This post is part of a series on sharing individuals stories to help others realize, they are not alone. If you haven’t read the introduction to this series, please start here. It takes extreme courage to write your deepest struggles for all to read. This week’s post is a look back at a mom’s journey with GAD, general anxiety disorder. Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older – WOW. This momma is very special to me because she is my younger sister. I am so proud of her sharing her truth. I pray that you connect with her story and know that you are not alone.
Two years before becoming a mom I had just started going to therapy for my GAD- General Anxiety Disorder (we will save that for another post). I went to individual therapy, group therapy, and tried every tool they taught me to manage all my anxiety and was adamant about not using medication when my therapist suggested it. I had a negative connotation and wanted to exhaust all other options before considering it. Once I got pregnant I went to see my therapist more frequently because well let’s be honest all those hormones and first-time worries definitely took over my anxious mind. Again, my therapist recommended medication but I wanted to continue doing everything I have been since it was working well during my pregnancy and I felt I had my anxiety under control. I was worried about the effects it could take even though I knew the medication was safe during pregnancy. Since I was mainly worried about postpartum depression I made sure to educate myself on the signs and told my husband what he could look out for if I needed additional support.
After preparing for postpartum depression (PPD), I ended up having postpartum anxiety (PPA). PPD is so commonly talked about and PPA isn’t. I had an emergency c-section with my daughter due to low amniotic fluid and her drop in heart rate. I still struggle with that because I wasn’t able to hold her when she came out and even after delivery I was too drugged out to want to hold her in fear I might fall asleep or hurt her. Like any first time mom I woke up every hour to check if she was breathing. When we finally were released to go home I was so anxious letting anyone see or visit my daughter because of fear she would get sick or catch something. For weeks I didn’t want to go outside with my daughter because of the fear of the unknown of what could happen to us or the judgment of others if she started to cry. I began to lose too much weight and my milk supply started to decrease because I wasn’t eating healthy, sleep deprived and constantly obsessing over my daughters’ weight and how long she would latch.
Over time I noticed all my tools I learn in the past were no longer working. I remember the first mom’s therapy group so clearly. I stood in the back baby wearing praying she wouldn’t wake up and start crying. I watched all these well put together women play with their babies and speak about their goals, struggles, and wins. As I watched them I began to cry because I didn’t have that confidence and all I wanted to do at that moment was to go home back into my safe space. I knew I wanted to get where they were but it just seems like such a far goal. I started to think about all the tools I learned in therapy and realized it wasn’t working. That’s when I knew I needed to do more for my daughter. I knew she didn’t deserve a mother who was struggling and I knew I deserved to be in the present with her and not worrying about the future.
I started medication 3 months postpartum and it was the best decision I have ever made for my daughter, for myself and for my family. I still have moments of anxiety but those tools that didn’t work before work now. I am able to break that anxious cycle, let go of the guilt, be in the present and that alone is worth everything. I know I will face more challenges as a mother and will have to learn new tools and ways to cope but I am glad I took the necessary steps for my mental health. I would do anything for my daughter and my family. That’s why I’m so happy to be apart of this motherhood community. I don’t think I would have been able to get through my PPA without the right support system. I’ve learned through online mom groups, therapy groups, and mom friends that we are all in this together.