3. “Huh. You don’t look anxious”
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! I don’t know what an anxious person looks like to you, but I promise if my thoughts appeared cartoon style, in bubbles beside my head, I would look like a billboard for anxiety.
4. “That must be hard for your kids”
See point 2. This one hits right in the heart.
I’d be lying if I said my anxiety didn’t affect my parenting.
Like anyone else, I have good days, and bad, but I can tell when I might need to call in a little help from my husband, friends or psychologist and I always do.
I don’t want my children to think emotions of any kind are something to hide. If I mess up, I apologise, and my kids get to see that Mama makes mistakes too.
5. “Stop worrying!”
This is the big one. Telling someone with anxiety to “just relax and stop worrying” is not just ineffective, it’s actually a really good way of alienating and invalidating them completely.
Here’s the thing. We KNOW the things we are saying or feeling right in the moment might be irrational, but once we go down the spiralling rabbit hole that is anxiety, it’s not as easy as just “snapping out of it”, even though we’d like to.
So, what SHOULD you say to a mum who is suffering anxiety? “You’re a great mum to your kids,” is a really good place to start. “I’m here if you need me” is also a good choice.
Anxiety can manifest in different ways, so keep trying, and try not to take it personally if your mum friend says no to the first nine playdates – maybe the 10th time’s the charm.
Originally published here.