Mental Health Mondays: Postpartum Anxiety After Baby #2

postpartum anxiety

Around 25% of adults suffer from a mental illness. I want to raise awareness about this issue, and help people understand the different aspects of living with a mental disorder a bit better. That’s why I’m launching a series of guest posts called Mental Health Mondays, where I give other people the opportunity to share their experiences with mental disorders. This week, Malisa from Purposefully Planned writes about experiencing postpartum anxiety after her having her second child.

Last August, I had my second baby girl. We were thrilled to add a new member to our family, and I was in awe that my body created another perfect little human.

The first few weeks after bringing a baby home are tough both physically and emotionally. For one, you just pushed a large object out of a small space, so yeah, your body is going through some stuff. And on top of that, your hormones are going crazy trying to figure out what the hell just happened to you, you’re sleep deprived and sore from trying to establish breastfeeding. And can’t stop eating because, holy crap, breastfeeding makes you ravenous. Your clothes don’t fit right, you’re leaking milk all over the place, your ankles are still swollen from those last few weeks of pregnancy, and you can’t remember the last time you washed your hair because the days and nights just blur together.

Moments after giving birth

But I was happy. Our family was complete. We were all healthy. What more could I ask for?

Life went on and we settled into our new routine. My husband went back to work, my older daughter went back to daycare, and I started my second-time mom group to connect with other moms.

Things started happening in my mind that I didn’t experience after my first baby was born, and at first, I brushed them off as hormonal. I spoke up about it at my mom group and the instructor told me to “keep an eye on it,” but offered no resources. At my 6-week postpartum appointment, I brought it up to the midwife and was given a pamphlet on a weekly group meeting to attend, but I didn’t take action.

As the weeks went on, the thoughts became more intrusive.

Every creak during the middle of the night nursing sessions was a burglar coming to hurt me and my kids. An unfamiliar car parked on our street or a stranger walking down the sidewalk was a threat to my family. A sideways glance or nervous looking person at a restaurant was a sociopath about to shoot up the place. Horrible images of someone hurting my kids would flood my mind as I tried to go to sleep at night. Every Facebook story of a child that had terminal cancer or was abused or murdered would leave me in tears as I imagined my own kids in those situations.

Upon feeling anxious about an upcoming work trip to the mountains, I purchased a keychain that had a seatbelt cutter, a glass breaker, and a whistle on it because I kept having visions of the hotel shuttle driving off a mountain and landing in a lake.

It took me 5 months, and the purchase of that keychain, to finally admit that these thoughts and visions were impacting my life more than they should. Up until that point, I hadn’t told anyone, not even my husband, specific details about these thoughts. I didn’t want to admit that I might be suffering from postpartum anxiety because when you have a baby, you’re supposed to be happy! Glowing! Excited! And I was, so I just kept quiet and let it affect my life way more than irrational thoughts should be allowed.

Going in therapy for postpartum anxiety.

I cried through the entire first appointment with my therapist. It was literally the first time I had spoken out loud the horrible things going on in my head. Some of the thoughts I’d had were so dark I could hardly say them, but I did.

It was amazing how much better I felt just by saying the words out loud. It was almost like I realized how irrational they were by speaking them. I kept going to the therapist for three months, learned coping mechanisms to keep the thoughts from distracting me from being present with my family, and started telling people about what I was going through. It was amazing how many of my friends and family related to having these kinds of thoughts, but never sought help.

Almost a year later, I’m doing much better, but there are certain things that send my mind down the rabbit hole to the worst possible scenario. Social media exacerbates the thoughts immensely — there’s always some article about a child with cancer, violent crimes, babies dying — so I really have to be careful when scrolling through Facebook. And I do not watch the news, ever. There’s way too much negative for me to cling to there.

Family this summer

When I do go to that deep dark place, I ground myself be planting my feet on the floor, resetting my mind and telling myself “that isn’t my situation”, “my family is safe” or “my kids are healthy.” I had a necklace engraved that says BE HERE. I wear it very often and it’s my constant reminder to be present in the now, not the what-if. And when people ask me about it, I tell them my story because if even one other person can relate to it, I want to make them feel less alone and help them find someone to talk to.

