The news scares me. Legit, straight up terrifies me. I can remember being a small kid and seeing the nightly news and hearing about the scary things and asking my mom if we could get an alarm for our house because I thought that would make me feel safer. So basically this is nothing new. But now, since having a child, since knowing the reality that is losing a child, the nightly news is nothing but a horror show full of terrifying images of things that could happen to my daughter, to my husband, to my family, and I don’t know how to stop the crazy anxious fear that seems to overtake my mind when I hear or read about what is happening in our world.
Don’t watch the news you say. Sure. This would seem like the logical thing to do. Except I would also have to avoid all forms of media and most social interactions with people because at some point I’m going to hear about the awful, terrible, horrible, no good thing that has happened and my mind is going to spiral into the anxiety-ridden fearful place that shouts, “this could happen to you.”
When you watch the bottom drop out of your world, you quickly realize that all of those seemingly irrational fears aren’t really all that irrational anymore. Those things that seem to have small odds really CAN happen to you. You start worrying about lightning striking twice and you find yourself checking that your daughter is breathing fifty times every night and having a panic attack when you think you feel her skip a breath.
Anxiety really can mess with a person’s head.
My anxiety is watching the news story about a little toddler who went to a carnival in a nearby town and was electrocuted after she touched a fence while standing outside of a bounce house. Then having a panic attack when you realize that the same group is putting together the local carnival that you planned to take your daughter too and swearing to your husband that your child will not go anywhere near the carnival area because you are too afraid of what could happen.
My anxiety is reading the story of a bombing at a concert of a pop star and wondering if it is safe to ever go to a concert, or the mall, or the airport, or school, or the bank, or really anywhere anymore.
Anxiety and fear seem to be best friends in my head. They play so nicely together, but always against me.
I always wonder if my “crazy” fears are normal mom worries or if they are over-amplified because of everything we went through to get to this place. I wonder if losing Joshua has made my fears of losing Madeline that much bigger or if my anxiety would have always been this intense.
Anxiety has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember, fear following not far behind. I worry that at times the intense fear and overwhelming anxiety I feel when it comes to Madeline might do more harm than good.
Madeline started sleeping through the night very early on. She’s always been a good sleeper. I, however, haven’t slept through the night in years. I wake up in a panic almost nightly, having to rest my hand on her chest or tummy to assure myself that she in fact still breathing. She is three. I’m aware that this is not normal behavior. When we go to the park I am that mom that stays close. My eyes never stray from her. I am almost always within an arms reach. I watch her play, but I am always right there – in case she needs me, in case she falls, in case someone with ill-intentions is watching. I am always right there. My anxiety, the little voice inside my head running through all of the possible worst-case scenarios won’t let me go anywhere else. I can’t sit on the park bench and relax with the other moms and watch from a distance. My anxious mind won’t allow it.
I wish I had the magic answer here. The solution that would calm my fears, stop the anxiety and make the constant worrying cease. But I don’t. I’m not sure that I’ll ever stop worrying about Madeline this intensely. I’m not sure the panic attacks and nightmares will ever fully stop. Right now I’ll just keep breathing through them. I’ll keep trying to remind myself that we are doing everything we can to keep her safe and happy and that is all we can do. I will try to remember to pray a little more and worry a little less, and I’ll hope that in time the anxiety won’t feel so suffocating and the fear won’t feel so much like drowning.