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I have suffered from depression and anxiety since childhood. With my history, I knew that my depression would amplify postpartum and I did my research to prepare myself and my husband for the inevitable. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the postpartum anxiety.
The postpartum anxiety made me worry, constantly. Every moment of every day my mind plays out all of the horrible things that could happen.
My mind sees millions of ways my baby girl could get hurt. Every time my husband leaves for work I worry that the words I say to him could be the last. Any time I leave my daughter with my husband, I have to remind myself a hundred times that she's at home, safe with her father and I didn't leave her somewhere accidentally. Every horrible headline in the newspaper about a child's death is just a new thing to consume my mind with worry.
It's such a morbid way to live. But that's what anxiety does. It makes the mind turn possibilities into probabilities. Sometimes the worry manifests itself physically. My nails are bitten down to nubs. My heart will race, I will feel lightheaded and eventually it can turn into a full blown anxiety attack.
That's not all it did though. My old nickname, SheHulk, became ever so fitting for me as I could snap at any instant. My husband could ask me the simplest of questions and I would get nasty with him.
It's hard to explain what happens inside of me, but the second the anxiety sets in, I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin or ram my fist through a door or take off running and never stop. It feels like I cannot control my actions or the words that come out of my mouth as I can feel my blood pressure rising and my breath shortening.
All it takes is a, "What do you want for dinner honey?" and I turned into a green monster. I had no reason to get so angry over that statement, he wasn't even asking me to make the food, but he almost left me standing alone in the grocery store because I would yell at him in the middle of the produce section. And I felt helpless to the anxiety. There were times I would hide in the bathroom so as not to snap at my husband and I was terrified that I might even snap at my precious baby at times.
The anxiety made me a bitch.
But I'm not a bitch, the anxiety is a bitch. And with a little help, I can make the anxiety my bitch. I will not let the anxiety take over my life any longer.
Any other mamas who might be dealing with postpartum anxiety, know that you're not alone. Reaching out for help can seem impossibly hard at times, but it is so worth it for you and your family.