So we are a few days off the start of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Week. A cause I’m sure many of you who have followed me for any length of time would know is something I advocate strongly for having suffered with extreme anxiety during my pregnancies and in the early stages of motherhood with my first daughter (you can read my story here).
I thought it would be a timely post to touch on this and my experiences and how I overcame this. But as I began to gather my thoughts to put together a blog, I realised that I am still a fucking massive stress ball of anxiety and in no way, shape or form should be giving any guidance to a mother suffering from anxiety. The only thing I honestly have to offer is a warm embrace and gentle nod of “I know how you feel”.
And while those early days of blinding anxious thoughts that plagued me all throughout my pregnancy and first few months of motherhood seem so far behind me. It is a whole new world of thoughts that I had convinced myself were just ‘normal for a mum’ that hinder my day-to-day.
I have always known one of my biggest triggers for anxiety is situations in which I fell out of control. Anyone who has ever flown next to me on a plane would have been subjected to my sweaty palms and silent tears as I convince myself were all going to die in a fiery crash. And while I keep thinking I’ll eventually get used to it, I seem to be getting worse with age.
Things as little as crossing a busy street with my girls will give me heart pounding anxiety. But it won’t stop just there, I’ll then find this moment playing over in my mind as I fall to sleep where something awful happens to one of my girls.
My husband said to me the other day when we were chatting about schools to send the girls to “at least the school is close, so they can walk”. I literally felt my gut fall out my arse the sinking feeling was the intense and what I can only explain as a shot of adrenaline directly into the heart I felt so anxious even thinking about it. “FUCK NO ARE THEY WALKING ALONE” my head screamed.
The same goes when we travel. I get irrational thoughts about losing the girls or them being abducted and a soul crushing terror consumes me and leaves me feeling paralysed and unable to even enjoy my holiday.
Sleep is one of the most anxiety inducing triggers for me. My girls have never been fantastic sleepers, Teddy was a lot worse than Annabelle, however Annabelle has gotten worse as a toddler.
Knowing that they are going to wake up leaves me in a total state of over-tired yet wide awake fear where I know one of them will go off soon, so I lie there unable to sleep and sensitive to every little noise there is just waiting, which also is a great time for all your irrational thoughts to consume you!
But then of course if they don’t wake up I then freak out something is wrong and must go check on them anyway because my irrational mind has convinced me something MUST BE WRONG!!
And the worst part of it all?
In those in-between moments when your mind lets you think clearly and the fog clears then all those stupid thoughts and ridiculous feelings really do seem just that – stupid and ridiculous!
You feel like an absolutely twat for even allowing those thoughts in and become plagued by guilt over the way it made you handle a situation or behave a certain way because if it.
Anxiety is a liar, but a damn good and convincing one!
It is extremely frustrating, and something I know for me I want to change as I don’t want my girls to grow up with the person that anxiety makes me – always afraid, high strung or angry. Unable to enjoy moments that I will never get back!
It’s a hard thing to acknowledge, because my mind tells me that it’s just the normal ‘motherly worry’. But it cannot be normal to feel physically ill and completely frazzled by situations that are going to arise every day.
Recently I’ve been taking steps to help reduce and manage better my anxiety. And something in time I hope to share should it work. For now I am taking some time to focus on myself and my family. Trying to be more minimalistic in all aspects of my life as I find reducing both mental and physical clutter from my life has always been a good place to start when my anxieties begin to take over.
Acknowledging this, putting these thoughts to paper and removing them from my brain is the first step.
I hope that anyone else out there experiencing something similar may read this and feel a tiny shred of comfort to know that they are not alone. For me, this entire space was somewhere I came for refuge in an unknown and turbulent time – and again here I am! Because sharing this helps me, as does anyone else who puts themselves out there and shares their story publicly – to fell less alone. It helps all of us and reminds us that you are not alone – that it takes a village.
If you are looking for support, you can also get in touch with PANDA via their hotline on 1300 726 306. Or Beyond Blue at 1300 22 4636.