Do you remember the first time I even recognized your presence as a new mom? I remember it like it was yesterday. The triplets were just weeks old. They cried all the time. It was before we knew they had GERD and the sleep deprivation was ruining me.
It was the middle of the night and our boys wouldn’t stop crying. Do you remember yet? Everything I knew to do to as a mother to help them wasn’t working. I could feel the panic rising in my body. I was sweaty everywhere. I cried so hard weeping with my babies, “I don’t know how to help you.”
And I didn't. I was tired and frustrated.
That was the beginning of our journey together. Although I know you likely snuck your way in before that moment, that was the first time I saw how cruel you really can be. There was also the first time I had the babies alone after my husband went back to work. Do you remember that day? It was one of my worst days.
You used the fear of trying to parent my newborn babies alone to destroy every particle of confidence in my being. I remember calling my sister on the phone sobbing with my daughter in my arms because I was so overwhelmed with three crying babies that all needed me. You used those moments to shower my heart in guilt and shame. You fed me lies about who I was as mom, and I believed you. You used that time as an opportunity to breathe lies and fears into my heart. You stole my confidence and joy. I was afraid to take my newborns anywhere. You crippled me. I felt house bound and lonely. And I know that was exactly what you wanted. You were the culprit to my ongoing panic attacks. I was in a depression and walking through a very isolated postpartum season.
It was hard, but I got help. I made a choice to change.
I hope you were feeling crippled the day I chose to seek help, the day my courage was a force of strength. The day I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, the day I chose to make a change.
I am 1 in 5. And it’s okay.
I am on medication. And it’s okay.
I am using coping mechanisms to overcome you. And it's okay.
I am a good mom. You can’t take that away from me. I won’t let you.
It’s been almost 3 years since you entered my life and I still have to face you daily. But you have never won. Lately, you have made your presence especially known in my being. You used your sneaky ways to breathe lies into my heart after I almost lost my daughter to drowning a few weeks back. I am still reliving the moments, I know you know that. You have used the fear from such a terrifying moment to cause me to question who I am as a mom. You have told me I am weak because I need therapy and am struggling with panic attacks again. I know you are using the trauma from the accident to continually bring fear and panic over me. I see you. I see what you are doing and the power you think you have over me.
You have been in and out of my life since I became a mother, and this season, the one I am in right now, is probably one of the hardest. However, perhaps you underestimated me. I will always choose to stand against you, stay healthy, and be strong for my family as I conquer the struggles you bring me. I will choose to talk about my struggles and what I am doing to overcome them. I will take my anxiety medication because that is what I need right now. I will do self-care because it is incredibly important. I will see my therapist and use the tools I continue to learn to help me prove to you that I am strong. I will do my best to bring myself back to reality in my anxious moments.
Anxiety, You are a part of my story. I never wanted you. I never asked for you. But God is using you to make my story beautiful, to reach the hearts of the hurting, to remind those that are 1 in 5 that they are not alone. You thought you were coming into my life to ruin me. But you underestimated. I am using my voice to remind mothers they are not alone.
Together we are strong. I am doing what I can to stop the stigma of mental health and I hope it is making you quiver. I hope you are recognizing you don't have power over me, you don't define me.
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