** Trigger warning!*** I will be talking about ANXIETY. If you have anxiety and feel reading about mine may trigger you, please don’t read this post. But know that whoever you are, if you need to talk, I am here for you, always.
So, as many of you know my pregnancy was not planned and it was a huge surprise for Mike and I who had just started our relationship less than a year earlier. Needless to say, we were not prepared! I put on a brave face and just forced myself to believe that I would eventually figure it out and do my best in each moment. My intuition had not steered me wrong thus far.
To be honest, I was shocked by how naturally some things came to me; the overwhelming amount of love and desire to protect this little girl and create a beautiful life for her. It was easy sacrificing showers, sleep, and blood flow to my arm when she would fall asleep on me and I didn’t dare wake her up. I just wanted her to be content.
However, no one told me about the constant wave of emotions. L is now 19 months old and I just heard for the first time the phrase post-partum anxiety (PPA). After reading about it, I am now “self-diagnosed” as of a few weeks ago. I just wanted to talk about my experience and hope it can bring a new light for some mom’s who may not even realize PPA exists.
Let me start by saying, I have never experienced depression or anxiety in any significant way in my life prior to having L. Like almost everyone, I had many instances of first time mom jitters- “Is she eating enough? Is she hiccuping TOO much? She must be sick, NO ONE sneezes this much unless they are sick!” But the first time I had anxiety where I recognized it (after the fact) came when she was about six months old.
Mike and I both got a violent stomach virus and the fear that L was going to get the virus was overwhelming. It hit me with such a tremendous magnitude, that I was physically affected. Mike tried to have a conversation to mentally prepare in the event she did get it- “how would we handle it?” I completely snapped on him, because I couldn’t express the way the fear was affecting me, it presented itself as anger. “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! IF IT HAPPENS, IT HAPPENS!!” (I never apologized either, sorry honey!)
Really what I was saying was, “I feel so helpless. If she gets it, it’s my fault and I failed her.” When he wasn’t looking I would cry so hard, I felt like my chest was going to collapse. After feeling like I had been holding my breath for 7 days straight, she was finally past the time limit of when she could be affected by the virus and thank goodness for that!
This was first of a couple extreme instances where I looked back at my reaction and emotions and said “I don’t recognize myself.”
They are not all extreme though. Some are everyday things where I feel my chest get tight and even if my brain is telling I am being irrational, my heart won’t believe it.
So readers, I am sorry to say, as someone who has just started experiencing anxiety I don’t have a fix for you in these moments. What I can say is that for these lows that I never imagined in motherhood, the highs sore unbelievably high.
For every moment I spend mad at myself for letting her go to sleep after she hit her head while playing (even when it wasn’t hard, I convince myself it was); there is a moment of peace when I turn on her monitor and watch her chest rising and falling peacefully as she sleeps safe and sound.
For every moment I spend feeling guilty for letting someone else take care of her so I can have time to myself; there is a loud “MOMMY!” and running hug waiting for me when I come home.
For every moment I spend dreading waking her up after she fell asleep in the car 10 minutes before we reached our destination; there is a huge smile on her beautiful face for whoever or whatever we were traveling to see or do.
There are moments that are anxiety fueled, drastically exaggerated, and my emotions are telling me to see them as reality. These moments are REAL to me when I am living them. But they are not “real.” The reality is the smiles, the hugs, the snuggles, the calmness of L sleeping, the relief of her trying and liking a new food, her unbelievable, imaginative mind, the lessons she teaches me, and most importantly the beauty of everyday that I get to wake up and be her mommy.
I don’t have an answer or a fix, but in these low moments reminding myself how lucky I am to have L helps me find strength to push past it. Sometimes it takes only a couple minutes, sometimes it takes much, much longer. Find what keeps you going and harness that fire to push back and regain your mental state when anxiety or depression strikes. But be patient, give yourself all the time you need to heal, and don’t give up. You are alright.
Anxiety is no joke. It is something we should be talking about. We should be making sure our loved ones know that they are loved and supported if they are struggling with any issues related to their mental health.. and even if they aren’t.