Postnatal Anxiety and Panic - my realisations of where I'm at.
It can be both a blessing and a curse feeling everything so much and that’s what happens when you are suffering from anxiety.
Everything you feel is so intense. So real. So much.
I’ve spent the last few months running on a high level of anxiety feeling completely on edge. I usually experience my anxiety in waves but for the last few months it felt like a constant tip toe on the edge of a cliff.
I’ve been worrying about things within and and totally out of my control - stressors with work, seeing my husband stressed over business and things that never should have been stressors for him, I’ve found myself worrying whether I’ve been doing enough for my children, worrying if I’m doing enough for me.
But what has been the most overwhelming worry and anxiety has been around worrying and having panics over the health and safety of my children. Ive been making up ridiculous scenarios on my mind in the middle of the night of horrible things happening to my babies, worrying how Remi would cope if I got sick or injured and couldn’t breastfeed her as she’s so reliant on me and not being able to spend more than an hour or two away from her ever (which is totally out of character for me as I usually crave my independence).
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had panic attacks thinking Remi was not ok in her car seat and having to pull over and get her out and cuddle her just to calm myself down or having these huge rushes of anxiety and panic thinking I’ve forgotten her and left her in the car park at the shops even though I know she’s safely in her car seat. I’ve had visions of her drowning in the bath even though Im sitting right beside her, intense feelings like she’s going to be missing when I go to check on her in her bassinet and I’ve been having intense worry about my children becoming ill. Even writing it makes me feel a little ridiculous and embarrassed for some reason but it’s full blown panic when it happens, then the feelings linger with me through out the days and nights and its really impacting my life. From chatting to other mums I realise Im not alone in my thoughts so Ive spoken to my psychologist and had a look into it further because I need to make a change.
In so many ways my journey and transition as a mum of 2 has felt so natural and It’s really come so much easier for me than the first time but this last few months have been hard for me mentally as the pressure of all these worries has built. Remi has honestly been a dream - she’s happy, calm and content but its not her, its me. No matter if its your first, second or more baby becoming a mum is intense, overwhelming and full of so many emotions. You are still expected and need to care for yourself, your other kids, the baby while being the cook, cleaner, career woman, partner/wife, friend, sister, daughter, taxi driver and everything else. The pressure is real.
Postnatal anxiety can occur within days or weeks but can also occur anytime within the first year of your babies life and your fears often surround the health and safety of your baby. So I guess this is what I’ve been experiencing. Many of you have asked me over the last few months what was causing my anxiety and I kept just brushing it off as things like work because I don’t think I realised what was happening and how much the thoughts were really intruding and impacting me and also if Im honest because I wasn’t ready to face it head on. It can be hard to admit because you feel a little bit like you’re failing but owning it I believe is the first step in making a change and a change is what I need.
I can’t continue to live at this highly strung and anxious state 24/7. I don’t want to look back on these early years with my girls and only remember the fear and anxiety that consumed my life. I want my girls to know me as the fun Mum I always wanted to be and I want to experience every moment with them, in the moment not living in the future in my brain, worrying about scenarios that will probably never occur. I want to be happier for them, my babies because even though they are the reason for my anxiety they are also the reason to overcome it and get better. So I will make changes, I will get better, my mind will be clearer again.
I hope you know if you’re struggling too that it doesn’t make you weak, it just means that you feel every thing so much more, so much deeper and you care so much. I am choosing to look at my anxiety this way - I feel so much intense worry because I feel so much intense love for my children and I just need to learn to seperate my fears for them from reality.
If you’re suffering to or you have suffered I hope you know you’re not alone and I hope you’re not suffering in silence - please reach out for help. A friend, your partner and a professional. Go see your GP who can refer you to a psychologist and set up a mental health care plan if you need. Do it for you and do it for your family, your baby because they too deserve you at your best.
You can also contact PANDA on 1300726306 inside Australia.
The severity of postnatal anxiety and depression depends on the number of symptoms, their intensity and the extent to which they interfere with getting on with day-to-day life. The combination and severity of symptoms will be different for every parent but might include:
Panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)
Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health, wellbeing or safety of the baby
The development of obsessive or compulsive thoughts and/or behaviours
Abrupt mood swings
Feeling constantly sad, low, or crying for no obvious reason
Being nervous, ‘on edge’, or panicky
Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
Having little or no interest in all the normal things that bring joy (like time with friends, exercise, eating, or sharing partner time)
Sleeping too much or not sleeping very well at all
Losing interest in intimacy
Withdrawing from friends and family
Being easily annoyed or irritated
Finding it difficult to focus, concentrate or remember (people with depression often describe this as a ‘brain fog’)
Engaging in more risk taking behavior (e.g. alcohol or drug use)
Having thoughts of harming your baby
Having thoughts of death or suicide.
Thank you for taking the time to read this very personal blog. Its honestly not easy writing these things for the world to see but I do know it can help others to feel less alone and together we can make it through.
I will continue to share my journey as openly as I can. I honestly feel much better just spilling my heart here and owning it now , its like a weight is lifted and I can move forward to working on myself.
If you have anything you would like covered on this topic please contact me below or on my Instagram.