After over a year I am finally confident enough to talk about my struggle with postpartum anxiety. I feel like postpartum depressing is talked about so much nowadays but I never hear much about anxiety even though it is just as big as a struggle as depression is.
As soon as Jade was placed in my arms I had an overwhelming feeling of love but also fear. This tiny little human relied solely on me for EVERYTHING, how terrifying is that? Not to mention I was 17 almost 18 at the time. It was life-changing.
When you have a newborn everyone tells you to sleep when they do but this is something I struggled with a lot. Every time Jade would go to sleep I had to stay awake and watch her no matter how unbelievably tired I was. I had a cripling fear that if I didn’t stay alert and watch her sleep that she was going to stop breathing and die. I couldn’t shut my brain off ever, as badly as I wanted to sleep there was a voice in the back of my head saying she was going to die if I didn’t check that she was breathing every minute. Things got worse when I put her into her crib, through the night I was constantly checking on her and feeling her chest to make sure she was still okay. I was afraid of her rolling over and not being able to roll back and suffocate, I had read so much about SIDS and had done everything in my power to prevent it from happening but I couldn’t stop myself from worrying.
My anxiety took over me, I was so stressed all the time. I would have constant anxiety attacks through the day where my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my body, my stomach was in my throat and my palms were sweaty. Jade was born in the winter so I always worried is she warm enough? Is she too warm? What if shes overheating? My anxiety was a daily struggle. No matter how exhausted I was I could never sleep because my mind was constantly racing with fears, am I raising her right? Am I a good mom? What if I can’t go to school and give her the best life possible? What if I fail? What if I do a bad job raising her and she grows up to hate me? Am I doing enough? These and a million more questions raced through my mind and took over my body.
I have dealt with a lot of these struggles I was going through but one thing I have had a very tough time with is driving with Jade in the car. I never liked driving in the car with her but it hit me really hard when I got into a car accident with Jade when she was just over 3 months old. It made me realize no matter how careful and cautious of a driver I was, some things are inevitable and can’t be stopped. I tried to avoid driving as much as possible, I would cancel or never make plans with people unless they could come to me, my heart would beat hard and my palms would sweat every time I got in the car. The first time I tried driving a car after the accident I broke down in tears and for nights after the accident every time I shut my eyes I could envision the car hitting us, it was a nightmare. I am slowly becoming more confident and I know it is something I have to do and I am working every day to get over this fear.
As time progressed I learned to shut the voices up in my head so I can get some rest and keep reassuring myself that I am doing a great job. You have to remind yourself that motherhood is a job with a lot of highs and lows and all you can do is make the best of it, go with the flow and ride the waves. Of course, I still have fears and I wish I could turn my anxiety off permanently but that is something I am going to have to work on for a long time and that’s okay. It is okay to talk about postpartum anxiety and depression in fact I strongly encourage it. It doesn’t make you a bad mom it makes you a strong and powerful mother because you are surviving and thriving.