Yesterday was my daughters seventh birthday party and although I knew I was stressed trying to arrange it along with working full time and writing university assignments nothing prepared me for the reaction that this party provoked in me yesterday.
I was seven when my life changed forever, when my childhood was interrupted. I consider myself to be quite well adjusted and a generally happy woman with a life I am very much content in. Occasionally something comes along and catches me off guard, it creeps up and bites me on the backside that’s what happened yesterday.
As guests began to arrive at her party they kept commenting to my little girl how grown up she looked which of course she revelled in. Those words made bile rise in my throat, each time it was said I imagined her becoming more and more vulnerable to paedophiles.
Now I know my daughter has a very different life to the one I had as a child and that probably as a result of my experiences I am extra cautious with her safety but the comparison was there, in my face and raw yesterday.
I enjoyed the party itself, it was possibly the best party she has had but as soon as it was over and we cleared away I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, a tidal wave. This was a force of anxiety of which I have not experienced for several years, it was all encompassing, with my heart feeling as though it were ready to burst, my head feeling short of oxygen and my legs feeling like they would fold like Bambi.
I tried to manage this with CBT based thought processes, it still did not settle. I tried grounding myself in the moment by making myself conscious of my senses and still it did not settle. Eventually I resorted to medication which is always a last choice. I eventually slept for an hour or so but when I awoke I felt those same terrified feelings in my stomach and chest.
When days like yesterday sneak up and grab me I have to rationalise that it is a bad day and not a relapse. A bad day, no matter how bad, is normal. It reminded me that I need to manage my stress levels carefully as I think the crippling anxiety I felt yesterday was the result of a combination of the association with her age evoking memories of my early life and of allowing myself to spend too many days too busy and over stressed to sort the party and Christmas.
When I woke up today I was relieved to realise I felt ‘normal’ (whatever that is!) and that crippling anxiety had evaporated as quickly as it descended. My sensible head knows that simply having a birthday and turning seven will not make my child any more of a target for paedophiles, my heart however takes umbrage with that and mama bear wants to protect her cub…