervous it seems and frankly busy with my sweet lil family. I thank you for this article and being so real and open and praise you for doing so. I’m thinking of seeing a counselor to help but I’m not sure if that’ll help. The tips you left I will try as they seem to be what I need. Thank you!
I’m halfway through your book. Sooooo goood. I. Love. YOU~!!!
I’m a single mom of 3 having gone through a very similiar story as yours. Your words have brought much healing in my life.
Thank you for your bravery and daring transparency to share your journey with the world!!!
I just found your website today and WOW!!!! Thank you so much for this article. I am sure I will be reading all of them, and your book sounds like something I must buy and read many times. Thank you!!! You are amazing!!!