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Suka on anxiety and the struggle of wanting to be with her kids and have me time

mom in a car - essay on needing to have me time

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

The anxiety attack came upon me as such a surprise. My kids were at a sleepover and it was a quiet night, but I woke up with a pounding headache, which turned into a migraine. 

I tried natural remedies and medication and I even tried to do some yoga, but nothing fixed the throbbing in my head. I began worrying about picking them up when I could barely stand the minimal sounds I was making. So I decided to take a nice hot shower before picking them up. 

And just like that, it came upon me and I found myself pacing in the shower, drowning in my worry. Hot water pouring down on me, washing away the tears that just kept coming. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to pick up my children. 

Related: This is what anxiety feels like

Not because I didn’t love them. 
Not because I didn’t want them. 
Not because I didn’t miss them. 

Because I was exhausted. 

Because I had a throbbing headache and their voices were going to make it worse. 

Because they are kids and kids play and shout and fight and are naturally loud at no fault of their own.

Because the thought of me being short-tempered with them was killing me. 

Related: The relentless exhaustion of motherhood is real—and temporary

I couldn’t bear the thought that I was going to pick them up to repeat the same sentence I always say, “Mama has a headache and needs quiet time.” 

I couldn’t bear the thought of playing cartoons and sitting them in front of the TV begging them not to move or make a sound. 

This is what motherhood looks like for me on my dark days. Days I cannot prevent because I suffer from migraines, with the mom guilt eating me up inside for having to continuously shush them for just being kids. 

So the anxiety got to me and there I was, pacing in the shower. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot how to rationalize. My heart felt as though it was ready to burst out of my chest. I cried and begged for it to pass because all I could think about in that moment were my children and how I wish I could hold them close in that second. 

Yet ironically enough, thinking about them is what put me in that state. This is my motherhood. It’s hard to explain how my children are my whole world, yet at times, it can feel like they are heavy bricks weighing me down, leaving me gasping for air.