This Is My Postpartum Anxiety

I give birth to the most beautiful human being I have ever seen. Everything was amazing. And then it wasn’t. I am suddenly drowning in worry. I cannot stop myself from checking on the baby every couple minutes. Every time she cries I can feel my heart beating faster and faster. My breathing gets heavier. I know that she probably just needs a change or a feeding. But I immediately convince myself that the least possible and worse case scenario has taken place. I cannot stop the worry. There is no off switch to my worry.

This is my postpartum anxiety.

On the outside I make it seem like I am the calm, collective, ‘I got it all together’ parent. But on the inside, even though I know it’s highly unlikely, I am convinced that those around me are judging everything I am doing. And not just the strangers at the store, my friends and family too. I start second guessing myself all the time. I can’t just brush this feeling off. I began to question every parenting move I’ve made on repeat in my head at the end of each day. It consumes me. I cannot sleep because of it. I cannot function because of it. So I just block everyone out. Staying inside whenever I can. Neglecting the relationships with those I care about and love the most. Because I am just too tired.

This is my postpartum anxiety.

Daily tasks that I used to do without even thinking about it became almost impossible. I got anxious when the phone rang. So I didn’t pick up. I got anxious when I got a text. So I didn’t read and respond. I got anxious when someone knocked on the door. So I didn’t answer. I got anxious when I drove. So I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t want to explain that I am feeling anxious because I don’t even know why I am feeling like this. Will people understand? How could they? I don’t even understand. So I became the queen of excuses.

This is my postpartum anxiety.

To be honest I had never heard about PPA (postpartum anxiety) until after the birth of Eleanor. I was well versed in PPD (postpartum depression) because mental illnesses run in my family. I knew all the warning signs of PPD. I made sure that my husband knew all the signs of PPD in case I didn’t catch it. But I knew nothing of PPA.

I knew what I was experiencing was not PPD. But I also knew what I was experiencing was not at all what I experienced with my last babies. I blamed it so long on adjusting to 4 little ones, and all the sleeplessness that comes with a new baby. I really tried to ignore it. But the more I ignored my feelings, the worse my PPA became. And the worse my PPA became, the more emotionally exhausted I became. And the more emotionally exhausted I became, the more closed off I became.

I was not being the mom, friend, wife, and Christian that I wanted to be. That I knew I could be.

After months of trying to manage on my own, I finally reached out to my husband. He encouraged me to reach out to my doctor. She set me up with a support group and has made counselling available anytime I need it. I reached out online to local and nationwide groups. I surrounded myself with safe places where I could express my feelings. I prayed. I am learning how to cope with both the emotional and physical aspects of PPA. I’m not ignoring my PPA anymore. I am fighting. And I will continue to fight.

I may have PPA, but PPA doesn’t have me.

 

 

 

6 comments

  1. Debbie S. says:

    I never heard of PPA either. I am sending my very best wishes to you. I think that it is wonderful to share and educate others about both PPA and PPD.

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