A few years ago I was a micro-managing control freak. And that didn’t make me a very nice mother to have.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t set out to be one, it was just the panic attacks and anxiety I was experiencing meant that I kind of shrank my world to be smaller and smaller and smaller so that I could be in control.
So when I couldn’t travel on the train, I stopped going into London to work and my world got a whole load smaller.
My friendship group shrank to within a mile of my house – basically if I could walk there, I’d come see you. If not, no chance.
For a while, I couldn’t even leave my front door – not even to put the bins out.
My world got even smaller. I could no longer come and see you and if you asked to come and see me I was so terrified that I might have a panic attack and you would think I was a weirdo that I’d make excuses so you wouldn’t.
Then it would go away again and I could have a little more freedom for a while.
When my kids came along, whereas my friends would go and visit their Mums to show off their new grand babies, I wasn’t able to drive on the motorway to get to mine.
When they were toddlers, I’d go to Monkey Music, but only if I could sit on the side of the circle nearest the door and I knew there was a toilet if I needed one.
When they were nursery-age, I’d gather all my strength and resources and go to the park, white knuckling on the push chair handle, only to turn around after 5 minutes and have to get home to safety.
When they went to primary school, there were days I couldn’t go to the school gates to pick them, and school plays and sports days were out of the question.
When it came to choosing senior schools, our choices were dictated by how many minutes drive the schools were from our house and whether there was a motorway that needed to be negotiated. That cut our choice down considerably.
I’ve always tried to hide my anxiety from my kids.
And yet somehow two of the three of them had picked up my anxiousness.
You wouldn’t know it to look at them now.
I had kids who would stand at the edge of parties and be unable to join in.
Who would be unable to go away on the school trip as it was too far away from home.
Who refused to go to school in case they cried again for no reason in the middle of a lesson (which is not cool when you’re 10).
Who had mystery tummy pains.
Who the teachers pulled me to one side about and quietly suggested we “seek some help.”
Who couldn’t settle at night.
Who seemed to worry all the time.
Thankfully, after twenty years of exploring everything known about anxiety and how to overcome it (CBT, tapping, Linden Method, medication, yoga, meditation, Time Line Therapy, you name it, I’d tried it!), I stumbled across a completely different way of understanding anxiety that completely dissolved it for me.
In a matter of weeks my panic attacks vanished, my anxious symptoms stopped showing up and my worrying about migraines just disappeared.
I was so completely blown away by what happened I’ve spent the last 4 years studying this approach with the pioneers of this field all around the world.
It’s now what I teach with my clients and have seen profound breakthroughs for them too.
Yes, I got on planes, all on my own and travelled and met new people and there was no fear at all.
But here are the best things of all:
- I took my youngest daughter to DisneyLand Paris – just the two of us together for 3 days. The anxiety didn’t even show up. I’d been fobbing her off with excuses for 2 years previous to that.
- I travel all round the county to see my kids play in matches just because I can
- I can take my kids to the cinema and it doesn’t even matter if we can’t get aisle seats
- I took the kids on my own to see my Mum. That’s a four and a half hour drive including going half way round the M25
- I’m free to shout and lose my temper when they wind me up with no fear of a panic attack or migraine coming on. This sounds weird but I used to have to carefully control my emotions ‘in case I went over the edge’. Plus I calm down a whole heap quicker
- I’m able to work, travel and do stuff like an ‘ordinary person’, which just rubs off on them
- I’m able to see the completely mentally healthy essence of them underneath their anxiety, and when I talk to that instead of their fear, a whole different kid shows up to life
In my years of reading about anxiety, there’s a lot of research that points to a genetic component to anxiety.
Anxious mother leads to anxious kids.
And when we look back through our family tree we can see traces of it all over the place.
But here’s the most amazing thing.
From what I’ve read, the anxiety gene can be switched on and off.
I was highly anxious during all my pregnancies so if this is true my poor kids probably were born with it switched on and so have a high propensity to developing those behaviours in their lives.
But if they can be switched on, they can be switched off.
The changes in me and my behaviour have dissolved the anxiety in my kids before my very eyes.
And when they have their own babies this long line of anxiety that may have been in our family for generations doesn’t continue.
Here’s where it stops.
That is pretty fucking cool.
Check out the free audio below if this resonates and you want to break the cycle for your kids too.