Not many people know, but I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. I never really put a name to it until recently when I had to meet it face to face. It started back in preschool. I remember crying so hard when my mom left me – I was honestly unconsolable. This “thing” affected so many things in my life. I was afraid to take chances and try new things, and terrified of the thought of my mom passing away. We were so so close. She gave birth to me at a later age and I always was so worried I would lose her earlier than most of my friends. This fear of my mom dying literally consumed me at times, and made me feel awful. It was just easier to block it out of my mind.
When I Knew it was Something More
Fast forward to March 6 of 2010. My mom had an unexpected heart attack and died at the age of 84. It was then that I had to confront my biggest fear. But I wasn’t ready yet. For years I buried those feelings and just moved on with my busy life being a mom and wife. For nearly three years I distracted myself, until the third anniversary of her death. I was triggered by that date, March 6 and remember feeling extra sad that year. But there was even more underlying panic and uneasiness rising up in me. It wasn’t until I realized I was having panic attacks that I knew I needed to get help.
And then Help Arrived
I was lucky enough to find the most amazing therapist, Shirley Fuhrman. She specializes in anxiety and panic attacks especially in women. I told her what I was experiencing and she was the first person to discuss the word anxiety with me. It all started making sense. I started medication, in addition to behavioral cognitive therapy and I learned so much about what I had been struggling with my whole life. It had a name, ANXIETY. I was ready to let this anxiety go and learn to manage it. I was ready to try new things and new experiences (which I have learned are called exposures). By working with Shirley I learned more and more about not being afraid and just doing things without overthinking it.
During my therapy journey I realized that both my boys also struggle with anxiety, especially my Zachary. I am now able to be a role model for Zachary and help him face his fears and expose him to things that make him uncomfortable. Right now, Zachary is seeing a behavioral cognitive therapist to help navigate his anxiety even better. I must say, Shirley has opened up my whole world. I used to be afraid of driving at night, going places by myself, and the list goes on and on. Now I just do things, I don’t even think about it. I am so proud of the progress I have made and Zachary has made.
We are all works in progress, and continue to push ourselves and keep progressing. I know my mom is looking down on me and is smiling ear to ear – so proud of the kind of woman and mother I have become. That thought gives me so much peace. I wanted to write this to let you know that if you are struggling with anxiety, please reach out for help. It will absolutely change your life . I would love to hear your stories about anxiety and your struggles with it. Please comment below or send me a message, I would love to talk to you further. Thanks so much for listening.