‘Hey, do you want to come to playgroup?’
♫ My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on my sweater already, Max’s spaghetti.
I’m nervous, and on the surface I look red and I’m sweatin’,
At the thought of other people, I am tremblin’,
In my head, the negative thoughts go so loud
I go to message back but the words won’t come out… ♫
Gotta love Eminem! Anyway, my musical ditty aside (I wish I’d filmed myself actually rapping that haha!)…
So, my phone buzzes (I always keep it muted to reduce the chances of little ears scoping out the shiny iPhone and making a lunge for it…), I immediately feel panic in my chest, like an angry hummingbird flailing around inside my ribcage in a fruitless attempt to escape.
Then I feel nauseous, red and sweaty. Sometimes breathless.
Anxiety is a bastard, really.
It’s getting better, so much better in fact that recently I’ve been able to make Forest School sessions with one of my fab sisters in law and Max’s lovely cousin of the same age, but with outdoor sessions you’re all covered up and no one cares if your hair is wrenched up into a haphazard ‘mum bun’, if half of Max’s breakfast is splashed across your chest (YAY FOR COATS), and of course I’m with family which automatically calms me loads. I’m definitely a family lass.
When it comes to playgroups and baby classes, I worry that I’m going to be judged by people I don’t know because I’m STILL carrying my baby weight, because I’ve not had time to preen myself, because I’m hot and red and sweating with nerves when I burst into the room 10 minutes late with a screaming child who just wants his nap, and because Max immediately starts playing up and I feel my temper rising and SHIT. Keep calm Kate. Don’t lose your marbles, not here, not now.
Not in front of all the mums who seemingly have it ‘together’, with their perfectly pressed Next clothes free of food stains, hair nearly brushed, not a flush or droplet of sweat in sight.
Another aspect of is it this; my anxiety has convinced me that I am a shit mum, to the point that sometimes going anywhere, especially playgroup, made me irrationally terrified that everyone was looking and judging me, thinking that I’m not worthy of my gorgeous little boy. Friends of mine have lost their precious angels, and anxiety whispers in my ear that I’m a terrible mother, and that I don’t deserve to be a mum when they’re left with empty arms. It’s horrible and heartbreaking, and it hit me like a tonne of bricks after having Max.
Home is our safe space. Our nest.
However, I feel SO GUILTY. Aside from the missed out interaction for Max, lovely friends who have invited me to groups and classes seem to have given up on me, understandably. I’m worried that they think I don’t like them, or that I’m an antisocial boring bitch (I’m actually the total opposite)… and then in the same breath, I feel too nervous and awkward to drop it into conversation. It’s shit. It’s anxiety.
So if you’re one of my lovely friends who has made the effort to invite me in the past, thank you, and SORRY. To sound terribly cliché, it’s not you… it’s me.
Well, it’s not even me. It’s anxiety. However, I am definitely getting somewhere with it, basic things like getting us ready to leave the house don’t seem as heart-thuddingly stressful as they did before. I feel like I can manage to look half human, make sure we are all fed, and not lose half my bodily fluids with my ‘stress sweats’ when entering a room full of strangers. I feel like I can finally hold my own – I’m a mummy too, my parenting is JUST as valid, I’m NOT a shit mum. Anxiety is slowly but surely moving out of its home in my head, thank god…
So, lovely friends, please forgive me for my absence and silence. Me & Max are finally ready.
Do YOU suffer with anxiety, especially when it comes to attending mum groups? Tell us in the comments!
Love from Katie. Xx
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