Anxiety is something that I have had to live with for about as far back as I remember. I had debilitating panic attacks in high school that made it hard to function on a daily basis. In some ways, I like to think that my anxiety has gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but realistically, I think my coping mechanisms have changed over time.
The anxiety I had in my youth was pretty bad. In retrospect though, the things I was anxious about back then were a picnic in the park compared to the things I have anxiety about now. Once you have kids, your anxiety is no longer your own. You are holding anxiety and worries for your kids, and your whole family. My worrying about money as a young adult does not compare to the anxiety I have over money as a mom; it is so different when you have to keep a roof over your family’s head and make sure you can afford for them to have a good education, even when you can barely afford to do so. But the biggest difference is that, while I once worried primarily about myself, during sleepless nights my anxiety’s focus is now on my children’s safety, health, and overall well-being.
Some anxieties never change, however.
The worst is my social anxiety. Carrying over from the anxiety and trauma of my high school years, it wasn’t until last semester, which was my second year at university, that I finally came to realize that I was having constant anxiety while in class about people not liking me or them talking about me. I am 39-years-old! In a class of people half my age — some of them young enough to be my kids — there I was having so much anxiety. Coming to the realization that past trauma was triggering this current issue, I finally decided to seek the help of a counselor.
I think that seeing a counselor is a very beneficial resource when living with any type of anxiety or depression, and I am not just saying that as a psychology major. The first counselor I saw, though sweet, wasn’t the right fit. At the end of each session, she would say “Well, it sounds like you have a good handle on things,” which I certainly didn’t. So I decided to switch to a new counselor and she is great. I find her input beneficial, and I find that talking about what is causing my anxiety helps me work through my problems; in other words, “getting it out” helps me tremendously.