Before I start this post, I don’t claim to know anything about post-natal anxiety from a medical background, I just wanted to tell you about my experiences.
26th January 2012 was the day that I found out I was pregnant. I have wanted to be a Mummy since I can remember, I loved having a career but in my heart of hearts having a family of my own was the most important thing to me. I enjoyed pregnancy (as much as you can) and like many other Mums had quite a difficult birth but we all came out of it okay and with a perfect baby boy (Little Man).
We bought him home and I felt in total bliss. I had similar worries to a lot of new Mums; wondered why I couldn’t grasp this breastfeeding lark, over thought whether he was sleeping enough, eating enough but after a few weeks everything settled down and I loved my little bubble that I had with my newborn. It is important for me to say in this blog that G works away Monday to Thursday/Friday every week so when he finished his paternity leave, he didn’t just leave us for the day on that Monday morning he left us for a week. My Mum came and helped loads in the first few weeks, bringing me dinner and holding Little Man so I could eat it. But as everyone (including me) settled down, Little Man and I spent more and more time on our own as is normal in the day. It was the evenings that started to become difficult, G being away had never bothered me before we had Little Man, I would go out and visit friends and relish evenings to myself in front of the TV in my pyjamas. Now things were different, once Little Man was sleeping through there became this big period of time where I was on my own and then maybe a day of just me and him followed. I think this was where it all started.
When Little Man was about 4 months old, I started to avoid going out with him on my own, it became a bit of a fear. Thoughts would race through my mind about what would I do if he cried or needed a nappy change or was sick everywhere. Even with good intentions I would have talked myself out of any outing by lunchtime. Then G would come home and I would feel OK. I brushed these feelings off as the baby blues. Bad idea. It escalated from there really, even going out with G and Little Man started to make me feel anxious. Being on my own at home with Little Man made me feel anxious. People coming over made me feel anxious. Everything made me anxious! The key thing here is I didn’t know then that I was feeling anxious, I didn’t understand it, I had periods of dizziness which I now know were from hyperventilating and horrendous headaches which I now know were tension headaches.
For a while things really did get a bit out of control and we struggled to cope with what was happening to me. By this time I was back at work too and would plough through a day at work feeling terrible and worrying about picking up Little Man in time. I googled how I felt one night and all my symptoms seemed to match with anxiety so I finally plucked up the courage to go and see my GP, they put me on the list for CBT counselling but unfortunately it was a long waiting list. While I was waiting I decided that I could either let this beat me or fight it. I decided to fight. I looked up all sorts of ways to get it under control; breathing exercises, relaxation techniques but nothing really hit the spot until I stumbled over the Linden Method. I cannot recommend this method enough, I ordered all the resources and worked my way through it. Within weeks I felt I had it all under control. I learnt that I needed to change the way my brain was working. By this time my anxiety was more of a habit than anything else, I was much more confident taking Little Man out and I enjoyed our days on our own but the anxiety was always there. The Linden Method taught me was how to face the anxiety feeling when it came over me, the more I faced it the more it sort of just disappeared.
All of this stretched over around an 18 month period and now I can safely say I have it under control. I’m not completely anxiety free but when it does come, I have it under control within seconds. I think it is safe to say things are on the up.
When starting my blog I felt it was very important to address this issue. There has been a lot in the media recently about post-natal depression but barely anything about post-natal anxiety and there is a difference. Any Mums out there who are feeling now like I was then please please go and see your GP or talk to your loved ones at least. I didn’t tell anyone except my husband and closest friends for a long time. I was ashamed that after all the talking I had done about wanting to be a Mum I wasn’t enjoying it one little bit and I was struggling. Slowly but surely we started to explain to people why I had been so quiet and although most people didn’t claim to understand it they were really supportive.
The changes that we go through when we have a baby are huge and some of us just need a bit more time adjusting than others. I can honestly say I love being a Mummy now and it is exactly how I imagined. It does upset me to look back and realise how poorly I really was but I got through it and it is okay not to be okay all of the time. I hope that when the time comes that we decide to have a second child I will be equipped to notice any signs of the anxiety coming back before it can do any damage.
I am sorry that this is long but I wanted to tell my story, just in-case there is one Mummy out there that has stumbled upon this blog and feels the same as I did. Nip it in the bud, see your GP, talk to your loved ones, look up The Linden Method but above all face it. It doesn’t make you weak, a bad mum or many of the other things that I know went through my head at the time.
We all need a bit of help sometimes.
Have a great day.