I remember when I was nine I would babysit my cousin a lot. They lived in a big house with lots of doors and windows, and sometimes when it got dark I would get scared that someone would try to break in or something. I think my nine year old brain realized if there was any danger, I was in charge, and I wasn't really ready to handle that. But it all kind of seemed like a fun game, and of course I didn't really realize things that could actually happen, but I still felt the anxiety from it all.
After one of these nights babysitting, I went home feeling really stressed. I remember crying to my mom that I had a horrible feeling, and I thought something bad was going to happen to someone in my family. I was so worked up that she called all my brothers and had me talk to them so I could see that they were ok. But I still had this horrible feeling that I couldn't shake, and I thought I was psychic or something.
But, nothing ever did happen, and what I didn't realize was that I wasn't clairvoyant, I was just having my first anxiety attack.
I think anxiety is something that is very common in a lot of our lives today. I know a lot of my family has it to some degree, and my oldest brother was even diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It's something I never really talk about, something I don't really even think about until it decides to rear it's ugly head and remind me that I'm not as in control as I like to pretend to be.
I think it's important to talk about because it is so common, but it's something we all ignore and pretend doesn't happen. I certainly don't like to mention in conversation that anxiety can bring me to a deep, dark place that I feel like I'll never escape from. It is horrible feeling like you can fall into that at any time for no reason at all.

My anxiety peaked in High School. I can remember sitting in class one morning when I felt the weight of it hit me like a ton of bricks. Nothing happened to trigger it, but suddenly it was as if an elephant was sitting on my chest. I felt like I couldn't get any air. I went home in a panic and once again bawled to my mom that something was wrong, that I didn't know how or why but I just knew something bad was going to happen.
Anxiety is scary. It's unpredictable and powerful. It can hit you out of nowhere and stay with you for as long as it chooses.
I try to "live in the light", read my scriptures and surround myself with people who make me happy and keep me calm. Caleb has been incredible for this for me. My anxiety has gotten a lot better since we got married, but I was always terrified that pregnancy and being a new mom would bring in the perfect storm of hormones to cause the worst anxiety of my life.
Luckily for me, having Dayen has actually helped me a lot. I think I just know that I don't have time to waste on feeling that way, because I have him to take care of. That's not to say motherhood doesn't bring on anxiety of it's own.
I don't claim to be an expert, but it's always surprised me how quiet we are about things like this, and I always felt frustrated that I couldn't find any answers on things that actually help when you are in the moment of an attack like that. The only thing I've really found is working through them, waiting them out and talking or crying or whatever you have to do to feel better. But I am fully aware that my anxiety can't be nearly as bad as some people's, and I can't imagine what that must be like. How do you even cope? I can't imagine feeling that way all day, every day.
Because it's not just typical anxiety, "oh I hope this works out." It is truly crippling. It is a deep, dark hole that sucks all the happiness out of you. You can't remember what it's like to feel happy and normal, and you feel like you never will again.
I feel like such a drama queen writing about this, and maybe that's why no one talks about it. Maybe no one wants to sound crazy or weird. But I've found that the times I've opened up about it, I'm usually not alone. I think nearly everyone has experienced it to some degree, and many have what could probably be classified as a disorder, whether they realize it or not.
For me, it's always so random. The things you would think would bring on the worst anxiety generally don't. When my brother was in a bad car accident and we weren't sure he was going to live, I don't remember having a single anxiety attack. When I suddenly realize I've washed the same dish 400 times and it's only going to get dirty again, suddenly full blown anxiety attack.
I personally believe it has a lot to do with the world we live in. Anxiety generally comes from feeling unsafe, or like you're not grounded in some way, and we have so many challenges to face every day and we have so many things bombarding us all the time, we forget to just stop for a second and be at peace. I can't remember the last time I sat down and didn't immediately pull out my phone or turn on the TV or find something to distract me. I think eventually it all builds up until the straw breaks the camels back and we are crying for two hours over dirty dishes.
I wish I had a miracle cure. I wish I could list "10 easy steps for curing your anxiety!" I don't. I am not much wiser than I was at nine, because every time I feel that constricting in my chest, that shortness of breath, a part of me still thinks, Something bad is going to happen.
But I do know that there are many places we can turn for peace. And I think anxiety isn't something you fix as it's happening, but something you try to avoid with preventative maintenance. Take a second to take a breath and just be. Be at peace. Be still. Be grateful for what you have and who you are. 
In my darkest moments, I may still have suspicions that I am psychic, but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I haven't been right yet.

