I’ve always been able to make my outward appearance look better than my current reality. On the outside it would seem I had everything I had ever prayed for; and yet, I was overwhelmed and hopeless. Feeling anxious and worried about everything and nothing. Postpartum Anxiety completely took over my happiness and joy. Over time I finally felt like a fog was lifted from over me and I thought I was through with it for good.
But two weeks ago, a girl was kidnapped while walking with her mom in our hometown. The mom tried to jump in the car and was pushed out of a moving vehicle. Thank God, social media, and the FWPD that they found her safely. Having my biggest trigger happened just miles away immediately caused my anxiety attacks, helplessness, and overwhelming fear to come back. Luckily, having been through this before, with a good support system, I was able to take a step back and look at the big picture. If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, I hope you have a supportive community around you. But I also want you to know you are welcome here.
The Warning Signs
When I look back at my pregnancy and our first year with the twins, there are so many signs. The combination of a difficult pregnancy, traumatic delivery, and two newborns sent me into a constant state of worry. When the twins were born I didn’t sleep for five days. Not once. Making sure to check if they were breathing every 20 minutes. There were so many signs, but I kept telling myself this was me being a “good” mom, and I didn’t need help. My OB even told me my feelings were normal. It got to point where it was affecting my relationships, my ability to be a good mom, and my self-esteem. Looking back I wish I would have realized the problem sooner.
Things That Have Helped Me Heal
- Sleep– This one is crucial. My twins have never been good sleepers. Asking for help from my husband was hard at first. I felt guilty because he was working a full-time job and I stayed at home, but we both need to sleep. It is not selfish. Lack of sleep can make your anxiety so much worse.
- Exercise– This one took a while for me to adopt, but it truly helps me so much. Not only does it make me physically feel stronger, but mentally it helps me know I can get persevere through hard times or tough circumstances.
- Knowing your triggers– This one takes time, but knowing what will set off a panic attack is key to helping prevent them. For me, this has always been kidnapping. I think it stems from feeling overwhelmed and out of control having the twins in public alone. Knowing this has helped me develop routines and procedures to feel safe while we are out.
- Lists/Routine– This is one I’m working on since my schedule is constantly changing/different, but having some feeling of power in a to-do list or routine has helped me not feel overwhelmed and helpless.
- Feeding Fears– I fall victim to the rabbit hole of Google, and eventually, become obsessed with different things that feed my fears. While educating yourself is important, it’s just as important to remember when to turn it off.
- Faith/Gratitude– Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 – Remind yourself every day of things you’re grateful for. Believe that God’s plan is greater than your own. This helps me in so many ways. When I feel lost, I remind myself of these things. Praying out loud helps me when I feel like things are spiraling out of control.
What I Wish Other People Knew
Anxiety is not a choice. 7 out of 10 women experience postpartum anxiety. Whether it’s postpartum anxiety or regular anxiety. Telling someone to stop worrying or to get over it typically does more harm than good. The best way to help someone dealing with an anxiety attack is to let them know you’re here for them. You have understand why they might be feeling a certain way and what it is like to experience. Gently remind them that is not reality, focus on comforting them without feeding their fears. Try to understand why they are feeling that way instead of getting frustrated that they are. This is not an easy battle for any party, it’s easy to become divided. Remember you are on the same team.