You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain

I used to be a people pleaser, scared to upset anyone and afraid of confrontation. I was a yes person, always spreading myself so thinly that I was virtually see through.

Then I had children but still I continued in the same way.

There is one of those sayings that gets frequently shared around social media “we expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work”. Never has there been a more relevant saying for the way I was living my life. But frequent followers of the blog or Instagram will know that it massively backfired on me and I ended up having a breakdown and suffering huge panic attacks.

So, 15 months ago I left my career and took a family friendly job at the council which allowed me to take my kids to school and leave at 2.30 to pick them up again. The aim was to allow me to still work but also have the time and energy to be the parent I wanted to be. Perfect it seemed, but there was one teeny tiny problem. It turned out that taking my career away from me was equivalent to removing my left arm. I was still a functioning person but I had lost an important part of myself.

I had found myself in an altogether different but equallydifficult situation. I wanted to work because it was important to my self-esteem.But the career I had, and ultimately wanted back, didn’t work around my family.My husband’s job allows me to work part time and term time but doesn’t allowfor any support with regular child care throughout the week. He can’t commit totaking the children to school regularly or being available for any kind of pickup. Child care wise we have two options – me or after school club. The kind ofjob I wanted didn’t allow for school pick-ups in the middle of the day. The sector(charity and third) that I wanted to work in didn’t pay enough to justify wraparound care costs for 2 children. So, the only option seemed to be stayingwhere I was at the council and sacrificing my job satisfaction and my happinessfor now.

I kept telling myself that it wouldn’t be forever as I lookedat and discarded hundreds of job adverts that simply didn’t work for my familysituation. The children would get older and more independent and then I wouldhave more flexibility and freedom I told myself whilst I mentally worked outhow many more years it would be until my now 4-year-old would be able to takehimself to and from school. It won’t be too long and they won’t need me as muchI would say which in itself was both a devastating thought and also the onlything that was keeping me sane. But I didn’t want to wish my children’s livesaway because I was so miserable at work so I continued manically trawling the jobsites trying every combination of words in the search engine that might producethe perfect solution to my battle between career and family.

And then, lo and behold, I happened across not one but twojobs that seemed to offer the solution. I hastily sent in my applications andkept everything crossed. I was asked to interview for both jobs. I was asked tointerview for both jobs on the same day!! And what a day it was, both interviewswere very taxing and exhausting but both interviews energised me and started togive me hope and a sense of purpose.

Without wanting to blow my own trumpet too much, I was eventuallyoffered both jobs as well. It wasn’t going to be possible to take both and bothhad compromises that I hadn’t bargained for. Neither role could offer me whatmy current job did in terms of family flexibility but both allowed me back into the realms of my previous career and gave me hope that I didn’t have to giveit all up for the next 10 years.

Old me would have accepted either of the jobs as they were offered and tried to shoe horn my life and family around that job. The likely outcome being resentment and compromise reminiscent of my pre-breakdown life and we all know how that ended. But I am not old me anymore, I am a new me. A previously broken, still slightly damaged but ultimately stronger new me. I have insight, I have perspective and I have a better grasp on my priorities. New me has also discovered #flex appeal and the epic work done by @motherpukka and @papapukka. I have followed for a while as they have talked about flexible and family friendly working. I have seen people share their experiences of making requests for better working hours and although I didn’t realise it at the time, I had been subliminally absorbing it all and storing it in my brain for future use.

So, I asked the first job to allow me to start work later soI wouldn’t need to put my children in breakfast club three times a week as wellas after school club until 6. They declined because it didn’t work for the restof the team. So I had to decide was that a compromise worth making just so I couldleave my current job which was making me miserable? Turns out it was, along witha couple of other negative points so I said NO. Me!! The people pleaser, theone who never says no to anyone (apart from my kids) for fear of upsettingthem, me who hates compromise (and talking on the telephone) actually phonedthem up and said no thank you. I possibly felt more empowered than I ever hadbefore just because I had been strong enough to decline a job.

