Day in and day out, anxiety in its many forms, has been spread across the pages of magazines, of our social media newsfeeds, and has been the topic of many talk shows and other public forums. Anxiety has become a mainstream modern-day aliment plaguing many of the general populous with symptoms ranging from paralyzing and debilitating fears to a nagging feeling that stops them from social functions, or other situations. I did not think this applied to me until quite recently, when I came to the realization (like a smack across the face) it is a little more prevalent than I let myself believe.
Truth be told, there has been a weird sense of fear that has crept into the edges of my daily activities that has slowly stopped me from participating in certain activities that would not have bothered me prior.
This feeling started around the time I had my first son, and I just brushed it aside that my life was now to protect him and that is why I no longer wanted to do things that may be perceived as dangerous. Prior to my son being born, I loved facing fear, I couldn’t wait to skydive, I wanted to go bungee jumping, and I LOVED, I mean I really LOVED roller-coasters. It was as if a switch flipped the second I became a Mom. It crept in slowly, but set its everlasting claws in me and held on for dear life. It was like a dark shadow that loomed around my daily life, and when I ignored it, it got bigger and bigger.
It wasn’t until my daughter was born and was a little older that it started to embarrass me and I became aware that my family was going to start to notice. We went to Walt Disney World, and this was the first time the kids were able to go on ‘big’ rides. Mikayla and the boys wanted to go on the Tower of Terror, it had been mentioned a couple of times throughout the trip and I was relieved every time our plans veered in another direction.
We had planned to go see the Indiana Jones performance and when we got there, there was a ‘cast member’ at the entrance letting everyone know they were sorry they had to cancel the show; but had a front-of-the-line ticket to whatever ride we wanted to go on. Immediately, the kids knew exactly what they wanted to do, and dreed started to bubble up in my stomach. Keep in mind, my anxiety was relatively low at this point, and easy to swallow back down. Mikayla started to have second thoughts, and it was really cute because we were paired with a US cheerleading team who were there for a competition but taking a break to enjoy some rides. They cheered Mikayla on, and I knew I had to go through with the ride and not let on about my fears because I wanted to Mikayla to face HERS.
It was on this trip, I became keenly aware something fundamentally changed within the function and chemistry of my brain. I started to do some research and learned that it is relatively normal not to want to participate in activities that can be perceived to be dangerous after having a baby. It is a topic of discussion on a few mom boards and eased my sense that something was ‘wrong’ with me. So again, I pushed these feelings deep down.
On January 5th, my alarm went off at 3:45 am and almost immediately, my anxiety began. There was this gnawing feeling of doom followed by imagery of fiery crashes and tragedy. With my Lorazepam firmly tucked away, right beside Mikayla’s ear medication, my entire family made their way to the airport. I was elated to share an unforgettable journey to Costa Rica with them and could not wait for the experiences we would go on together. **EDIT – The experiences THEY would go on together because my anxiety has reached an all-time high.
My lists of fears now include and are not limited to:
- Going into the Ocean – at all
- Horseback Riding – did I mention I took lessons for YEARS – like literally YEARS
- Being on a boat
- being on a boat in rough water
- Scuba diving (obviously)
And the list goes on.
I sat idly by watching my husband and children surf, IN COSTA FUCKING RICA, go cliff jumping, swing off of jungle vines, go horseback riding on the beach at sunset and snorkeling (and I had literally convinced myself that Josh was not coming back). For EVERY SINGLE one of these activities I had a very solid reason not to participate, all of them compete and absolute bullshit.
On the plane ride home, I was so disappointed with myself. My anxiety and fear skyrocketed every time we hit a rough patch of air. This all confirmed something for me, I was DONE. 2019 will be the year that I face my anxiety, instead of hiding from it. 2019 will be the year I face my fears!
Don’t get me wrong, I have done a lot of really brave things, I have quit a comfortable job and took a leap of faith, I have married the love of my life on an absolute whim, I decided to go back to school three weeks into the course! I am brave, and I have the courage to take the harder path, but now is the time I face fear with both eyes wide open. Now is the time I will embrace the sweaty palms, my heartbeat in my ears, my hands that constantly and consistently give me away by shaking.
And please understand, I am not implying that anxiety is something that you can just get over, I am not implying that there aren’t people who need medication to survive their anxiety. I understand this can be so much bigger and I am not belittling that in ANY WAY.
I am simply saying today I am no longer being a slave to this, I am ready to fight back.