The perpetual state of worry- to be deluged with fear and uncertainty… The random sweating and feelings of someone standing on your chest-I’ve been there and sometimes I’m still there. Postpartum anxiety is something that very few people talk about. It’s often left out of the mommy group chats and the ‘what to expect’ reading material. That’s because postpartum anxiety is often grouped in with postpartum depression. While they are in the same family and can often be triggered by one another, they are two different mental disorders.
Anxiety is the constant feeling of unease, fear and or worry. Everyone feels anxious sometimes but some of us have a hard time coping. I personally struggled with coping after my second pregnancy. It was a mess but my mess and something I’m not ashamed of. There were many attacks and triggers but the one that sticks with me is a little pair of cute gray socks. Yep… socks. At that time, I was responsible for washing and keeping up with their clothes while my husband took care of our clothes. I remember being proud of myself for washing, folding and putting the clothes away. The twins were about 21 months and the baby was about 5 months; So completing tasks on my to-do list was a big deal for me. In hindsight, I now know that those long to-do lists (on average, 15 items for one day…NUTS) I lived by were often anxiety triggers, but I’ll save that post for another day. So back to my socks story…I had them all on a schedule and had a productive day. ‘Yay, go me!!!’… ‘Whew super woman in the flesh!!!’ were my exact thoughts that day. But little did I know, my mood would go from super woman to feeling as useless as the L in salmon.
I was getting the baby’s night clothes ready for bed. There was this totally adorable pajama set but it didn’t have footsies; he needed socks but not just any pair of socks, mommy had the perfect socks- the cutest gray socks. I went to his drawer and one sock was missing. Every sock had a match except for that pair of socks. My world came crashing down. I begin to question my motherhood- I started to worry if I was fit. I feared that I was a horrible mother. I started crying and I remember yelling “this is too much”. I felt overwhelmed until I physically felt like someone was sitting on me. This feeling lasted for about 10 minutes. I had my first severe anxiety attack and I didn’t realize it. Losing socks is annoying to anyone but I can imagine most folks look for a bit and or just move on to the next pair; Not me. I had a WHOLE episode. I ugly cried until I became nauseated. These moments weren’t just a few thoughts, they started materializing into physical illness, that’s when I decided to talk to someone. My initial thought was to talk to my husband. I did and he stepped up even more… but that wasn’t it. I’ve been blessed and privileged with a small but awesome village- My husband and parents. They were doing more than enough. But even with them pulling their weight, being a stay-at-home mom, I still bore the most weight. The weight sometimes wasn’t a lot, but it was enough for me to feel overwhelmed. That day the weight was as light as a pair of baby socks but felt as heavy as the washing machine.
That moment led me to a moment of deep reflection and prayer. My answer came in the form of a social media app. I remember being on twitter and the topic was mental health and finding a therapist that fits. It encouraged me to search and I found my therapist. She was
a mom and a believer-all the things I wanted in a therapist. She totally “got me’. We connected from the very first intake. After a couple of sessions, we discovered my unchecked postpartum anxiety. Through my few therapy sessions, I have learned so much about me and how I function. One of the most important lessons is, I must learn to pace myself. Even with help, being a mom isn’t easy. I’m not sure if balance is a thing as it relates to raising a family, but pace and prioritization is a pretty doable resemblance of balance. I am no longer obsessed with impractical goals and long lists. My therapist suggested I list three things to accomplish each day and do what I can. And what I can’t do, roll it over to the next day but never go over 3 things. And she insists before doing, I should focus on being. She told me to wake up and BE what I loved about me then give gratitude for whatever it is. As moms we must know that we are more than our ability to produce or be productive. We are human and need to nurture the human in us. The magic doesn’t need help, it’s great on its own…but the human?! She needs you more now than ever.
I wrote this post to acknowledge the moms who suffer from anxiety. You are not alone. I see you and I’m here to ride with you. This is my story. This is my truth. Now ya’ll see why ‘socks’ is often the punchline of my corny mom jokes?! Socks led me to therapy. Socks led me back to me. My hope for you is that your next trigger leads you to intervention. Because every mom deserves a safe space to grow, heal and evolve on her own terms. I found that space in the form of creative writing, meditation and deep belly breathing. Your journey may require a different path. How you get there is your choice, I just want to see you get there. During the journey remember that imperfection is ok. Not getting all done is ok. You’re loved, guided and cared for still…
To learn more about anxiety visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961 and to find a therapist visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
If you can relate please comment and feel free to share.