Part Time Parenthood

My day usually starts off, if not at 3:00 or 4:00 am, then at least by 7:00 to the sound of my baby screaming from his crib like he's withering away and never been fed before.
I don't even really think about it anymore. I don't lay there and wish he'd go back to sleep, or put my pillow over my head to drown out the noise. I just get up and get him. Sometimes I'm halfway to his room before I even realize I'm awake.
I didn't use to be a morning person. But it's hard not to be when one of the first things you see is the cute face of your child smiling at you.

I really do love it. Not in a grin & bear it, we'll get through these tough years kind of way. In a wow, I didn't realize how much I'd love this kid kind of way. In a "does everyone think my kid is as cute as I do?" kind of way. In a I will read you bedtime stories every night even though I seriously doubt you understand a word and would rather eat the books than read them, kind of way.
But lately, I feel like all I see are articles about how tough parenthood is. About how you need to take time for you, about how you should try to enjoy parenthood, but you probably won't, so get a sitter and go out and find yourself. About how being a mother doesn't define you, and you are still in there somewhere.

And the thing is, I have a huge problem with that. Because I don't view motherhood as this break from "finding myself", or as a huge distraction from my "me time". I don't feel the incessant need to leave him at his grandparents so I can go away for the weekend just to get away from him. It frustrates me that the world wants me to almost be ashamed of being a mother. It shouldn't be the only thing I ever accomplish. It just isn't enough to only be a mother.
Is being a mom hard? Sure. There have been days I've had to set him in his crib and let him cry while I went outside and did the same. There have been moments of frustration that I felt I couldn't escape from. And I definitely don't spend nearly as much time writing, or doing photography, or any of the other things I used to love.

But I don't feel like I've lost myself. On the contrary, I think that motherhood has made me more me than I ever was before. It has brought out the best in me in every way.

A few months ago I saw someone post an article about how much mothers complain about motherhood. They said, "if you want me to have a baby so bad, then stop telling me how much I'm going to hate being a mom!" I completely agree. Of course there will be challenges, but why do we tell parents to prepare for the worst? For every person who was excited for me during my pregnancy, there were five more people telling me how much sleep I'd lose, how insane I'd feel, and to give them a call when I had just reached my wits end and needed a break.

I concede: I only have one child, and he is a pretty awesome one. But this whole parenthood thing has been so much better than I ever could have imagined. It's not all sleepless nights and dirty diapers and wanting to pull your hair out in frustration.

It's a little laugh that is truly the best sound you've ever heard. It's sharing this little person you both love so much with your spouse, and strengthening your marriage through them. It's knowing them so well, being so in tune with your child, that you almost always know what they want or need. It's leaving them with a babysitter, and missing them every second that you're gone. 
It's ok to have other goals and dreams. 
But it's also ok if raising this child is the best thing you've ever done.
It's ok if the biggest thing you ever accomplish is raising your child to be a strong and happy person. 
It's ok if the moment you hold your child for the first time, everything else falls away, and all those dreams you used to have don't seem quite so important anymore.
A lot of the world doesn't agree with me. They will tell you that you need a degree, a career, a large house and new cars, endless money and fancy vacations and all the things that would be ruined by sticky little hands and the years it takes to raise a baby.
But I am here to tell you that it is ok. It is ok to want those things. It's ok if the happiest you've ever felt isn't from making a six figure income, but from getting a hug from that tiny human you put your heart and soul into. 
Don't be afraid of parenthood. You won't lose yourself. You will still be there, and you may be surprised to find out who you thought you were isn't who you are at all.