The Postpartum Anxiety Club :: All are Welcome. I’ll Bring the Snacks.

It’s almost midnight and I can’t sleep. 

Which is odd, because my pillow is lumpy in the right places, my sheets are off-brand silky, and my down comforter is somewhat clean {kids, eh?}. The only sound disturbing the night is the sweet hum from the diffuser as it spews out its lavender goodness. 

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? A silent house at midnight is one of the most terrifying things to a new mother.

Especially, one with a hell of an imagination. 

So, my midnight party begins. And I’m pretty good at this dance. 

I place my hand on my husband’s chest, because I noticed immediately the absence of his snore, and I need to verify that he’s alive and well. Then I check the monitor. What it tells me is that both of my babies are in their rooms::  sleeping, peaceful, and quiet. It should be enough to make me fall effortlessly back to sleep. Instead, I can’t stop thinking that maybe they are too quiet, too peaceful, and not actually sleeping but…

Before I can even entertain the thought, I race upstairs. I tip toe into their rooms, place a steady hand upon their chest {since I don’t trust my eyes in the dark} and confirm that yes, they are only sleeping. Like most humans at midnight. Just like the glorious monitor promised me. 

I start to walk back downstairs. I am halfway to the living room when a new thought emerges. Did I drain the bath water? I normally unplug it and wait until I see EVERY LAST DROP circle down the hole. But tonight, I can’t recall if I did. I mean, I am about 99.99% sure I most likely took care of it. But that .01% is all that matters. That’s the percentage that writes the cryptic “If only I had known!” Facebook post.  

As desperate as I am to go back to my bed before one of my babes wakes up and commands my attention, I simply cannot wish the horrid thought away. I’ve tried, trust me, the outcome is always the same.  

I race back up the stairs. Turn on the bathroom light. And I stare at the bottom of an empty tub. A few drops linger towards the drain’s mouth. Not enough to drown a child who could wake up from their bed/crib, stumble out, walk into the bathroom, and somehow fall into the tub without me knowing.

But to be fair, my worries don’t pride themselves on logic or beauty; they just want to punch me in the belly a few times before dismissing me for the night.

I’ve noticed over the years that my mother’s intuition is either right on or a nagging friend with a little too much free time on her hands—so I err on the side of extreme caution and double-check the locks multiple times and save my prayers for the morning when my mind isn’t quite so gentle and over-aware of the things I need to be wary of.

And because of these late night escapades, I am often sick, sleepy, and useless the following day. And when you stay home with two young tots and are prone to everyday anxieties, you’re just digging your hole prematurely and allowing the rain in. 

The Postpartum Anxiety Club :: All are Welcome. I'll Bring the Snacks. | Houston Moms Blog

Before motherhood, I had anxiety, I’m sure of it. But I didn’t know it at the time. Because I was the laid back one. Nothing stressed me out that much. And I could juggle three jobs, a sorority, relationships, constant travel, and school on three hours of sleep, reruns of The Office, and a newfound love for lattes.

So, when I blacked out during a math final and thought I might be dying—I assumed I was just being dramatic and over-tired.

And when I became so nauseous in a coffee shop when someone yelled at me for cutting in line {I swear it wasn’t intentional}—I thought I was just a weak, sad person unable to handle confrontation.

And all those times I couldn’t handle someone running closely behind me without hyperventilating and feeling faint—I assumed this was just a new quirk and a product of some forgotten fear.

BUT after having my first child and experiencing a daily heightened sense of fear and failure even though I know I was a damn good mama AND after what I now know was another panic attack {this time because I kept imagining myself tripping down the stairs while holding my child}, I decided to seek guidance. First I googled it. Then I spoke with a midwife. Then I shared my findings with the world and I haven’t looked back.

The Postpartum Anxiety Club :: All are Welcome. I'll Bring the Snacks. | Houston Moms Blog

Postpartum anxiety is what I was experiencing. That crushing, crippling, hopeless thing. It had taken over my life in ways I hadn’t prepared for: my fears weren’t rational or even warranted, but they were so vivid and all-consuming that I felt frozen and dreaded simple tasks like taking my child on a walk {what if I trip and the stroller rolls away into the street!?}, asking someone to babysit {can they really be trusted!?}, or simply sleeping {but I NEED to watch him breathe all night long}. 

I had prepared myself in every way I thought possible to become a mom :: bought every book, accessory, genius product, and overpriced motherhood invention. I had the BEST support and village and partner in the world. I. WAS. READY. 

