AS this week marked Mental Health Awareness Day, blogger Becky Connolly from Richmond, North Yorkshire, opens up about anxiety

For as long as I’ve been a mother I’ve had anxiety. To me, motherhood and anxiety are one and I don’t see a horizon on this tumultuous sea of worry.

People love to tell you anxiety comes with being a parent – parents will worry about their offspring, whether they are little ones or grown up. It’s life. It’s what a ‘good parent’ does.

But they’re wrong. Being concerned for your child’s wellbeing is one thing, having your life dominated by constant hypothetical worry is totally different. Anxiety is not normal and it’s not fair to allow struggling parents to think it is.

Where my anxiety begins and ‘normal’ parental anguish ends is a blur, so on the face of it, I’m a typical mum. I can still laugh and dress myself well, I can hold a conversation and play with my son.

But how I’m perceived from the outside doesn’t honestly reflect the emotional battle within me.

Inside, the thumping beat of my heart sets the pace of a rapid boil and before I know it I’m preparing to pounce on my prey or flee from the predator.

A year ago I gave birth to my son, Reuben, and was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder (GAD). My baby’s start in life began with a stay in neonatal care and I struggled. The first night after the birth I felt numb to the reality that my baby lay hundreds of feet away from my bedside wired up to monitors; I was exhausted, sleep deprived and emotionally in shock. And when my vulnerable baby was well enough to join me on the maternity ward, my first instinct was to panic.

I don’t wake up thinking, “how can I end my life today?” I don’t hate my life. In fact, I’m very happy. I love being a mum, being married, living the middle life. But time and time again I catch myself in my own net – an anxiety attack explodes from within me out of nowhere, throwing me into incomprehensible panic and rage and an overwhelming urge to escape. Out of the room, out of the house, out of the window.

While I may think these suicidal thoughts and feel low, I don’t have depression. I’ve had depression, there’s been times so dark in my life I’ve not wanted to live, when my life had no purpose and I despaired because of it’s worthlessness. But with my anxiety disorder, it’s different. I still find myself considering ways out, it’s just borne out of a totally different place. It’s my way out, not because I want to die, but because it’s my remedy.

And it’s made me realise – there’s no one type of suicidal thinking, nor is there a typical person susceptible to suicide.

Ever since I became a mum, my parenting struggle has been of no secret. From day one I cried for help and was lucky to receive the support I needed through the mental health service and my church. I had my husband. I had my family.

But may this be clear – anxiety is not me as I am not my anxiety. It does not define me but it is part of my story and this is me for now. Life as a mother with anxiety is still challenging, it will be even when my anxiety is gone.

So for as long as it takes I’m battling on – because that I can do and that is what being a good mum is all about.