Wednesday, May 20, 2020

parenting yourself: Mental Health Awareness Month


Pre-quarantine, back in the days of yore, my husband and I went to a dinner party. I had been battling on-going physical and mental health issues and learning how to deal with panic attacks. We had jumped through some hoops to find childcare so that we could spend an evening with adults, but Anxiety didn’t care. I had been up most of the night with one of my kids, and my anxiety was through the roof. We were sharing a babysitter with several other families, and all the kids were at our house, so I didn’t want to cancel even though I knew I wasn’t in a good place to socialize.

I spent the whole evening battling panic attacks while  trying to appear to be fine. I knew what tools to use and how to talk myself through my anxiety, but it was completely exhausting. Instead of a refreshing time with adults, it was a terribly difficult evening. I spent most of it fighting the urge to run away, to get some space, and to breathe through it all in a private place.

As someone who has struggled with depression and continues to live with anxiety disorder, I am passionate about sharing openly in order to help #breakthestigma around mental health issues. This is Mental Health Awareness Month. I wanted to say something beautiful and inspiring, but all of the beautiful things feel a little disingenuous right now. Instead, I’ll say what’s true for me about my mental health right now: it is exhausting. I have learned so much and have a lot more tools at my disposal now than I did a few years ago, and for that I am grateful. However, I’ve been thinking about how much energy I expend in trying to re-parent myself when I am anxious. Perhaps because of the quarantine, I am more acutely aware of how difficult it is to parent my children when I am also trying to parent myself. 

When I became a mom, I had no idea how hard it would be. As hard as motherhood is, I have discovered community with so many other moms who have the same struggles. However, I find it more difficult to find the same solidarity and validation in the journey of mothering myself. I just wanted to say that if you are doing the good, hard work of parenting yourself in the midst of the craziness that is 2020, I see you. You are not alone.
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