Anxiety, depression, stress – each of these can be such a hard thing to navigate through. Especially when you have a new life to care for in ways that you never imagined.
I knew that motherhood would change me… But I didn’t know that it would turn me into someone that is constantly worrying and looking over their shoulder.
With all of the scary things going on in the world I am perfectly content sitting at home everyday. I don’t care if I miss out on things. I don’t care if it rearranges parts of my day.
Letting go of controlling every single thing related to your life, as well as your child’s, can feel impossible. It screws things up. It cripples you. It changes who you are, even if you’re able to realize what is happening.
One thing that I want everyone to know is that postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression and other postpartum disorders don’t discriminate.
They don’t care if you already have several kids and have never experienced it – you may get it on your second or third child and so forth when you had no symptoms of it at all after your first pregnancy.
They don’t care if your pregnancy was planned or not. Our sweet boy was certainly loved from the moment that I saw those two lines – and look at me now. Most days, I’m a hot mess at best. You’ll find me panicking over scenarios I made up in my head. And then the graphic images that accompany these horrible scenarios? They’re enough to take your breath away.
For me, postpartum anxiety is many things.
It’s thinking I hear a noise at night so I lay there completely frozen with my eyes peeled open just waiting for a shadow to pass by the window. I hold my breath while keeping a hand on Max to feel his stomach rising and falling with each of his.
It’s planning out every single possible exit each time we enter a room just in case some terrible disaster would occur where I need to protect us.
It’s being terrified of something hurting Max and I’m stuck either 1. witnessing it and not being able to do anything to help or 2. something happening to me and not being able to care for him anymore.
It’s only wanting to drive when the sun is shining because I’m afraid to drive in the rain, snow, sleet – whatever with my son in the car in case we end up in danger.
It’s willingly sitting at home and not caring about missing out on fun times with family + friends because I’m too scared of something bad happening to us while we’re there. I don’t go to movies anymore. I don’t like to go to festivals. I simply don’t do groups of people anymore.
It takes all of my strength to get Max and myself out of the car and into the store. More often than not, I pull into the spot and just sit there for a few minutes. I contemplate whether we really need to be there or if we’d be fine just going home instead.
It’s panicking if a stranger or another small kid comes up to us when we’re out and they touch Max. When he was about seven months old, a little girl came up to him while we were at the mall and starting grabbing his hand. I quickly told her no and that she couldn’t touch him and I immediately sanitized his hand. I felt guilty after she apologized but it happened so fast. My heart was racing for hours after that.
Whenever we’re out + near someone that has a cough and they either don’t cover their mouth or they keep coughing and coughing… I put all of the things back I was going to buy and we leave. And I mean we hustle to get out of there as fast as we can.
To someone who doesn’t experience these things, it sounds so silly. And ridiculous. And embarrassing. I know. I know I sound crazy.
Listen. I’m not telling you all of these things because I’m proud of it. And certainly not because I want sympathy. I want people to understand that just because you didn’t experience this before, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you.
There’s not much you can do to be prepared for this kind of thing. But knowing what to look for can make things a lot easier on you and your partner.
These feelings are sneaky. And they’ll get you when you’re at your most vulnerable.
Don’t be afraid to admit what is happening and what you’re scared of. I have to face my fears everyday and it’s so hard. It doesn’t always feel easy but we’re working on it.
You have to be honest with yourself. Support is key. And you can’t get the support you need without being honest.
Even if you’re not struggling with a postpartum disorder please educate yourself on what to look for. You never know when a friend or family member will miss the signs themselves and need you to be there for them.