I will start by saying, that I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t experience postpartum anxiety. Postpartum anxiety are words I never thought I would say and definitely not something I would experience. But, I did and it took me a long time to admit that was what was going on. My journey of dealing with postpartum anxiety was not easy specially because I didn’t experience it the first time around, however it got me where I am today and for that I am forever grateful.
This blog was created at a very tough point in my life, at a time when I could my sh*t within seconds and for really no good reason. When I felt as if I couldn’t control anything in my life, so I decided to create something that only I had control over. It was the one and only thing that was just mine and I could do whatever I wanted with it. So in some ways, I am grateful that I was able to create this out of a pretty awful experience.
Postpartum Anxiety Doesn’t Look the Same for Everyone
It’s funny to look back on parts of your life and how one experience can alter your path, but at the time seem like just a bad week…or in my case a bad month(s). The hardest part for me, was not really understanding what I was going through. My experience with postpartum anxiety was not what I read or heard about and despite knowing other moms that had experienced postpartum anxiety or depression I didn’t realize I had it for months.
For me, it all started a month or so before I went back to work. You know that gut feeling that something is super off, but you can’t put your finger on it. That was me, in regards to my job, while out on maternity leave. I honestly thought I was going to get fired, and my husband thought I was crazy, but something didn’t feel right.
Every time I was contacted by work while out, it felt disconnected and ingenuine. I have no idea what happened, but while I was out on maternity leave I became the black sheep. Despite outperforming my job (I was literally working while in labor at the hospital), working more than most people there, and never even missing a day despite nonstop morning sickness for 9-months, I wasn’t good enough for them. Which in turn made me feel like a bad mom because I put so much into my job that I could have been giving my girls. This was the beginning of my postpartum anxiety, I just didn’t know it yet.
My Breaking Point
The company had planned to have headshots done about a month before I was to return from my maternity leave. I showed up, baby in tow with my happy face on, despite how I was really feeling. Even though the entire week leading up to picture day, I had knots in my stomach. I couldn’t pinpoint what I was anxious about but I just was and no matter what I did the feeling would not go away, little did I know this was postpartum anxiety.
After that, I enjoyed the last month of maternity leave as much as I could. Work kept pressuring me to come back earlier than I said I would be back and I dreaded so much about going back to work. It just didn’t feel right at all, just deep down knew it wasn’t going to be good. In hindsight, I probably should have taken a step back to reevaluate my situation, but I had told them I was coming back at a certain time and felt tied to my word.
I don’t think the change was immediate, but I would say within about 2 weeks I had a major (not good) switch. Shortly after returning to work, I constantly felt on edge and would blow up so quickly over nothing (well at the time it seemed like something). Eventually, I realized my trigger was everything I wasn’t able to control, which at that time was almost everything. I was only 4 months postpartum with two kids, three and under, sleepless nights, and back to being gone 10+ hours a day for work. Needless to say, this caused my seemingly harmless anxiousness to be full blow postpartum anxiety.
Working full time with an infant and a two-year-old was trying on the best week. Despite trying to plan ahead, meal plan, freezing hundreds of ounces of breastmilk, getting fully cooked meals delivered, getting our house professionally cleaned, etc., I still felt as if I was drowning most days. Work said they would be flexible but yet I was still expected to work more than others and I was attacked whenever I tried to manage those under. I quickly realized, that in the short time I was out, they didn’t want the truth or anyone to speak up as I often did.
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My Postpartum Anxiety Turning Point
I still didn’t realize that I had postpartum anxiety, I just thought I was exhausted and overwhelmed, but then I realized work was the main trigger for me and after a rude awakening and I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I’ll never forget the moment I realize it was me and not everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, my former company was a huge problem, but I had the ability to change that.
But, once the “blame” was put on me and I realized what I was doing to my family, my marriage, my kids. I knew in that moment I was done letting it affect me the way I had let it take over. I bawled my eyes out all the way home and promised myself I would stop letting the outbursts happen. Now, I must say this didn’t happen over night but I stopped letting what I was going through seep out and affect my whole family.
When I had a bad day at work, I would call up my husband on the way home and yell (in-directly) at him to get it out of my system. Thank goodness, my husband was there for me during this time as we both learned to navigate my postpartum anxiety. When I was around my babies, I had my happy face on, I learned to walk away and ask for help. Which was so so so darn hard and it did not happen overnight!
Moving on From Postpartum Anxiety
Every bad thing that happens in your life doesn’t have to be the end of something good, instead, it can be the beginning of something beautiful. Experiencing postpartum anxiety has taught me so much. Not only about myself but how to be more compassionate with others. I am still not perfect, I have cried at the end (or middle errr let’s be honest, even the beginning) of a tough day with the girls, I still lose my temper, I still want to be more patient and wish I could give even more.
This is crazy to say because I give them pretty much everything I have and can give right now. I am past the worst of my postpartum anxiety, I know my triggers and when to ask for help, but it still pops up now and again. My girls are my life, my husband helps hold us all together and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have more goals and desires now that I have gone through what I have than I did before, so for that I am forever thankful.
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The moral of the story-No one will ever be a better advocate for yourself than you. If something feels off, it probably is. Plus, don’t give more to your job than your job is giving to you. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn, I was really mad at how I was treated, but at the end of the day, I was madder at how I let them treat me before standing up for myself. Which in turn affected my family and my mental well-being. I am grateful for my experiences with postpartum anxiety because I literally wouldn’t be here today and would not have quit my job and gotten to spend more of these precious years with my babies.
Thank you for sharing a part of My Beautiful Chaos!