“I’ve been a mom for almost 3 years now. During those 3 years I have been on and off anxiety meds. The journey has not been the easiest, but I have learned so much about who I am as a mom. I have also seen this inner strength be birthed in my heart.
When I was 3 months postpartum I finally saw my postpartum doctor to get some help for the major baby blues and extreme exhaustion I was feeling. I was struggling at this mom gig. I have never struggled with anxiety or depression until I became a Mom. I was not myself and was terrified to admit it. The lack of sleep was tortuous, and my anxious heart was crippling me. I was fearful of everything and my heart was smothered in ‘what if’s?’ Our triplets suffered from GERD, which made feedings incredibly overwhelming. They needed individual and special attention. I felt so much guilt for not being able to help them, which only made things worse. I was tired all the time and felt like Motherhood was way out of my element.
I started having panic attacks consistently. I vividly remember being on the bathroom floor with my husband in the midst of my first panic attack. I was crying so hard and trying to catch my breath. I could feel the panic setting in and didn’t know what to do as I could barely breathe. I was scared, embarrassed, ashamed. My husband grabbed a paper bag and did everything he could to help me walk through those moments. I knew then, it was time to see my doctor, but I admit it took a few more horrifying panic attacks before I actually saw my doctor and reached out for help.
It is hard to admit that motherhood is hard. It is hard to say ‘I am a new Mom. I love my babies, but I am sad and tired all the time.’ It is even harder to say ‘I need help.’ But ultimately, the first step is truly recognizing you need the help. The second step, is getting the help.
When I saw my doctor, she told me I was actually high risk for PPD because of my infertility, multiples pregnancy, and traumatic birth. I remember feeling surprised because no one had ever told me that before. And I was certainly not prepared for the struggles that did come when the babies came. I wish I was more aware about the risk factors and the possibilities of PPD or anxiety prior to having kids. I had this non-existent idea of motherhood. I thought it was going to make me the happiest I have ever been. And don’t get me wrong, it certainly has. It’s the most rewarding journey. However, I suppose I just wonder if I would have been more aware of the changes happening in me and the fact I was actually experiencing PPD and anxiety rather than being in denial initially.
My postpartum season was so hard. I lived in a place of self doubt, second guessing every decision as a mom. I struggled more to love myself and find self worth and confidence which has always come so naturally to me.
My postpartum appointment was one of the first steps in my journey to recovery. My doctor had such heart for women in my position and she was incredibly supportive. I went on Lexapro daily and Xanax for my panic attacks. And I have been on them both on and off since my kids were 3 months old. Initially, I was really embarrassed I was going on meds to help me function as a Mom. After time, I learned to look at differently. My meds help me function as a better Mom. They help manage my anxiety as it comes and goes. I saw a great difference in my days, patience, and struggle with anxiety once the Lexapro kicked in. My medication has helped me face my anxiety head on. The Lexapro takes the edge off and I’ve seen such a difference since I have been on it. I have learned a lot about my body and the onset of a panic attack as well. Those moments are typically more frightening, but I have been able to recognize when and if they will happen and how to handle them. This has been essential in my journey.
I also learned the incredible value in asking for help. I have to say, initially, being told I was experiencing ‘postpartum depression,’ made me feel worse, but I was finally talking to someone who could help me get out of the lonely and exhausting place I was in. It is easy to feel weak as a mom, like I am failure, because I take medicine to help me conquer my days. However, being on anxiety meds does not make me a failure. It doesn’t mean I am not good enough or undeserving. It means I am doing what I need to to be the best I can be for my kids, my family. It takes bravery and strength to step out and say ‘I need help.’ When the triplets were infants, we also hired a mommy helper to be with me and the kids because I was afraid of having a panic attack alone with them. As the kids have gotten older I have come to realize how important self care truly is. I have a gym membership that offers childcare. Sometimes I go just so I can sit on the couch and sometimes I get my mental chai tea in on the treadmill. I will be on the medication as long as I need it. And I am still a great mom.
Our mental health journeys are all personal, heart breaking, and usually very difficult. Yet what I have seen more than anything birthed from my mental health journey is strength. I am strong and I’m fighting anxiety daily. I am learning more about myself and my needs as a mom. A newfound confidence has been placed in my heart. I am brave. And I am not alone. I am doing what I need to do to help me walk through this season of motherhood. I am owning my journey and believing by sharing my story someone’s heart is touched! The stigma of mental health needs to change. It is okay to ask for help. It is brave to ask for help. Motherhood is not easy. And even if just one person is encouraged then it means I will have made a difference in sharing my story. Over the past few months I started a series called ‘Confessions of the Anxious Mama.’ I have written about my fears of going to the park and losing a child, shame, exhaustion, and the fact that I hated breastfeeding. My hopes is that by sharing my journey moms will be reminded not only are they not alone, but they are still amazing moms.”
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