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Anxiety is through the roof


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Partly because of the holidays, partly because of my own junk and partly just because, I guess.

I want so badly to create good memories for my kids. I try every year to make the holidays special for them. But, this year, I am more likely going to leave them disappointed if not permanently scarred. :D

I am already dealing with extra anxiety which has been hanging on for a few weeks. Not sure where it came from but its there. But, now the holidays are making it worse.

First, I told my kids I would take them to a holiday event in another town this Saturday. We were going to spend the day there and it is something they would not otherwise get to do so they were very excited about it. So, I talked to a friend to see if perhaps she and her family would want to go. She called me back to tell me that, after checking with friends, the event I agreed to take my kids to is VERY crowded and very noisy and she was not sure how I was planning to handle that. Well, I wasn't. I wasn't expecting it to be like that, honestly. Not sure what I expected but somehow the pictures in my mind did not include loud, noisy crowds.

So, she and I discussed possible alternatives to spending that day. I discussed it with the kids and, knowing that I don't handle crowded places well, they agreed we could do something else. But, now, after thinking it through, I'd really rather just stay home. The fact that I came so close to diving into an anxiety-filled situation has me even more anxious. It is the holidays. Are there really any safe places? I really need to stay home and be in quiet. But my kids need normalcy. Not to be trapped in our home day after day because mommy gets too scared to leave.

The same is true for Thanksgiving. I WANT to stay home, draw the blinds, turn off the lights and let the world forget me. My kids want to accept our friend's invitation to their home. Again, they need normalcy, I need solitude.

So, either I go to these two events and risk having some sort of emotional breakdown or worse. OR, I don't go and my kids resent me for once again isolating them from the world they crave to be part of. Either way, I am going to disappoint them in a big way. :(

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Proverbs this is a hard situation. Is it possible to work through some alternate solutions. I understand it is hard to work through stuff like this when anxiety is already high. I guess I would try and look at options like compromising (if you can call it that). If you really want your children to experience the holiday event, is it possible to make a deal with yourself. Like say you could go to the event for an hour, tolerating all the discomforts of crowds (:eek:) and as soon as you arrive home from the event have organised 'me' time. Time when you allow yourself to 'freak out' cry, yell or what ever it is you think you may need to do. You may find that the hour goes by quickly and you end up staying longer.

I did this two weeks ago, I managed 3 hours when I said I wasn't going. The thought of my children missing out on such a special event actually created more anxiety than I needed at the time, this pushed me into going. So after deciding on one hour I managed three hours suprisingly (I did leave way earlier than others) I came home exhausted. I left the children with H and went to my room for a good two hours. I didn't sleep, didn't cry didn't even freak out. I just needed quiet time. It was actually amazing because the next day I had one of my own child's birthday so people came here, low key, but I couldn't ask them to leave when I had had enough. They left when they were ready. I did not calm down so well after this event. Maybe it was because I had less control on the length of time I was exposed to my heightened anxiety.

I guess what I am trying to say minus the waffle is set some expectations of yourself and if you feel comfortable with one or two of your options go with it and see what it brings. But you keep control of how much you can cope with. You can only do what you can do.

Good luck Proverbs


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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Proverbs,

I like Confused suggestion: go to the event on Thanksgiving, but go for a short time. You know, I have found that people tend to exaggerate these things. In other words, it is rarely as crowded and noisy as people claim it will be. Just like the weather. When people decide not to go out because it is "so rainy or snowy" it is not that bad at all, and when you go you find out that you are happy you went.

One more thing: Perhaps you have convinced yourself that things must be "perfect" for your children. That is not true. This does not have to be "memorable." Kids love to be with Mom. Just baking brownies together, making dinner together and watching a funny movie together can be real fun, for everyone. You need to relax and stop torturing yourself. It's just a day and the idea is to live and be with the kids. Even going to the local park can be fun. Hug them and kiss them and be yourself but don't draw the shades down and hide.


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My kids have proved to be the best "therapy" ever for me. For the past year I have been having a relapse of my Agoraphobia. I had had 15 years of life without ANY anxiety after spending 12 weeks with a terrific therapist using CBT, Guided Imagery, Exposure and so on. Long story short, I was back to where all I could do was brave the outdoors long enough to drop off and pick up my kids from school. I spent the rest of the day waiting for my wife to come home so that I could collapse. It wasn't until the end of this summer that the guilt I felt for not being able to go to the park, or the mall, or anywhere with my kids, that I decided to face my fears and re-learn all those things I'd forgotten over the past several years.

I realized that my kids don't need me to be perfect, they just need me. My father is a Viet Nam vet who has been haunted by the terror of that war, but, he still found a way to be my Father. He simply let me be with him. We didn't do alot of stuff, like sporting events, or huge Christmas events, but he was there. I have wonderful memories of my father, for example, camping during the summer, just me, my sister and my dad. The one thing he did "suffer through" for us was my annual birthday party at Disneyland. He was always quiet and easily irritated, but that just became a part of the memory for me and my sister, as in, ' remember how dad always got super stressed out at Disneyland ?' Point being, my sister and I noticed dad was 'different' but he was still dad. It wasn't until now that I realized how much he sacrificed for us, by suffering through some tough experiences for us, but, by doing so, he has earned major dad points in my heart.

I'm certainly not asking you to force yourself to go into that situation that you may not be comfortable with, I'm just letting you know that as the child of a dad with anxiety, take comfort in the fact that even if your kids don't say it, they are probably happy to be with 'imperfect mommy'. Simply being in your kids life is the BIGGEST thing you can do for your kids.

I am certainly not a perfect father, but I take comfort in the fact ( and pride in the fact ) that I am always there for my kids, and more than that, I am honest with them. They know about my situation and don't even seem to care, or notice. They find ways to have fun and make good childhood memories around my periodic limitations. And what's great for me is having them there to challenge my habits. I will set a goal, like going to the mall to see Santa ( AAAAAUUUGGGGHHHH!!!! ) I will set my mind to what I call float mode. Just let the uncomfortable sensations wash over me, while the kids are experiencing the magic of Christmas. I 'suffer' through it, and then, when I get home, though I may be exhausted, I am SO proud of myself for doing it! I then feel encouraged to try the next challenge.

I've been putting myself in uncomfortable situations for the past 3 months and am now getting to the point that I have to search to find situations that make me uncomfortable! Exposure sure works for me.

Alot of what I've been doing is based on a book by Marlow and Craske called mastering your panic and anxiety. I think there is a link to a Craske interview on this site somewhere. Allan, if you're reading this, can you provide the link?

If you are seeing a therapist, you might want to ask him/her if she has any suggestions for reading, or a workbook.

Be patient with yourself during the holidays, they seem to have expectation and stress built in, so don't go stressing about stressing! Your kids will be fine and your kids will love you no matter what... trust me!

Take care...


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Thank you for your support. We are going to go to the Thanksgiving meal but we are not going to go to the Christmas celebration. I have talked to my kids and they understand. They have seen mommy freak out more than once so I guess they realize the potential there. I have given myself permission to leave the meal if it is necessary. I hope it does not come to that but, as confused said, it gives me control of the situation. I have made some fudge to take and will roast a small turkey in the a.m. to bring. (Its a pig roast so I am bringing a turkey since none of the kids who will be there will eat the pig!) I am still upset with myself that I couldn't manage the Christmas celebration. I know the kids would have really enjoyed it. But, having taken that off my plate, I have one less thing to worry about.

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