Anxiety – The New Normal

The Zachary Effect

I barely remember a time in my life when I haven’t experienced anxiety. A few years between meeting my husband, marriage, and my first child, perhaps. Since then it has gripped me, loosely at first, gradually increasing its hold.


Numbness in my face marked the onset of symptoms. After I tucked the kids in bed and started to relax, the numbness began to creep across one side of my face. I didn’t understand why. The day had ended. The stress had ended. I should be relaxed.


A trip  to my doctor shed some light on it. Stress caused the numbness. But why at the end of the day? Why not DURING the day, when I’m actually FEELING stressed?


The doctor likened it to a trip to the hospital with an injured child. As a parent, you go into action to take care of the child. You don’t necessarily think about it. You just DO it. After all is said and done, and the child is safe, it all sinks in and your knees go to jelly. You just need to sit down – your body’s physical response kicks in.


That’s what happened to me, every night.


I handled it all during the day. After the kids went to sleep, the stress took over my body.


Over the years my body retaliated to my stress level in different ways: a flushed face, heart palpitations, constricted breathing, hunched shoulders, rapid breathing, tapping toes.


I logically knew how to ease these symptoms through meditation, journaling, sleep, mindfulness.


But, as a caregiver for a special needs child, you rarely have time to yourself. Self-care can seem a topic reserved for people with money, resources, and a strong family support system. None of which I possessed.


And let’s not talk about the guilt. The never-ending guilt about your lack of stamina to take care of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.


It’s the MONSTER in our heads.


I don’t have answers. I can point you in the right direction. I can advise you whom to seek for answers. I can tell you “Damn, you got this!!”


But, I’m not a light on this topic. I’m not a success story. I’m still trying to figure it out – 18 years later.


Sometimes it doesn’t get better. You just learn to roll with it.


And so anxiety is the new normal. It’s the lens through which you filter your life. And it IS normal.


Which special needs diagnosis makes YOUR life the new “normal”?

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