High Anxiety and Hugs
We all have those days, the kind where nothing seems to feel right. You wake up okay enough, but then the little things start to get to you. Your head is telling you to breathe, that you know what is going on, but you still feel that overwhelming nauseous feeling building.
When I joke about not liking hugs, I really mean it. I don’t like hugs. Some days they are tolerable and some days, even, enjoyable. But on most days I just don’t like them. I’m sure part of it is the fact that for the past five plus years I have had a human being hanging off of me and I’m virtually touched out. I seriously feel sensory overloaded by the time nine rolls around.
This morning, while feeding Audrey, Claire came in to say something or other. I have no idea what. I don’t mean that to sound so flat, but she did and it was annoying and I suddenly got that feeling in the back of my throat that slowly started to build from the depth of my chest to the back of my head and I told her point blank to get out.
And here’s where the stress comes in. While I felt the starting of an anxiety attack for no real reason whatsoever, it started when Claire came in. Simply to say something. I don’t know what. I don’t care. When I feed Audrey, I like to think of that as my quiet time, my alone time because Audrey’s room is incredibly peaceful and calm. It wasn’t Claire who caused it but had it of been any of my other kids, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have reacted that way. There’s something about Claire that leaves me feeling the need to push her away and I still can’t pinpoint what it is. This, however, isn’t going to pay off for her in the long run, and in all honesty, I feel as if I’m hurting her.
I was texting my friend the other day about it and she agreed – that if her one kid wants to cuddle, she’s sensory overloaded, but if her other kid does, it’s a whole different ball game and she welcomes the snuggles.
I think partly, it’s because Claire is needy and I am not. I don’t know how to deal with needy. There are times where the slightest thing can set her off and make her cry and the sound of her crying and sniffling is like nails on a chalk board. I feel that most of the time, instead of feeling empathy, I feel nothing or sometimes anger and that’s not fair to her. At first, I was the kind of squishy mother who would run at the sight of my kid crying, but now I kind of just tell them to suck it up. So somewhere along the line, I changed and not for the better it seems. I’ve become more aloof since I’ve had kids. The PPD most definitely changed me. I’m now constantly on the lookout for it to come back and petrified that people will see me having a bad day and automatically assume it’s back.
I know. Right now I’m over four months postpartum. I’m having anxiety. I’m relatively cold towards one of my kids today. But it’s just one day. This isn’t PPD, because trust me, I’m not afraid to admit when I need help.
It’s just today. It’s rainy. It’s gloomy. I feel as if I have no control over anything. I don’t know what it is that I want control of, but whatever it is, I don’t have it. My house is a mess, my drawing didn’t start out well so I have to start over, my oldest kid is literally driving me nuts and I feel like I need to go for a 10 mile run. The walls are quickly closing in on me and I just want to sit alone on the couch, eat chips and watch reruns of Grey’s Anatomy until bedtime.
I love my kids, that’s not the issue. I just, I’m always around them.
A few hours ago, while I was drawing, Claire couldn’t find her sword. Mae and Luca were playing so nicely together and Audrey was napping, but Claire, again, was flipping out because she couldn’t find her sword. And instead of asking me where it was, she passively went around the house calling for it like a dog. Then she started to whimper and cry. Over a toy sword. I know I could have stepped in and helped her look or offer an alternative, but she just doesn’t seem to get that being passive will never get her anywhere. Yes, I know she’s five, but you sit there every day and see what I see and you tell me if you’d do the same thing. She lives to play the martyr and I live to show her that it’s annoying.
Anyhow, she was crying about a sword and I felt that wave of nausea and anxiety start to overwhelm me and I looked at her while clutching my graphite pencil and tortillon and I said, “You need to go away. Right now. Because I’m about to freak out.”
She looked at me and then sat down at the table. I said, “No. No, no, no. You are NOT listening to me. You need to leave the room- go away so I can’t hear you sniffling. Go away.”
Now looking back, that’s not the kindest thing to do and say to a five year old. One, because she has the memory of an elephant and I’m sure at some point she’ll be telling her therapist all about how her mother told her to go away, but mostly I just felt bad. She left the room, as commanded and came back a good five minutes later.
And right on cue, Pandora started playing Ben Fold’s Luckiest and I immediately started to tear up. I gave her a big hug and told her I was sorry. Claire then handed me two pieces of construction paper and yarn that she used as wrapping paper of sorts and told me to open my presents. It was a key and a key ring that she had been playing with earlier. I gave her another hug, handed her my ruler and told her to use it as a sword and she went on her way, happy.
Claire has totally got that guilt thing down to a fine science.
I know I’m a good mother, even if on the bad days the anxiety gets the best of me. I still talk it out with my kids and do my very best to try to explain why I reacted the way I did. I know I shouldn’t act that way in the first place, but I’m not a robot. I’m not perfect. And I truly think that by me acting human in front of my kids, maybe it’ll help them to learn that life isn’t all Elmo and rainbows. Mom is allowed to freak out. Mom is allowed to have bad days. Mom is allowed to yell. Because the majority of my time is spent being happy, engaging and loving. I love my kids. I love my kids so much that it hurts sometimes. And sometimes I love my kids so much that it hurts me because I forget to be me. Sometimes I just forget a little bit of who I am.
And I just have to learn to cope with it and move on.