Anxiety With All.The.Things.

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I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Being a mom to a little one is STRESSFUL. Flu season KILLS me. Hurricane season WRECKS me. Election season is the WORST. COVID-19? I cannot even.

I am on high alert right now, as we all are. If you have an anxiety disorder, however, this is a terrible time. Know that I SEE YOU. 

For the most part, I believe that I do a good job masking my anxiety – if you know me, the fact that I have a disorder might come as a surprise. 

How do I “cope” on a normal day? 

*I say “cope” because I do not suggest that any of these behaviors are necessarily healthy.

I work. A LOT.

I always have. Before I was diagnosed, I just chalked it up to being a “workaholic.” As a school librarian, I would stay at work from 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day. Before I had a child, I would dive back into work after dinner.

Work allows me to think about something other than what I am worried about (which is everything). Thankfully, having a child has helped curb the need to stay at work for long hours. Unfortunately, having a child made my anxiety worse. 

I exercise. A LOT.

I have recently realized that my obsession with exercise is mostly because of my anxiety. Working out allows me to forget whatever it is I am currently anxious about. For that forty-five minutes to one hour, I am not worried – I am focused on my workout.

Before I had a child, I would workout a few times a day – either in a gym or in front of a workout video at home. Having a child has helped curb this obsession slightly. I still work out everyday, but I am careful about the narrative around my workouts. I have a daughter and I want her to have a healthy viewpoint about exercise. I do not want her to obsess about it like I do. Speaking of obsessing…

I obsess. A LOT.

When I had a baby, this really kicked in. Some of what I obsess about is fairly normal, I think. But, some of it I know is a bit over the top.

I will have a thought and it will nag at me until I just kind of shut down. I have learned to ask for help and I have a few mom friends I trust and even a pediatrician or two I can text when it gets really bad.

I knew I needed to seek help when my daughter was 8 months old.

That is when the “1,000” year flood happened in South Carolina. Here’s the thing – my home was not flooded. I did not lose power. But I did worry the entire time that we would flood. I worried the entire time that we would lose power. I bought so much water. I scrolled and refreshed social media constantly. I was in an endless loop of “what if?” (sound familiar? Might be happening to you now. Sure is happening to me now). 

After the flood, things did not get better. In fact, they got worse. If my daughter was sick – even just a runny nose – I pretty much lost the ability to focus. I was almost paralyzed with the “what if” and would again constantly look to social media for help or I would text friends with kids to make sure I was doing the right things.

And, OMG, if they gave me conflicting advice…that was the worst! At this point, hurricane season was coming around again and I knew I was not well mentally. It was time to visit a doctor. At this time, I started a very small dose of Lexapro (after trying essential oils, more yoga, more meditation, therapy – it was time to medicate).

The Lexapro is helping. I recently had to increase the dose because of LIFE – aging parent, motherhood, and now this current situation. I still work a lot; I still exercise a lot; I still obsess. COVID-19 is very, very hard. I am so glad I got that increased dosage when I did. 

I share all of this to let you know that you are not alone with the anxiety of motherhood (or life in general).

If you find that you cannot focus or you find yourself awake at night because you are thinking of all the terrible things that COULD happen, think about getting some help. Anxiety is REAL and can be debilitating. 

Right now, try to breath – get outside – enjoy your family. Make the best of it, if you can. If you need help, reach out. We are in this together.

Do you find yourself with more anxiety now that our world is changing due to the Coronavirus? How are you coping?

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Valerie Byrd Fort was born in Florida, but when she was four years old, her family moved to the midlands and never looked back. She is mom to Katy (human) and to Lucky, Mozzy, and Penny (rescue dogs). She is married to Marty Fort, owner of the Lexington School of Music, Columbia Arts Academy, and Irmo Music Academy. She is an Instructor for the School of Library & Information Science at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches Children’s Literature to future classroom teachers and librarians. She is also Coordinator for Cocky's Reading Express, the University of South Carolina's literacy outreach program. Valerie is passionate about books, literacy, libraries, and reading aloud with children of ALL ages. She writes about books and other literacy related topics on her blog, Library Goddess. In her free time, Valerie enjoys reading, Barre3, going to Target and endless scrolling of social media  

2 COMMENTS

  1. Valerie,.
    Thank you for sharing this. This spoke to me today and describes so much of how I feel. I also have diagnosed anxiety disorder as well as obsessive/compulsive tendencies. So Fun!!!
    Your honesty was so refreshing. And thank you pointing out that 1) Anxiety is something you learn to cope and live with, not something that just goes away and 2) Medicine, while not for everyone, can be extremely helpful. I would wear an I ❤️ Medicines sandwich board to work if they’d let me. Hang in there lady!

    Heather Johnson

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