Photography by Shadi Garman
Becoming a parent is one of the most life changing experiences a person can go through, in my opinion. Every single part of your life changes! Your body, your responsibilities, your relationship dynamic with your partner…etc. etc. etc. the list goes on! On top of these changes, we as mothers are challenged with hormone imbalance which is super tough. After I had Charlee, I was so happy. I remember being just euphorically happy. I say that because I didn’t realize that while being so happy, I was actually suffering from postpartum anxiety.
I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety when Charlee was about 12 weeks old. At Charlee’s three month appointment, my pediatrician asked me to fill out a standard questionnaire that she gives to all new Moms. The sheet was basically a rating of how you have been feeling recently. I filled it out honestly and didn’t even think twice about it. After the appointment, my Dr. came out to the waiting room and asked to talk to me about the results. Apparently I had scored pretty low on this test and she recommended that I go talk to someone. She gave me a referral of a local therapist that specializes in this sort of thing. To be honest, I was actually pretty surprised and it took me a few days to wrap my head around talking to someone. I just was super happy and knew I wasn’t depressed. I did, however, know that something wasn’t quite right. I want to do my best to explain how I was feeling because maybe you are feeling this way too. I guess the best way to describe how I was feeling is is to say that I was just constantly “on.” I had a very difficult time relaxing because I was always worried about something. Something as simple as packing the diaper bag to take Charlee out of the apartment had the potential to sort of put me over the edge. I would talk to myself out loud and question myself. I would walk through every single possible situation that could arise and make sure I had what I needed to handle it. You can imagine my diaper bag was pretty heavy haha! It was difficult to just be present and in the moment because I was so wrapped up in my thoughts. Even when Charlee slept I would have anxiety and constantly question if she was breathing. It was not good! I was so deep in the middle of it that until our pediatrician said something about it, I didn’t even realize how much I was suffering. I decided to take my pediatrician’s advice and made an appointment with a therapist. I can’t tell you how amazing this decision was for me. I have been seeing her for over three months now and I can’t even put into words how beneficial the therapy has been for me. We use cognitive therapy and I have learned how to control my thoughts in a more productive way. She has taught me ways to manage my anxieties and has truly made me a better and even happier Mom. I was able to recognize that there was nothing weird or wrong with me for having these feelings and I had nothing to be ashamed of.
I think postpartum anxiety and depression is way more common than people realize. I don’t know why we as women don’t talk more about it. I wish I had been able to talk about this even earlier than I am. I guess it’s easier to talk about it now that I am on the other side of it. I know I still have work to do, but I am so much better than I was before. It’s so important to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. I think I am an even better, more present Mom because I took the time to work on myself. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, don’t be ashamed to ask for help! It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your family!