"Holy anxiety Batman," I thought to myself as I stood in my son's superhero-themed room. A year ago, my anxiety got to the point where I could barely function. I was walking in circles, avoiding all the things I used to love, and totally on edge around my family. My mind was a mess. As I went into my son's room for the third time that day, trying to remember what I needed to do, I was overcome with emotion. What about him? Would he ever feel like this because of me?
Realising how out of control my anxiety had gotten was a tough pill to swallow. Did I do this to myself? Was I ruining my child's life? Was I a burden to my family? The days spent pacing around the house, the sleepless nights, the negative feelings I experienced were all so horrible. Having anxiety is exhausting. But what was even more exhausting was worrying about whether or not I would pass it along to my child. Would he have to live as I do?
It was at that moment that I decided I needed help. I took control of my anxiety and took back my life. For me, the best option to make quick and noticeable progress was to find a therapist. I was grateful to find that professional treatment was covered by my insurance, making it affordable, but it wasn't easy to find the right fit for my needs and my personality. I tried a couple of different therapists before I found someone I felt comfortable being open, honest, and vulnerable around.
Once we developed a great connection, my therapist gave me some tools and tips to help me overcome my anxiety. He directed me toward some places where I could do my own research — Google, podcasts, self-help books. I did my homework, listened to podcasts and Audible books while driving, read online articles instead of mindlessly scrolling social media. I was not only determined to get help, but I also wanted to find ways I could help myself. Therapy was only once a week at that point, but my bouts of anxiety were multiple times a day. I worked hard to find the right techniques and tips to help overcome the one thing that had taken such a strong hold of my life.
I started listening to personal development books daily. I went back to exercising. I pushed myself to do one thing every day that made me feel uncomfortable, the things I avoided when anxiety had control over me. I refused to live in fear any longer. I accepted the fact that the transformation would take time, and I gave myself that time. On the days when I started to beat myself up, I took a step back and reminded myself that this was a process. I reassured myself that it would be worth it in the end. I was dedicated to combat anxiety because I knew that it wouldn't just help me, but it would also help my son.
I still carry an ongoing fear that my son will someday develop anxiety. That fear is centreed around the fact that I don't want him to have to deal with this. I want more for him. I want him to have a better life than I have had. But I accept that those feelings are normal because all parents want the best for their children. Then I shift my focus.
I focus on how I can help myself so that I can show up in the best way for my family. The fear of passing anxiety on to my child won't go away, so equipping myself with the tools necessary to live with this condition is the best I can do. I can't prevent him from inheriting this disorder, but I can be the best resource he could have if he does end up with it someday. I can support him, counsel him, and help him cope so that even if he does have anxiety, anxiety won't have him. If all else fails, I can stand with him in his struggles, share my own story, and remind him that he's not alone.
If you're faced with anxiety and you're worried you will pass it onto your child, know this — you are not alone. I truly believe the best thing you can do for your child is to help yourself. You won't just be reducing the effects your anxiety could have on them and soothing your own condition, you'll be adding to your life's box of tools that might come in handy if and when your child needs to use them someday. And that is the best you can do to fight this common, sometimes debilitating, battle.