So many people currently or have previously struggled with what I do, but not many like to talk about it. Depression. Anxiety. Baby blues. Post-postpartum depression. They are all interlinked in the world of mental illness. Mental illness – I don’t like that phrase. It makes me feel like the world thinks I’m a crazy person if I am linked to these words…conditions and struggles that you cannot control, for the most part, but yet talked about so very little.
Please note that I am not claiming to be any kind of expert in this field. This is my story about my struggle and what has helped me.
I guess the first time things really hit me was right after I had my son, March 2009. I had baby blues almost immediately. I remember having conversations on the phone with my mom that contained phrases like “I’m too young for this” (I was 22.) or “we should have waited longer” (we got pregnant on our honemoon). But what really tipped me off to the fact that there was something off with me was how often I was snapping at my husband. Any little thing would just set me off. Will was 5 months old at the time. I called and made an appointment to see my OB. I actually got to see the nurse practitioner, who took the time to really listen to me. At the time, we were looking at the possibility of having to find Will a new sitter and that was making me spaz out like crazy. I didn’t want to take him somewhere new. (We did eventually have to find a new sitter but that didn’t happen for another 4 months.) The nurse practitioner could see how I couldn’t stop fidgeting while we were talking. So she prescribed me a 10mg dose of Prozac. I took it for a few months, finally started to feel like I was bonding with my son at 9 months old, and weaned myself off of my meds a few months later. (Please consult your physician before taking yourself off of any medication.)
I felt like the fog that I had been living in for the past 9 months had finally been lifted. I loved my son dearly, but at his birth there wasn’t that high that I had read about and anticipated and I felt let down that I didn’t feel that. I took care of him. I was certainly a mother to him. But bond? That came so much later. I just thank God every day that my amazing husband was there because they were instantly bonded the moment he was born.
Over the next couple of years, I became more aware of my anxiety issues. I have looked back to my childhood and have realized that I was probably dealing with minor anxiety issues then, I just didn’t know it. I took the time to try to learn my triggers – things that overwhelm me is one of them. If I get what I feel is sensory overload or have 50 thing being thrown at me at the same time, I just can’t handle it. I’ll either shut down, crying in the floor or get really angry and start yelling. I’ve learned how to walk away, take a deep breath and conquer one thing at a time.
When we found out we were pregnant with our daughter in May 2011, I immediately began to wonder if I would deal with these baby blues and postpartum anxiety/depression issues all over again. It worried me, but I tried not to hard to think about it. After she was born, things were so very different. We had a successful breastfeeding relationship going, I knew what signs to watch for before things got too bad, and I think I had grown so much as a person, that some of the things that used to make me anxious, just didn’t anymore. I felt at peace after her birth. I honestly believe that breastfeeding had so much to do with helping me bond with her right away. I still had my emotional days for sure, but I wasn’t in a fog, just drifting from day to day and not really living and experiencing. There have been SO many times since she’s been born that I’ve looked at my husband and said “Did Will ever do that?” or “Was Will doing this at this age?” There is a lot I absolutely do not remember.
Now? Now I still deal with my anxiety. It’s something that I’m always aware of. I know how much I can handle and, for me, knowing my limits has been a huge help. I’m not currently on any medication, but if I ever feel that it’s out of my control, I will talk to my physician to see what would be best for me. One remedy I have used is Frankincense essential oil by DoTerra. It grounds me and centers me. I put one drop on one wrist, rub my wrists together and then rub both of them down my neck along my artery line. I will sometimes stop and smell/inhale the aroma of the oil off my wrist. It has a quick calming effect.
Eating better and regular exercise also helps clear my mind and keep me focused. When I eat too much fast food or processed food, I get very scatterbrained and can’t focus on what I need to get done. I try to eat real food that doesn’t come out of a box most of the time. Exercise helps me clear my head, especially when I go for a run. It boosts my energy and helps me feel better knowing that I am taking care of my temple.
And I pray. A lot. I am a very flawed person and I struggle and make mistakes every single day. But I know that God still loves me and will listen to me and help me throughout my day.
If you are struggling or even suspect that you are struggling with baby blues, postpartum depression, depression or anxiety, please find someone to talk to. A counselor, physician, OB or midwife. There are many ways to deal with these issues and everyone is unique. Please don’t hold it all inside. You are more than welcome to leave comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
Have a blessed day!