It Turns Out I Was Never Alone


I remember showing up to my first new moms’ group, a bundle of nerves, having dragged myself out of the house despite not wanting to go. I sometimes joke that I don’t like people, but the truth is people overwhelm me. I’m afraid of not being liked. I’m afraid of being weird. I’m afraid of not fitting in. And socializing can be absolutely exhausting.

I wish I were one of those moms with the huge friend groups. Girls nights out. Vacations with six of my closest friends. The Instagram account filled with besties at brunch. I’m not sure if women like that are playing it up or if they really are that popular.

All I know is social situations stress me out, and somehow, I’ve convinced myself I’m the only one who feels this way. The only one who is a little (or maybe a lot) socially awkward. The only one who finds reasons not to attend parties because you find yourself completely overwhelmed by the prospect of being around other people and keeping up appearances.

It isn’t just people, though. It is life. My schedule makes me feel like I’m drowning. Work has me bogged down. Mud on the floor. Dinner to cook. The kids are too loud. I need a shower, but have a million other things to do, and now my entire body feels gross, and I can’t focus because my skin is crawling.

At night, I replay the stupid things I’ve said or done, how I’m a failure, and why no one likes me. And while logically, I knew this next part couldn’t be true, I had convinced myself I was the only one for over 30 years.

My anxiety was bad when I was a kid, but after having children of my own, it had completely spiraled. When I finally sought help for my anxiety and opened up to some friends, I learned most of them struggled with it, too. But ashamed, I mostly kept it to myself. If people knew, it would give them one more reason not to like me. It isn’t something that regularly comes up in conversation anyway, right?

Continuing to feel freakishly alien, my anxiety accompanied me to every social gathering, mommy and me, school meeting, job, shopping trip, and pretty much anywhere and everywhere else. Sometimes it was quiet. Other times, I white knuckled existing until I could collapse into my bed at night and hopefully sleep instead of replay my day over. And over. And over.

Treatment helped me function where I previously would have burnt out. I’ve made a lot of progress and found ways to minimize my anxiety. I developed a good set of coping skills. But I still felt alienated by the belief that I must be the weird one, pretending to adult until I could drop my mask once home. Isolated. Alone.

Honestly, one day I just got sick of it. The charade of being normal, the fear of stigma. I somewhat impulsively posted on my public Instagram account about my mental health struggles.

The response was immediate…and positive…and large. I got private messages from people disclosing their own struggles. People responding to my stories that they, too, struggle with anxiety. Supportive comments. Shares.

It turns out I was never alone. Anxiety and fear from stigma just made it feel that way. The weight I felt of someone finding out my dirty secret was lifted. Sort of. I still have anxiety about having shared. What can I say? I guess I’ll always be somewhat of a mess, no matter how much reassurance I receive.

I still have anxiety. I’m second-guessing even writing this post for Westchester County Mom. What if someone I know reads it and doesn’t like me because of it? But, in honor of May being mental health awareness month, I’m taking a leap of faith and sharing my story. If it helps even one person feel a little less alone, it’ll all be worth it. At least, that is what I’m telling myself as I type. But, frankly, I’m too old and tired to care if someone judges me for having anxiety anyway.

By the way, the women I feared would think I was weird at that new moms’ group – I’m still in touch with most of them. It turns out the number of hours I stayed awake thinking about strange things I said might have been wasted. Some of us are in the process of planning a girls’ night right now. Maybe they didn’t think I was that weird after all.

A woman standing in front of a fountain.
Picture of the author on a recent family vacation
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Erin is the mother of one sweet, rambunctious toddler and wife to a talented chef. Professionally, she is a former special educator and preschool teacher, and is currently a cognitive neuroscience researcher and Ph.D candidate in Cognitive Science in Education with specializations in neuroscience, cognitive development, and neurodiversity/autism. She holds masters degrees in cognitive science, and neuroscience in education, from Teachers College, Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in special education (with an additional concentration in elementary education and a minor in English) and early childhood education. As the wife of a chef, food is a huge part of her family culture, and she enjoy both cooking and baking. Some of her other hobbies include hiking, traveling, jogging, meditation, animal rescue, playing piano and guitar, crafting, reading, and of course, writing. You can follow her parenting journey and pick up tips on great kids activities here on Westchester Moms Blog, as well as her website (, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.


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