Then there was the second job. This was a difficult one, the job I had applied for was not term time (which was my main priority) but was 50% day time hours and 50% evening hours so the childcare in the holidays would have been a lot easier to manage. But this one threw me a gigantic curveball. This had been the most exciting and energising of the two interviews. I came out of there walking on air believing that I was on the cusp of exactly what I was looking for but also knowing that it had possibly the biggest of all compromises – not term time. They offered me a job, in fact they offered me far more job than I had applied for and indeed an opportunity of a life time. They were asking me how much I could do for them, they would give me whatever hours I wanted and complete flexibility about how those hours were worked. But the term time!! The lack of term time!! I knew I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t take on a huge role and have to deal with the school holiday spreadsheets and the stress again. So I made it very clear, I told them I couldn’t take any more than I had applied for because I didn’t want the school holiday juggle. I was completely honest and transparent about how much I wanted the job but that I couldn’t compromise on that area, I wouldn’t compromise on that area for the sake of my family.

You may not realise it at the time but the difficult path you are on may be leading you to somewhere much better.

That could have backfired on me terribly, but I was prepared for that. I have dealt with far more difficult things than walking away from another job and I was empowered from already doing it once that week even though I also knew that meant staying where I was. But they did what every organisation worth anything should do, they saw that what I was able to offer them was too valuable to lose so they offered me the hours I wanted on a term time only basis. Boom, there it was – the answer to everything. I have now been offered a job that allows me to take my children to school, pick them up, work from home, work flexibly and have the school holidays at home with my kids whilst doing a role that excites me and that will give me the sense of purpose, I have been lacking for the last 15 months. In return they will get the very best of me – my enthusiasm, my experience and my dedication.

Its been a rocky old road that I have been travelling but it turns out that it was exactly what I needed. Sometimes when you are in the depths of despair it can feel impossible and it can feel unfair but maybe it was what you needed to get you to somewhere better and brighter. After all you can’t have the rainbow without having the rain!

Is it FOMO, JOMO or just missing out?

There has been this saying bandied around for a while “FOMO” which when I googled it turned out be “Fear Of Missing Out”. This got me thinking, do I ever actually experience this feeling anymore? And in all honesty I think the answer is no. I have definitely become a home body – not that I ever was a massive party animal. But as time has gone along I have found myself just wanting to stay at home, declining invitations or spending night outs thinking about when I can go home. Not all the time I hasten to add but being out out fills me with a considerable amount of anxiety – real physical, palpable anxiety. 

Anyone who has experienced the physical side of anxiety will tell you that it’s an extremely unpleasant feeling and not something you would actively go out of your way to reproduce. Much like banging your head against a wall or shutting your hand in a door. It hurts the first time so you wouldn’t then repeatedly do it again if you could help it.

I am pleased to report that there is now “JOMO” “Joy Of Missing Out” which definitely sits more comfortably with me. But the problem is this idea of Missing Out. For every 10 opportunities I am offered, 9 of them won’t be that big a deal to miss but there is always 1 thing that I will want to do, 1 thing I won’t want to miss. So then I am in a quandary about whether to suck it up and experience the pain or to miss out on something great. 

I don’t want to live like this forever so I push myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible. I believe that in doing this I will start to learn that things aren’t as bad as my mind would have me believe. It’s also essential in preventing me from becoming a hermit!!

Take this very moment for instance, I am currently sat alone on a train travelling to London for the weekend. I have plans to spend the weekend with a group of ladies, only two of which I know, one of which is a family member. We are off to see the Strictly live show tomorrow afternoon and as a dedicated strictly fan and for a variety of other reasons, I couldn’t turn it down. 

But as I sit here on this train, living what many would see as a mother’s dream -(a whole weekend of adult time, no arguing kids, no demands, no bedtimes, pure luxury) I am a huge mess of emotions inside. Hopefully on the outside I look perfectly normal and none of my fellow passenger will notice. But my insides are being churned up by anxiety.

