Why Having Kids Made My Anxiety Worse

I have suffered from anxiety my whole life and panic attacks for most of my adult life.  For me the anxiety has always been that my brain focuses on worst possible scenarios.

Driving in the car? There is going to be a horrific accient and I could kill us all. Someone is late meeting me? They are dead on the side of the road where no one will find them. There’s a strange sound at night? Someone is robbing my house and is going to hurt us. That is just how my brain works, and has since I was little.

The panic attacks started when my then boyfriend, now husband, was deployed in Afghanistan for 15 month.  You can guess why right? He was in constant danger, my mind would wander and if I didn’t hear from him daily, I would just know that something horrific happened.  Thank goodness for the internet, skype, and satalite phones, that is the only way I survived. Luckly, he came back unharmed and is now resigned.  I don’t know how I could have handled another deployment.

It’s even worse at night, with the dark comes the darkest of images and reasonings.  There is no light to turn to and the house is quite. It’s the perfect storm for the anxious mind.  I have woken up in cold sweats, screaming, and totally unaware of what is going on around me.  Apparently when my panic attacks first started I was totally unaware of them until my sister and mother, whom I was living with at the time, told me the next day.  Scary right?!?

Now that I have kids the anxiety had gotten worse.

By 2013 the hubby had resigned from the army, gotten a great job, we had bought our first our together, gotten a dog, and were living the dream.

However, once R. was born my anxiety seemed to get worse.  You mean I am now solely responsible for taking care of this screaming child, who can’t tell me what is wrong, has strange reactions to things, only wants to be held by me,  and will wake up multiple times a night crying?!?

Evertime she cried, fussed, had a strange rash, or even wiggled wrong, my brain would kick into over drive and I would think that she was sick. And not just your common cold sick, like cancer, tumor, virus that’s going to kill her sick.  I’m luckly my doctors didn’t kick me out of their practice after the first month, I had them on speed dial and probably woke up whoever was on call way too often.

That setteled down after a few months, but the anxiety never really went away. I just manifiested itself in different forms.

We both cried it out.

When we were sleep training I couldn’t bare to listen to her cry.  We tried EVERYTHING. We started by rocking her till she was deep asleep, the second her head hit that matteres she was awake again. Next came gradual release, but the moment we would leave again the crying got worse.  Unfortunatley, the only thing that worked for R. was to cry it out.  And cry it out WE BOTH did.

I would sit outside her room in a ball crying right along with her.  I swore I was damaging my child for life and I would never forgive myself.  Luckly this only lasted a few nights, but my scars are still there.  We still have the occational bedtime fights and my anxiety kicks into over drive.  I know I need to set boundies, but listening her either of my kids cry, fuss, or whine just ups my anxiety and can even trigger a panic attack.

There is no Set Schedule with Kids

When I was younger I learned that one way I could control my anxiety was to be on a strict schedule.  I planned out what I would need to do everyday and if I followed my plan, my anxiety was under control.

However, all schedules go out the window when you have kids.  If they decide not to nap, you now have a cranky upset child that you have to either shelp along to whatever you had planned and they will probably throw a fit while there, or you cancel whatever plans and stay home.  Usually the less anxious inducing option.

Or they decide to nap, for an hour and a half longer than they normally do. Now any plans, scheduled appoinments, or meetings are out the window.  You NEVER wake a sleeping baby, at least I could never wake mine up without them being super cranky and again throwing a fit. So I stay home to avoid the anxiety.  Catching a theme here?

9 times outs of 10 it was easier to just not have a schedule with my girls. However that also triggered anxiety, because like I stated above: I LOVED having a schedule and plans to follow.  HELLO DAILY ANXIETY.

Now as they got older, it’s easier to plan my days, but I still get that little itch when something doesn’t quite go as planned.  I’ve been told to let it go, or lighten up, but it’s not something that I can do that easily.

My House is Constantly Messy

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’ve never lived in a perfectly clean house. There has always been little piles that need to be cleaned up, but it was NEVER as bad as it is now.  When my house is a mess, my mind is in a state of chaos. When there are toys thrown about and dirty dishes in the sink I can’t focus and my anxiety kicks up.

Having kids made this worse, because however clean I can get the house, the kids will play and make a mess again.  I wouldn’t change my kids playing and happiness just so I can have a clean house 100% of the time.  I compinsate by cleaning and organizing every evening after the girls are asleep.  My husband thinks I’m a mad woman, but the dishes MUST be done and the toys put away so I can start each day fresh.

I’ve learned to cope

Even though my anxiety is hard and sometimes scary.  I can’t always pin point what I’m anxious about, I have discovered ways to help deal with my anxiety.

When I eat healthy and often I feel better.  I have more energy during the day and I can focus more on whats important, my girls. Eating 5-6 small meals a day and drinking my shake has helped me gain some small control over my days.  I plan and prep each week so that I know I am set up for success.

Exercising daily gives me the energy and time to refocus myself.  30-40 minutes a day is best.  It is a way for me to be able to turn my brain off a focus on something thats good for me.  I have found that when I exercise my anxiety melts away and I feel better the rest of the day.

When the girls are driving me absolutely crazy, I throw on some music and we have a dance party.  There is something about watching little butts wiggle and shake that makes even the worse anxiety disappear.

Did you notice something similar when you had kids? What did you do to help yourself recover?

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