I have dealt with acute anxiety for as long as I can remember. Acute meaning I don’t really struggle in the normal day to day, but when a big change, good or bad happens, I sort of spiral and my mind and body becomes a tangled bundle of nerves and stress and no amount of talking myself down, lavender oil, exercise, or meditation helps. I either have to take something or ride it out.
It started when I was as young as elementary school age and my parents couldn’t figure out why I was sick to my stomach so often. I went to so many doctors, and they couldn’t figure it out, and finally chalked it up to a dairy allergy (if you know my love for and daily consumption of cheese you know this was wrong). I guess they couldn't believe someone so little could be so stressed out.
My poor friends put up with my need to go home in the middle of the night from sleep overs, over night camps were out of the question, and the night before the first day of school? Forget it. I was done.
As I got older I learned how to manage it a lot better, and it didn’t affect my life as much. I’ve never let it hold me back from doing big things like getting married (clearly) or moving to another country or getting an education or working. But the night before Stephen and I moved back to the US, even though I was so excited, I ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor because of the anxiety.
Life changes where I feel out of control plummet me into the dark place.
Stephen and I planned for a baby. The timing is great for us. Sure there could always be a better time, but really this is pretty good right now. I knew I would deal with some anxiety, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for how debilitating it was going to be the first couple of weeks after finding out. I didn’t sleep for two days, and didn't sleep a full night until 13 weeks. I ended up getting sick from the anxiety, and cried to my OB. I am assuming the hormonal changes happening didn’t help, but it was really bad and scary. I can only recall one other moment in my life where it was this bad, and that was years ago. I felt really frustrated with my mind, because I wanted to be so excited about being pregnant, but it’s like my brain wouldn’t let me and I couldn’t control it.
I am writing about this now because in my research of anxiety during pregnancy I found nothing. The little bit that I found was totally outdated, and it left me feeling really alone and even more frustrated with my mind. There is a ton of information on postpartum depression and anxiety but very little on prepartum. I ended up feeling guilty and horrible because it felt like I was supposed to be feeling nothing but elation and excitement, and while I was those things in my heart, all my mind was telling me was to feel panic and fear. All I could think about was the horrible things that could happen from the beginning of pregnancy until my child is an adult and it made me not want to be pregnant anymore. That is A LOT to take on. I know...crazy town: population 1.
Rational thought was gone. I watched it fly away, and no matter how hard I tried to chase after it, I just couldn’t seem to catch it.
Around 13 weeks a slight shift happened and I was no longer dealing with the anxiety. The newness of being pregnant has faded away and with it the feeling of being out of control. I can sleep at night, and I feel that excitement that I always heard so much about. I see a therapist every two weeks and am attempting to take the homeopathic route during pregnancy (meditation, diet, therapy) even though the anxiety is gone, I want to continue in a healthy mind/body experience during pregnancy. While the homeopathic route helps a little, it's not a cure-all, and a lot of time in more extreme cases medication is necessary. I am fortunate in that my anxiety is acute and therefore short lived, but I know that after the baby comes I will be starting all over again for a time, but I will be able to have a glass of wine so maybe there is more hope for me postpartum ;)
The personal things I hold back from sharing on this blog are the ones I feel like wouldn't benefit anyone else from reading. There is a fine line on the web, and it’s not always clear, but I really try to be intentional about what I share when it comes to the more personal stuff.
Maybe I am alone in this anxiety struggle, but on the off chance that I am not, I want those who suffer as well to know they are not alone and you don’t need to feel bad or embarrassed. To you I say: it is not that you are not excited and grateful about being pregnant. You don't lack perspective. You are a good mom. It's going to be okay.
We all have our struggles...our demons we battle. This is one of mine.