I struggled for many months with whether I should write about this part of my life or not. When Katherine from Half Kindled reached out to me about her blog hop, I knew it was time to tell this story. Besides, everyone already knows I’m open about my anxiety. Why not keep sharing? AND, bonus, May has been named Maternal Mental Health Month by several organizations. So, I’d say it’s perfect timing.
My Anxiety Story
Throughout my life, I’ve always dealt with some sort of anxiety disorder. In my early adult years, my anxiety started manifesting itself as panic attacks. With each pregnancy, the panic attacks would get worse, and with this third one, the episodes were starting to happen daily – sometimes every few hours. Because of the relentlessness of the attacks, I started to feel hopeless and depressed. Dark thoughts entered my mind, and I could not control them. I began to worry I was a danger to myself and my children.
One morning after a particularly hard night, I woke up with the expectation that a night’s sleep would have shaken off my anxiety. But, I found myself in worse shape than before. I laid in bed unable to move, but still managed to start calling around for help. I Googled help lines, called local programs, spoke with professionals, and finally decided I needed immediate help. I couldn’t live another day in that fearful state. I wasn’t eating, I could only sleep fitfully, I was scared of harming myself, I was hopeless and I was pregnant. A terrible combination.
I was hopeless and I was pregnant. A terrible combination.
I Asked for Help
I decided to check myself into the hospital where I would stay four days under the care of many specialists and volunteers. I was assigned a psychologist and a therapist, had my meds evaluated, and was taught various coping mechanisms to help in the short-term. After work, Mike would stay by my side until I fell asleep, and my parents watched my kids during the day. It still turns my stomach to think about a time in my life where I was unable to care for my own children. But I sought and received help.
After leaving hospital, I met frequently with my doctors and therapist. I took a refresher course in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I still have my team on stand by in case I ever have severe attacks again. And even though I was getting the help I needed and seeing results, I was still worried.
I worried that if people found out that I checked myself into a hospital, they would think I was truly crazy and unable to control my own mind or actions. I thought people would treat me like I was sick. I thought it would mean that I wasn’t in control of my life and I had failed.
But what would I think if a woman told me she sought help for a mental affliction? I would think she was brave and strong. I would think it was an incredibly bold and necessary move. I would be proud that she looked past the stigma and took charge of her mental health. And I am deciding to extend those same praises to myself. I am going to love myself and the decision I made.
I am deciding to extend those same praises to myself. I am going to love myself and the decision I made.
How I Am Today
Now, after having our third baby, I still have an anxiety disorder. In fact, I may have it for the rest of my life; it’s my cross. And, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t still worried that the darkness will come back. It’s hard to forget an experience that shakes your confidence with such intensity. But, when I do start to feel the anxiety come on, I know I have the skill set I need to combat it, and I’ve used it with success. I also am comforted by the fact that I have a team standing by to help if things ever get bad again. If I hadn’t taken such a drastic step, I would never have been set up with such powerful tools.
You may be fearful that you’re a failure if you ask for help. You may have told yourself that you’re not the kind of person who needs a big intervention. You may have been told that you can pray away your suffering. You may think you’re a failure if you can’t. I’m telling you that your prayers may not result in a miracle cure. More than likely God will give you enough strength and courage to ask for help. Listen to Him and get the help you deserve. Maternal anxiety can happen during and after pregnancy. Visit Postpartum Progress for information on all maternal mental disorders. Contact your local hospital or visit adaa.org to find a help center.
You’re loved and I’m praying for you. xo
For more encouragement and help, head over to Half Kindled to read Katherine’s story. And, many other women have joined us today. Find hope in their posts as well: A Knotted Life, This Felicitous Life, Mama Needs Coffee, Check Out that Sunset.