Managing Anxiety and Motherhood

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Before becoming a mother I worried a lot about a lot of; well stuff. Dying mainly. Call me crazy but I kind of have this fear of being taken away from my loved ones with no chance of saying goodbye. As macabre as it sounds, in my mind a slow, lingering death (although heartbreaking) would be much more practical in respect to finalising matters before one “moves on”.

I had an inkling before I fell pregnant that I may project my anxieties onto my children. Not in a Munchausen By Proxy way; because I would never do anything to harm my children; but in a “oh my god my baby has a slight cough it must be pneumonia” type of way. I am happy to declare that my pre-mother premonitions were unfounded; however they were not.

Yes. I’m one of those mothers. I sterilize everything my baby may touch, I was my hands a million times a day (Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, make it a thousand times a day); I carry instant hand sanitiser in my handbag, and car; and on a few occasions may have smothered it halfway up my 4 year olds arms and over his face, (because frankly 4 year old do some pretty disgusting things).

After I go to these great measures to make sure no germs or bacteria invade my spawns’ systems I sit back and question; “was that a bit overboard”?; “what if I’m making their immune system weak by not allowing their bodies to fight off germs while their young and healthy”? And then I think of children dying from diseases easily prevented with a protocol of hand washing; and reach for the hand soap yet again…

One afternoon I happened to read a news article about a boy who died after playing on a slide that had been washed with untreated water and the Naegleria Fowleri “bug” entered his body via his nasal passage. Needles to say this led to hours of scouring the internet for information on the killer amoeba, how it is contracted, how the amoeba is “killed”, the mortality rate, Australia’s water systems standards etc. When I found myself tempted to ring the state water board I knew I was getting a little out of hand.

While I was mindful that the internet in the anxiety/hypochondria sufferer’s worst enemy; it can never be a bad thing to be knoweldgable about deadly diseases; can it?..

When my son was invited toa  birthday party at a water park the following month all my Fowleri fears came flooding back (excuse the pun). I had images of my son playing in the water then picking his nose (as 4 year olds do); getting a stream of water shot in his face a nd right up his sinus passage. I refused to let him go to the party.

Then, I had a realisation. That I was letting my unfounded fears effect my child, and the quality of his childhood. Never did I imagine that my anxiety would impede on my child’s innocence. Why should he suffer and miss out because Im a little effed up in the head? He shouldn’t. I had to forget about my fears and let my 4 year old be a 4 year old (a dirty, disgusting, germy little 4 year old).

The following month as I watched my son squeal and splash in the cool water having a fantastic time, I was one of the happiest mother’s there. I still carry my hand sanitiser everywhere I go; but never again will I sacrifice my children’s happiness because of my anxiety.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leigh W. Smith
    Jan 30, 2014 @ 15:09:06

    Way to overcome those negative “catastrophising” (as it is often dubbed) narratives, Tara–so glad to hear it! I know those can be such a battle (for me, too). Best wishes to you and your son. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Fragments of my Thoughts – Managing Anxiety and Motherhood | The Official Blog For Mental Health Project

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