As a Postpartum Anxiety survivor myself, I believe in the power of sharing mother’s stories. Each situation is different, unique, but all has a common thread. Amanda is no exception to this and I am so thankful she is being vulnerable and sharing her story with all of you! Make sure to leave a comment and show her some love for her strength and courage!
Two and a half years ago I became a mom, for the second time. I had two beautiful baby girls that I got to stay home with everyday and I got to share my life with their dad, my husband. What I didn’t have was the ability to shut my mind off… the ability to stop the worries from taking over.
It took me almost six months after my second delivery to realize that my regular general anxiety that developed when my husband was deployed and I was solely responsible for everything, had taken a pretty serious turn. At the time I was driving my husbands truck, that had some suspension issues and I always felt like I was waiting for it to fall apart. I rarely left home and when I did it was a serious hurdle to get out the door and loaded up to drive anywhere. I found excuses to not go and was always waiting for my husband to help me run the errands.
One day I remember driving down the road with my kids in the backseat. I picked up the phone and called my cousin, who is much like a sister, and also suffers from anxiety. I told her how I had been feeling and that I was thinking about going to see the doctor because I knew things were not right. I couldn’t shut my mind off and I was always jumping to the worst case scenario. I cried so hard during that phone call because admitting there was a problem was my first huge hurdle. My cousin assured me that I was and would be okay and reminded me that she was there for me.
A few days later I was seen by my regular primary care doctor. I checked every box on the postpartum survey and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was suffering from postpartum anxiety. My doctor confirmed my suspicions and laid out my options. See a therapist, try meditation and exercise, or get on some medicine to balance out my hormones.
Then she told me the line that helped turn the corner in my postpartum journey. She looked at me and she said “even if the truck breaks down or something happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it or change it“.
It was like something clicked over night. I was able to recover from my severe postpartum anxiety by reminding myself there was nothing I could do to change it when the anxiety started to creep in. The worst case scenario thoughts started to fade and I was able to regain control of my life.
We eventually traded in the truck that caused me so much anxiety for a much more reliable set of wheels. But I still have anxiety and battle it even when I am not in the postpartum phase of life.
Through the years I have learned many tricks to calm my anxiety when it starts eating at me. I do yoga to calm my mind. My supportive husband knows when to give me a hug and tell me “it will be okay”. I have even learned to use sleep as a way to shut my mind off when the anxiety starts to creep in late at night. More than anything, being aware that my anxiety is heightened helps me talk myself down and regain control of my thoughts.
I am now six months postpartum after giving birth to my third (and last) daughter in March. This time around I have started experiencing some physical anxiety attributes like a heavy feeling in my chest, my heart racing and every now and then breaking out in a sweat. I also noticed that my anxiety is the worst when my hormones are going insane right before I start my period.
A few weeks ago I made a return visit to my primary care doctor and had some tests done to reassure myself that I was okay physically. Since then my anxiety has decreased quite a bit and once again I feel in charge of my emotions and my worries.
So many people battle with anxiety – the physical feelings and the emotional feelings and nobody experiences anxiety in the same way. For me, I am constantly learning more about myself and how I cope with my anxiety. It has been a learning curve, but I am not letting it get me down. Being aware of the problem is always the first step to getting past it.
I have anxiety. I have had postpartum anxiety. But I am still strong and able.