Postpartum depression is spoken about frequently (as it should be) but what about postpartum anxiety?
I had not heard of this condition until years after my first child.Being an 18 year old teenage mom, I had no idea what postpartum anxiety was. This was 8 years ago when my oldest was born and I was not on social media often and I was very secluded to a small group of friends/family. I was the first out of my friend group to have a baby so I didn’t know much about postpartum care apart from what I read in What to Expect When You’re Expecting or watched on Teen Mom.
When my daughter was born, I was ecstatic. I spent months worrying that I would about not feeling that instant earth shattering love for her, and when she was born all of those worries washed away when I looked into her big beautiful eyes.
All new moms (especially first timers) that I know are a little more anxious than normal their first few weeks, but from the very day Ry was born, my anxiety was at 1000%.
I was anxious when others asked to hold her and would make them sit down (even my parents). I had intrusive visions of someone accidently tripping with her and landing on top of her frail 6 pound body. These and similar visions of freak accidents were constant and I worried all of the time. I could not sleep when she slept unless my parents or sister were watching her in the same house I was sleeping, I was worried she would suffocate or over heat or any number of things. I would not even leave her in her crib to sleep without being in the room, then eventually in the next room with the door open and a baby monitor on.
It did not stop as she got older.
I feared that she would somehow open remotes and swallow the batteries, I would lay in bed at night before going to work and envision myself crashing and leaving her motherless. I had a constant fear that one of us was going to die. (I know that sounds extreme, and that’s because it was extreme).
I developed full blown OCD of checking and rechecking cabinets and doors were shut, cleaning and other small odd things. I did not think at first that I should seek any form of treatment. I didn’t realize that there was treatment because I did not know it was a condition. I didn’t consider myself to have PPD because I was not sad, I was ecstatic when I was with my daughter, I had no trouble bonding with her and did not have some of the well-known PPD symptoms.
This condition was affecting my relationships, my work ethic, and my daily life. When I realized I had a real problem, I did not advocate for myself when my doctor blew me off. I did not seek help from a different doctor because I was worried they would all treat me as the first one did. As a PRN worker, I did not have insurance so each visit cost me $75 out of pocket.
I suffered for 3 years before it started to finally, slowly get better because I was finally aware and actively working to overcome the symptoms.
Luckily, I did not suffer with this when my second daughter was born and now I am back to regular old GAD (lol), which I am able to manage most days without medication of any kind. I have found a doctor who takes me seriously and gives me medication for when I do need it. She understands that I do not want to be on or need medication every day at this point, but also communicates with me that if my symptoms ever do become unmanageable, she is more than willing to take action for a new course of treatment.
It’s so important to find what works for you, whether that be therapy, daily anti-depressants, whatever! There are so many options!
I still at random times will have moments of panic that sneak up on me out of nowhere, where my chest tightens and I worry about my kids for no apparent reason. I sometimes have to take a dose of anxiety medication to get to sleep when my kids are away for the night or before road trips or public events because if I don’t I will worry myself sick with possible ‘what if’ scenarios.
But I no longer suffer from debilitating anxiety, and I wish I had known more back then so that I could have gotten help and treatment before living with it for over 3 years. Looking back and seeing how much it really affected my life and knowing that it did not have to be that way makes me want to spotlight this condition so that other moms do not suffer for a moment longer than they have to.
Having given birth once as an unwed teenage girl, then later as a middle class married woman, I have seen firsthand that all post-partum care is not equal (more on this later). Postpartum care for mothers is lacking here in the US as it is, and you can read more on that here.
This is why it is so important as women and mothers to ADVOCATE FOR OURSELVES.
Did you know that upwards of 15% of new moms develop PPD and 10% develop PPA?
Did you suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety? I’d love to hear your stories!
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