8 Ways Postpartum Anxiety Made Me a Better Person
I now have the theory that you learn more lessons in the first few months of motherhood than you do in the entire rest of your life combined.
Some of them will come easier than others and some of them will be down right savage, but believe me when I tell you, it is in these many lessons that some super human magic happens.
With every thing you learn you find yourself becoming stronger, more sure of yourself and a better mother.
One of the hardest lessons for me has been postpartum anxiety & OCD. I had been dealing with uncontrollable fears and obsessive worrying for several months before I even realized something was wrong. The symptoms showed up a few month after Vivienne arrived and I had heard more about post partum depression but nothing really about anxiety or OCD; so the whole thing took a bit to actually catch on to. Once I realized something was really not okay it quickly became apparent I had to take this seriously and put my health first.
As many mothers of today I felt like I had to 'do it all' as soon as the baby arrived- the body, the career, the friendships, the romance and the perfect social media, all while breastfeeding and of course being so much more than just a stay at home mom etc etc.
Out of fear that my anxiety would get worse I took the rather abrupt approach and literally just dropped everything. At first it felt like hiding, and to be honest maybe it was but what it turned into was me
committing to the first real break of my life
I decided I would focus only on myself and my family. No big game plan for the future, no obligations, no schedule and even no social media; I didn't even pick up my phone for three weeks.
It was legit.
One month lead to two months which ended up leading to almost 3 months focusing on nothing more than my new role as a mother & wife. Although I am still very much a work in progress it feels good to be making a comeback and to be back online to share this post.
My hope is to shed some light on postpartum anxiety, a topic I don't think is discussed enough, and to lift the spirits of other Mamas who are struggling. I hope my post will let other mamas see a silver lining in what can be a very dark time.
No one wants to suffer from anxiety & mental illness, myself included, but I will say there are parts of me that are grateful for this whole experience. Without a doubt it has, shall we say "nudged" me to make some changes that I believe have made me a better person.
As a matter of fact I have learned so much in the space that anxiety created that I was able to turn this challenge into several beautiful lessons and those are what I would like to share with you now.
Here are the 8 beautiful lessons anxiety taught me:
- Vulnerability opens up the door for the support we crave. As new mamas I think we spend a lot of time craving support, especially because so many of raise our babies without our family's close by AKA the opposite of a village. When you can share that you need help and you can be vulnerable enough to expose you are struggling that is the opportunity those around you need to step in. If you spend all of your time in your own head and keep the problems to yourself well then you will feel more alone than ever and no one will feel like they can be there for you.
Vulnerability opens up the door for the support we crave
quality bonding time with the squad
- Saying things out loud is the quickest way to feel better. When we keep our fears and anxieties in our head they feel exponentially bigger and scarier. Speaking about them to someone you trust or even writing them down for yourself has some sort of magical ability to put things in perspective and bring some relief.
- Everyone needs a break sometimes. A real break. For me it was longer than I thought it would be, one month lead to two months lead to three months but I trusted my intuition and I am so glad I did.
Everyone needs a break
mornings with Viv: Kisses, cuddles, long walks, good talks, Her bubba & my coffee, giggles and of course, the most important question.....what should we dress her in today
- Imperfection is universal. I find it beautiful that I have felt inspired to share in my darker hours because before my anxiety hit the fan I had been paralyzed for weeks on finally getting back to blogging and putting Going For Goddess back out there. I felt like my life was in shambles and so I had to wait until things were 'perfect' before I would have anything useful to say. Leaning into my vulnerability and taking time to step back let me realize there is just as much importance in sharing the imperfections.
Imperfection is universal
taking time to teach her that none of us are perfect, all we can do is try our best
- Perspective is essential when you are in transition. When you are living in the fear spiral that often comes with big changes you are so focused on a few particular things that you are unable to see the bigger picture, which of course is that everything will be okay in the long run. Now I know I just said being in the moment is essential to happiness but having a little perspective is also important. We have to be able to see that some of our problems and fears aren't as BIG as we might be imagining. We have all the time we need, we can handle anything that comes our way and we do not have to have it all figured out right this second.
- Food is medicine.Even though I consider myself a very healthy eater, 9 long months of pregnancy, a few months recovering from major surgery plus breastfeeding will throw off anyone's eating game. The reality of dealing with a serious mental illness was the reminder I needed to get back to what I am good at and find my passion for medicinal nutrition once again.
- We can't be strong all of the time, sometimes we have to be fragile. It is my belief that life breaks you down in order to help you grow, sometimes in ways you don't really understand at the time and then all suddenly makes sense. Even though it might be hard to not have it all together or feel like you're whole world is falling apart, if you can trust, you will seee all of it is actually making you incredibly stronger.
Thank you so much for letting me share this post with you.
As you can hear from the words on this page there is healing in being vulnerable.
If you are a mother struggling with overwhelm or anxiety, fears that leave you unable to do your normal activities or you feel depressed and hopeless, I encourage you to give yourself some real rest. Now is not the time to push yourself or neglect your own needs.
If you don't know where to begin I would say start by talking to someone you can trust. Even if you feel like your thoughts are crazy and irrational or people will judge you, don't worry about any of that, we are all a little nuts with the level of hormones floating around so just talk to someone. I know for myself I really wasn't sure if what I was going through were just normal worries or if I was actually going insane. It wasn't until I opened up to James about everything that I was able to see clearly and realize I had a problem that I needed to address.
Either way I promise you will feel better after talking to someone.
On that note if you don't have someone you feel comfortable talking to you can always reach out to me, I am more than happy to listen.
Stay tuned next week where I am going to share all of the things I did during this break that helped me feel like myself again.
I am also going to be sharing a fun worksheet I created to help all new Mamas stay aligned and get their needs met during this wild transition.
Literally all of my love - Candice