Anxiety in Motherhood

Today's Tip on Motherhood is written by Dr. Emily Shupert. We were so grateful to also have her as our guest on Episode 112 of Wire Talk, answering your questions about anxiety and we are looking forward to having her as a break-out speaker this year at the Soar conference. I frequently counsel moms who are dealing with anxiety or panic. Both are actually more common than you might think. Having a new baby with limited to no sleep, adjusting to a child going to school for the first time or having a new babysitter take care of your kids are reasons enough for feeling a bit worried.  The problem is that with anxiety disorders, the worry never goes away! They serve as pesky house guests that keeps you questioning everything and everyone, especially yourself.

Why does this happen?  Well, we have these naturally occurring chemical messengers in our brains called neurotransmitters and they send information throughout our brain.  The anxious brain has an imbalance of one or more of these neurotransmitters which is why the truly anxious mom can come up with hundreds of hypothetical “what if” scenarios for everyday occurances while the other mom might get worried from time to time but it’s situational and time limited.  I’m here today to tell you that it isn’t your fault!  No one who struggles with anxiety disorders would choose it!

So what can you do?  While you didn’t choose it, you can choose to see it accurately and actively work on reducing it.  I have a family member with diabetes. While she didn’t choose to have juvenile diabetes, she can choose her response to it.  She can take insulin when needed, test her blood and go to the endocrinologist. Similarly, while you didn’t choose to have an anxiety disorder, you are responsible to acknowledge it, learn about it and implement steps to reduce it.  You can see a Christian Cognitive Behavioral therapist, utilize anxiety workbooks, or seek a support group.  God does give us all we need, but we still need antibiotics when we are sick and my cousin still needs insulin for her diabetes.  Many people don’t understand mental health disorders so they try to slap a verse on it and call it a day. Some things aren’t so clear and it’s really harmful to those who are suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and other mental health issues.  

I’m reminded of John 9:1-12 where Jesus heals the blind man.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” He said, “Neither this man nor his parents. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Instead of seeing it as a weakness or sin, let’s see it accurately.  It’s annoying, upsetting, and very scary for those who have it but it’s also an opportunity for God to show HIS strength. Be real enter into this place of fear and feeling out of control and allow Him to meet you there instead of feeling like a failure. Instead of covering it up and trying to act like you have it all together, you could actually experience His closeness, His comfort, and His strength.   By seeing your anxiety accurately, you can take the necessary steps to reduce it and maybe you can use your story to encourage other moms to do the same!