I have struggled with anxiety since I was about 9 years old. Although, back then, I had no idea that’s what it even was. Ever since I was a little girl, I always had trouble with change. My first memory of this was in elementary school. I was in fifth grade and about to make the transition into middle school–that meant a new building, all new teachers, and new faces. When the first day of sixth grade arrived, my body didn’t know how to handle it. I felt so sick to my stomach and would just cry on the stairs uncontrollably. I was constantly late to school because I would lock myself in the bathroom, giving my parents no other option than to drive me in late. Once I got into the routine at school, those feelings diminished…but they resurfaced when it was time to transition to high school, and the cycled repeated itself.
I continued to go through life suffering with this unknown anxiety, always brought on by big changes in my life. I never really thought of it to be a major problem until it led to my eating disorder. Losing weight became a subconscious obsession. The thought of food or gaining any weight increased my anxiety and also accelerated my weight loss. It wasn’t until I began to seek help (unwillingly at first) through counseling, that we discovered I had been dealing with anxiety nearly my whole life. I saw a counselor for about a year to try and deal and work through my eating disorder. That was about five years ago. I no longer see a counselor, but I have an amazing support system. My mom and my sister are my rocks.
Flash forward a few years–I meet the man of my dreams. We dated for over three years, got married, and a month later got pregnant. One of my biggest fears during pregnancy was having postpartum anxiety/depression. I knew that I was more susceptible to it because it was something I have already dealt with most of my life. I was stricken with anxiety my whole pregnancy: fear of miscarriage, fear of my baby’s healthy, and fear of stillbirth (just to name a few). My diagnosis with Cholestasis led to a lot of my anxiety.
June 15th I gave birth to my son, and he was perfect. I couldn’t have been more in love. But, it didn’t take long for anxiety to take over my life. I relied fully on the nurses to care for my son while we were in the hospital. I was unable to breastfeed because Jackson had trouble latching, and I wasn’t producing a proper milk flow…which I blame a lot on my anxiety. The day we left the hospital, I balled my eyes out. My mom was waiting for us at our apartment, and I just remember asking her, with puffy eyes, if she could stay the night and help me. I cried–no, sobbed, every single day for the first four months of my son’s life. I was constantly staying at my parent’s house because I was terrified to be alone with my son. Not because I was afraid that I would harm him, but because I felt so inadequate as a mother. I felt like I did everything wrong. Any time he cried, I felt as if it was my fault, and that I wasn’t giving him what he needed. The cries and lack of sleep only heightened my anxiety.
I never slept at night because I was constantly checking to make sure he was still breathing. If my son was in his swing and I had a blanket on him, I had to take the blanket off of him if I left the room–even if it was for a brief minute to run to the bathroom. I would have visions of the blanket somehow draped over his face and returning to find him suffocated. Whenever we drove in the car with my son, I had to sit in the backseat with him because I needed to have my eyes on him 24/7. Any odd noise he made, I would call the pediatrician because I was so afraid that if I didn’t call them, something would happen to Jackson. These are just a few of the many, many irrational fears I had.
Anxiety stole those first few precious months from me and my son. I couldn’t enjoy my baby the way you are suppose to. That still leaves a pit in my stomach and a knot in my throat. It angers me that I let my anxiety control my life.
Thankfully through prayer and support from my loved ones, my anxiety has gotten much better. But, anxiety is still a part of my life. I still have moments throughout the week where I fear and worry about little things, or about my ability as a mother. However, I am learning now to talk it out immediately instead of letting it build up and consume my whole day. I no longer want to allow anxiety the satisfaction of destroying all of my days. I refuse to let anxiety take away any more of my precious time with my son. As I am approaching the birth of my second son, I want to take all the proper steps and precautions in order to avoid the same thing from happening again. I lost precious months with my first and I will not let it happen again.
