Postpartum Anxiety – By Fingers To Sky, Melisa Lewis
My feet are firmly planted in the role of Stay at Home Mom, with a dotted line to writer/blogger. I label myself as an “old mom” because I had my last baby right before I turned 40 years old. I currently live in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States. My blog is Fingers To Sky and I can also be followed on Facebook. My blog gets rather personal, and it took me a few months before I invited friends and family to read my rambles. Hobbies and passions include gardening, writing, hiking, cooking, and good ol’ fashion soul searching, which is the hippy way to say therapy.
I have three young children, ages one, three, and six. They are the chaos and love in my life, along with my supportive husband. Each week I try to read a little, write a little, and cook a new recipe. Today’s recipe was horrible, but there’s always the next.
Through therapy and self-discovery, I’ve determined that anxiety has been with me from a very young age. Irrational thoughts about how people view me has always plagued me. I also always felt inadequate or incapable of success in regards to education and certain dreams. Anxiety has manifested itself in many forms, oozing out in unique ways throughout my years. There are so many ways anxiety has affected me, today specifically I am going to talk about the most recent dark time, which was when I gave birth to my third child.
It’s amazing how circumstances can affect our health, both physically and mentally. At about 4 months pregnant I was told I would no longer have a job to come back to once the baby was here. We had just moved into a bigger house, bought a new car, and my husband’s current work schedule had him away a lot. My pregnancy was a surprise, I mean a real “WOW” surprise, we had needed help getting pregnant with our last two and I had suffered several miscarriages throughout our years of trying. Fertility struggles were also a very dark time for us. Though now I found myself unsure if I wanted a third child, but faced with the reality that it was happening.
Of course the idea of having a third child sunk in and I embraced it with time. The beginning was always hard both physically and mentally. I remember once I was alone at night with my two children, feeling tired and ill and my temper was mounting. They weren’t listening to me, so as I sat in the reading chair, book in hand I started to cry. They froze and stared at me. My big pregnant belly bobbed with each sob, I pleaded with them, “Can we just read a book and go to bed? Please? I’m so tired, no one is here to help me! Please.” They complied, I felt horrible but also relieved, I didn’t dwell on my parenting skills that night.
Fast forward a few months, my husband was still working so much I didn’t see him many evenings or weekends. I was exhausted and drained, I started to shut down and made the decision to stop talking to him to see if he would notice. He did and asked me if I was okay, but words didn’t form and I smiled and said, “I’m tired.” This went on for most of my last trimester of pregnancy, until I hit my breaking point and flooded my unsuspecting husband with threats and sobs. I had never felt so distant from someone I loved in all of my life. I felt guilty for holding it all in, but I think for the first time I was depressed and the effort to share my misery made me furious. Couldn’t he just tell I was unhappy and struggling?! Apparently the answer was no, people cannot read other people’s minds.
We still had a lot of work to do, but I felt like I was getting into a better place with my husband back on my side and committed to spending more time with the family. After the baby was born everything was
going well for a few months. Then feelings of anxiety started to come in waves. I was short tempered with everyone, I couldn’t focus on anything, I insisted on keeping my house spotless, and making dinner from scratch every night. It seemed as if I was trying to keep this beautiful picture intact. It was my third child; I should have this down by now! Everyone should see how fast I can lose weight and make my house sparkle.
The breaking point for me is when I started to yell at one of my sisters for no reason. I caught myself, apologized and knew I needed help.
I researched online for support groups, there are so many out there geared to first time moms, I felt I didn’t fit in with that description. I found a postpartum hotline and emailed someone to help me find a therapist that would take my insurance. Together we found someone. I also visited my general practitioner wo instantly prescribed me Lexapro.
I had never taken a prescription like this in my life, I was nervous and hopeful. Could a pill really make all of this go away? I took one – then no more. Everyone I had spoken to told me the same thing, “I love Lexapro, it literally saved my life.” To these friends I am thankful that Lexapro helped them, but hearing people say it saved their live made me feel it wasn’t a fit for me. I was not at the point I felt my life was being threatened, I didn’t need that level of help. I am thankful to know it’s there, but I’m not ready to take that leap.
Therapy, acupuncture, and magnesium supplements have helped me regain my well-being. I still battle with anxious tendencies, but by discovering a few key elements I have grown to understand my thought processes and anxious mind. There is no one to blame for this, including no reason to assign self-blame. Anxiety has always been a part of my life and might always be. Controlling anxiety is doable. Just becoming aware of triggers and irrational unhealthy thoughts has open new doors for me. I continue with therapy every other Friday and acupuncture when I can. Magnesium and other supplements have been known to help with anxiety, they don’t have side effects and have worked for enough for me to take the edge off.
My suggestion to anyone with a mental illness, or even a really strong desire to seek a better and healthier well-being, is to do some research on what is available. Read, talk to someone, research, ask a lot of questions. Most important, feel good about the steps you are taking. Even when therapy is hard and I make unsettling discoveries, I know I’m moving forward. Self-discovery and therapy go hand-in-hand. Your therapist can only get you so far, you have to be willing to put in the energy. You’re worth it though, so keep trying.
Here is a link to Melisa’s Lewis’ Blog titled Fingers to Sky.
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