I remember the first time I Googled “postpartum anxiety.” I read through the list of symptoms, checking off each one off as I read it. Check. Check. Check. “This is so me,” I thought.
I have always been an anxious person. I’ve had tingling in my fingertips for as long as I can remember. I have never really had to battle depression, although looking back I think I had a mild case. My heart always raced. I felt disconnected much of the time. It never got in the way of living, though. I could function and live life with anxiety.
It wasn’t until my first pregnancy that I found myself worrying about things that I had never thought about. “What if I never wake up?” “What if I drove 80 mph and never stopped?” These fast, fleeting thoughts bothered me. I was to be a mom. Moms don’t think morbid thoughts, I kept telling myself. I reached out to a counselor at my hospital who instantly told me that I had pre-post partum depression and just needed a good SSRI. She put me on a low-dose of Zoloft. I left with my prescription in hand and was happy that I would soon feel like my old self.
That lasted all of one day because I discovered the side effects of Zoloft while pregnant. I immediatly stopped taking it. After my son was born, I felt great. Being a mother felt natural and I felt that I handled it well. Sure, I had my “what-am-I-doing” moments, but I would gather myself and move on.
It was after my second baby that my mind went into over-drive. Sweaty hands. Racing heart. Unclear thoughts. Tingling fingers. Headaches. Vision issues. Vomiting. Back pain. Feelings of impending doom. It was all anxiety induced. I was a mess.
Thoughts of not being good enough for my family was a daily occurance. I would have day dreams of another woman in my place. She was smarter than me, had a better job. Prettier. Had more patience. Made more money. Loved better than me. She was everything I was not. I made myself miserable by imagining who I wasn’t.
I began therapy in the Fall of 2011. I liked me therapist, but she didn’t feel like someone I CONNECTED with. I went on a hunt for a good fit for me. If I was going to talk openly about everything going on inside my head, I needed to feel comfortable. I found my current therapist online & after speaking with her for only a few minutes, I knew could trust her. I wanted to not feel judged or looked down on. She made me feel ok about myself & what problems I was having.
I look forward to seeing her every week. I am able to talk freely & get honest feedback. Therapy has made all the difference for me. I am not ashamed of going. I am not ashamed of getting help. There is no shame in that.
Medication is also something to not be ashamed of. If you need the help, take it. Medication does not make someone a zombie or void of emotion. It makes the hard parts of life easier to take.
So now I am on a journey to beat anxiety. Anxiety is a awful thing to have. It makes life hard to enjoy. If you have it, find someone to talk to. Talking through it makes it so much easier to handle. Find someone you trust & start talking.