This is not a blog post I have been really wanted to write. Who wants to talk about a topic that brings so much pain and sadness, but I have found so much strength from other mothers sharing their story. So I feel I need to do the same.
I have mainly struggled with post partum anxiety and OCD.
At first I didn't even know I wasn't okay, I didn't know my thoughts were controlled by fear. I didn't know that living in this shadow of worries and deep raw fear wasn't good. To me it became my new normal.
My biggest source of fear is my children dying, or me dying and leaving them without a mother. As I write this, I still remember the fear these thoughts caused, it was like drowning in a darkness only I could see. It hurt so deep that I felt I could never heal. I could spend hours looking online about stories about children dying of SIDS, cancer etc. all stressing about how I could prevent this. How could I make sure I could keep my babies safe. I would cry for these moms, their pain and their loss.
The fear of having to go through what they went through would paralyze me. It still does, it was like a I could feel their pain, and I felt it was needed. If I allowed myself to be happy, those bad things would happen to my babies. But now I know to stay away from certain triggers. I shouldn't click on a link regarding infant loss, no new sids statistics for me.
This is where it gets hard for me, I keep thinking I need to - I have to check these, because I mean, what if this is the one article that make the difference, the one that will help me keep my babies safe? It's became like an obsession. And I started to noticed I annoyed the people around me, so I couldn't talk about all these scary thoughts, the battle in my mind that was forcing me to read this, the thoughts just kept popping up, and wouldn't leave. It wasn't something I could control. I could no longer control my fear, and I felt so alone. It felt like screaming under water and no one was ever going to hear me. I didn’t feel better, I just became better at hiding my pain. I learned to only cry when I am alone, I learned how to fake happiness. But inside I was hurting so bad, and still do sometimes.
Not reading these articles can cause me anxiety, and reading it causes me even more stress, so I try my best to keep focus on staying away from it.
After I started taking medication I have found that I can sort of identify if I am being ruled by irrational fear. I still feel it, but I can take a step back and stop myself better. Instead of the fear taking control, not allowing me to be happy, thinking if I don't do something certain I'll loose by babies, I can now rationally tell myself to stop.
So the fear and OCD are still there, I can just call myself out on it now. But finding the right medication wasn't easy, I started in Zoloft and it just made me drowsy and that brought on more anxiety. I am now on buspar, and I feel it's slowly helping.
I guess the hardest thing to realize for me that my fear wasn't normal - not everyone spend that much time obsessing over their own death or their children's. A day shouldn't be filled with articles about cancer and infant deaths. And the next thing that was hard to realize was that it's okay, that I wasn't okay. What was happening to me wasn't fine, but I could be okay again. I needed help, buygt it's not my fault. I wasn't to blame for this, and I didn't need to be ashamed. Suddenly I read about so many other mothers struggling with this. This is where reading articles helped. I saw them describe their fear, and realized that was my new normal. I finally could relate, and see I wasn't alone.
Seeing other moms open up has given me the courage to be more open about it.
I have good days, and I have bad days. Some days fear is stronger, but those days are further apart. Some days I cave in, because I have to know if I can save my children. But the next day I am ready to stand up to my fear again. I hold my children tight and praise God he has given me opportunity to get help and to overcome it.
I really hope we can soon raise enough awareness that other mothers (and fathers) don't have to go through this, that they and their close ones know what to do early on. That we don't make it something to be ashamed of, that we see it for the illness it is, and treat it as fast as possible.
To me these are some of the most helpful things.
~ Awareness of triggers
~ Seeing other mothers who struggle and knowing they made it through.
If just one mother going through this can read it and feel better it’s all worth sharing. Or if someone knowing a mother going through this can read it and understand what’s going on. I would also like to add, that just because it’s in our minds doesn’t mean we have control. Asking someone with fear to stop being anxious is like asking someone with a cold to stop having a runny nose.
A few helpful links.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.