‘I wonder how this man could ever love me. The guilt of having a cleaning lady makes me feel like a pathetic human being.’: Mom struggling with anxiety says ‘you never know who is desperately kicking beneath the surface’

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“This is the face of anxiety and depression.

I can laugh with bright eyes. I can crack the best jokes at social functions. I can socialize and be the life of the party and make new friends and leave good impressions.
I can do all of that, and make it look easy.

But honestly, when it comes down to it…I’m just a duck.

To everyone above the water, I appear cool and calm and collected. I’ve got my ducky little life put together.

But the truth is, I am paddling like crazy just below the surface.

Just out of sight, I am wondering if that laugh was a little too loud. If that joke made me look like an idiot. I am wondering if all of the people I talked to at the party were rolling their eyes as soon as I walked away.

Above the surface, I’ve got it together.

Below the surface, I’m completely frenetic.

This is the face of anxiety and depression.

If I wanted to impress a crowd, I could quote my publications. I could tout the size of my following or the fact that I have a book deal and an incredible literary agent.

If I wanted to impress a crowd, I could.

But if I was being honest and vulnerable, I would admit that Imposter Syndrome keeps me hostage. I’m certain that any day now, my followers, my publisher, and my agent will wake up and realize what fools they were for ever believing in me.

This is the face of anxiety and depression.

At home, my children are laughing, my husband is eating a hot dinner, and the floor is tidy and clean.

In my heart, I’m full of doubt. I wonder how this man could ever love me, and the guilt of having a cleaning lady makes me feel like a pathetic human being.

I smile, and I laugh, and I write funny stories.

My children are well-adjusted, and my career is on a positive trajectory.

But just below the water…riiiiight beneath the surface…

Hidden right before your eyes, is someone desperately trying to stay afloat.

Trust me when I say you NEVER know the quiet battles that other people are fighting. You would never guess which of your successful, good looking, wealthy, lucky, or well-educated friends are secretly struggling with a dark and aching hurt.

Anxiety and depression hide just below the water. Just out of sight. And their victims look like just about anybody: your doctor, your sister, your favorite blogger, your pastor, your spouse.

So, treat one another delicately, my friends. Be loving, understanding, and kind.

You never know which one of us is desperately kicking beneath the surface.”

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Mary’s book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood is available here. Follow Mary on Instagram here.  Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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