I have walked away from everything that keeps me safe. I am going to somewhere far from home without my family, without my husband even without my dog and not for work purposes. All things that give me an identity and act as my safety blanket. At this very moment I am just me – not a mum, not a wife, not an employee, not a dog owner and to me that is utterly terrifying!! It’s only when they are stripped away that I realise how much I depend on those safety nets to keep me going.

Everyone’s instant reaction when you tell them what you are doing is to rave about how lucky I am to be getting away, to be experiencing something so great and to be having a break from my family and routine. I am not an ungrateful person in anyway and I do realise how privileged I am but that doesn’t unfortunately take away how difficult I find this. That family, that routine, that purpose is literally what keeps me going and whilst it is exhausting in itself and I do often want a break, being away from them is a bit like losing my lifeline. So I smile and nod along when people say it, but inside that’s not really how I feel.

My rational head knows that I need to do this, I need to break away from those safety nets for a short amount of time. My rational head knows that this feeling of discomfort is important. Consequently, I have put on my game face, I have forced myself to do this even though I have wanted to back out so many times. I have suppressed my anxious feelings and I will push forward, and I will do everything in my power to enjoy myself because otherwise this has all been for nothing. But the irrational and anxiety riddled part of my head is waiting to pounce on me at the very moment my facade drops.

It’s going to be a tiring old time and I may well go in to hiding when I get home. Don’t underestimate the physical and mental exertion required to live in a constant anxious state. I may not attend the next 9 things I am offered, but hopefully every time I push my limits it will actually increase my capacity and it may only be 8/10 things I turn down. Maybe that won’t be the case , but I won’t know unless I try and try is all I can do. I am coming to terms with that and that in itself is growth.

If you need me after tomorrow, this is where I will be.

My anxious mind, the battle is real.

Some insight in to the mind of an anxious mind

I realise I spend a lot of time talking about my experiences of having anxiety, my recovery attempts and my setbacks. But they are mainly just headlines, it’s difficult to give real insight in to what those headlines actually mean.

So, in line with the blog name, I am publishing my actual ramblings to give some insight in to what living with anxiety really means to me. This is hand on heart genuinely what was going through my mind in the 30 minutes that the repair man was at my house. I am choosing to view it in a humorous way as it does seem utterly ridiculous, but it could easily be seen as totally crazy. But this is truly what my mind does in seemingly normal situations. Enjoy…

First some context: Imagine the scene, it a Friday morning and I have a fridge repair man in my house. It was a planned visit in terms of knowing he was coming today but no idea what time that would be. When he arrives, I am in the middle of cooking soup, straightening up the house and listening to a “90’s acoustic” playlist on spotify.

Anxious mind: oh god I should have cleaned the fridge out (as the guy hands me a fridge shelf with a dirty mark on it). That’s it, he’s going to think I am some kind of rancid undomesticated useless waste of space. Why didn’t I clean the fridge? I’m an idiot.

Rational mind: you are being ridiculous, it was one dirty mark and I doubt he even noticed. He will have seen far worse. Besides the rest of the house seems clean and tidy as long as he doesn’t look too close 😛

Anxious mind makes this better by cleaning the shelf in front of him, to prove that I do know how to do it!!

Anxious mind: (as the guy takes stuff off the top of the fridge) sh*t sh*t sh*t I definitely haven’t cleaned up there and now he is going to know we make dust and put me forward for how clean is your house (that’s not even still going but I do remember very vividly how disgusting some houses were). He wont understand why there is a cushion up there (it’s the cats bed – she sleeps up there to keep safe from the dog)!! He’ll think I am completely weird. And why did I decide to cook lentils now!! he probably thinks it stinks, he will think I stink!!

Rational mind: everyone has stuff stashed away in places and everyone probably has dust on the top of their fridge and he probably is wondering why you have a cushion up there but I doubt he’s that bothered. As for the lentils, it smells fine. It smells like vegetables cooking and he can see the saucepan and knows its not you.

