Whew — what a year it’s been, am I right? Yes, there’s a terrible reminder you didn’t want or need: we’ve been at this for a year. Somehow it’s all gone by quickly in one horrible, stress-filled blur. And yet, it still looks like the movie “Groundhog Day” in my house. Every morning I wake up, rip off the metaphorical bandaid, and get to work.
Last March, my five-year-old developed C. diff from a heavy dose of antibiotics. If you don’t know what C. diff is, don’t Google it. Just know that the things I saw come out of his bottom are things I can never unsee, and for someone who suffers horribly from health anxiety, I struggled to hold it together for his sake. Fast forward to now (thank goodness he has fully recovered) and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still take a peek every time he goes number two, just to make sure everything’s coming along alright. (Yeah, he’s totally over me at this point.)
I was around five months pregnant during the C. diff and showing signs of major anxiety. For someone who already suffers from stray panic attacks, this really upped the ante on my mental health. From there things got really fun: a near meltdown over the photos acquired from a perfect (via the ultrasound tech) anatomy scan, where I swore to my husband the baby had spina bifida (because I’m obviously more qualified than the tech to know about such things), the constant suspense surrounding my son’s every trip to the bathroom, the crying episodes as we awaited the genetic testing results (negative for everything).
I couldn’t remember being a literal basketcase during my first pregnancy, yet here I was, struggling every day not to melt into a puddle and circle the bathtub drain.
Just as our son was feeling better and was cleared to head back to school, it shut down. All of it. Everything. Lockdown.
My brain: well, there’s only one thing left to do. Dial up the anxiety!
I spent my entire third trimester sleeping until 11 a.m. I quickly forgot what it was like to see the sun rise. Nothing felt worth it. And that’s the rabbit hole you never, ever want to head down. It took some time, but I fought my way out. I was lucky enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy in the middle of a pandemic and brought him home to a big brother who has loved him dearly from day one.
But still. When there’s nothing else to distract you, nowhere else to go, no one (besides husband of course) to bounce the baby on their knee while you shower, to ask you how you’re feeling, to give you a much needed hug, what do you do? You worry. And then you worry. And then you worry some more.
There are parents who struggle every day with actively sick children, and here I was falling apart over made-up scenarios. I felt ashamed and disrespectful. I still do. But anxiety does this terrible, tricky thing: just when you’re breathing a sigh of relief, it ramps up its effort to deceive you.
But what if something terrible happens? You need to brace yourself! Keep your guard up!
Because the moment you set yourself free … ah, that’s when the bad sneaks in. That’s when someone gets hurt or sick. The constant tension, the fight, physically and mentally, is exhausting.
So as social distancing rages on and we find ourselves at home more often than not, I’ve decided to take a job as a Google physician! It’s nonprofit but I’m just so passionate about the cause. Perks include self-diagnosing my children via something I read on a parenting blog, random panic attacks, and annoying the ever loving shit out of my husband with my damaged mental state (I don’t know what I’d do without that man and he is a saint for dealing with me). Every faint or imaginary lump and bump is examined at length by yours truly.
Please, someone fire me.
In all seriousness, I am (virtually) seeing a therapist to help calm my brain, to learn how to be in the moment with my two beautiful boys, and to get help before I surely pass my anxiety issues on to my five-year-old.
If any of this sounds like you, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Talk to someone you trust. We can’t always deal with it alone. I never want to look back and think of all the time I wasted.
But I still say the five-year-old’s poop triggered the landslide.
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