I often think about and try to figure out the moment I got anxiety, and there is no specific moment I can pinpoint. I grew up with most would consider a normal childhood, but I distinctly remember making myself physically sick almost daily because I didn't want to go to school. It would be a full-on production before leaving the house, on the ride to school, and sometimes a failed acting stint in the nurse's office. Most called me overdramatic but was this the warning signs no one dared to question?
Throughout my entire life, everyone has pointed out that my mom and I are just alike, and if you know us, you know we're [literally] the same person to the point it's scary. We finish each other's sentences, often text each other the same thing at the same moment, and even though we're miles apart, we're usually doing the same thing throughout the day. But what we didn't realize is, we equally share anxiety. Once I was diagnosed with anxiety and learned more about the signs and symptoms, I immediately knew my mom was struggling with it as well. She has always been a worrier, slightly over-protective, and quick to panic to uneasy situations, but the conversation of anxiety never happened until now.
Words from my mom
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a worry wort, paranoid or anxious. My first struggle with anxiety came as a small child; my mother died at the early age of 38, so my whole life, up to that age, I feared I would have the same fate. Each little ailment my mind would take it to the extreme to the point it makes me physically sick. Becoming a mom heightened my anxiety even more. Because of anxiety, I know I was an overprotective mom (and that has not changed), and after learning about my [own] struggle with it, and now my sons, I believe I may or may not have passed it on. Throughout the years, my husband and son saw it more and would tell me I have it, but it took a while to [actually] admit it. But what I've learned and am continuing to learn; it's not easy to change your thoughts, you have to interrupt them with positive, encouraging moments and people that add more light into your life.
I have implemented tools, and along with my faith, I'm knocking out anxiety one-step-at-a-time. I'm grateful that I'm here, much further past my 30s, and I able to accept that I have anxiety. I look forward to each day with a smile and a happy heart knowing that I’m becoming more peaceful than ever. Once you recognize and admit your struggle, I believe it’s easier to move forward with change. I encourage anyone not to hide what you're dealing with but face it head-on to become the best version of you.
Getting my mom to share a small part of her story was not easy, as I mentioned, she is over-protective of me and [our] family, but our goal is to share how we're working together to grow individually, together, and break this cycle. Here are three ways we're doing it.
When you hear about people dealing with certain things, it's easy to jump to judgment or try to help, but what we've learned is to approach each situation with compassion without trying to understand or fix it. Through my healing, it was necessary to learn about my parents and their stories, and share mine with them. As parents, they, of course, wanted to "fix me," but through compassion, they listened, accepted, and learned without adding any additional worry or anxiety to themselves or me; this shows how each of us holds the power to shift and create the energy around us.
Communication is the key to every relationship, including the relationship between my mom and I. We talk about everything, but for years, we avoided talking about mental health and our [individual] struggles with it—very common in our community. Today, we keep the dialogue open and transparent by being honest, checking in on each other, and sharing new tools that we've learned. I now make it a point to check in on myself before I check in on mom because my energy can [easily] transform the conversation, and I want to make sure I'm full before I try to pour into her or anyone else.
Break the cycle
I've looked around to see if anyone else in the family is dealing with mental health issues, and many are without acknowledging or accepting it, so it became essential to my mom and I to break the cycle. Family pathology is hard to accept and stop, but through learning new tools like meditation, positive affirmations, and spiritual healing instead of silence, we've been able to shift the trajectory and start new rituals and traditions.
It's easy to become trapped in your story and hold onto it, but I believe there's healing power in sharing, and that is our intention. We often look at past experiences and blame others for our current state-of-mind, but I've learned to approach my parents with compassion and communication and become responsible for my own story. Though my mom and I share anxiety, we also share understanding, a friendship that's grounded in love, and a desire to heal, become the best version of ourselves, and help others do the same. Continue to Live Your Life in Style and always Be Inspired.