Anxious mind:  Oh no why did I think it was a good idea to leave the music on, he probably thinks I am complete dork!! I want to turn it off, but I cant turn it off without it being obvious what I’m doing. What is this song? Oh god oh god? I am going to skip, wait I can’t do that because then he will know I am actually listening to it, I am going to skip, no don’t, I am I am (skips the song) WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!? He must think I am such an idiot. I wonder what music he likes? Do you think he has even heard the music? He might like the music! ARGH!!!

Photo courtesy of cynthiaeday.com

Rational mind: he probably hasn’t even noticed the music, it probably isn’t bothering him and you are unlikely to ever see him again so stop panicking!!

  THE PHONE RINGS AND INTERRUPTS THE MUSIC

Anxious mind: phew

Rational mind: phew

                                                                ANSWERS PHONE

Anxious mind: Oh no, now he can hear my conversation. What if he thinks I just sit around all day doing nothing but talking on the phone and obviously not cleaning. I haven’t been at work any of the times he has seen me, he must think I am really lazy. He’s probably thinking all sorts about me now!! What must he be thinking?!?! I need this to be over!! I am going crazy!

Rational mind: you are being crazy!! Of course, you haven’t been at work when he has come otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to come!! He is unlikely to have even noticed anything about the house, he is literally just here to fix the fridge. He is not from social services, he is not filming a secret documentary about slovenly mothers. He is here to fix the fridge!!! You are being crazy!

  THE GUY FINISHES THE FRIDGE AND LEAVES

Anxious mind: Thank god that’s over

Rational mind: Thank god that’s over

So, there you go, a small snippet of the crazy that is my mind. Looking at it on the page now, I can easily see why I end up exhausted after a situation like that and why I have to be more careful now about how much I try to cram in to my life. Those occurrences are more frequent than I would like to admit to and can happen at any time in any place. I am lucky in that more often than not I have the rational mind running alongside the anxious mind to counter its thought patterns. But when I am struggling it is because the rational mind is not there or it can not break through. It is at that point that the panic gets its power and literally attacks. The panic then feeds the anxious mind whilst suppressing the rational mind. The fight to rebalance then becomes that much tougher.

Photo courtesy of pinterest

Anxiety is a constant battle that we are fighting. The battle to keep the panic away and balance the anxious with the rational. I haven’t yet mastered how to fuel the rational to suppress the anxious. But I am always working towards it.

So anyway, that was an insight to my mind. A light hearted but definitely honest account of my battle. And on the plus side I think I can legitimately maintain my title – ramblings of an anxious mumma!

What is this self care you speak of ?!?

I was casually indulging in a spot of kitchen cleaning, specifically the oven of doom!!, and to stop myself from losing the plot entirely I was also indulging in a bit of an Instagram story catch up sesh at the same time. So, there I was elbow deep in the oven pride and listening to the fabulous @Natashabailie talking about self-care.
If you aren’t familiar with Natasha, and I would urge you to change that, then you may not be aware that she is a great voice in the Instagram mental health community and speaks very passionately about the use of self-care in managing mental health difficulties. She can be found on Instagram or at www.mentalmutha.com
During these particular stories, Natasha was talking about the fact that whilst she strongly values self-care not everyone feels the same. She was questioning why this may be the case and this in turn got me thinking about my relationship with self-care and my take on what Natasha was saying.

Self-care hasn’t always come easily to me, in the lead up to my illness my life was completely full with work, kids, family and a never-ending stream if time filling commitments with little value. I viewed taking care of my self as selfish and it wasn’t what good mothers did because good mothers put everything in to raising the family and keeping the home.
(Disclaimer 1: I am not saying this is the case at all, it was simply a warped perception I held for some time. Disclaimer 2: despite what it sounds like, I was not raised in Stepford during the 60’s. I am not sure where this warped perception stems from)

It wasn’t until I broke that I realised I needed to work a bit more on me to be able to look after others. This is the tag line that is so often used and is absolutely right. But I’ll be honest, even now I still struggle with self-care and I don’t think I am alone in that.
So why is this the case? Why do so many people shun what seems like a dream situation – a genuine excuse to make time for yourself and do nice things?

