Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

Anxiety and I have been acquaintances for a long time, but I didn’t get to know it intimately until recent years.

Worrying, feeling unsettled or restless, and sensationalizing things were pillars in my home growing up. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized these thoughts weren’t a healthy, “normal” part of life.

My sister and I used to roll our eyes about how much my mom worried about every little thing. She’d hear a siren and would have to call our cell phones, imagining the worst. Her mom was more of the same. The term hypochondriac was regularly used to describe my grandmother, and we would laugh it off, not truly comprehending its meaning.

These were my early introductions with anxiety and the grip it could have on everyday life. I just didn’t know it.

After I developed postpartum anxiety after the birth of my first son, it reared its ugly head again with the arrival of my second child. Not wanting to suffer through it like I did with my first, I met with my OB/GYN and started seeing a therapist.

It wasn’t until I met with my therapist and was describing to her my worries that she asked me if a lot of my anxiety was health focused. And a light bulb lit up in my head. I realized that yes, a lot of my fears were health related.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I was convinced I had a blood clot in my leg. My second pregnancy was vastly different and much more difficult than my first. Varicose veins popped up unlike they had the first time and my brain decided to interpret it as I had a clot in my leg, destined to break off and cause a pulmonary embolism.

I made an appointment with my primary care doctor to address my concern. Even after he assured me that I did not have a blood clot in my leg, my brain would not rest. I asked my OB/GYN about it. She also reassured me that painful varicose veins were a normal part of pregnancy and do not indicate a clot. I started to settle slightly. But this fear lasted weeks and triggered my first panic attack.

Unfortunately, my health anxiety is not exclusive to my own health. Being a mama bear means I naturally worry about my kids. This normal worrying often grows to beast-like proportions thanks to my anxiety.

In fact, my breaking point of when I realized I could no longer face anxiety alone was due to spending days in agony believing my oldest son was a type 1 diabetic. You see, this is my affliction and will probably forever be in the back of my mind as something my kids may develop.

It was grueling. I was a jumble of nerves and fear, unable to relax. I knew I needed help.

Even though I seek treatment for my anxiety, it hasn’t been erased. Most days are good. Some days I have anxiety about having anxiety.

Having health anxiety means I’m the person reminding everyone to always wash their hands.

I’m the person reaching for the hand sanitizer as soon as we leave a public place that my son has practically licked every square inch of.

I’m the person reminding my husband to get his flu shot ASAP because the baby is too young for the vaccine.

I’m the person who, when I come across the latest horrible health-related disease in the news, is convinced it will wreak havoc on my family. The latest: the brain-eating amoeba that recently killed a woman from her use of a neti pot to treat recurrent sinus infections. I read this article in horror and my immediate response was to throw my neti pot in the trash (which I’ve used a total of three times in 5+ years). But it didn’t stop there, no. I had to furiously scrub and sterilize my baby’s cool-mist humidifier that I had been running religiously to help ease his congestion. I berated myself for using tap water on occasion when I didn’t have enough filtered water.

Fortunately, now that I am seeking treatment for my anxiety I know my triggers and have steps to help me break down and rationalize my thoughts and feelings. And sleep is typically my reset button (even though I don’t get much of it).

Much more than the old moniker hypochondriac, having health anxiety is exhausting and debilitating if left unchecked. I’m sure we all know someone who constantly believes she is right around the corner from being diagnosed with a terminal or life-altering disease. And while we like to dismiss those irrational thoughts or chuckle at the behavior, know that health anxiety makes that person believe it is a real probability.

You may also like: 

My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

What It Feels Like to Parent With Anxiety

I Am the Face of Postpartum Anxiety

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Kendra Perley

A mom and professional freelance writer, when not wrangling boys or typing words, Kendra has a fond appreciation of art, yoga, and humor. You can read more about her take on motherhood on her blog, The Maternal Canvas. Find her on Instagram, and Facebook.  

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

Netflix Drops “Harry & Meghan” Docuseries Teaser—and It’s a Doozy

In: Living
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry kiss in black and white candid image

We’re running out of time for surprises in the calendar year, but it looks like Netflix is poised to deliver one more—and it’s a big one.  The highly anticipated docuseries featuring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, is ready and we’re getting our first glimpse.  And judging by the official teaser, it looks like this 6-episode series will be bringing the drama.  The one-minute teaser for Harry & Meghan opens with an off-camera voice asking, “Why did you want to make this documentary?” Music plays while black and white candid images of the pair flash...

Keep Reading

Dear Teachers, Thank You for All the Extra Things You Do at Christmastime

In: Living
Child hanging handmade snowman ornament in classroom

Dear teachers, I know this time of year is especially crazy for you. The weeks leading up to winter break are full of extras. There are festivities to invite siblings, parents, and grandparents to. You know how important that kind of family involvement and support is, and you’re so often the one who fosters it. There is crafting and present-making to ensure every student has something to gift to their loved ones on Christmas morning. It is so important to their little hearts to be able to give, and you’re the one who makes it possible.  RELATED: Dear Teachers, Thank...

