I’ve made it no secret that I have suffered with anxiety and depression pretty much most of my life. At times, it was bad. And at others, it wasn’t that bad; I was able to cope with the symptoms and live pretty well.
When I got pregnant, one of my biggest fears (aside from pushing a child out of a place that should never have to go through that much pain) was post-partum depression. I decided I was going to do placenta encapsulation to help with my symptoms naturally. So when I got an infection and couldn’t do the placenta thing, I was super bummed. And super scared. How was I going to get through the post-partum depression I knew was going to plague me?
Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
I had Huff the Hubs home for two weeks after Hermione was born. I had my family and friends come over and sit with me when he went back to work. Then, eventually, it became just me and her. Things were going a long pretty well. And then I went back to work.
I don’t know if it was the stress of going back to work or the stress of being a mom, or both, but I started noticing symptoms of anxiety I had never experienced before.
I found myself getting up in the night, just to check that Hermione was breathing. And even if I saw her, lying there, perfectly fine, my mind would start to cook up all of these horrible scenarios.
What if she moves her hand in the night and the blanket suffocates her?!
What if while we’re driving to the sitter’s, we get in a car wreck?
What if I’m so tired that I fall asleep while feeding her and she falls out of my lap?
Finally, one morning on the way to the office, I hit my breaking point. It was icy and I was white-knuckling it the entire way. Hermione was in her car seat in the back, so I was keeping A LOT of space between me and the cars around me. Suddenly, the car in front of me spun in a circle and drove off into a ditch.
I screamed. What if that car hit us? What if we hit them?
I held back the tears as I dropped Hermione off and got to work. Everyone had called in that day, so it was just me. I went into an empty office and shut the door, crying out to God.
What can’t I stop these thoughts? Why can’t I stop thinking about the worst-case scenario?
So I did what no one should do and Googled.
Turns out, it was the best thing I could do. I found out I am not alone in this struggle. Which at first made me ache for the other mothers out there that are experiencing this, but then I found comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone.
I went to my counselor and talked to her about it. I have post-partum OCD.
She explained it like this: “What are all of your fears and worries about?”
“That something is going to happen to her,” I replied.
“Exactly. You’ve felt a deep sense of protection for people in life before: friends, family. But this? This is different. You made this person. You carried this person. The protection you feel for her surmounts any protective feeling you feel for anyone else.”
“So why am I worrying myself into panic attacks?” I asked.
She smiled. “Because you love her. And you’re a mom.”
She went on to say that even though I have this new role, I still need to work on my fears. Fear is based on not having control, she said. So, I’m working on it. I’m working on not freaking out about every little thing. I’m working on not letting fear control my life and fret myself into a panic attack. Its tough, but I’m working on it.
And thanks to my counselor, Huff the Hubs, my faith, and my support system of family and friends, I think I’ll be able to get through this. I know it won’t be easy and it will take some time, but I know I can do it.
And if there are any moms out there that think they’re the only one struggling with this, I’m here to tell you, you’re not. I think we need to start being more open and honest about our struggles instead of smiling and saying, “Oh…yeah…everything’s fine.” We need to support each other and help each other out. The only way to get through these times is to talk about it. I’m so glad I did.