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Anxiety and Acceptance

by Tracy
(Ohio)

My anxiety symptoms developed when my parents split. I was about 13 years old and my mom moved me and my sister in with her boyfriend. The move into this environment was supposed to ensure stability, as my mom had no means to support us alone. Her boyfriend was not a bad person by any means. They did have some late night fights if either of them went out drinking.
I remember being the target of my mom's verbal lashings after she'd go on a drunk. To avoid this, I'd try to take care of her by being the "good" child, the kid who never did wrong, the kid who was responsible, the one who brought her a trash can to vomit in after she'd come home from drinking. I babysat her friend's younger children so they'd go drinking. Since I had done a good deed, I'd be safe from verbal abuse that night.
I started to loathe my appearance at about ten years of age. My shoulders were too broad and my body was ill-proportioned and a little chubby (I wore husky pants in fifth, which were very unfashionable for a young girl). My mom and sister were slim and pretty. Well, I do not know if any of my insecurities contributed to my anxiety. It may have been because of my parents split, the move to my mom's boyfriend's house, or perhaps it was the abuse I endured.
I started tugging at my skin to relieve tension. when I was 14, I developed eating disorders that lasted four years. As I entered early adulthood, I sought treatment for anxiety. Back in 1990, Valium was still dealt to people suffering from anxiety. Ironically, it was my own mother who turned me onto it. The doctors would not prescribe it to me though and I was always given SSRI's of some sort (Paxil, Zoloft, Klonopin, Effexor, Prozac). These medications did not help me much.
I spent my twenties working and trying to finish college. I married a man I met online in 2001. We'd been dating for a year and a half. Turns out he was more of an alcoholic then I had believed. But, I was married by age thirty, I was no longer the old-maid. I was blessed with two children in the marriage. My anxiety effected my ability to handle being a mother, and I had no social support, no family or friends. In this, I discovered God was with me and my kids. Through God and reading, I learned how to manage my family despite living with the alcoholism and verbal abuse.
In 2007, me and my 3 and 5 year old children fled to a nearby women'shelter. It was the only way Legal Aid would assist me in obtaining a separation/divorced/child support. When the social workers would arrive at the house every morning, I'd feel driven out. I felt like we were on display to be criticized for my parenting, or my children's ("hyper") behavior. My husband had us stalked at the safe house, so the workers asked us to leave after two weeks. I went back to my husband to try to reconcile, but it failed after a year and a half.
I got my own apartment, job and the divorce by 2009. During the years 2003-2009, I resorted to compulsive behavior and was diagnosed with OCD, generalized anxiety, and agoraphobia but still given antidepressants. The meds never helped. I still struggle with going out in public and I still discard household belongings when I feel overwhelmed. I developed a system of trying to save things in various storage boxes and think more carefully before getting rid of items. Writing and reading, specifically reading the Bible and Christian books on psychology, help me tremendously. I never seem to find social support groups but I have some friends at work who I talk to sometimes. I worry about how my condition hinders my children, but I try to do the best I can. We go to parks where it is just nature and no crowds. The crowds make my son a bit crazy. He has been to counseling but the counselor said he is okay, that he has a "lion" personality, my daughter is the "otter" personality and I am the busy "beaver".
We go to church sometimes, though I find little social support for me or the kids. We find God when we go to the church. In that hour, we get some peace and assurance. My hope for the future is good and our story is not finished yet!

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