Anxiety and the Working Mom

When you suffer from anxiety and have kids AND work, medication can do wonders. But it's not a cure-all for the daily battle against constant worry.

I went to the doctor the other day—not for my kids but for myself. There was nothing physically wrong with me; it was a last ditch effort to get the anxiety I have under control.

I have always been a worrier. My grandfather called it “borrowing trouble.” I have laid awake many nights worrying about things that could happen, might happen, even things that had less than 0.5% chance of happening at all. My mom is the same way, and I assumed it was just part of my personality. I accepted the fact that we worried and tried to combat it through exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Then I got pregnant.

While I was waiting for Joey to arrive, The Hubs and I moved to a sprawling house in Connecticut, we both had secure teaching jobs, a baby on the way—things were moving the way they should be, but I became petrified. I tried very hard to stay calm, but my head was filled with things I had no business worrying about. I was convinced something terrible would happen—someone was going to invade our home, money would run out because I was on maternity leave, an accident would befall us—just crazy thoughts that kept me awake at night and filled me with dread.

Worrying about worries

To make it worse, I would worry about the worry—I was missing beautiful, precious moments with our son because I was consumed with these thoughts. When I went back to work, it only got worse. I felt pulled in so many directions, constantly worrying about getting somewhere on time and doing everything to the best of my ability. If I had a meeting after school, I would literally pull my fingers with anxiety about getting home, making dinner and making sure Joey was fed, bathed and taken care of while I took care of 100 students every day.

When you suffer from anxiety and have kids AND work, medication can do wonders. But it's not a cure-all for the daily battle against constant worry.

It got so bad, I had a car accident. To this day I have no idea how it happened—I think I tried to blame black ice, but the police officer informed me there was none. When my mom found out, the first thing she asked was, “Where you TEXTING for God’s sake?!” I wasn’t, but I knew I was distracted. In a strange way, I think I worried so much about having one, that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Facing anxiety head-on

Thankfully, I was alone and no one was injured, but it was a wake up call. I talked to The Hubs and we made an appointment to see the doctor. He evaluated me for anxiety disorders, and prescribed me Lexapro and Clonopin—the latter making me so drowsy I thought I would have another car accident if I took it. I stayed with the Lexapro and it did make me sleep better, despite the minor adjustments of a medication. That combined with my regular exercise routine kept me even keeled, but when we decided to try and get pregnant again, The Hubs and I agreed to stop the Lexapro.

I could not exercise during my second pregnancy; running and being active are medicinal for me, and without exercise I feared the worst. I focused on staying healthy and ignored the news, which always caused me to panic.

But when an unthinkable tragedy befell a community 3 miles from my home in Connecticut, I dismissed my class and fell to my knees. Even though it did not affect me personally, it made me want to wrap my arms around every child I could find, and I questioned bringing another child into a world where someone was capable of such horror.

A new chapter

But when Charlee was born I was flooded with joy; this little girl I was so nervous about moved inside my heart, and I made a silent promise to be the best mom, teacher, woman, and role model I could be for her. As we all feel, the love for her and her brother knows no bounds.

She is 6 months old now, I am back at work and currently not on medication. I still do not know if that is the right decision for me, but I’m trying to combat any/all fears with a self prescribed cocktail of running, fish oil, clean eating—infused with real cocktails when necessary.

If you've ever wondered if your worrying was normal or excessive, you might relate to this working mom's struggle with anxiety disorder, medication, and motherhood.

7 thoughts on “Anxiety and the Working Mom

  1. Good luck to you, Dana. I think it is admirable that you are doing everything in your power to get some relief from the anxiety. I am a firm believer in medication, though, when necessary. Mental/psychological conditions are no less severe than observable, physical ones. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Liza Jones says:

    Dana, thank you for sharing this post. I feel like sometimes I “create” worry, even when there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve always been a worrier, too, and have also taken Lexapro at times to help me through. My mom says, “For all the worrying you do, does it change anything?” The answer is usually no.

    Perhaps you can at least take some comfort in knowing we’ve all been there, and are all doing the best we can for the kiddos of ours. Take care of yourself. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow, I do believe you have entered my mind and expressed what I have been feeling. I’m currently expecting twin boys (first time mom) and am nearly having panic attacks about everything that can go wrong. It’s not fun and I feel like I’m missing out on an experience I have so looked forward to – I’m just wishing away my pregnancy instead of just enjoying each day. I have gone off anxiety medicine during pregnancy but sometimes think, “Is it healthier to be on medication and calmer or off medication and full of anxious thoughts?”

    I’m glad you’re O.K. after the accident. Thanks for sharing your story. Enjoy your running and cocktails. That combination makes all the difference in the world some days! Kim

  4. Thank you all for sharing and emphazing. Reading your comments actually calmed me – it so helps to know people really understand. Our panic and worrying doesn’t change what we can’t control, and constantly doing so can make us miss beautiful moments – then we worry about that! Sometimes I think this role as working mom women worked so hard to obtain actually makes us more prone to anxiety. But that’s another post. Meanwhile I still carry my Lexapro scrip in my diaper bag….thank you again and any time you are willing to share something that works or something that worries you, I’ll listen!

  5. I worry a lot too, but the Lord is helping me. I read psalms and matthew 6 when I am uptight.

  6. Thank you for writing this. I am a working mom of 2 beautiful little girls and I have been fighting anxiety and panic attacks the last few months. I tried to do everything naturally but my panic attacks really started affecting my happiness and being present with my family. I started Lexapro last week after having the prescription for over a month because I thought I was to strong to need it. I really need this today to see the light for myself and my beautiful family.

  7. samibaceri samibaceri says:

    I can’t say that my way of dealing with anxiety can definitely be considered universal and suitable for everyone, but if you’re okay with smoking weed and products and things like hash, then I recommend it. I reckon a couple of times a month won’t make anything worse. And if you compare it to a mental state, anxiety has a much stronger and more negative effect on your overall state and health.

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