So, I'm about to get really "real" here for a min. For the past three months, since giving birth to my completely adorable little girl, I have been suffering from severe anxiety. And for the past three months I have done absolutely nothing about it. Because it's normal, right? I mean, sure we've heard about Postpartum Depression, but that's not me. I'm not depressed. I'm actually the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Except for the anxiety.
I've always been a fairly anxious person. I tend to worry about little things, but it's never really effected my daily life or relationships. Until I gave birth. It started on the day we left the hospital. For the entire stay I had wanted nothing more than to get home and start our new life together. But when the moment came, I became instantly anxious. Doubt crept into my head big time. What if we did something wrong? What if she still wasn't eating good? What if we got in a wreck on the way home? What if something was wrong with my post birth body and I died?
It was on the drive home that I had my first "new mommy breakdown". Our tire was low from the temperature dropping during our hospital stay, and my husband was forced to pull over into a bad neighborhood to get it aired up. As soon as he got out of the car I started sobbing while River wrapped her tiny little hand around my finger. I just knew someone was going to rob us. Someone was going to rob the store we were at, and my husband or I would get shot leaving River without a mother or a father. Someone would try and steal the car with River and me in it. The crazy imaginary scenarios were endless. Looking back, some part of me deep down knew that I could chalk all these fears up to hormones, but at the time, I couldn't deal. I was convinced that one or all of these things were going to happen.
But things have mellowed out for me somewhat since those first weeks. Recovering from birth was hard on me. I honestly believe that even though I had a perfectly healthy birth, I was traumatized from it. I had never experienced anything like that and I was terrified I was going to die from it. Not because it was painful (it was), but because it was just so monumental. My hands would shake for weeks afterward just thinking about it, and even now I still get a small knot in my stomach whenever I think of the way I felt post birth.
However, I'm still suffering from anxiety. Since having River, I go into Death Con 5 Panic Mode at least once or twice a day- meaning that I feel an invisible band tightening around my chest and crying jags that I have to calm myself down from or have Zack calm me down from. Usually the stem from "what if" thoughts that pop into my head, or something small will happen that will just send me on a melt-down (like paying a bill late, making me believe that we will eventually end up homeless). I haven't been out with my friends in months. MONTHS. Not because they haven't asked, but because I'm too anxious to leave River for long periods of time. Being at work is torture. I constantly call or text my grandmothers (who keep her) to check in. Night time is the worst. I hate to even type this out, but I am terrified of SIDS. I constantly wake up to check on her. Even just "saying" it out loud makes me feel like I can't breathe. The only way I was finally able to relax enough to get sleep about a month ago was because I decided to pray every night that God would protect River. That he would make sure she lives a long, happy, and satisfying life. And so far, that's helped. Some.
But my anxiety is not only harming me now, it's been harming my marriage. While most days I can try to talk myself up into being a "normal" care-free person, sometimes that just doesn't happen. And I get angry. I get angry because a part of me wonders if I will ever feel like myself again. I get angry that my husband doesn't always understand that I can't just make myself relax (even though he does try). I snap at family and friends for little things that I would normally just let go. I feel overwhelmed a lot, and I feel like I have to do everything myself... when in reality, that's just no the case. My husband, bless him, has offered multiple times to keep River alone so I can go out, and each time I am the one to refuse. The only good thing is I can honestly say I am never angry at River. Even if she is having a melt-down I'm able to put aside my anxiety and be the mom she needs me to be. In fact, she is the one person who makes me feel like I can breathe again. When we curl up to watch TV together or we "talk" and she laughs and giggles... that band eases off of my chest.
I started writing this post a few weeks ago, and I wasn't sure how I was going to end it (or if I was even going to publish it since it was so personal). I was facing two choices: take a prescription of Zoloft that my doctor had prescribed me, or continue on trying to "deal" with the anxiety. Last week I decided to give the Zoloft a try. I honestly hate medicine. I wouldn't even take pain relief after giving birth. It's just not my thing. I don't like to feel out of control, and I have a family history of addiction, so it's always just made sense for me to avoid it. But after much discussion with my husband, I felt like it was in my best interest to give it a try. I was almost relieved when I couldn't take it. The whole day I felt hung-over. I had a major migraine. I felt queasy and dizzy and sluggish. I had taken anti-depressants before when I was younger, but nothing had ever made me feel like this. Once I completely eliminated the idea of taking medication for my anxiety, I felt a huge wave of relief roll over me... which is weird, I know. But for months I had been sitting on the fence: to medicate or not. So making a decision, any decision, was a huge weight off my shoulders. I could finally start looking into alternatives. Which is what I did. I joined a group of mother's who suffered from anxiety. I talked to other moms in my family. I found out that I wasn't alone and it was kind of amazing. I found out what other moms were doing for their anxiety, and customized a plan to battle my own. I'm happy to say, so far it's helping. Sure, my anxiety isn't completely gone (and honestly, it probably never will be), but with the help of vitamins, eating better, exercise, meditation, prayer, and yes, taking time off for myself, I've been able to cut a huge chunk of my anxiety out.