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What it’s really like parenting with constant anxiety

Motherhood is an exercise in shouldering constant anxiety, and it can make me feel like I’m going crazy sometimes.

In fact, the other day I diagnosed myself with generalized anxiety disorder. I don’t mean that facetiously — I believe I really have the disorder, but I haven’t yet made it into my doctor to talk about it. That would be just one additional task to add to my list of things to do. And that, unfortunately, would likely make the anxiety worse.

I’m a mother. I bear my child’s world. Even though I’m a single mom and the anxiety is hard to bear on my own, I don’t think it’s entirely different than what every mother experiences from time to time. From the moment I wake in the morning until the moment my eyes close at night, there is a nagging feeling that everything will go wrong if I let down my guard. It has before. For every human being who is honest, it has before.

Do you ever feel that way? As though the monsters for grown-ups will sneak into your house if you stop thinking about them? Grown-up monsters are those obvious things like a late child support payment, an emergency room visit at midnight or a broken-down car on the side of the road. They’re also the smaller but more menacing monsters, like the guilt of disciplining my child from a place of anger rather than love, or the frustration of just wanting to take a shower in peace. All of the monsters join together in a chorus that is the background noise of my life.

It’s easy to overlook the chorus over time, but the other day I realized that it’s affecting me more than I’d like. My daughter accidentally dropped a book, and I jumped out of my skin and screamed. Then I started crying and scared my daughter by uttering, “Please, please, I just want somebody to help me.” I’m not a person who startles easily, so my reaction made it clear that my nerves are fried from the constant stream of worries that swirl in my brain.

Fear is a heavy thing. I wish I could tell my fear to stop being irrational, but I know that it isn’t. Things can go wrong quickly. All I know how to do is manage my anxiety by attempting to stay in the present moment with things like friendships, yoga and a glass of wine every now and then.

How do you manage your anxiety — and does it ever ease up?

More about single motherhood

The strange double life of being a divorced mom
How to travel alone with your kids without going nuts
Rocking parenthood when you’re a spinster

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