Maternal Mental Health is one of the hardest struggles and one of the hardest things to talk about.
I was happy to be a mom, and was terrified that if I told anyone how I was feeling, that they wouldn’t believe that I was happy to be a mom.
Because there is so much shame in that.
I actually realized recently that what I had was a 25 year anxiety disorder, magnified by the postpartum condition.
I was lost in an ego trip of anxiety and depression from the time I was around 11 years old. I didn’t know that was what it was because it was my state of existence. And I didn’t let anyone in.
Pour on the gasoline of a difficult childbirth, complete lack of any kind of rest or self care, post pregnancy hormones, a baby who screams bloody murder nonstop, and a pervasive feeling of having to go it alone, and you have a serious paralyzing mental health issue.
Here’s the thing.
I still didn’t recognize it as such. I didn’t let anyone in. I didn’t tell anyone about the horrific racing thoughts, the fear so deep in my heart that I would have to remind myself to start breathing again, the inability to move at times, or the impending doom I felt.
So how was anyone to help me?
My husband didn’t even know. From outside of my body, it appeared that I was handling it all. No one knew that in the few minutes I was allowed to rest that I couldn’t. No one knew that I couldn’t focus because my brain was flashing horrifying images all day and night. No one knew that I was going through the motions and not present.
A year later, when I was finally working my way out of the worst of it, THEN I could look back and recognize what it was… sort of. Because people still didn’t explain what postpartum mental illness actually looked or felt like. When I could finally see it, I didn’t have language for it and still couldn’t reach out for help.
I still couldn’t see that I was in a state of a lifelong anxiety disorder.
It took me another 5 years to break free from my anxiety. I was finally free, could finally see, and could finally be myself. For the first time.
That will be a story for another day.
But I am writing this for you today to tell you that if you are feeling any of these feelings:
- inability to be present or focus
- paralyzing fear
- racing fearful thoughts
- lack of rest
- seizing body tension that can’t relax
I encourage you to reach out right now to someone who can help you. Call 1-800-662-HELP. It’s free. Don’t wait. Don’t waste time in this state. Do it for yourself and your family.