For the longest time I didn’t realize I even had anxiety. I thought that people who got panic attacks were the only ones who suffered from it. Boy, was I wrong.
I read an article that changed my whole worldview. It was only then that I realized that many of my shortcomings, the things I really disliked about myself, were all wrapped up in my anxiety.
Now being a parent comes with its own special dose of all of this but as my eyes were opened, I realized I was experiencing this disorder on a much heavier scale than I realized.
For the most part, I could control it. I’d even label it mild.
But things really increased in severity during my pregnancy. I started worrying all of the time, to the point where I couldn’t sleep. For 9 months straight I was convinced something was going to go wrong and I’d be left brokenhearted when all was said and done.
I chalked it all up to hormones.
When the day finally came to meet my sweet baby boy, I figured it would all go away. My fears had been challenged by a healthy and smooth birth. My pregnancy was over and I knew that over time my hormones would shift again. All this meant my anxiety would return to its mild state, right?
We’ve all heard of postpartum depression. Thankfully, it’s garnered a lot of attention and support over the past few years.
I personally went through quite a postpartum depression with my first child. I hated the way it made me feel and think so with this second pregnancy, I was ready. I fully expected to get it again but I didn’t. The symptoms I was experiencing this time around didn’t revolve around those classically associated with depression.
Over time after returning home from the hospital, I realized I was having a really hard time ever wanting to leave the house. It started off simple with me mainly trying to get my nursing schedule down. I didn’t want to get stuck in public with a hangry baby, leaving me to uncomfortably nurse in the car. But as the weeks went by, it turned from worrying about a minor inconvenience to an all-out fear.
It was hard for my family to convince me to go out for a bite to eat or even pick up something at the grocery store. I had to internally fight everything inside of me just to run any easy errand.
I was scared.
Scared I’d be stuck in the car with a screaming, inconsolable baby miles away from home. Scared that I’d have to nurse him in the middle of a meal or leave all of my groceries in the cart because he wouldn’t stop crying. There was this unreasonable fear that loomed around me all the time and while it may seem silly to read, it was very real to me.
I felt like a prisoner in my own home, having only the capacity to take care of the baby. That was my only job, my only purpose.
In my head, I wasn’t allowed the luxury to do anything else.
I felt like no one could help me since I was the only one who could exclusively feed him. I didn’t want to pump. I didn’t want him to have any excuse to not breastfeed. Perhaps that was because with my first child, I never got nursing down. She hated it and once the bottle was introduced, that was the end of my efforts. This could have been where it all stemmed from but it expanded into so many other unhealthy worries that I couldn’t handle them anymore.
And as my anxiety seemed to increase, it hit me, maybe postpartum anxiety was a thing. I’d never really heard about it before so I decided to look it up to find out. Sure enough, I found articles proving you could suffer from it.
Behold, there was my answer staring straight at me from the computer screen.
These fears that seemed to pop up from out of nowhere and practically stop me from living a normal life were coming from an actual condition. It wasn’t just all in my head.
Postpartum anxiety is a real thing and if you find yourself constantly struggling with worries that overwhelm you, you may be suffering from it yourself. Stress definitely triggers it and everyone knows having a newborn is the very definition of stress.
Add no sleep to the equation and you have a situation as volatile as postpartum depression.
So while the anxiety side may not get as much talk as depression, it still is just as important that we recognize it and support moms that may be struggling with it.
If you’re interested in learning more about this, there’s a really great article you can check out with more details on Today’s Parent.
No matter what you’re going through, remember it takes a village. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be vocal about how you’re feeling. Mamas need just as much care as their new babies.
Don’t forget that.