Having my daughter was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Then postpartum anxiety took hold and withdrew me into a world of constant panic, trouble sleeping, and restlessness. I hadn’t realized how bad my anxiety was until I had a panic attack over making a phone call.
All I had to do was schedule an appointment for my kiddo and I couldn’t do it.
I was terrified over the questions I’d get asked, wondering if I’d have the right answers, scared I’d sound stupid to the person on the other line. I was positive they were going to hang up on me and refuse to see my daughter because her mother was a failure.
I broke down in tears that evening when my husband asked me if I got Madi’s appointment set up. He had been telling me for weeks that I was different, that there was something wrong, and I hadn’t believed him. He restrained himself from telling me “I told you so.” and instead told me to seek help. He knew that he couldn’t help me on his own. He knew that I needed to reach out and speak to someone that I trusted who could help me.
Thankfully I had an appointment with my OBGYN to discuss birth control options. I was terrified of confessing to her that I wasn’t doing well, but she had stood by my side the year before when I had a miscarriage. She made sure my daughter and I came through my pregnancy safely. I trusted her more than I’ve ever trusted any other doctor and I knew I needed to say something.
I could not continue to live in a state of constant anxiety and fear. I couldn’t stay withdrawn from life for my daughter’s sake, I knew she deserved better than what I was providing for her. I also knew it wasn’t fair to my husband for me to no longer be the person he married.
This shell of his wife who no longer joked or wanted to spend time with him doing things we used to.
I fought him hard on attending work events or friend’s parties because the anxiety leading up to it drove me into fits of panic and tears. I didn’t want to be this person anymore, I wanted to be me again.
While wringing my hands and looking down at my feet I confessed to my doctor that I wasn’t dealing with life well. That I was constantly anxious and withdrawn. I wasn’t sleeping because I spent half the night awake going through worst case scenarios in my head. When I finally did sleep I’d wake up constantly. During the day my husband was on the receiving end of my constant sniping and anger.
My doctor listened to my concerns and told me that it was okay. That broke me and I began to cry. She told me that she was glad I had spoken to her about this and we were going to work together to help me feel more like myself. I was so grateful that instead of dismissing my concerns she was going to help me take action.
Just a few days into her recommended treatment and my husband told me that he’d gotten his wife back.
We were both in tears. I was finally sleeping, I was taking Madi to play dates and meeting other moms. My husband had a work event and I didn’t stress over it at all, in fact I enjoyed myself! Now that I was back to being myself I couldn’t believe how bad I’d gotten and I beat myself up a bit for not taking it seriously and getting help sooner.
I think so many of us fear that if we confess how we’re truly feeling that we’ll be dismissed. That we’ll be told to just ‘do better’ or ‘get over it.’ It has happened to me in the past and I know it’s a terrifying prospect, but we need to speak up. We need to reach out to someone we trust and open up about how we’re doing. If they dismiss you then find someone else until you get the help that you need. Not just because you deserve to be heard and helped, but because you owe it to your family to take that big first step and get help.