anxietyAs a mom and a health coach, I spend most of my waking hours thinking about nutrition. While we shop, cook and eat, I am teaching my kids the importance of food quality and eating well. I do all of this to protect them from illness and to create a healthy future for them. Most would agree that all parents strive to protect their kids in different ways and to different degrees. Sometimes the dangers are real and sometimes they are imagined. Those of us with anxiety issues are burdened with these fears on a much higher level and far more frequently than the average person.

At times, when there are preventable tragedies in our world, the DANGER alarms start blaring in our heads and it’s nearly impossible to turn them off. This is why I recently wrote this Open Letter to America on my facebook page. I needed to share what I was going through with the people I care about, so they could better understand my struggle. Now I feel this letter should be more “Open”, so I share it here with you. My hope is that it helps others that are plagued by these same fears to not feel as alone as I did.

An Open Letter to America: By Theresa Bonner

I use to feel that I was just falling prey to my own overbearing fears, that it was just me being an uber protective mom. OK, those that know me know that yes, I take over protective to new levels. But things have definitely escalated since Newtown when all those innocent children were wiped from existence in one terrible moment, at least in my mind.

But today, after yet another theater shooting, I think it’s me that’s being realistic and everyone else is just floating along in their own blissful reality that nothing could ever happen to their kids or themselves. Sure, maybe I need therapy for my anxiety. I’ll own up to that one. I try to enjoy life as much as I possibly can even with these nagging, horrible thoughts in my head, but it’s not easy.

Let me walk you through what happens in my head when I walk in to a restaurant/theater/mall/grocery store/town pool (you know, any place there happens to be people). First, I look at everyone that is there, I mean really look at them. I quickly evaluate the situation to see that everyone is being civil and that it seems safe to enter. Then as I am seated with my family, I notice where we are. Can I see the entrance? Do I have a clear path to the exits? Could we dive into the kitchen or bathroom or under the table if need be to avoid being shot with a semi automatic? If we are in a park or down town, I take note of everyone that walks by or enters our area. Are they friendly? Are they carrying a large bag? Would I be able to tackle my kids to the ground to use my body as their shield? Could I possibly take that person down by myself? These thoughts are extreme and scary, but are they that far fetched in America right now?

Yes, I still go out. No, I won’t let my fears stop me from enjoying my family and regular activities. Sometimes I can even turn off or at least turn down the WARNING alerts that go off in my mind. But they’re never gone for long and on days like today, they are deafening. I’m planning to take my kids to the dollar movie tomorrow, because that’s what sane moms do. But will I relax enough to be able to laugh with them and forget the threat that we could all be blown to smithereens because an unstable person got their hands on some firearms meant for soldiers in battle? I’ll do my best. I really will.

I just ask this from the rest of you. Will you do your best to get this craziness under control? Will you ask yourself these questions? Why is America like this? Why isn’t everywhere else like this? Why do we keep letting this happen? What are we going to do about it? When will our kids lives trump someone’s right to own guns? I’m sorry, but if you can look me in the eye and tell me your gun is more important than my four year old’s life, there’s a problem. You have guns to protect your family? Fantastic. Let’s all somehow figure out a way to keep them in your house away from your kids and mine. There is a way. Most other countries have somehow figured out how. Maybe we can look outside of our little America tunnel and learn from them.

I may lose friends and family from this letter, but I’ve been holding this in for way too long, so I guess I’m OK with that. The people that love me and my kids will understand and that’s what matters to me in the end.