I've actually had it for many years now, but since giving birth to Brooke back in March, I've experienced anxiety on another level. Postpartum anxiety, if you will.
In 2011, when Rob was deployed to Kuwait, I moved back to Kansas City to be near family in a one bedroom apartment. Just Piston (our beloved boxer) and I. It was my first time living by myself. And I had a lot of time to overthink basically everything. I was working in a quiet chiropractic office and driving back and forth multiple times a day to let the dog out over lunch.
During that year separation I started fixating on things. "Did I shut the stove off after lunch?" "Did I lock the door before leaving?" "Is the apartment on fire with Piston inside?" Most of the time the feeling would pass. But I remember one day being so sure I left the stove on that I turned around to check and was late getting back to work after lunch.
I knew something wasn't right. But when Rob came home that next summer, the thoughts seemed to go away for the most part. We moved to Georgia and life resumed as normal. Every once in awhile I'd turn around to double check I'd shut the garage door... but for the most part my anxiety had calmed down.
When I got pregnant with Grace back in 2013, I decided to go see a therapist and see what kind of help I could get with learning how to calm my anxiety on my own. She diagnosed me with generalized anxiety and taught me some breathing techniques that helped some. More than anything though, knowing I had the problem and talking to someone helped immensely.
Once I became a mom I started finding myself worked up over the smallest cough from my child or that fall that looked especially bad. Normal mom things, but the thoughts lingered longer than they probably should have. Just another worry to learn to calm - and I was able to.
Recently, I started feeling this overwhelming feeling of doom. That the truck would break down, the dog would swallow something and cost us insane money at the vet, or one of my babies would come down with something. I worried about anything and everything and the absolute worst case scenario. And the feeling became harder and harder to calm. It was overwhelming and in my face at all times. I was more or less becoming negative about everything.
So I talked to a few friends and family members. And I decided to go see my doctor about it. The little survey for postpartum feelings - depression and anxiety... assured me of what I already knew as I marked everyday for all 5 of the anxiety symptoms checkboxes. We talked it over and she prescribed some medicine.
(For the sake of being brutally honest, I will admit that I decided to forego taking the medicine.)
Something my doctor said stuck with me though. "Even if the truck breaks down or something happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it or change it."
It was like the lightbulb went off in my head. It was the one phrase I needed to hear.
That was over a month ago now. Since then I've been able to calm myself with that one simple phrase. And I've felt better. I haven't fixated in weeks. My relationship with my husband is more positive. I don't worry as much (I'm a mom and firmly believe there will always be a certain level of worry in my life.).
One can never be sure, but I am fairly certain this elevated level of anxiety was brought on by postpartum hormones. After giving birth things are a bit whacky. I didn't struggle with my emotions quite as much after giving birth to Grace. But this pregnancy was different. I had two kids. We added a puppy to the mix. I got overwhelmed and it all added up.
I was able to admit that something wasn't right. Not everyone is able to or can do that. Always remember you know your body better than anyone else. Such negative thoughts and feelings aren't normal. And it's okay to seek out help.
IT GETS BETTER. Talk to someone if things aren't feeling right. I am extremely thankful that I have an amazing support group and a doctor that listens. The hormones don't stay elevated forever. But getting to that point is a true struggle sometimes.
I get it, I've been there.
But you aren't alone.