When Emily first developed severe anxiety, she was in the throes of new-again motherhood. She’d just had her second baby, and wasn’t expecting to have to navigate anxiety and parenthood at once.
Navigating parenthood is a challenge on its own but when you throw anxiety into the mix of it all, it can be difficult to live a healthy and happy life.
I started developing mental health issues when I was around 12 years old, but it wasn’t until I gave birth to my second child that I developed severe anxiety. My pregnancy journey was not easy, and since I had already given birth before and had no problems, I didn’t expect it at all.
After having my son, my existing mental health issues manifested into panic attacks and severe anxiety that I had never experienced before. For many months I didn’t leave the house, and aspects surrounding parenthood made it even worse.
“MANAGING MY ANXIETY WHILE JUGGLING PARENTHOOD WAS AND IS STILL SO DIFFICULT, AND WHAT MASSIVELY HELPED ME WAS ACKNOWLEDGING THE PROBLEM AND COMMUNICATING IT.”
One time, I had a panic attack while I was grocery shopping, and my stepdad had to help me through the checkout – I was extremely embarrassed. Managing my anxiety while juggling parenthood was and is still so difficult, and what massively helped me was acknowledging the problem and communicating it. I speak up when I’m feeling a type of way, and this helps those around me understand when I need a bit more care.
Things that helped
Another thing that helped me manage my anxiety was attending a group parenting therapy with other mothers like me. This helped so much because we supported each other and didn’t feel so alone. Speaking out is better than bottling up your emotions, and it ended up changing my life for the better.
On top of all of this, I also see a therapist. One time, I became so frustrated that I completely lost it. I started screaming, throwing everything off the kitchen bench, breaking stuff, and sobbing uncontrollably. It wasn’t until I had an outburst that my husband and parents stood up and took proper notice. We all knew something had to be done to help me, to help all of us. I’m still learning every day, but I am so proud of myself for recognising the problem and being proactive.
Feeling the same?
Ruth Limkin, CEO of The Banyans Healthcare Group highlights key recommendations for any mums going through the same experience as Emily:
1. Talk it out
If you’re struggling with anxiety, don’t be afraid to speak out and discuss this with friends, family or a healthcare professional.
2. Learn your triggers
Seek out trusted information and take time to learn what your triggers and symptoms are so that you can better manage them.
3. Surround yourself with love
Find a community of other parents who may be going through the same thing, so you don’t feel as alone and have people to discuss your experiences with.
4. Look after yourself (inside and out)
Prioritise self-care in whatever form that may take – going for walks, meditating or breathing exercises, or simply factoring time for yourself.
5. Recognise if you need extra support
Voicing your feelings and seeking that extra support is so important – there is help out there for busy mums like The Banyans Healthcare Group’s Day Programs which offer flexible support that works around your family priorities.
While it may be difficult to understand anxiety and talk about it with others, it’s a brave thing to even acknowledge, let alone seek support for. Everyone’s journey is different and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with anxiety and parenthood. All that matters is acknowledging how your anxiety may or may not affect parenthood and being open to solutions that work.
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