Acceptance: Postpartum Anxiety and Me

This is normal…

I told myself.

All mothers worry…

I convinced myself.

I’ll get through this…

I thought.

I’m totally fine…

I hoped.

Nearly 2 weeks ago, after many months of anxiety and irritability, peaking with a full-on anxiety attack at the end of October, I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety.

I have so much to share with you all about how I got here, what the symptoms were, how I’m coping, what my plan is, but I’m not sure I can get through all of that right now.

I’ll just start with this:

I never knew how on edge I was until I wasn’t.

I started meds nearly 2 weeks ago. While I’m obviously still working through all of this, for the first time in a really long time I finally feel like ME again.

I didn’t even realize *I* was gone until I came back.

I met Katherine Stone at Blogher this year. I’d known of her and the work she does through Postpartum Progress for a while now, but I never paid much attention to the resources on her website because I didn’t think they applied to me. 

I wasn’t depressed.

I never cried. I’m actually quite happy with my life right now… when I’m not completely stressed out, overwhelmed, worried and angry.

At the beginning of October, Katherine reached out to me to help spread the word about Strong Start Day. I was happy to help her out, and, for the first time, I spent a good amount of time on her website in an effort to make myself more familiar with her cause.

As I read through The Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in plain mama English) I started shaking my head.

No way. No. This wasn’t me. No. Was it??

Racing thoughts- check
Constantly worried- check
Disturbing thoughts- check
Can’t eat- check
Sense of dread- check
Can’t sleep- no freaking idea since I never have the opportunity to try for more than 3-4 hours at a time
Irritated and angry- CHECK (at EVERYTHING and EVERYONE all. the. time.)
Afraid of things that could potentially harm my baby- CHECK

(I can not go up or down a flight of stairs with my baby without my heart racing. I can’t dream of buying a house with any sort of loft because I’m terrified my children will somehow fall over the railing and die. I can’t even look at a picture of a house with a loft without visualizing this happening.)

Still, knowing all of this fit and that all of this seemed to make my life make a little more sense, I ignored it.

There was nothing really wrong with me. I was just stressed out, I thought.

I quit freelancing projects, backed out of social obligations, and tried to cut myself some more slack.

It didn’t help. Things got worse, and within a few weeks of writing that post about Strong Start Day, I was in a doctor’s office, explaining what lead to an anxiety attack that I thought was a stroke.

When I left the hospital after both of my kids were born with those pamphlets on postpartum depression, I don’t remember seeing anything about anxiety. At my 6 week appointment, my midwife asked if I was suicidal, if I cried a lot, if I felt depressed. I didn’t. I still don’t.

It never occurred to me that what I’m experiencing was anything other than me really sucking at motherhood.

That’s honestly what I thought was wrong- that I’m just a terrible mother.

I’m not.

Sometimes it’s more than just a funk. Sometimes they’re more than just “mommy visions.” Sometimes that worry you can’t shake, the what-ifs and the fears are more than normal motherhood stress. Sometimes not being able to get through the day without yelling at anyone doesn’t just mean you need to work on your temper.

If this is what you’re feeling, know that you’re not a terrible mother, either. Please, make an appointment with your doctor.

You’re not failing at motherhood.

You might actually be sick.

You can get help. You can get better.