I’m a 35-year-old accountant in one of the top firms in Dublin. I have always managed work stress well.
My wife is eight months pregnant with our first child. Recently, I’ve become very anxious and find work increasingly stressful.
My boss is asking me to do more and more; I’m afraid I’m going to get ill.
I had a panic attack last week and had to leave. I was out for two days; going back in was very stressful.
I don’t want to tell my wife, because she has enough on her plate with the pregnancy. I’m worried I’ll make a mistake in work.
You have a lot going on at the moment.
What does this impending new arrival, your child, mean for you?
People can feel very overwhelmed when their first child is about to arrive and we don’t talk about that often.
It might be significant to talk to someone about this.
Perhaps this is what is causing you to worry a little bit more than usual and it is very normal to be apprehensive about the arrival of a new baby.
Often, we do not even know what we are anxious about, we just know that we feel differently or nervous, so it might be important to have a conversation with a trained professional.
Men who have grown up in a difficult family environment can feel very anxious about a baby.
The pressure we place on ourselves not to replicate that sort of negative experience for a new child can really impact us, without us even knowing it is the source of our worry.
So, perhaps look at that and remember that none of us gets parenting right all the time.
If you find yourself ruminating about the kind of father you are going to be or if you’ve recently noticed you’re thinking more and more about your own childhood, maybe this is a sign that it is perturbing you.
An insight into your childhood, and how you want your child’s childhood to be, might be a significant starting point for figuring out what is the root cause of this recent anxiety.
Parenting is one of the most joyous and difficult journeys we go on as adults and people very rarely share the anxieties they felt before having a child, but we all feel it.
And if you are feeling it, too, remember that it’s very normal and a conversation with a trained psychotherapist could really help to unpack it and alleviate the symptoms.
Has anything changed in the work environment that is causing you stress?
A panic attack is your body’s way of telling you it is finding it increasingly difficult to manage the stress it is experiencing.
The fact that you work for a big firm and haven’t really suffered from stress before is significant.
A panic attack can be a very frightening experience and they often come with physical symptoms, like excess sweating, increased heartbeat, or difficulty breathing, which can further exasperate feelings of anxiousness.
As I said, they can be very scary to experience.
So, your body is telling you that you are struggling with something.
The next time that you feel anxiety coming on, please think of the following:
1. Remember, you’re not always feeling anxious.
It will pass. Think of this: it came into my life and it will leave my life. Often, a simple little phrase like that can really help to take the power out of something like a panic attack.
2. Work on your breathing.
But by concentrating on one simple thing, like breathing, you’ll calm yourself down.
3. Make sure you are exercising regularly and eating well.
This is the best approach to any minor mental health issue.
We all get anxious from time to time. Understanding what is coming up for you will be a significant step to overcoming it. I think the birth of your first child is something that is provoking anxiety, coupled with your work commitments.
You might need to talk to your boss and explain that you need less work, because you have to support your wife when the child is born.
The corporate world isn’t as without a soul as many people think. Your boss, hopefully, will understand and there is nothing shameful about slowing down all that you’re doing. In fact, it shows intelligence and confidence to know when you need to pull back.
This recent bout of anxiety will pass, your life will return to normal and, more importantly, you will be a wonderful father.