My phone rang. It was a message from Pris sent to my mom and my other sister. She was opening up to us and telling us that she had been battling with anxiety for the past year.
At first, I couldn’t understand what she was talking about. I don’t see her very often because we don’t live in the same country ( she lives in Mexico and I live in the states) and the times that I had FaceTimed with her, she seemed fine.
That was the problem… she only seemed fine. She wasn’t fine.
She had learned to keep it all bottled up inside of her. Only this time, it wasn’t bearable anymore. This time she needed help and she knew it.
I asked her to share her story with us for the #AskAMentorMom segment.
I know that she is not alone. In the USA alone 18.1% of the population is affected by anxiety and only 36.9% of those affected receive treatment. (Source)
My hope is that her story will help you to know you are not alone and to seek help if you need it.
How do you cope with anxiety around your family?
For a year I was afraid of sharing with my family what I was feeling, until one day my human strength broke down.
Every time I would think about talking to someone about my anxiety, I would go into a panic over the possibility of being judged. (My family has never judged me but these are lies that the enemy plants in our head to keep us isolated.)
I didn’t think anyone could understand what I was going through.
I had to learn to be vulnerable and put my fear aside. I had to become brave to be and express what I was feeling in that moment.
I had to learn to negotiate my needs and put into words what was going on inside of me.
No one will know what you are going though if you don’t speak up. (So far, I have discovered that my husband doesn’t have the power to read my minds. lol.)
One of my friends challenged me to be vulnerable with my kids.
She said that by doing this they would understand how to take care of me and that they would learn that even the people that they see as strong also go through tough times.
She said that through my example they would learn that God is their answer because He became my answer. She ended by saying that I should ask my daughters to pray for me.
I followed my friend’s advice and my daughters have surprised me at every turn with their positive responses!
What works for you when you start feeling anxious?
Every time I feel anxiety coming on, I ask my people to pray for me.
I put on ear phones and I listen to the Word of God. It is imperative for me to not forget the Truth during the most difficult times.
I ask my husband to hug me as hard as he can. This helps me to auto-regulate.
For a couple of months, I even had to stop drinking coffee (it was very sad and hard because it can make it hard to control anxiety.)
I ask my daughters for “quiet time.” I learned to listen to what my body needs. Things like taking a power nap and quiet time are usually what it is asking for.
I let go of some parts of my job that were causing me stress. Feeling stress often triggers anxiety.
The most important thing is that I looked for professional help. Don’t ever think that you are exaggerating or playing a victim by looking for this type of help. That is a lie.
We were created with a spirt, a soul and a body. We have to take care of each of them.
I have learned to not wait until it becomes a crisis.
What triggers your anxiety?
Every person has different triggers. Until now, I have only been able to pin-point one type of trigger, when difficult family changes are happening.
One example is that the majority of my family lives outside of the country (Mexico.) The one sister that lives close to me will be moving soon also. This is causing me anxiety because I don’t feel stable.
Chronic stress triggers it too as well as lack of sleep. During my sessions with my psychologist, I have been learning other things that help me too.
What would you say to a mom that is dealing with anxiety?
You don’t have to go through this alone. Being vulnerable brings healing.
The book of James teaches us:
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each others that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
God is giving us the way to be healed. Confess what you are experiencing.
Not being able to trust completely in God also causes anxiety. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, why am I not able to trust that God has everything under control?
Look for a psychologist, sometimes the problem is a chemical imbalance going on in your brain.
Talk clearly and bluntly with your husband and the closet people to you. This is very important.
Do you remember the first time you felt this type of anxiety? What happened?
I remember that everything started with a dream that became unbearable. It caused me to have panic attacks and anxiety. The anxiety is decreasing as time goes by.
I am not sure what happened or what triggered it.
What I do remember is that I was attempting to function on my own strength and I had the mindset that I was doing everything for God. (If this sounds like you, check out Skye Jethani’s book, With.)
Sometimes, we believe that we have to be superheroes to be able to shine, when the only one that has real power is God.
We might think that we are close to God because we are doing things for Him, but the truth is that what we do could be pulling us away from him if we are not careful.
We have to stay close to him just like a baby getting her nutrition from her mom to be able to survive.