Why Becoming a Mom Calmed This Woman's Anxiety
My trademark move is to feel the deepest anxiety about things that are deeply good. The day I received a job offer I wanted very badly, I spent the two weeks between old and new gigs in intermittent states of teary agitation, convinced the offer would be rescinded. (Why? If you have to ask, then your mind's cubbies are far tidier than mine.) The day I had my 20-week anatomy scan—the one at which my ob-gyn told me my growing baby was right on track—I burst into tears the moment I left the doctor's office, convinced that there just had to be something they weren't telling me.
Because that's the refrain, always. There has to be something wrong. To the chronically anxious, if nothing appears wrong—if everything, in fact, appears right—then that only means a terrible something is lying in wait. Just tell me already. The anxiety that plagued me for decades, I realize now, was the loose and jagged contents of an underoccupied brain jostling around, causing swellings and contusions and antic confusion.
New mothers are told, over and over again, how anxiety-provoking it is to be responsible for a tiny, helpless human being. But for me, motherhood has been an effective antianxiety training program, simply in the way its demands fill those troublesome brain spaces. I have escaped my own head and run into the chubby arms of a far more benevolent captor.
How to cure a worrier? Give her something real to worry about.