Sometimes anxiety makes life difficult for the people who live with it. They are subject to symptoms like panic attacks, which make it seem as if life itself is put on hold. However, even though anxiety is a very serious condition that affects an individual’s mind, it can have a deep impact on others.
In a recent piece for PsychCentral, trauma survivor and author Elisabeth Corey reveals that her own battle with anxiety had a profoundly unwanted impact on her children. She notes that years of living with anxiety ultimately allowed her to function even when the symptoms took hold. “I could work through the quick breathing and the heart racing,” she recalls, “[but] at the end of the day, I would be exhausted, as though I had run a marathon, but I could make it work.”
All of that changed when she had children.
Even though she could power through her symptoms, her children were able to pick up on the fact that something was not quite right with their mother. In her essay, she highlights the three behaviors her anxiety highlighted on her children:
Coupled with Corey’s anxiety was severe OCD, a condition in which excessive thoughts lead to compulsive behaviors. One of the ways it can manifest itself is in an obsessively perfectionist angle of everyday activities. While Corey was able to tame some of her more controlling behaviors, her perfectionist attitude had a real impact on her kids. A schedule was too important to her, and her obsessive sense of timeliness and temporal micromanagement can be seen in her children.
Instead of jumping headfirst into new activities with an “any could happen” mentality, her children are a bit too risk averse. Corey’s anxiety led her children to focus on what could go wrong, instead of a good time or what could go well. Actions that stem from anxiety normalize that particular outlook on life, and you must work to address that issue in the day to day.
Corey made sure that her children had a voice– that their wishes be respected, that personal space be treated as such. However, the emphasis on this aspect of life was so great, that her children would begin to feel anxious if they felt their boundaries would not be recognized. The great irony of this situation, is that Corey made boundaries such a priority because she didn’t have them growing up.
Be sure to check out the article, in which Corey also shares a few ways these problems can be addressed.