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Self-care doesn’t have to be a mountain, don’t be scared by the idea.

In reality I think that a lot of people either don’t truly understand what self-care means and they have a very tight definition of what counts as self-care. For others it just feels too big, too scary and too time consuming. After all, if your head is full and you are feeling the stretch, the idea of trying to factor something else in to the mix can be overwhelming. Consequently, the things that are easiest to remove are the ones we take out the first. After all it is not that easy to take out work or family commitments so we sacrifice the things that will help us the most.

Even now when I have worked very hard on trying to rebuild myself, and when I have changed so many of the negative things from before, I still struggle with having the time and the headspace to tackle self-care.

Yoga for example – My friend keeps telling me of the virtues of yoga for my physical and mental health. I know this is true and I do really want to get in to it, but I don’t feel like I have the time or the headspace to start it yet. It sounds crazy but I think it is a bit like addicts admitting they have a problem before they will seek help. I need to feel ready to commit the time to yoga before I can contemplate starting it. I had the same thing with counselling. I knew I needed it for a long time, before I was really ill but I didn’t have the headspace to commit to it. Counselling is a long and hard journey. One that is worthwhile no doubt but not something you can jump in to lightly. Obviously, yoga is not the same level of intensity as counselling but the principle is the same and that I think also applies to self-care. You have to be able to commit the time to it before you can start the process. You have to believe in the value and you have to recognise the benefits.

But I do think there is a lot of confusion or presumption around what is meant by self-care. It isn’t always about finding time to go to the salon or the spa, although these things count and are very valuable to some. It can be about doing something that makes you feel good, whatever that may be and recognising its value.

For me, and this may well sound lame to some, it is making time to do some life admin or some cleaning admin. I definitely didn’t enjoy cleaning the brown gunk out of my oven but my god did I feel good afterwards. That box of oven pride had been in my house for more than 2 months and sitting beside the oven for at least a month (minus the days when people came round and I didn’t want to highlight the state of my oven) to try and encourage me to do it and simultaneously making me feel guilty for not doing it. So, to have actually had the time to tick that job off my to do list made me feel amazing.
Having a clean house makes me feel like I have my sh** together, it makes me feel like I am top of things and that I’m not completely failing at life. That is important to me but it isn’t necessarily important to others and that’s fine.

Find what is important to you and try to make some time to do it. It doesn’t have to be the glamourous stuff that is so often publicised, it may be stuff that you don’t want to admit to or that isn’t “instagrammable” but that’s ok. You don’t need to justify to anyone else what self-care means to you.
Its really not a case of “go hard or go home” either, it can be small things leading to big things or it can just always be small things.

Self-care is not an insurmountable mountain, it is stepping stones towards making you feel better. Those stepping stones can be as close together or as far apart as you need them at the moment. If you only manage something for you once a month or less frequently than that, its ok. And as ever with the world of social media, don’t be driven by what others are doing or feel bad because others seem to be doing it more or doing it better. People only post what they want you to see. Self-care is just that, something for yourself. Do it to make you feel better and only you. If you want to, please feel free to comment and share what you do or have done. Perhaps it will help others to identify something they could do for themselves to make a positive change.

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You don’t have to go from 0-60 straight away. Take small steps, even tiny ones will make a difference.

I’ll start you off with a few ideas that work for ME:
1) Keeping on top of the cleaning (I used the Organised Mum Method – see Instagram, facebook or this blog if you want to know what I mean www.theorganisedmum.blog)
2) Having lists of all the things I need or want to do. This stops them swimming around in my head and making me feel overwhelmed or forgetful.
3) Painting my nails – I use gel/shellac but do it at home because I can’t afford the time to make an appointment somewhere. For me having nice nails makes me feel a hundred times better.
I would love it if you could share your ideas with me.

There’s just no pleasing some people!!

Over the past few years I have noticed that I am becoming progressively less tolerant of noise. I am becoming the annoying old battleaxe always telling people (namely my kids and dog) to be quiet and calm down.

