I suffer from a social anxiety disorder. And because I suffer from anxiety, my husband and my son suffer too.
I am a great Mum. I used to question my parenting abilities a lot, but recently I’ve learnt that the best parent you can be is you. And that is what I’ve always been.
I’m also a great wife. I’ve followed my husband around Australia, I’ve always been there for him and most importantly I love him with all my heart and I let him know.
But I have anxiety. And because I am their family, they kinda have it too. My anxiety is no longer just mine.
When I am on medication, I’m great. I’m so fortunate that I have found a medication that I respond so well to. But it hasn’t been fully tested for harm during pregnancy, so we made the decision- as a family- that I would go off my medication for the duration of my pregnancy.
Well, it’s been a wild ride.
You see, my primary display of anxiety is anger. Not kicking and screaming, well a little bit of screaming, but a loss of control over my emotions in certain situations. Big situations, small situations, nobody knows.
And this can cause a little bit of stress for everyone in my household.
We have explained anxiety to my 4YO the only way we know how, we told him sometimes Mummy forgets how to be calm.
Now, when I raise my voice I hear his beautiful voice telling me, “it’s okay mummy, just calm down, just take a deep breath okay”
See, I told you I’m a great Mum, I’ve raised an angel.
And my husband is very good at knowing when to speak up, and when to shut up. Sometimes, it’s hard for him to bite his tongue as I can get a bit personal when I’m having a moment. But he is always there when my feet hit the ground and I come to him with my apology all planned. These days, I just have to ask if we can be friends again. He knows I’m sorry, and boy am I sorry.
And boy, do I hate having anxiety.
But, you see, I am not my anxiety. Sure, it’s a part of me, but it does not define me. It’s a part of all of us now.
Once our beautiful baby is born, I will be going back on my medication. And all of this will be behind me.
But I have learnt a lot. I have learnt the strength of my relationship. I have learnt how emotionally intelligent my 4YO is. I have learnt how resilient I am.
But primarily, I have learnt how truly important family support is for those of us with mental illness. Both partners and children, because your whole family is affected by it and the more everyone understands, the better support they can offer.
If you are suffering from mental illness, please don’t go it alone. Contact Beyond Blue today!