It’s no secret that this time last year I was suffering with some pretty intense postpartum anxiety.
I had had anxiety before but nothing like this. I was overcome but such intense and irrational fear that simple things like going to the grocery store we undoable. Over the past year I have come very far in this journey but anxiety isn’t something that is just going to totally disappear from my life. I have learned how to control it though and have a toolbox of tricks.
When it was really bad and I finally decided I needed to get help I knew 100% I was going to be very very open about my struggles.
Postpartum anxiety effects so many women who are ashamed so I made it my mission to let them know they weren’t alone. People ask me all the time how I handle it so I thought today I would right a post sharing what I do.
I feel like I need to make something very clear though first.
You will see in my journey I didn’t take medication, it’s not because I don’t think some people truly need it, it’s because the 3 times in my life I have tried medications for anxiety I have had very adverse effects. I’m someone who can not handle those types of medications and was lucky to find ways to treat my anxiety without them. I do have a prescription for busepar which I can take as needed and have taken a few times. If you suffer from anxiety or depression please find a doctor you love and respect and go from there.
I wish I could shout this from the rooftops guys. I LOVE therapy and I look forward to going. Sounds odd right? Who wants to go lay on a couch and confess their fears? This girl! In the back of my mind I knew I needed therapy for years. Like I said I suffered from anxiety on and off since I was a teenager but the idea of therapy…no way sister. I was not going to be seen as someone who was weak and needed to go to therapy (which I later learned in therapy that being perceived as weak is a big trigger for me but thats an entirely different post.) Finally about 8 months ago I couldn’t take it anymore and scheduled an appointment with a therapist a few people had recommended. I sat in the office sweating because I was such a wreck about going. Would she immediately tell me I needed medications, would I be locked away in a straight jacket, or even worse would she think my fears and anxiety weren’t real?
Luckily none of those things happened and I began looking forward to my appointments. Sometimes she would teach me new coping techniques and sometimes she would just let me talk about everything going on and listen. Guys…she LISTENED! I learned very very quickly what my triggers were and starting building tools to combat them. It was amazing and it seemed like every time I went a little weight was lifted. I actually went to therapy on my birthday last week. What a better way to start a new year than getting it off your chest.
Therapy is #1 on my list for so many reasons that I could probably get 6 blog posts out of it. Don’t be ashamed because I think everyone needs therapy, especially moms. You go to your OBYGYN appointments, you get your boobs squished for a mammogram, you take care of your roots every 6 weeks…start taking care of your mind. When your mind is right, when you aren’t anxious and stressed every second…other areas of your life truly flourish.
As I typed out diet I rolled my eyes because I feel like a total hypocrite right now. You see my diet the past few months has been garbage. With Noelle in and our of the hospital I have been on straight survival mode and my diet is always the first thing I let slide. However when I’m eating right and fueling my body with healthy foods my anxiety is much better controlled. It’s a struggle and I think this is usually the hardest part for me because I really really love big macs and sprite.
For me food and emotions go hand in hand. I eat when I’m stressed, mad, or bored. I had to learn (and am still learning) how to control that and how to make better choices. I finally stopped shopping the junk food aisles at the store. If it’s not in my house then I won’t be able to eat it right? I also gave up all caffeine. WHAT?! How do I survive? It was rough for about a week and now I really don’t miss it. I do drink organic decaf coffee because my day just feels off without it. I also really try to limit sugar. Sugar causes inflammation in your body and is pretty much the root of all evil. If you are putting good healthy things in your body then your body is going to love you.
Right now stop reading and do a quick google search of hormone specialists in your area and call them for an appointment. Last summer my anxiety was the worst it has ever been and I reached out to my girlfriend Tosca, whose dad is Dr Norman of Myrtle Beach Diet, her parents are honest to God hormone experts. They sent me a natural progesterone cream and it was life changing. I still use it every single night and I can’t believe how much it really works.
There are so many things in the world that disrupt our hormones these days: food, fragrances, environmental factors…the list goes on and on. Yet we never really dig deep to see what our levels are at and how we can improve them. Tosca sent me an entire sheet of blood work to get done and there were tests I had never heard of. Getting my hormones straight is my big priority this year so I’m thankful she is there to help me.
#4 Take time for YOU
Oh mama this is a hard one, right? I used to think that I thrived off of stress. The more full my plate was the better I performed but actually I was just dropping balls left and right. In therapy I learned that I needed to take time for myself in order to be able to better serve my family and my life. I’m not going to lie to you there was guilt, lots and lots of guilt. I should be cleaning or doing a craft with the girls instead of soaking in the tub or going for a walk alone. You know mom guilt and it’s ugliness.
After forcing myself to spend time on me I saw how much better I was because of it. It doesn’t have to be anything too wild even just a trip to Target alone. Whatever makes you happy and relaxed, stop feeling guilty for taking care of yourself.
#5 Talking about it
This could tie into therapy I suppose but what I really mean is telling those close to you about it. I did’t tell my husband I was suffering until Lennon was 8 months old and only then because I totally lost my crap. As I sobbed and sobbed he told me he had no idea I was even feeling any of that. Women are the ultimate pretenders, we love to pretend everything is great and have gotten really really good at it over the years. Men evolved from having hairy knuckles and women evolved into being able to hide their emotions.
Once I talked to my husband and told him what was going on it was like a flood gate opened. So much of the pressure was gone and the more I talked about it the better I felt. I quickly learned that this is the kind of stuff why they put the “for better or worse” into marriage vows. Sharing how I was feeling made it real but it also made me feel like I could face it. For a long time I tried to deny anything was even wrong but now that it was out in the open it felt like a demon I could tackle.
There are a million different things I do to combat my anxiety.
This list was my top 5 but I have made so many small changes in my life over the past year that I would have to write a book to tell them all and you would be REALLY bored. Anxiety is brutal and if you are suffering right now I hope you find the tools and help you need because no one needs to live life like that. God created this life for you to enjoy, not to live in fear.
You can always email me, I love to talk and share my experiences.