 
Its important at this point to note that at the time of writing this blog I was sat in a kids dance class listening to the baby shark song!! Never have I wanted silence so badly and I cant think what inspired this particular blog!!

 
I think the need for silence, or just quiet, is a direct result of the anxiety and mental health problems that I have been experiencing for the last few years. My reasoning behind this is that my head feels so full all the time. Full of all the things I have to do, full of all the things that are


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Photo courtesy of whisper.sh

worrying me, full of demands and full of anxiety. Consequently, there isn’t space for anything else so I can’t handle the additional noise and the demands. Continue reading There’s just no pleasing some people!!

Maybe it’s the quality of your wardrobe that’s the problem – flat pack just aint gonna cut it!!

One of the things that has stuck with me the most since I accepted I was ill (different from when I became ill) came from a great friend who simply said “your wardrobe is just too full”.
So, after the initial panic that she had indeed seen the complete and utter state of my dishevelled wardrobe with the back panel hanging off, I realised what she actually meant. She simply meant that I had taken on too much to cope with. I had been metaphorically cramming stuff in to my “wardrobe” and shutting the doors until eventually those poor doors had enough and came flying off and hit me hard.
The most frustrating part of it all was that my “wardrobe” was filled with loads of other people’s things that I was storing for them and consequently I had less room for my stuff.
But after about 3 months of counselling, I was able to manage some of the stuff. Chuck some of it out, refold some other stuff and generally get a better idea of what was actually in there. Suddenly things felt a bit better and less pressured. There was a small amount of space now in which to carefully place a few things that wasn’t going to cause another massive wardrobe explosion.
But as time has been going on, and since the counselling has stopped, I have been trying to manage the wardrobe on my own and the time has come to admit that it is starting to feel a bit bulgy again. Only this time it isn’t because of any major things, its just a series of life’s little niggles that are building and building and I don’t have the right level of resilience to fight them all the time.
So is that it then? Am I now so broken that I can’t even deal with normal life? That’s a very scary and sobering thought that I am trying to process. I mean surely everyone has to deal with the same everyday stresses – working, being a parent, running a home, trying to have a social life, maintain a relationship etc etc etc? so why is it that I am finding it so difficult to deal with all these things when I have already invested heavily in trying to make space in my wardrobe.
But the thing that makes it different now is that I am much better at self-reflection. I am not caught up in a whirlwind and I have time to stop and take stock of the situation. I am more rational than before. All of these things combined have led me to the realisation that actually the issue is the quality of my “wardrobe”. I need to work on making myself more bespoke fitted wardrobe and less Ikea flat pack special with the flimsy plastic door inserts!!
So that is my project for the next few weeks and months. Watch this space because there is a shiny, sparkly and sturdy new wardrobe in the making. In the mean time if you could refrain from putting your stuff in my wardrobe that would be great.

Scream if you wanna go faster!! Parenting with anxiety

My current assessment of my mental health would see me taking on the role of tightrope walker!! Getting more proficient I must say but very conscious that one false move and I’ll be falling on my face in seconds.
Last week saw me wobble massively, the rope was swaying and the arms were waving trying to regain my balance before a fall. It was a struggle and I did definitely expect the fall to happen but I am pleased to report that my mental health core was strong enough to keep me upright.
Now the rope has stopped swaying, I am reflecting back on the week and trying to get an understanding of where I am at and how I managed to recover so quickly from what was the equivalent of being kicked aggressively in the stomach.
To quickly overview the situation, I unexpectedly came across an individual who played a significant role in my spiral in to the anxiety pit and that really knocked me. I found myself back where I was a year ago and I wasn’t prepared for that. All of a sudden, I was faced with emotions and feelings I hadn’t experienced for a while and I plummeted back to a dark place of overwhelming panic.
Compounding all of that was an overwhelming anger, one that I had clearly been suppressing for some time even though I thought it had moved on. I was angry for a very long time after my anxiety started – angry at myself, angry at the person who had triggered the whole thing, angry at the way it had been handled at work and generally angry at life!! Through counselling I battled that anger and although I didn’t mange to destroy it, I definitely maimed it so it was no longer a threat.
Turns out the anger wasn’t that badly injured, and all I needed was to be faced with the original anxiety trigger and it came flooding back.
BUT, and this is critical, I didn’t have weeks and months of extremely painful counselling to fall back in to that pit of anxiety again. That particular person has had more than enough of me, they have taken all they are going to get from me. Regrettably I let that person affect me far more than they had the right to do, and as a result they robbed my children of the mother I should have been to them last year. AND there in lies the reason that I didn’t fall as hard as I expected. One simple answer – my children.
Parenting with anxiety is beyond difficult at times. In my instance, I didn’t want to go out of the house and function. I didn’t want to speak to people yet I simultaneously didn’t want to be alone. I couldn’t cope with noise, pressure and demands on me – all things you have to deal with daily when you are a parent. I was snappy and irritable, it took everything I had to maintain a basic standard of living and that was utterly exhausting. Their physical needs were always always met but sometimes I fell short on meeting their emotional needs.

