A Secular Childhood: Letters to My Daughter — no. 25 “Anxiety”

Dear daughter,

We’ve hit a point where shit gets real. 

I struggle with anxiety every day. It’s probably my most debilitating mental health issue even though my primary diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder. For schizoaffective disorder, I take medication and my symptoms go away, but with anxiety, solutions aren’t as clear cut. It is a daily battle for me consisting of some exhaustive highs and lows. It’s a terrifying rollercoaster ride and I think I would do just about anything to get the fuck off of it.

One of my worst fears is that you inherit this awful mental health disorder.

But now I watch you — you’re not as outgoing as you once were. You’re shy. Your teachers say you cry at preschool and you hide in the bathroom when you’re nervous. Yesterday was your preschool graduation, and you looked scared. I look at you and see my own anxiety that I had in childhood and it’s painful.

I’m so sorry, daughter. You come from a line of nervous people. Pop Pop worries constantly and I’m socially awkward. I prefer to isolate myself and stay home alone rather than interacting with others.

Even though I struggle, I still have some advice for you. Recognize when you are struggling and reach out for help when you need it. Don’t wait. Even though anxiety medication didn’t really work for me, that doesn’t mean I gave up. 

I found that meditation helps me. While it doesn’t seem to prevent anxiety, it has definitely made a difference in how I cope with it. I was actively searching for solutions — still am really.

And maybe I’m socially awkward but that doesn’t mean I don’t have support. I don’t have a million friends but I’m very close to my family. That’s very important to me and my mental health.

Maybe I’m jumping the gun here. You’re only five years old. Maybe you won’t have problems with anxiety, but there’s still a lesson to be learned here:

Reach out for help. Don’t wait and don’t give up. Find support. We all struggle with something and I hope you find these words useful. 

I will always be here for you.



My daughter graduated from preschool last week!


  1. John Morales says

    The sentiments are laudable, but the framing is inexact.

    This is not an actual letter that you’re actually showing your daughter, right?
    It’s a blog post for us readers.

    Reach out for help. Don’t wait and don’t give up. Find support. We all struggle with something and I hope you find these words useful.

    Those words are admirable, but only if you present them to her now.

    (In the future, or just to blog readers, not the same)

    • ashes says

      Thank you for your comment. It encouraged me to look at the purpose of this project a little more. Yes, right now these letters are just blog posts. Sometimes the letters feel like they’re more about me than my daughter. This is a creative way for me to express my views and concerns as a mother. I do think one day in the far off future my daughter will find these letters interesting — especially if she decides to become a mom herself. Also, they sort of chronicle her life as a preschooler which will be fun to look back on.

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