Anxiety sucks. But if you are reading this and you also struggle with anxiety, please know that you are not alone. Figure out what works best for you and seek help. Personally, I find what helps me the most is talking and venting it out. Sometimes just hearing myself talk out loud helps me think more rationally. I also find my strength and comfort through seeking the Lord. He is my Rock and Safe Place. When I am having an anxiety attack or just feel completely overwhelmed, I go to a quiet place and listen to worship music. And lastly, show yourself grace. We are the hardest on ourselves. This journey won’t be easy and it won’t be perfect. We need to be kind to ourselves. Self love and self care is so important. Anxiety does not make you weak, and it does not make you a bad mother or person. We need to stop letting those lies rule our thoughts and perception of ourselves.
So, lets fight together and beat anxiety. You are strong. We may lose the battle sometimes, but, we will never lose the war.
“I cried out, “I am slipping!” but Your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalms 94:18-19
Katie, I love your honesty and openness about your struggles and I know your story will encourage others. You have encouraged me! Love ya girl ❤️
Thank you so much, Molly! I am so glad this was able to encourage you! That was my heart for this whole post…we are all in this together! <3
I too have had recent struggles with anxiety, and it’s often made me worry about ever being able to take care of a child someday. Thanks for helping me see that it’s not always easy or perfect but nothing is impossible.
I’m glad it could encourage you! So many of us struggle with anxiety, but it is something we can conquer! Motherhood is tough in general but it is not impossible, even with anxiety! I decided awhile ago that I would no longer let anxiety control my life and I hope the same for you! <3
I know how you feel and when we start dabbling in the online and social media worlds I find that it just adds all the more anxiety to our lives! I’ve found myself constantly worrying about when my next pay check will come in and now that I’m also pregnant, my partner and I are both worried about how I will cope after the both!
I actually wrote about an anxiety attack I experienced early this year and ways I’ve dealt with it here: https://helenchik.com/ways-to-control-anxiety/
It’s something we should all talk about openly and help each other where we can!
First off, congratulations on your pregnancy! That is so exciting! I also know how scary it can be worrying about ppa. I think its great that you and your partner are aware of the fact that there is a high probability that you may struggle with it because you can now take the steps needed to prepare yourself! That is what I am doing with this pregnancy! I already feel a little more at ease, I feel as if I have more control this time around because I know the things that help me when I am feeling anxious or having an attack. I can’t wait to check out your blog post! I agree I think this is a subject that needs to talked more about! The more support the better :
Thank you for opening up and sharing this. I struggled with ppa/ppd and it took a lot away from me. I love the verse. You got this mama.
I’m so sorry to hear that you struggled with ppa/ppd as well. It is such a tough battle. I’m so glad that verse was able to encourage you! It is one of my favorites and I have it posted in my house so whenever I am feeling anxious I can look at it and constantly be reminded of who my ultimate comforter is!
I could have written that first paragraph myself. That was my entire 6th grade year, the way I was acting (vomiting, crying, pretty much a hot mess) terrified my parents and I started counseling. It helped to get into a groove but like you, to this day I hate change. Having kids is the biggest change of your life, right?! I cried and cried the first weeks after my kids were born feeling like I would never be able to accept the change. I had to get out those terrible feelings and that has helped me overcome so much. I wouldn’t change a thing about our life but I feel like motherhood has in a way become therapy for me and helping me learn to adjust. I do have bad days still. Always a work in progress! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Yes I completely agree that being a mom has actually helped with my anxiety in a way! The constant adjustments and change have little by little helped me cope with changes a lot better. I have my bad days as well, but I think it’s so important to remind myself that it’s just one day and tomorrow is a new one! We can get through this, I know we can! 🙂
Fellow boy mom here (crazy adventure!). Thanks for sharing your story, and I’m glad talking it out immediately has been a good help to you. You are strong, mama!
Thank you so much for the sweet words! And yay for boy moms! Life is crazy but oh so fun!
Absolutely beautiful Katie! I have suffered with anxiety for years and it all came to a head when I was postpartum. Like you alot of my anxiety was over breastfeeding, safe sleep, and it became really unhealthy for me. Thank you so much for sharing this! It helps to know that we are not alone and its a work in progress! xoxo Nicolle
Thank you Nicolle! I’m so glad this could help encourage you! And you got that right, we are all a work in progress! We keep working at it everyday and getting stronger in the process.