Trigger Warning: Suicidal Thoughts, Anxiety Thoughts, Depression
I think I can safely say that I've always had anxiety and depression. I wasn't able to name it until after I had Skylar when those feelings magnified. When I would pass a set of stairs and have heart flutters about what if I fell down them.
Sure, in the past I had anxiety attacks and just assumed everyone had them. Except for my husband, but he's just made different right? I would get a B on a test and go down a self shaming spiral. I would just get in little moods for a few days or a while where I didn't want to do anything and just felt sad. But, I didn't talk about these things or truly work to manage and deal with them.
After Skylar was born, I felt really off. More so than usual. Walking down the street made me nervous because what if a car ran off the road at us. How would I protect Sky then? Walking down or up stairs was nerve wracking. What if.. Making dinner could cause a panic attack cause what if I dropped something on the baby? What if.. My normal feelings were suddenly magnified. I cried easier. Things that I could normally handle became absolute tests of will. Grocery store? It was an all day planned outing because what if... I started to get angry much easier. I would yell and scream about things. Panic attacks happened just about leaving the house to go visit a friend. I thought it was the fact that my child didn't sleep so I was overwhelmed.
Most importantly, I didn't talk about it. I didn't talk about the thought spiral where I wished I wasn't alive because I was such a horrible mother and my daughter deserved better. I didn't talk about the fear that kept me from hanging out with other mothers in the area because I just knew they would shame me for how I raised my daughter. (PS no one ever did) I had very normal moments of hating motherhood and hating taking care of small child. Then going down a spiral of shame because I shouldn't feel that way. I didn't deserve to feel that way.
Eventually the panic and anxiety went down to "normal" pre baby levels. So now it was just an ordeal to leave the house for social events not every day things like grocery shopping. Now, the sadness wasn't as often. I didn't feel as if I was failing every single day, just most. My self shame cycle that induced panic attacks were only once a month instead of two or three times. This was normal right?
I decided to become a Postpartum Doula and Babywearing Consultant to support women through the 4th Trimester since mine was so mentally rough. In late 2016 or early 2017, I found out about Moms Mental Health Initiative. I truly learned about postpartum anxiety and depression. I was finally able to place a name on my mind's inner workings and to recognize it. To recognize that I have this thing called anxiety. That I've been living through depression. Moms Mental Health Initiative may not have helped me directly but they did allow me to start understanding my anxiety and depression. Their encouragement of other women encouraged me to actually speak to my doctor about anxiety and depression. Moms Mental Health Initiative continuing to promote perinatal mood and anxiety disorders without stigma and without shame helped me tremendously. Their work made me feel that it was ok to see a therapist. It was great to talk to my doctor about getting on medication. What I feel is common and there is help.
Moms Mental Health Initiative may not have helped me through the first year of Sky's life, but they have helped me through at least 5 years of her life without even knowing it. This is why I support Moms Mental Health Initiative and why Close to the Heart fundraises for them every year. I know they are helping women every day. I'm so thankful that Moms Mental Health Initiative exists and is there to help.
Want to help? You can donate to Moms Mental Health Initiative here.