What If I Pass My Anxiety Onto My Child.


I can’t remember when I started feeling depressed and anxious, I feel like I have struggled with it for as long as I have been breathing. Knowing how difficult anxiety and depression can be, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I worry about passing it along to Emily; When I think about her struggling the way I do, it makes me break out in a cold sweat and feel so guilty. I recently read an article somewhere, I can’t remember where it was but this statement stuck out to me the most...
“Witnessing a parent in a state of anxiety can be more than just momentarily unsettling for children. Children look to their parents for information about how to interpret ambiguous situations; if a parent seems consistently anxious and fearful, the child will determine that a variety of scenarios are unsafe. And there is evidence that children of anxious parents are more likely to exhibit anxiety themselves, a probable combination of genetic risk factors and learned behaviours.”
Sure everyone feels anxiety, it is normal and in many cases it is a good thing – it makes us run when we see an elephant charge towards us, or study for an exam that is coming up. What I am talking about is an anxiety disorder, where that dose of healthy anxiety isn’t there anymore, the levels of anxiety are high or out of proportion to the situation that I may be experiencing.

 I may not admit it often but one of my biggest fears in life, is passing anxiety onto Emily. It is the last thing I want, anxiety is hard, it eats away at you and makes you second guess everything and everyone. I’m constantly in this state of unease, worrying about things that are out of my control. I struggle with social anxiety too, which is basically a fear of being in public situations where people might judge me if I do something embarrassing or humiliating, which then means I avoid baby groups, or soft play.

I have made it known before on my blog, that I have never left Emily with other people before – not even her dad. This isn’t because I don’t want to, it really would be nice to have 10 minutes to myself, or for Emily and her daddy to have some one-on-one time. But I end up a complete mess, all rational thinking goes out the window and I worry about her, what if she needs me, what if she gets hurt, what if she thinks I have left her, what if she is sad. That anxiety keeps building and building until I have a panic attack, and then its game over. As soon as I start to think about leaving Emily these nasty butterflies start to form in my stomach and then I feel uneasy and anxious. It isn’t a nice feeling, and it certainly isn’t one I want to experience or pass onto her.

It has never bothered Emily; she is the most confident little girl I have ever met. She is brilliant in social situations and has no problem playing with other children or interacting with other people. She’s happy to run around and explore everything and anything she can. Recently though, she has started to show signs of separation anxiety, which I believe stems from the fact she has never been without me. Emily has only just turned two, so now is the perfect time to tackle that behaviour and nip it in the bud before it becomes anything more.

Ultimately that means I need to do something about it – I need to leave her. The thought is terrifying but it is one I know I need to approach, I need to just rip off the plaster and get it over with. I don’t want Emily to turn into an anxious child, or end up with anxiety which stops her from doing things she wants to do. I want her to be happy, independent and confident – things I could never be because of my anxiety. I know that it is going to be tough, but I also know it is something that I have to just do – for her sake. 

10 comments

  1. I worry about this all the time with my two. I'm slowly learning to cope with my anxiety though. I find meditation helps a lot, especially my stress reducing recording that I listen to at night. I'd definitely recommend giving something like that a go :)

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  2. Perhaps do it for a little at a time, just take 5 minutes out and build up from there, hopefully you will be able to get a little bit of me time in the future x

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  3. That's one of my worries too. I also have anxiety attacks every now and then. My daughter sadly has seen me in two occasions, while some may say, why worry if she's only seen it twice? I don't really think children forget do they? Hopefully they will.

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  4. I totally feel for you as I have suffered with anxiety in the past. Thank god I no longer suffer with it now.
    I agree with Cathy, maybe just try a couple of minutes at a time, go off into another room and let your husband take over for a while, and then progress into popping out for 5 minutes. Best of luck x

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  5. I worry about this as well with my kids..Parenting can be so hard sometimes.

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  6. I suffer from anxiety too, so much so that I made the decision to stay at home with my boys and be a SAHM. The thought of leaving them with someone else causes me a great deal of distress so I know you feel. I hope you can overcome your anxiety and leave her, even if it's just for some quality time with her daddy.

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  7. I get anxious flying, ironic for a travel blogger. I try and not show my son how nervous I am and he liked flying.

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  8. I totally understand where you are coming from and even though I don't have children, I do wonder if I would pass on my fears x

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  9. It is totally natural to worry, everyone does. You just need to manage it. Why not leave her for short amounts of time at first, maybe a walk to the shop or a hair appointment where your mind is on something else

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  10. I totally understand your feelings, if I had a kid I would worry about so many things...

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