Sunday, May 29, 2016

How I Deal with Anxiety as a Single Mother (Solo Girl Chronicles)

Solo Girl Chronicles is a series created by #Femmeboss, a mobile app and membership app for women only who are seeking like-minded and compassionate friends to connect with or meet locally. This blog post is part of the series. You can learn more on their website and find new friends.
I have had people ask me for many years “how would you describe anxiety” and I have never known what to say. Well today while drinking coffee and listening to my boyfriend get ready to take my son out to ride his bike it hit me.
Single Mom, Anxiety, Mental Health


First let me give you some back story. I have a family history of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. I along with other siblings have had problems with anxiety and depression starting at very young ages. However, it did not come to a head for me until I was pregnant, homeless, trying to get out of an abusive relationship, and realizing I was going to be a single mother. All of that happening had me go from mild anxiety to severe overnight. I could not even buy baby clothing without going into crying fits . Anyway let’s get back on track.

Anxiety is like being in water and I am just staying afloat, and I can see the lifeguard but he can’t see me. I have everyone else around me saying “the lifeguard will help” and they keep going about what they are doing. I am in this state of fear, relief, hope, despair, and so much more. Now imagine this feeling and seeing my son in the water with me. I cannot 100% worry about me getting out of this or what I should be doing for myself because I have another depended on me for his safety. That is how anxiety feels when you are single parent.

My son is now 4 and I have battled mild to moderate anxiety all his life. It is not something I carry any shame over, it’s just a part of my life.  I have yelled at him because of stuff out of his control (that I feel shame over), I have stopped eating, sleeping, pulled my hair out, and so much more. When you are taking care of a child and you are so worried about everything that could go wrong you start to make things go wrong. When I was anxious so was my son, he would eat less, yell and misbehave, cry more, and not listen. It was not until I was taking a class on trauma and children that I learned children mirror the parent when learning to deal anxiety and other hard emotions. I thought what every good parent thinks “how can I teach him to deal with this better than me?” In asking this question I have taught myself a few things to deal with anxiety better.


The first thing I started doing was eating, even if I did not want to eat. I found foods that help with anxiety such as blueberries, chocolate, and almonds. My go to for a hard day was a Twix or a hand full of chocolate covered cranberries or almonds.

The second thing I started doing was changing the temperature in the room. I read that this helps with anxiety for a temporary but immediate change in anxiety. I use this a lot at work, the room I work in is hot so on my lunch break I go into a room that is cold. I than make it through the rest of my work day anxiety free by having taken that time to breathe and push negative thoughts away.

The third thing that I had to learn was take time for myself. This is still really hard but I force it if I have to. You cannot deal with anything if you do not show yourself some love. Chocolate covered cranberries or almonds are a small way even if I am caring for my son that I am saying to myself “you can still take care of you”. I also blog, for this reason it is something that is 100% mine and allows me to just do what I want.

The fourth thing I did was find a way to deal with the anxiety in a constructive manner. I looked for ways that did not require me seeing doctor to deal with anxiety. *I have mild to moderate anxiety but I suggest if you deal with anxiety every day and it is having major effects on your life see a doctor. * I now try and write outside of blogging and I do a lot of coloring. Coloring has by far been the best way for me to deal with my anxiety. Sometimes I can go weeks without coloring and some weeks I have to color a few days, but it works for me.

The last thing I have learned is to push the negative thoughts out of the way. This is hard but anxiety is just thinking the worse over and over and over. I found that if I write what I am feeling, talk about, or do something about it I can deal with the negative thoughts and focus on the positive. I did this recently when my savings were dropping and I had not heard back from the job I interviewed for on a start date. I talked my feeling through with my older sister and got back to job hunting and kept telling myself “it will all work out the way it should, if I have no control over it don’t worry about it” (that’s my mantra). Sure enough a few days later I started work, and I saved myself a lot of days of anxiety, yelling, crying, and all the in-between by remembering if I have no control not to worry.

I found that dealing with anxiety as a single parent is a unique challenge but it is doable, and I am teaching my child some very positive ways of dealing with anxiety when it arises in him. I have to remember to save my child, I have to save myself first.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor before making major decision about mental health consult a doctor.

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Shakirah
Shakirah

Shakirah is a single mom to a 5 year old. She is a blogger, teacher, and graduate student. Her goal is to bring a more positive and realistic look into the lives of single mothers.

6 comments:

  1. I think taking time for ourselves as women and moms is so important. We all find these coping skills, I know I do this counting thing when I have panic attacks.

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    1. That is interesting does the counting help?

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  2. I'm not a single mom, but I do have anxiety and panic attacks. I find food is no help. I use it too much as a crutch rather than learning how to identify and work through my feelings.

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    1. Food I am sure is used as a crutch for a lot of people and when using food one does have to be careful. I do not enjoy eat so I am not worried, but I am really happy that you identified that food was not helping but hurting you.

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  3. This is a great post! I have anxiety and have been a single mom most of my kids lives. I have dealt with it in various ways, your ways are great!

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    1. Thank you! What are some of the ways you deal with anxiety.

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