I’ve heard of people suffering from postpartum anxiety, but I never thought it was something I would personally struggle with.
Ever since my son was born, I’ve been a little nervous about pretty much everything. When he was a newborn I was worried he wasn’t getting enough milk, I would lie awake just to make sure he was breathing. I worried about whether or not I was reading to him enough and if he was hitting all the early milestones. As he got older, I was constantly on edge about him tripping and falling, hitting his head, or doing activities that were far beyond age appropriate. I felt like a helicopter mom hovering over his every move and I had a constant loop of worry and fear running through my mind.
I found it very hard to concentrate on what people were saying at outings and family events. I was focused on taking care of my son and tending to his needs. It was difficult to sit back, relax, and just have a good time. The rare occasions where I had me time, it was almost impossible to switch the “mom mode” off and enjoy time my time alone. My mind was always racing and I would try to figure out how quickly I could get the errands done so I could get home to my son in case he needed me. I thought feeling anxious would eventually go away. I told myself it was temporary and it wouldn’t last long. Even after a year, the anxiety never really got better or went away. I was still in denial…surely I couldn’t have postpartum anxiety. When someone close to me said, “there are three phases in life: work, family, and you time. I don’t think you are happy in any of the three.” It hit me like a ton of bricks because I knew they were right. Right then and there I decided I couldn’t hide from my feelings anymore or deny what was actually going on. I needed to be better for my family and for myself.
I’ve learned to acknowledge the feelings I am having, and what particular situations cause me the most anxiety. Taking several deep breaths and removing myself momentarily (if I can) from the situation before reacting has helped tremendously. I also write in a journal weekly to get all the negative thoughts out of my head. I’ve gotten better at saying no when I have too many things on my plate and prioritizing events. I pray for strength and patience daily. Exercise has helped me reduce the feelings of anxiety and puts me in an overall better mood.