Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental illness found in Australia? On average 1 in 3 women will encounter anxiety, meaning a large chunk of Australian mothers take on the mental condition. Read this honest experience of anxiety from an everyday Aussie mum.
Words Solonge Italiano
Shortness of breath.
Thoughts so loud, I turn the radio off.
Welcome to my world.
They say a photo speaks a thousand words well, not always. The smile on my face and the gleam in my eyes is definitely deceiving, under the surface lies a whole other story.
It’s something I was always unsure if I would share just yet but, with my sole purpose of wanting to inspire and help others, how could I possibly not be real with you all?
Anxiety. That seven letter word that has seemingly taken over my day to day life over the past three months. If I had to put my finger on a moment or event that triggered it, I would say it was my ectopic pregnancy loss but, I also believe it is a culmination of life events, motherhood and a recent drama which funnily enough really flipped the switch into full force.
So, what is it? Let’s start with the textbook definition:
“the state of feeling nervous or worried that something bad is going to happen”
My first thoughts – understatement at its best. So here’s my definition which I hope does more justice for sufferers:
An intense state of feeling overwhelmed, nervous and worried, sometimes for no good reason, accompanied by sweating, a significant increase in heart rate causing heart attack like symptoms, loud and overbearing thoughts and a gut wrenching feeling inside your stomach or chest also causing nausea. Sounds dreadful right? Well it is.
"Motherhood brings with it, its own share of anxieties – how will I get this all done? Am I doing a good job? What will other mothers think of me?"
To onlookers, anxiety is often not detected. It’s silent and mostly only affects its victim. Because it comes with such a stigma, people often shy away from sharing their feelings. Society expects sufferers of anxiety to be weird, introverted, crazy or different in some way, but this couldn’t be more far from the truth.
More often than not it’s the so called “normal” person sitting right beside you, the girl with the bubbly personality, the overachiever at work who always gets a promotion, the clown of the group or that mum friend you think always has her shit together that in fact is suffering in silence.
One thing for certain, anxiety does not discriminate. Sadly, a staggering one in four Australians will suffer anxiety at least once in their life – one in four!!!! So why aren’t we talking about it?
It’s time we raise the lid on it and become more transparent and educated on it.
You see for me, I am totally new to this anxiety world, I am still identifying my triggers. And, while some days I am completely unaffected, other days I am so consumed and would like nothing more than to stay in bed all day and sleep it off, but I can’t because we all know a mothers job never sleeps.
Motherhood brings with it, its own share of anxieties – how will I get this all done? Am I doing a good job? What will other mothers think of me? I want to be a mum but also want to work and have a social life – how do I manage that? The pressures we put on ourselves are endless.
Some days, you just want to throw your hands up and claim defeat, we all have those days right? But, instead, I find solace in retracting to a quiet room while Alaia plays, just to gain bearings again or even meditate. If I am out, I remain quiet or withdrawn which can make me seem socially awkward at times but it’s what gives me comfort in those moments. I know some people reading this will be shocked as it’s a far cry from my old bubbly, carefree, lively and social butterfly self, but lately it’s been my reality.
It sucks, it really sucks.
And while I kept convincing myself I didn’t chose anxiety, it chose me – I would be lying. A lifetime of high standards, perfectionism and people pleasing would lead me to this point. But, I am learning.
"I am finally making ME a priority because sometimes as mothers we lose sight of this."
I am learning that firstly, I am not alone. SO many share this struggle with me and some are far worse. I am learning that I can manage the symptoms – I am finally making ME a priority because sometimes as mothers we lose sight of this. I am now on a mission to work on my mind, body and soul daily – I exercise, meditate and invest in self-development on a regular basis. And lastly, I am learning to love myself – would I be so hard on someone else as I am on myself? Definitely not. It’s time to be gentler on me.
The point of my article is far from a pity plea, but instead an arm reaching out to someone else out there suffering in silence, to shed light on a topic on that for so long has been taboo.
It’s a reminder for us all to really think before we speak. Is what we are saying going to add value to the people around us? If not, then why say it?
We may assume to be good judge of characters, but as I always say, never judge a book by its cover. Unless you have read every single chapter, you don’t know someone’s full story.
Moral of the story – be kind, always.Everyone has a story, every mama has a story and this is just one chapter of mine.