There is no mum guilt that I have experienced that is worse than the guilt I have felt over that time. See if you know my children, you will know that they are truly amazing, wonderful, loving, caring individuals who deserve the absolute best from life. I did the best I could given the situation, but it was not the best that they deserved. I have vowed to put my everything in to making up for that time, which is in itself immensely difficult when I still have very present anxiety issues.
So, last week I had to make a choice. By the time I was alone and able to process my response to the situation, I had approximately 33 minutes until the school run. So, I allowed myself 33 minutes to cry, freak out and then pull myself back together. Then I left for the school run and put my everything in to being normal (whatever the hell that is!!), I suppressed the panic, the tears and the urge to collapse in a heap on the floor. I functioned as a mother, inside I was still breaking and once they were in bed and asleep I did allow the release of that but I promised myself it would last for one day only. It didn’t, but my recovery was much quicker than I anticipated and I was able to function normally albeit more subdued than usual.
So, what have I learned in my year of parenting with anxiety? Well it’s a rollercoaster and a half that’s for sure. It’s not the kind of rollercoaster you want to go on either. It’s the kind where you spend the whole time with your eyes closed, slowly climbing up only to plummet down at speed fairly certain you are about to crash but then at the last minute it loses speed and you are on the flat again.
Being a parent whilst I have been suffering with anxiety has been both a blessing and a curse. My two wonderful children are what has kept me going all this time, I couldn’t get signed off sick from being their mother so I had to continue to function. I had to get up every day and leave the house, I had to socialise with people and participate in daily life when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball. There were days when I had zero motivation and energy to move but I had to find some from somewhere. Not was just not an option. But in having to continue as normal with the kids, it actually kept me mobile and upright. I could have easily succumbed to the clutches of anxiety, never leaving the house and shutting down all lines of communication and there is a chance my recovery would have been much slower and more painful. But that being said, there is a definite value in being able to curl up in a ball and recuperate. After all, if I had broken my leg, I wouldn’t have kept walking on it to get the kids to school, I would have asked for help. It really is a very fine line that we have to walk between allowing yourself time to heal and keeping mobile so you don’t seize up!
The hardest part of parenting with anxiety for me has been the intense feelings of guilt. I haven’t been the mother I wanted to be, the chances are that mother image I had was unachievable anyway but I feel I have fallen far short. They don’t always get the best version of me, and do they definitely get the brunt of my stresses  sometimes. Occasionally it is actually completely justified when they are in fact the cause of my stress, but often they have just been caught up in my anxiety whirlwind. I hope that the version of me I am now is better for them, I hope they don’t look back at me as the mean, shouty, crying mummy that I have been and instead see a better, calmer, more fun-loving mummy. That is the mummy I will aspire to be going forward. That may not always be achievable but I will remind myself of the wise words of my counsellor, just do the best you can in the situation and as I only ever ask my children to do their best, I shouldn’t ask more of myself than that.