How can I manage my anxiety?

I have twin toddlers. I experienced a death of loved one prior to giving birth. I had a horrible break up with the father. People told him he was using me for money. My ex-boyfriend had extreme meltdowns every day for three years. I’m always alone with no friends.

Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

Seems like you've really been through the ringer without much of a break.  

Just reading through the details you put in the question, I hear a couple things.  One is that you seem like a helper.  That's not bad at all, though other people taking advantage of your nurturing qualities and not giving that back to yourself can really zap your energy.  Seems like you were the one that had to take care of your ex for a very long time.  Think about what that takes--a lot of patience, great emotional awareness, flexibility to adjust to needs and change plans, etc.  What that also means is that you probably had to focus so heavily on him that you weren't able to give any of that attention to yourself.  The great part is that it doesn't look a whole lot different when you give that to you vs someone else.  Self-love and self-care is a really important piece of managing anxiety (and depression), as you learned with your ex.

The other thing I noticed is that it sounds like you maybe tend to people-please.  This is common with people that are helpers--they are almost a package deal. People-pleasing is really about abandonment.  It's derived from a fear that if you aren't exactly what people need, they may have negative feelings toward you and ultimately abandon or reject you.  May also stem from a need for peace if you grew up in a chaotic home (common with kiddos from domestic violence backgrounds), though that usually has some type of connection to abandonment as well.

As far as anxiety management goes, there's so much you can do.  It's hard to say what will work specifically for you, but first thing that might help is to understand your triggers.  What gives you anxiety?  Is it general and seems to come out of nowhere?  Or does it buildup and get worse at a certain time of day?  I find that many people who have unresolved grief and depression tend to cycle through those symptoms and anxiety because there's so much stress and pressure involved in the cluster of issues that those circumstances tend to bring.  Sorting those things out can be tough---if you need help from a friend or counselor, it's never too late to reach out.  It doesn't matter if it happened last week or 10 years ago.  If it matters to you, it's relevant.

I hope some of this helps and you are able to find someone in your life to lean on.  You aren't meant to be alone!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Daniel Kelley-Petersen
Daniel Kelley-Petersen
Mental Health and Career Counselor

First, let me say that you are a survivor and a warrior. Managing 1 child by yourself is difficult, but twins is a whole different ballgame. Anxiety can affect us at any time anywhere. This is the challenge, especially when we have so many things to manage each day. There are several methods and practices that help manage and even reduce symptoms of anxiety. It will depend on what works best for you. Talk with friends, a counselor, or a loved one who can offer you support and feedback as you navigate this process of learning what works for you. When all else fails; make sure you are in a safe place, pause for a deep, cleansing breath in, a long exhale out, and ask yourself, "What do I want in this moment?" Now you can begin again.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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