I first noticed it in my oldest daughter about a year ago. She started telling me that her stomach hurt for no specific reason. While I didn’t think much of it at first, it wasn’t until they were recurring episodes that I started to look deeper into the problem. And that’s when it hit me: Her symptoms are just like mine. The stomach pain, the constant questions, the inability to get rid of specific thoughts. Anxiety was creeping up on her and my first thought was, “Not again.”
Anxiety runs in my family. Many of my relatives suffer from it, and because of that, most of our irrational thoughts are somehow justified. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that my anxiety started to intensify more than ever, taking rational things and making them irrational. In my mind, the stomach ache that my daughter had would somehow turn into some life-threatening disease. Dropping off my daughter at school would suddenly make me think that this could be the very last time I saw her. It was as if this condition that I’d suffered from my entire life had multiplied ten-fold for each child that I had.
My heart was no longer living inside of me. It was living on the outside, in these three beautiful children that I’d created. And it was them that I cared about more than anything. So it was them that I worried about now. And I worry about them all the time.
It wasn’t long ago that I realized the anxiety that I had for them was showing through, in numerous ways. And my oldest daughter was becoming acutely aware of it, as my anxious tendencies were rubbing off on her. My number one focus has always been to try to mask my anxiety, so that I could break the cycle for my children.
But it turns out I was doing the exact opposite.
That’s when I decided to get help. I needed to find ways to cope with my anxiety not only for myself, but for my children, too. I’d seen a therapist when I was in college, but that was for me. This time I had much more at stake.
In a society that tells us to raise strong and confident children, I’m hindering them by being so outward with my anxiety. And I don’t want them to suffer from it the way that I have my entire life. My daughter’s symptoms were just the kick that I needed to find ways to cope. And by beginning to deal with my own anxious tendencies, I’m showing my children how to do so as well. My therapist also gave me the tools that I need to help my children when I see that they are becoming too worried about something. Tools that I never had access to growing up. But I’m using them, and they’re working.
The truth of the matter is anxiety is something that I’ll suffer from my entire life; but thankfully, I’m now equipped with the skills that I need to overcome them. And it’s with these tools that I know I’ll break the long cycle that has kept me living in fear. To keep my children living fearlessly — just as they should.More On