I’ve always been an anxious person. It’s in my nature, ingrained in my soul. With anxiety comes self doubt, low self-esteem and confidence issues. Until I had kids, I never realized that there was a world without anxiety; that it could be treated, though not cured. Anxiety is, according to my research, a form of mental illness. So too is the Postpartum Depression that led to my Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis.
Let’s back up a bit so I can explain it better.
Peanut was born in October 2011. By November 2011 he had full blown colic and I was beginning to wonder if motherhood was all that its cracked up to be. I mean, if I couldn’t convince him to stop crying for even a few minutes, how was I going to take care of him day in and day out? Sometimes I would put him in his crib, go to the closet in our room and weep. It got to the point where he would be crying and I would be comforting him, but my mind would be in another place. I had to completely shut myself off from the sound because I thought that I was going crazy. Finally, when he was around 4 months old, it stopped. As suddenly as it had started, it disappeared and I was left with this smiling, happy, strawberry blonde, blue-eyed baby boy. I still wasn’t back to 100%, but I was much happier finally being a mom to a baby who really seemed to like me. I never acknowledged that I may have been struggling unnecessarily. Nobody wants to admit that they have a problem, especially when it involves your abilities as a parent.
Fast forward to September 2013; along came GreenBean. After spending 2 weeks in the NICU/Special Care Nursery, he finally got to come home. He didn’t really have colic, but I had a bad case of mom guilt. I felt guilty that Peanut wasn’t getting all of my attention anymore, guilty that GreenBean had to spend all of that time in the hospital and guilty that The Dad had no idea how to handle my random crying/yelling jags. In January of 2014 I was burping GreenBean in the wee hours of the morning and crying. I was so distracted by my misery (another guilt had popped up — that I was so miserable instead of overjoyed to be the mother of 2 beautiful boys) that I didn’t notice that I’d started burping sweet GreenBean pretty hard. He started crying this startled, high-pitched squeal. At that moment, I knew that I needed help. I could no longer do this on my own. My amazing OBGYN sent in a referral to the Mother’s Mood and Anxiety Clinic in our hospital. I met another amazing Dr; my therapist. She helped me realize that I was not a bad mother. That my abnormal feelings were actually quite common and that there was something that we could do about it.
Enter Zoloft. This med helped my PPD in ways that I am still incapable of verbalizing. It also helped me feel less anxious. I no longer worried that someone was mad at me if I called or texted and didn’t hear back from them right away, stopped blaming myself for every single thing that went wrong, stopped doubting my ability to parent my children and I no longer had that constant jittering feeling in my heart and stomach. The one that feels like you had 10 espressos in one 15min binge session.
Now, I am not a meds person. If I take a Tylenol or go to the Dr for a cold or something, it means that it is now too extreme for me to handle on my own. So my saying that these meds helped me function, helped me be a better mother to my kids and a better wife to my husband is a big thing. I suddenly had the energy and desire to exercise, cook, bake, clean, read and spend some time with The Dad. I could focus better. I could come up with words for Words with Friends a lot quicker. That last one is important. I’m no genius, but I played a LOT of 3 letter words before the meds.
Why am I telling everyone this? The way I see it, if I can help even one person with my acknowledgment that I am not perfect, that I don’t always have my sh*t together, that just because I’m always smiling, doesn’t mean that I always feel it in my heart, then that is enough for me. There is no shame in admitting that you have a problem. No shame in wanting to be better for your family. No shame in wanting to feel peace in your heart instead of sheer panic. Just because you need some help, doesn’t make you any less of a person.
I hope all of my rambling makes some sort of sense and that I’ve shown a different face to depression and anxiety. I am so very lucky to have the support of my Drs, family and friends. I know that some people are left to struggle on their own due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness and it is terribly unfair. Nobody should ever have to go through this alone.