I have postpartum anxiety. Those words feel foreign as I type them. Over the past month I have been struggling to figure out exactly how this defines me, what dies this mean for me as a mother? While I have yet to come up with very many answers I felt it was important to go ahead and write down some thoughts.
After August was born I was vigilant to watch for any signs of Postpartum Depression. I didn’t feel like anything was off- sure, I was tired and overwhelmed at times, but I was bonding with baby and staying in god spirits. I thought I was out of the clear, then at four months postpartum I began to realize something was very wrong.
Recognizing the signs
It started as little things- getting worried about things I knew were unrealistic, constantly feeling like my baby was in danger and then it began to grow into intrusive thoughts that I couldn’t control. I was fearful that someone I knew would try and hurt my baby, I didn’t like leaving him with anyone, and I knew that these were “irrational” fear- but I could not stop myself from obsessing over them. Then one night I stayed awake all night, fearful of traveling the next day, fearful that August was going to stop breathing, fearful someone was going to come in and hurt us, fearful that I wasn’t providing enough, fearful that my husband wasn’t happy with me. Fearful all night long. I knew something was not right, so I began to do a little research and found out about Postpartum Anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety can rest it’s head in many forms- I felt intense fear and panic about future situations or irrational things harming my child. These feeling were intrusive and obsessive. Some people feel anger or overwhelmed. Some moms begin to struggle with being separated from their child, even to the extreme of not wanting to lay them down for a nap.
There are so many ways anxiety can break you down. If you begin to feel off or just not like yourself – reach out.
Understanding Postpartum Anxiety
I had to wrap my head around exactly what was going on. I didn’t understand how I could go from being “fine” to feeling so lost in what felt like the blink of an eye. The first thing you have to understand is that it is not your fault. I am not choosing to stress out. I am not choosing to be afraid- I can not help it.
After you have a baby your hormones are all off balance, this isn’t something that just goes away overnight. Birth, breastfeeding, your period are all going to send another wave of new hormones for your body to handle. These unbalanced hormones are where the anxiety stems from. It is believed that as many as 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum anxiety making it even more common that postpartum depression.
So, what now?
I know that I’m struggling, but what do I do now? This is the question I have been battling with. After a conversation with my doctor I have decided to hold off on talk therapy or medication for the time being. I have a lot I am juggling right now- school, baby, husband, going.m back to work, etc. I am going to try putting a larger emphasis on self-care by focusing on nourishing my body with food and exercise.
After I make these changes if I still feel that I am struggling to cope, than I plan on speaking to my doctors about other avenues.