Parenting with Anxiety – Guest Post by Josephine Ruggieri

My Mountain BannerI couldn’t be happier with the response to this series so far, thanks so much for everyone who read and commented on Min’s post last week. We have lots of really wonderful writers lined up and I’m so excited.  

Today’s talented mum is Josie who is sharing on a topic which is very close to my heart – being a parent who struggles with anxiety, depression and PND.  I know what a difficult topic this is to talk about and I commend Josie for being so open with us, and for turning her difficulties into something positive.  

You may see me passing by you in the street, happily pushing my toddler in the pram.  I may be smiling and, sometimes, you may see me laugh with my son as he babbles away.   But what you may not see as I am pushing that pram is that I have anxiety, more specifically Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder? In short, it basically means that I am constantly worrying and feel tense most of the time.  Therefore, my anxiety is harder to spot than, say, if I was walking down the street with a broken arm or leg.  On a bad day, I experience other symptoms along with worry and tension, such as heart palpitations, racing thoughts, nausea and throbbing pain in my head, I find it difficult to concentrate, I am fidgety, I struggle to be in the moment and have trouble sleeping.

Now you know a bit about how I experience Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  So, what does parenting a very active toddler look like for me?   Well, there are challenges.  For example, on days where I am nauseas and have a throbbing head because I have had trouble sleeping the night before, you will find me on the couch with a heat pack on my forehead because I am in pain.  At the same time, my son will climb on top of me and tug at my hair.  My son is doing this because he wants to me play with him.  Aside from being in pain, I feel guilty, because at that moment of being in pain I just need to feel better and can’t engage with my son, as he would like me to.

Then, there are other times when I miss cues that my son wants my attention because my head is full of worry and racing thoughts.  I worry about the well being of my family, finances, the future and then insignificant things such as the weather, grocery shopping, what to cook, the washing and cleaning that hasn’t been done.  In that time, whilst my mind is drifting, my son may be have shown me two or three cues that he needs me and then he will start acting out because I have missed them.  I also struggle to be in the moment.  I could be reading a story to my son and drift off in thought, while my son sits there looking at me waiting for me to finish a simple story I had started 15 minutes ago.  I do believe that it must be frustrating for him – another thing to worry about it.

Aside from the challenges there are many big rewards to parenting an active toddler whilst having Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  Firstly, when my fearless son jumps off the bed, jumps off slides or fumbles down a flight of stairs then picks himself up and keeps moving, like nothing has happened, then my anxiety starts to wane.  My son has shown me through his fearlessness, how to enjoy life and be more carefree.  His playful nature and ability to laugh at the silliest things distracts me from my worry and there are many times that I am able to be in the moment with him and delight in him.

Finally, what I have found since being diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and is extremely important to remember is; self care. Without it, I would not be in a position to be a good mother to my son, not to mention a loving partner to my husband.  So what does self care look like for me?  Well, there are simple steps I take to ensure I look after myself.  Firstly, an uninterrupted shower in the morning and good coffee helps me to start the day.  I really enjoy a good coffee so in the morning after I have given my son breakfast, we hop in the car and go to my favourite coffee place and I enjoy my coffee while my son munches on a snack.  On other days, I will pick up the phone and chat to my sister or my close friends.  I also really enjoy going for walks with my son in the pram.  We both love being in the fresh air, enjoying what the world has to offer outside and that is when you may pass me, smiling in the street.

“Hi, my name is Josie and I am a 30 something stay at home mother of a very active 18 month old boy.  I live in Melbourne, Australia.  I have an amazing and supportive husband who I love dearly.  We are a work place romance turned into true love, aaaaawww.  We have been married for 2 years.  Prior to having my son, I had just finished a 3 year Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Criminal Justice Administration.  I was hoping once I had graduated that I would pursue a career in the juvenile justice field.  I am yet to embark on that journey as my husband and I decided to start a family first.  Three months after giving birth to my son in 2014, I suffered severe anxiety and depression and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Post Natal Depression.  A year later and I am healthier, happier and a much better person having gone through that traumatic experience.  I am really enjoying my life as a stay at home mum.  I am in the process of moving into a new home, looking for part time work and now volunteering with PANDA as a community educator and hope to start further training to become a telephone support worker with PANDA.  My dream is to one day open a coffee bookshop.  The bookshop will be full of really old interesting books, lots of people and delicious coffee.”  

You can follow Josie and her story on Twitter 

*If you would like to contribute to the My Mountain series with a piece about your own biggest parenting challenge please email*


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48 comments on “Parenting with Anxiety – Guest Post by Josephine Ruggieri

  1. Another great post and very important to share. I suffer from anxiety too, though it comes and goes pretty spectacularly. Some days I am crippled by it, then for months I might be fine. Mine usually has a trigger. I was quite bad after my son’s diagnosis for a while. Thanks for sharing. xxx

  2. I’ve suffered with anxiety my whole life, so I can really relate to this. I really struggled after my daughter was born but didn’t seek help because I wasn’t depressed – just anxious. In retrospect, I probably should have. Thanks for sharing. #justanotherlinky

    1. Thank you Squirmy Popple. I think I have suffered anxiety longer than I think. I do believe I am finding it a little easier to live with the more I talk about it and become accepting of it. ❤️

  3. Awesome post – it’s something you don’t hear that much about, but can have such a big impact. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for years, and during bad patches it’s so difficult to get on and get things done. x #KCACOLS

  4. Great post. I also have the same anxiety disorder and struggle massively. I’ve just finished yet another round of CBT which did help but afterwards I am unable to maintain that level of positivity or control over my panic/anxiety/depression. It’s so misunderstood by so many, I get told, “Stop worrying” as though I could switch it off if I tried. It’s exhausting isn’t it? Thanks for sharing. #KCACOLS

    1. It is so frustrating when people tell you just to stop worrying like you hadn’t thought of that already! It takes so much work to stay positive after therapy ends but if you keep going you will get there. Thank you for reading and commenting on Josie’s post x

  5. Its only recently it occurred to me I may suffer from anxiety – reading your post almost made me feel normal! I’m a full time mum and carer so worrying comes full throttle. Thank you for your honesty – I feel guilty a lot when I cant find the energy to play with my little one. Really glad I clicked on this x

    1. I’m really pleased that Josie’s post has resonated with you. You will see from other parts of my blog that I suffered from terrible anxiety during PND too so I understand how difficult it is. Feel free to contact me if you ever want to talk about it. Thanks for reading x

  6. A great post. Thank you for sharing and being so honest. I can relate to a lot of your feelings. I worry so much that one or both of my girls might suffer in the future. Some of my low mood and anxiety I am sure is genetic, and this scares me. At the moment, like your son, my girls seem so happy and carefree. I pray it continues.. Thanks for sharing Josie and ButterflyMum xx Kathy #KCACOLS

  7. Such a powerful and honest post. Thank you so much for sharing, raising awareness is so important. I have high anxiety levels when it comes to my children. A difficult birth, hip disorders, discovery of allergies and various paediatric issues hasn’t helped. Helps to read other peoples stories. Thank you xxx #TwinklyTuesday

  8. Thank you for such an honest post – parenting with anxiety is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, it can feel like a neverending struggle at times. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday Xx

  9. What an interesting post! I love posts like these that educate me and open my eyes. Its such an insight to hear about something like GAD affects someone on a day to day basis. Thanks for sharing and linking this up to #MarvMondays 🙂 Emily

  10. It is a topic which is not publicised enough, your post puts it across in a very understanding way, one is easy to relate to. I wish you all the best in your continued journey. I am sure your writing will continue to help others going through the same thing xx #TwinklyTuesday

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