Be here necklace

Mamas, if you are having these thoughts, do not be afraid to speak up and get help. There is more awareness around anxiety and depression today, but postpartum issues are not discussed enough. There are many ways to cope, with or without medication, so do yourself, and your family, a favor by reaching out to someone. Your life will be so much better if you do.

Get to know the blogger

Malisa - postpartum anxiety

Bio: Malisa is a mom of two with a passion for creativity (find her sewing business on Instagram @thebrunettebobbin), life organization and boy bands (Backstreet Boys for life!). Currently working full-time in marketing communications at a manufacturing company, she’s working hard on her side hustle to get out of the 9-5 grind to have more time to pursue hobbies, spend time with her kids and become a boss babe. Find her newly created blog about time management, organization, prioritization and meal planning at purposefullyplanned.com
Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

 



Want to write a guest post as well?

Send your story and some background information about you to hello@lavenderlife.co.

Do you know someone who struggles with postpartum anxiety as well? Or do you want to help create more awareness around mental health? Share this article using the buttons below.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

21 Comments

  1. I am so sorry that you have to go through this, I now how hard it is when your mind takes over control 🙁
    But I am so glad to read you are doing better and that therapy helps. I love your be here necklace as well, such a good reminder. No matter what specific situation someone is in, it is a great reminder to stay focused on the now <3

  2. What beautifully written piece. Thank you. I don’t think I was super anxious surrounding my daughter’s birth and the after. But I do suffer anxiety and PTSD and know the rabbit holes, the irrationality, the overwhelming sense of not escaping…

    Thanks again for sharing, for spreading this word. <3 #behere

  3. I love the honesty and bravery in this post. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had to go through this. As someone who is dealing with anxiety I understand how it can feel. Thank you for sharing this.

    Ellie

  4. Amazing post and I do my big respect to your honestly about this story. I never heard about postpartum anxiety before. But by reading this, make me really much understand how hard this problem it was, I´m personally so happy to heard that you´re finally get through this and you´re win to fighted with this postpartum anxiety.
    Bravo and really great story to tell. Thanks for sharing and God bless your family.

    Kintan XO,
    http://kintanfashion.blogspot.com

  5. I’m so sorry you had to go through this! But you were strong enough to go to therapy and willing to make everything work. Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. This was such a beautifully written article, thanks for sharing it was insightful and I’m really sorry to hear you went through this but glad to hear you’re doing better.

  7. Thank you for raising this up, I suffer from a slightly different type of anxiety where I am petrified of dying, a little less now (my anxiety is now under control) but the moment I thought of leaving my daughter it made it 100x’s worse.

  8. So sorry to hear you have gone through this but I’m so glad you’re doing better and getting the support you need. I think it’s so brave of you to share your personal story (I share my transplant journey on my blog which I know isn’t the same thing, but writing the posts can sometimes be really difficult and emotional for me, so I can relate) and I’m sure this will help others. Sending you lots of love. xx

  9. This post is me. But I can get like this before i had a baby to. I would lay there at night worrying over silly things. Now ive had Lily things are a a lot worse, more when she was a baby then now (a toddler) But I lay there and panic about what if there was a fire. I go through in my head how i would get Lily out, and then t can get as silly as after watching walking dead I get horrible thoughts of living in a zombie world and one attacking Lily. Our thoughts are horrible sometimes.
    I also handle it the way you do, I try not to listen to the news to much and I got rid of all the news pages that i had liked on twitter and facebook. Ignorance is bliss.
    I was up north when the paris attacks happened and I had to travel home that weekend and I was terrified. Then a month after back up north there was some attacks on the day i was traveling home and kings cross was on high alert. My mum knows not to tell me and kept it from me but my idiot dad put the news on and was like Look cassie, Kings cross, you have to go there tomorrow. Thanks dad! ha

  10. It’s great to see that there is awareness now for this. It’s always great to talk to others about different problems as they really do help x

  11. I’m sorry that you went through this. I cant imagine.
    I love the way you’ve written it, and it’s a very common thing, so it’s great you have chosen to write about it. xx

  12. This sounds so tough, intrusive thoughts can be so debilitating and I’d imagine even more so with a newborn to take care of! Thank you for sharing, Malisa, and glad to hear you’re doing better now. I love the necklace!