So today I thought I would talk a little about my struggles with post natal anxiety.
Let’s go back to September 2014, I had just given birth to Poppy and was coming out of the first 2 weeks of “baby blues”. I was told by friends, fellow mums, midwives and health visitors to expect those hormone changes and weepy days right at the beginning, they came as promised and were dealt with. When I look back now to the weeks, months and even years that followed I had some obvious signs that something wasn’t right.
My first sign was being very over protective, now back then I thought I was just being a “normal” mum. I remember when Poppy was about 3 weeks old we went to a family gathering at my aunts house and I kept wishing to myself that she would stay asleep in her buggy so that no one would get to hold her, everyone kept willing her to wake up which made me feel like crying, I was so terrified they would pass on germs or drop her, obviously now I know that’s not a great sign but as I say at the time I thought everyone felt like that. We eventually left and she didn’t wake so I avoided it then, but knew that eventually I would need to let people hold her….and I did….and I hated every second. I also had a huge problem with the weather…the wind in particular, i had this image of her not being able to catch her breath if it was bad so I would avoid taking her out or if I did I put the rain cover on the buggy, it may seem little but it would consume me.
When I fell pregnant with Tilly, Poppy was only 13 months old and once I began to get closer to having her my anxiety started to get worse. I had all those usual “how can I love them both?” Questions and worries about being a mum of 2, 4 when my step kids are there, but that wasn’t really where my anxieties lay. My anxiety was with the feeling something bad might happen.
I would catastrophise every little thing in my head, to give an example… I would think about what I was going to do with her in a day, What would we do? How would we get there? What might happen on the way? I would start to walk with her in the buggy and worry that I wasn’t holding the buggy tight enough, I would then start to imagine what would happen if I lost my grip or if I slipped and fell and the buggy came away from me, that thought would then loop over and over in my mind until I would have to turn round and go home. This continues well into the year after Tilly was born. I would avoid leaving the house because Home was the safest place to be. Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t always bad, there were days I felt ok and would take them out to see friends and family, but those days were few and far between and that feeling of being ok never lasted long. At its worst I would challenge myself to leave the house, promising myself I would feel better once I left, I would get them ready and put Tilly in the buggy only to be left standing willing myself to open the door and then not being able to carry out the task. This time last year I took both the girls on the train for the first time, Everything felt ok up until the train began to approach and I suddenly realised I wasn’t able to put them both on at the same time, I had to either put Poppy on first followed by the buggy or vice versa. Those horrible consuming thoughts of the train leaving with one of them on and me left standing at the station was too much to take (even though I knew in my head there was actually no way it would happen) so I phoned my husband to collect us at the other end. Because of this need to control every possible thing that might happen I quickly developed OCD. I would need my house to be in perfect order as it seemed to be the only thing I could truly control, except with 4 kids in the house it never stayed in perfect order which meant I went round in circles seeking that feeling of relief and desperately trying not to fall apart.
After a year of feeling like I was going mad and that I was the worst mum in the world I spoke up, seeking advice from a health visitor who told me it sounded like post natal anxiety. Since then I’ve found a way of dealing with my anxieties that work for me and happy to say I’m in a better place, the best place I’ve been in a long time. I even took the girls on the train recently(with family) and felt ok. That’s a big deal in my eyes.
I hope by writing this that even one person who is maybe suffering sees it and realises they are not alone and that help is out there, or even gets in contact with me to talk.
Thank you for reading.