Keep Reading

When Mom Died, We Had Tea

In: Grief, Grown Children, Living
Table set as a tea party with framed picture of a woman, color photo

My mom was never, ever without a cup of Lipton’s tea. Like a dear friend, it held her hand, kept her warm, provided comfort. She boiled water in her navy-speckled kettle, then poured it into a cup and, completely ignoring the recommended four-minute steep instructions, immediately lifted it to her lips. It always mystified me how her mouth didn’t suffer third-degree burns. Mom’s penchant for thriftiness compelled her to use the same tea bag multiple times; only when it disintegrated and leaf particles floated to the surface did she accept defeat and reach for a fresh yellow packet. RELATED: Moments...

Keep Reading

Netflix Teaser for “That 90s Show” Aims Straight for Our Nostalgic Xennial Hearts

In: Living, News
That 90s Show on Netflix clip from basement

It was a staple on FOX during the late 90s and early 2000s and launched Ashton Kutcher’s career (and eventual marriage to co-star Mila Kunis) and now That 70s Show is all grown up—sort of.  Netflix is debuting a reimagined reboot of the cult classic in January, and released a teaser for That 90s Show this week.  The streaming service describes the plot of the 10-episode comedy series as a new take on a familiar story: “Welcome back to your favorite basement. Same Formans, new friends. It’s 1995 and Leia Forman, daughter of Eric and Donna, is visiting her grandparents...

Keep Reading

Give Yourself Permission to Stop Acting Happy When You’re Not

In: Living
Woman sad looking out window

One thing I don’t do now nearly as much as I did as a kid is act. Act like I’m happy when I’m sad. Act like I’m fine when I’m mad. Act like something is normal when it’s not. Back then, acting was just a part of life. It was how I survived. I would rather act than deal with the complications that reality brought. I would do anything to avoid the uncomfortable. Even when the situation was dangerous. As the years passed, God began to deal with me—the real me. My high-wattage smile—the one that didn’t mean anything—began to...

Keep Reading

My Toxic Father Does Not Define Me

In: Grown Children, Living
Woman with hair blowing in wind

I don’t have a father, and it’s completely fine. It really, really is.  It’s taken me 40 years to say it because it just doesn’t sound right . . . but it is the honest truth and embracing it, finally, has been liberating.  No, he hasn’t passed away. No, I am not adopted. No, he did not abandon us—he was there all the time, unfortunately. Nevertheless, he was never a “father” to me in any positive form, and from the time I left for college, I effectively fled him and never turned back. Without going into too much upsetting detail, I...

Keep Reading

“Love Doesn’t Lessen With Loss.” Chevy’s Emotional Holiday Ad Has Us Feeling Weepy

In: Living
Chevy commercial showing older couple walking down steps to vintage car

‘Tis the season of good food, good movies, and good commercials.  One of the most memorable commercials from last year’s holiday season was Chevrolet’s “Holiday Ride,” which told the story of a widower and his grown daughter leaning on each other as they grieved their loss during the holidays.  The ad was a tough act to follow, but the auto company rose to the occasion this year with their brand new “The Holidays with Mrs. Hayes” commercial that released on Thanksgiving Day.  If you caught the commercial’s debut on national television during the Giants vs. Cowboys game, you saw the...

Keep Reading

Festive Cranberry Pineapple Salad is Our Holiday Tradition

In: Living
Bowl of cranberry salad, color photo

Amid the hustle and bustle of setting the table for Thanksgiving, my son glances around the table and notices a missing key dish. He runs to the basement fridge to retrieve his favorite side dish. He slowly walks back upstairs and carefully holds the Mikasa crystal bowl with two hands and places it gingerly on the table. The light from the dining room fixture catches the cut glass edges on the bowl, and it practically sparkles. Dinner may now be served. About 20 years ago, I saw a recipe for a cranberry Jell-O in a magazine advertisement for Thanksgiving. The...

Keep Reading

Blake Lively’s Tribute to Ryan Reynolds Has Us in Tears: “Daddy Always Comes Home”

In: Living, Marriage, News

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are Hollywood couple #goals, and over the years, we’ve delighted in watching their fun, light-hearted, and endearing romance play out. What makes them so likable is that they genuinely seem to adore each other, but they’re not above trolling each other publicly and on social media, which almost always results in some hilarious antics. (P.S. Remember Reynolds’ hysterical ad that paid tribute to the dumpster fire that was 2020?) The couple has gone back and forth on Instagram and Twitter with jabs at each other’s acting roles . . . View this post on Instagram...

Keep Reading