But I didn’t think about my mental health. And I certainly didn’t know something like postpartum anxiety was a thing. I wasn’t even aware that anxiety was already present in my life—and had been for a very long time.

The more I talked about it with the people closest to me, the more I realized how common various mental illnesses were and that it ran in my family. And these beautiful souls had found their own ways to cope and manage their burden. 

So, I decided to find mine.

It’s been over a year since I have had a panic attack and I more rested and hopeful than I have been since before my kids were born. One of those reasons is because my children are growing and proving their resilience and independence. The other is because I decided to take action and seek out my own remedies to make the most of days {and take back my nights}. 

The following is what helps me enjoy the world while acknowledging and working with my anxiety. I don’t mention being stranded on a beach surrounded by puppies, but that would work too. 

Self-Care, y’all.

I add bubbles and don’t apologize for the hour long bath or blasting The Greatest Showman soundtrack on repeat. I read books about vampire love-triangles without guilt. And I pour a hefty glass every other night.

I talk about it. Lots. 

I talk about my anxiety out-loud, with the speakers on, to baristas and anyone with ears. Seriously though, I am an open book. I spread awareness through my own blog, everyday conversations, and uber-filtered Instagram posts. And the coolest thing happens… people respond, share, and hug me in return. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are not alone with your pain and confusion.

Triggers. I know mine.

You know that horrific story being shared on Facebook about a child’s untimely death? I don’t click on it. Not anymore. I’ll send up a prayer for all those involved, but I won’t allow myself to read about their loss. Because for the next few hours, that is all I will think about. I will dwell on it and build it up in my head and develop another paranoid tic and even wine won’t bring me down. The same goes for preparing to leave my children for any amount of time. When I have trip coming up, I know that my anxiety will be at its highest, and I start preparing myself with abundance of self-care and happy things. And I go on that freaking trip!

I go outside.

My husband calls me his flower. Not in a romantic way; he just says I get super pissy if I haven’t had my daily dose of sunshine and fresh air. And he’s not wrong. So, if I start to notice chest pains or I’m feeling overwhelmed and that queasy feeling is creeping in, I’ll head outside. Immediately, if I can. And just breathe. I suppose if I could mediate, this would be the appropriate time for that. But since my mind wanders more than my children, I just sit outside and allow my thoughts to run around in the sunlight.

Lavender. Lavender. Lavender.

Candles, oils, bath salts, walls: all lavender, all the time. It’s calms me like nothing else.

I educate myself.

I read a lot about anxiety and mental health. I think it is essential to my wellbeing and to the small people I am lucky enough to take care of, that I am aware and familiar with the struggles I deal with.

#blessed — practice it.

For me, showing gratitude is one of hardest things to do in the midst of a bad day with anxiety. Why? Because when I’m at my lowest, even thinking about the good parts of my life, automatically makes me think about losing them. Because that’s what anxiety does. It robs you of the goodness; it turns that happiness around and replaces it with doubt. So, I have been working hard on practicing control of my thoughts–especially, my happy ones. 

I’ve also tried working out and medication; neither was my jam. But it might be yours, so don’t hesitate to try either if you think it will help. We are all unique creatures; some of us prefer vodka over gin in our martinis. I totally get that. So practice whatever is good for your soul and mind. These are just the things that I have found to be helpful with my own mental health journey. If you think you may be suffering from any form of anxiety, please reach out to someone. And you can find wonderful information to help guide you, here and here

And please know, having anxiety, whether it is generalized or postpartum, doesn’t make us weak, weird, or uncommon. It makes us strong and aware and sensationally brave. 

And now that you’ve heard my story, never ever alone. 

What are some of your coping techniques/magic tricks for a bad day? Send them my way or tell a friend; either way, throw some of that goodness into the world! Along with us, it could certainly use some healing. 


, , , ,

One Response to The Postpartum Anxiety Club :: All are Welcome. I’ll Bring the Snacks.

  1. Malory Dugan May 14, 2018 at 2:31 pm #

    Beautifully written. Everything I read felt so eerily familiar, it was as if lyou’ve been in my mind for the last two years. Thank you for having the courage to be speak your truth. Thank you for helping me to feel normal, not alone, and empowered to start healing myself. You are so brave and inspiring and amazing!! Forever grateful 🙂

Leave a Reply

HTML Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com