Thursday, January 19, 2012

Anxious, squared

When you have struggled with mental health issues, the contemplation of having kids can become a bit more loaded. At least, it did for me. Would my kids be prone to anxiety? Depression? What about the fact that I have a family history of schizophrenia? Would I saddle my kids with this? What if pregnancy was a highly anxious time? Would it impact them in utero? And then there's the whole, you know, living with me part. What were the risks? Was it fair?

Eventually of course, the drive for kidlets won out.  And I'm so, so very glad it did.  Because they are bloody amazing, incredibly beautiful little souls.  I can't remember what life was like before them, and I don't really want to.

But - I did spawn a child with anxiety issues.  I don't know if it's genes.  Or habits picked up from living with an anxious mama.  Or both.  It probably doesn't matter.  The fact remains that one of my littles struggles with anxiousness, and in times of great flux or crisis, (like, say, now) these struggles become really pronounced.

So here I sit, wading through all kinds of guilt.  It's my fault the family is going through all this change.  It's me that has anxiety, which though I try very, very hard to manage, gets modelled in their daily lives.  It's me with the crap genes.  etc. etc. etc. blah. blah. blah.

Ultimately, though, the guilt serves no purpose (you know, other than possibly fulfilling a perverse need for self-flagellation).  It's not helpful.  To either of us.  And possibly not fair to me.  Because I do the best I can, with what I've got, and that's probably all any parent can do.

So then, what to do?  How do we move forward, and cope with the issues at hand?  Finding a kid friendly therapist is high on the list.  And I'm beginning the search for kid lit on coping with fears and anxieties (suggestions greatly appreciated, if you know of any!).  Trying to model and find tools for coping with the anxiety.  Finding resources.  Working with teachers and bus drivers and other parents to deal with presenting issues.  Accepting that this is a time of flux, and the flux (and hopefully some of the anxieties) is a temporary state.  Being more gentle with him.  And with myself.  Moving past guilt and into action.

Still.  Knowing that my child has anxiety feels exponentially worse than dealing with my own.


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  1. Good for you to be proactive in this. There is a great book on anxiety called "Living With It" by Bev Aisbett that I have used with kids... is a good start.... The Worry Tree is another that has good reviews. They are both Australian. Hope you find some more resources!

  2. I have the exact same personal and family mental-health issues (including a brother who may or may not have schizophrenia), and I'm terrified to pass that onto a kid. How was the pregnancy in terms of your own anxiety? How was newbornhood? Toddlerhood?

    I'm curious to hear.

    -A New Reader

  3. Hey new reader! Thanks for reading :)

    Oh man, I could write you an essay. First of all, as my dear friend Karen pointed out, if people didn't have kids bc they were worried about passing shit on, no one would ever have children. She is right about this.

    Pregnancy was actually great for me overall. I was so thrilled about it- there was some anxiety, for sure. I managed it med free both times, but this isn't a must. I have lots of friends who stayed on their meds for pregnancy and postpartum. I DID, however have pretty awful postpartum anxiety. Which was awful. But we worked through it.

    In the end, it boils down to this ... we do the best we can. We manage. And if our littles have issues, they have people who can help them through it. Because that's what parents are for :)

    Keep me posted on how things go for you!


    Mama T

  4. Heya - here's a PPA blog from way back when... just what I experienced.