Postpartum anxiety: Something that needs to be talked about

We’ve all heard of postpartum depression. As soon as we give birth, we are warned about postpartum depression and are given a pamphlet full of signs and symptoms to look out for. I knew that I wasn’t depressed. Although I have struggled with depression in the past, I knew this wasn’t the reason why I was feeling the way I was. No, I wasn’t depressed. But something just felt off. 

Soon after I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, a nurse handed me a questionnaire to fill out. I scanned the page with weary eyes, and checked “yes” or “no” to the questions about postpartum depression. Questions like “Are you thinking about harming yourself or your baby?” I scoffed at this question and checked no. “Are you feeling sad?” Again, I checked no. Then, one question caught my attention. “Are you having anxiety?” I immediately checked yes. “On a scale of 1-10, how bad is your anxiety?” I scribbled in the circle that was under the number 10. No, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t depressed, but my anxiety had peaked since giving birth. To the point where I didn’t sleep for the three days that we were in the hospital, and I didn’t sleep for a week once we brought our daughter home. Not one nurse, nor doctor, had asked me about this answer. No one came to me to discuss postpartum anxiety. I thought I was just going crazy.

Even at my postpartum check up, I was handed the same questionnaire. I filled it out with the same answers I had at the hospital. Again, at every one of my daughter’s appointments, I had to fill out the same form. And my answers never changed. But still, no one had ever followed up with it and asked me about my anxiety.

It got to the point where if I heard a noise outside my apartment window, I swore that someone was out there setting up a bomb to blow the apartment up. I know, that sounds crazy. But that is honestly what I believed. I couldn’t sleep because someone had mentioned SID’s to me. And after googling horrific stories, I would stay awake and watch my daughter sleep to make sure her blanket wouldn’t suffocate her. Every cough, every twitch, everything scared me. When she wouldn’t nurse, I went into a panic thinking she would starve to death. Even though she had just nursed an hour prior. I was afraid to leave the apartment with her in the car, because something told me we would get into an accident. I had no idea postpartum anxiety was a thing. I had convinced myself that I was just crazy, and that I would never be the same person again.

I never talked to anyone about this. I didn’t mention it to any family member’s, or even my significant other. I never talked to a professional, but I definitely should have. Fast forward ten months later. I finally got the hang of being a mother. Although I do still suffer from anxiety, as I always have, it is definitely not as severe as it was eight months ago. I had to learn about postpartum anxiety myself. I had to break myself out of it, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I’m writing this for those of you who feel the same way I felt, and I want you to know that you’re not alone. You’re not going crazy, and postpartum anxiety affects many women. Please, do not be afraid to talk to someone about this. Whether it is a professional, or even a family member. It’s okay not to be okay. You will be okay in the end.

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