I know this topic is something a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about, but the people experiencing it need to know they are not alone!! When it hit me, I had no idea what I was experiencing was post partum anxiety. I had heard of the depression, but that was not what I was feeling. There was no sadness.
#1 Postpartum is not just Depression
Many times, new mothers do not feel sad, so they assume what they are experiencing is not postpartum related. That was the case with me. It started a couple nights after we got home from the hospital. I was exhausted, laying in bed, trying to go to sleep. My heart was pounding, my blood pressure (which is normally pretty low) was extremely high. My heart felt like it was skipping beats. I was dizzy, shaking, light headed, short of breath. I felt extreme terror even though I knew in my head everything was fine. After a few days of this with hardly any sleep, I finally went to the doctor and discovered I was experiencing postpartum anxiety and was having multiple panic attacks a day. This was my 2nd baby, and I did not have any of this with the first, so it was totally new to me. Not to mention I'd never heard anyone talk about postpartum anxiety.
#2 It Won't Last Forever
When you are going through this, it feels like it's going to last forever and you will never get back to your "normal" self. I began taking Zoloft shortly after and it took about 4 months of adjusting to the medicine, upping my dose a few times, and finally I started to feel closer to what normal had previously felt like. My daughter is now 10 months, I am still on the medication, and I feel NORMAL! It does get better. It takes time, but there are so many options for relief, so don't give up.
#3 You Don't Have to Give Up Breastfeeding
For some reason, this really upset me when I realized I was going to have to get on medication. I did NOT want to stop breastfeeding my daughter. Well, it turns out I didn't have to. I did need Xanax a couple weeks to get through some pretty extreme panic attacks, so every time I took a Xanax I had to wait 24 hours before nursing again. That was exhausting. Trying to get my daughter to take a bottle, pumping and dumping, and an hour later doing it all again all while battling the panic attacks. But I made it through those rough weeks and am still nursing my 10 month old. So if it seems like too much trouble to bother with it, but you DO want to nurse your baby, don't give up because you can make it work!
#4 Talking About it Helps
When you start to feel like this, you feel like there's something wrong with you and the last thing you want to do is talk about it. But let me tell you, once I started talking about it out loud it really helped. Also just knowing that others know what you're going through lets you know you have people there for you and to look out for you. I felt, at times, like I was going crazy, but I had such a wonderful support system of friends and family around me and they got me through it. If you don't have anyone to talk to, I would highly advise going to see a psychiatrist or someone. Don't try to battle it out alone! Or if worse comes to worse, send ME a message. But please just talk to someone about how you're feeling.
#5 It is More Common Than You Think
The more I talked with my fellow "mommy" friends, the more I realized how common postpartum disorders are. So many of my friends experienced it to some degree. For most, it was actually the anxiety and not depression which shocked me. I never knew they were going through this awful anxiety. But they were such an encouragement to me and more proof that it wouldn't last forever. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. They got back to their normal selves, so I knew I would too.
#6 Taking Medication Does Not Mean You Are Weak
Some people have the impression that if you are on medication for a mental illness it means you are too weak to handle it yourself. If you have high blood pressure, wouldn't you get on medication for that? If you had an awful infection, wouldn't you take an antibiotic for that? This is no different. You are sick and may need medication to get better. I'm not saying everyone does, but in my case, the anxiety was so severe, I could not keep going on how I was. I needed medication. And I'm SO glad I started it because it helped me. I'm still on it and hoping to start weaning off when my daughter turns a year old. My doctor said a year is when a lot start weaning, and do it successfully. So starting doesn't mean you're going to need it forever either. For me, in order to be the best mom I could be for my children, I needed medication. It does not make me weak, but just the opposite.
#7 Taking Medication Does Not Mean You Don't Trust God
I am a Christian and have battled this question before. If I trust in God and his power to heal, then is medication necessary. Well, again, we have pretty much all take medication at some point when we've been sick. It doesn't mean we don't trust God. And I was sick. God provided relief for me by allowing the medication to work. This was such a dark time in my life but I never doubted his goodness and that he was with me. That is what got me through. I clung to his word during this time and knew that no matter what happened, he was with me and I was not alone.
#8 There Are Things You Can Do To Help Deal With It
While you are in the midst of this anxiety, you may feel like there's nothing you can do until the medication kicks in (which for me they said could take up to 8 weeks!) I didn't want to keep feeling like that for 8 more weeks. I saw a psychiatrist and she gave me some great coping tools to get through those awful panic attacks.
Try some of these things. They helped me and can help you too. If you're experiencing any type of postpartum, my heart goes out to you. It is extremely difficult on top of being a new mom- but you can get through it! Don't give up and don't lose hope!
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