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My Struggle with Anxiety and Post Partum Depression

I’ve always been an anxious person. I’m talking about the type of anxious where I overthink something I did or said to the point where I play it out 1,000 times in my head or the type where I get so nervous in front of people that my mind literally draws a blank. The normal stuff, right? But after giving birth I discovered a type of anxiety that was honestly frightening. For the past 6 months I’ve been barely functional to the point where I wasn’t able to be alone with my son because I was so scared that something terrible might happen to me, or worse, to him. Now, looking back at the past year there were so many red flags that I just ignored and I wish I would’ve paid more attention to. I needed help. I was just embarrassed to ask for it…

Post Partum Depression was something I heard about but never really paid much attention to. I thought it was only something that made it difficult for moms to bond with their babies. I thought it would be highly noticeable. I thought I would know for sure if I were going through it. I thought wrong.

I remember going to my first post-partum appointment and my doctor asking me in a nonchalant way- “are you depressed? Like, do you cry a lot now? Or are you overly tired?” and I remember vividly wanting to punch her in the face. Of course I was tired and emotional! I just had a C-section and I was trying to breastfeed for the first time… Oh! And I hadn’t slept in over a week, that too!

So much of my thoughts and ways of coping were centered around the idea that I was supposed to be feeling shitty. Well I wasn’t supposed to feel like that, not if I had a good support system, which I did…

I knew that I had a problem when I couldn’t sleep. I breastfed my son until he was 12 months and he woke up every 2 -3 hours like an alarm clock. But even when he was sound asleep, I found myself awake. I was constantly worried about his breathing, to the point where I would jump up from my bed every 20 minutes and bypass the baby monitor so that I can touch him and make sure he was ok.

I kept blaming it on breastfeeding. I thought it was the reason why I was feeling so, how can I say this- not myself. Truth is I didn’t feel like myself ever since I left the hospital. I wasn’t ready to see the deflated balloon belly that I was left with after birth or the constant baby crying in the background all the time or the 2-minute showers I would take if I was lucky. You see my pre-pregnancy vision included the IG mom with the perfectly curated pictures and the tiny babies that were always smirking or yawning in the cutest way. So I guess my reality felt a lot like a slap on the face.

I wasn’t sleeping nor was I eating enough to keep me motivated let alone healthy. I was so enraged with everyone around me because I wasn’t getting enough help but the truth is that I was actually pushing everyone away. My PPD did not come in the form that I didn’t bond with my baby; it came in the form that I ONLY bonded with my baby. I even pushed my husband away. In my head it was me and my son against the world. My mind was in survival mode but I was too physically burned out to notice.

My emotions projected over to my son and he had terrible separation anxiety, just as I did. After the maternity leave time was over I didn’t want to return to work because in my head no one understood my son like I did and I was convinced he would suffer being away from me. I cried in the car every time I dropped him off at my in-laws house and he refused to feed until I picked him up. I couldn’t concentrate at work since all I thought about was my son going hungry. The mom guilt was eating me alive! All of this was not normal to say the least, I realize this now but at the time it was my only reality.

The panic attacks started during the summer when my baby turned 9 months. I fainted at home while I was alone with my son and my neighbor’s kids were able to call for help. I thought I was dying. Everyday, every minute, all the time. I was convinced that I would have a stroke or an aneurism and my son would be left alone to cope. I went to the emergency room 8 times in the span of 2 months. I saw 6 different specialists afterwards. My husband took more time off in those 2 months than he had in the past year when the baby was born. Although doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me, it was a very serious hell I was living. I wasn’t able to drive because my hands and feet would get tingly and go numb. Again I felt like I was going to die. I would call my husband and force him to stay on the phone with me while he was at work so that he can hear if anything went wrong. Seriously, he would put his cell phone on top of his desk with me on the line for hours in order to ease my nerves. I took time off work frequently and when I managed to go in I could barely get any work done. Even if I tried to fake it, I was not functional. I was not me, not even close…

The anxiety and PPD got progressively worse throughout the past 3 months. I feared that I would never be able to live without the horrendous doomsday thoughts that were in my head. PPD made me lose a sense of who I was and I didn’t enjoy the activities I normally would. I wanted to get well so badly that I broke down and finally spoke up about what I was going through to people around me. And it helped! It was so comforting to know people that felt the same way I did. I was not alone. I paid more attention to my health and my well-being by going to therapy, eating 3 meals a day, drinking 8 glasses of water per day, exercising, meditating and sleeping 7-8 hours per night. Today I am not completely healed but I’ve definitely transformed from the person I was a few months ago.

As moms we go through a lot mentally, physically and emotionally in a very short period of time. This experience is different for everyone and the spectrum for PPD and anxiety is very broad. If you are having a tough time adapting and you don’t feel like your enjoying motherhood at your highest potential then speak up! Get help! Remember that going through PPD and/or anxiety does not make you a bad mom, it makes you human!


Thank you for reading!

Much Love,

Genesis


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All I can say is wow! As a mom of 2 I've experienced some of the things you've mentioned. Thank you for being brave enough to post this and put into words how we feel as moms to fit a mold or to constantly portray happiness because that's what we see online. These are topics that should definitely be discussed more often and I'm praying for your health and wellbeing.

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