To My Children, from your Mother with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD),
Each night, I lie on the floor of your room, arms stretched out to hold one of each of your hands while you fall asleep. I lie awake listening to the sounds of your soft breathing, and think of all the ways I screwed up that day.
I got angry and yelled because, you spilled water on the floor.
I snapped at you because, you took too long to get into your car seat.
I didn’t have the energy to make dinner, so we had fast food again.
I forgot to wash your favorite shirt, which is now buried in a large pile of dirty clothes.
I declined another invitation to a birthday party.
I refused to hug you.
I locked myself in the bathroom, so that you wouldn’t see me cry again.
You see, my sweet innocent children, mommy has a mental illness that plagues her daily. It’s called General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD. It causes me to worry about nothing, to feel everything, and to lose control of my emotions regularly. I feel my anxiety build up inside, like storm clouds forming in the sky. My outbursts of rage are the thunder and lightning releasing from the storm that rumbles from deep within. You fear monsters in the closet, or under your bed, while mommy fears the monsters in her mind. GAD causes mommy physical pain too. That’s why I couldn’t carry you up the stairs because, a full day of clenching my body from stress, causes my muscles to seize at night. I want to hold you both in my arms and carry you like the babies I still see you as. However, my anxiety makes my skin crawl from too much physical contact. It feels like ants crawling all over me, biting at my skin.
Mommy wasn’t always sick. I use to be a happy person. I use to be the girl people called for spur-of-the-moment road trips, or after work drinks, and the person to make them laugh. I’m not that girl anymore.
Now stepping outside of the home causes my mind to spin. My anxiety instructs me on all of the wrong in the world. How can I take you to school after another report of a school shooting? How can I drive in my car after hearing about another accident on the road? What if your school is next? What if our car is the next accident to make the news? My anxiety shows me all the monsters in my head are right. You would be safer at home. My monsters tell me you would be happier without me. You would be happier with a mommy that could enjoy life and not fear it.
I want you to know that I love you. I try every day to do better, to be better. I want to be the mommy you deserve. I want you to look at me and think of happiness and smiles, not tears and yelling. My hope children, is that this illness won’t control me for the rest of my life. That you will get the gal that takes spontaneous trips. You will get the mommy that takes you to every birthday party without fear of another anxiety attack. You will get the mommy that doesn’t have to be medicated to function.
You are beautiful, bright, as well as strong children. You are my greatest accomplishment. I see so much hope for the future in your eyes. And every night, as I hold your tiny hands until you fall asleep, I fight the monsters in your closet and in my head.