One night I was watching my dear friend’s YouTube page ‘Most Delightful Way’ and she has one video where she sits down and has a chat about why she started her page to mark its anniversary. How she was feeling about her past 2 years posting on YouTube as well as her life as a mom. It was after I watched that video, and stewed on it for another couple weeks because its not like the movies where your problem is suddenly solved, it takes time. I realized, the reason I couldn’t come up with anything I felt was good enough to write about was because God was putting something else on my heart, which I needed to set free. I want to open up to you guys for a brief time about how I’m doing in my new role as a mom to a very busy but beautiful 18 month old baby girl.
my life as a mom has been has been the most self reflective time in my last 27 years. You always tell yourself that its all about the child and your whole life will be about this little person and keeping them happy and healthy both physically and mentally. For the first 7 months of her life that’s what I was doing. I had our weekdays filled with play dates, classes and appointments. Weekends filled with visiting family and quality time with her daddy. However, I hit my brick wall come November 2016. When all of the baby groups stopped for the holiday season, when I lost the excuses to get out of the house. It started small, just taking one morning off from the world and keeping the baby at home with the dog and watching a movie. It was great not having to juggle a shower with a baby or getting everyone packed up and out the door on time. It felt like a small vacation so I did it again and again and again until I had spent an entire week at home. Slowly but surely I was isolating myself. After almost a month of this my anxiety pretty much had me convinced that it wasn’t a good idea to take the baby out of the house. ‘The roads could be slippery and we could have an accident.’ ‘We could go somewhere and the baby could have a fit and make people mad! No I’ll stay home, home is safe’.
I went through this silent struggle until after Christmas. My husband had to go away for a month for his job which he had been doing all year and at the very same time my little one decided she needed to go through a developmental leap which meant that my great sleeper was up every 2 hours. Not a great combination. I will always remember the evening when I finally opened up to my husband on one of his weekends home and told him ‘something is wrong, I’m not happy.’ I have the best partner in my husband just in general but what’s special about him is that he’s also a trained physician so when I started opening up to him about how I was struggling he was able to recognize the signs of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Even If I couldn’t. He suggested a change in scenery for me and the baby. The very next day i was on my way home to see my family. We now refer to this as my sabbatical. Another hero in this story was my sister in law, and a mother to 3 kids, and my own mother as well who first introduced me to how powerful exercise can be when you are struggling with depression.
I want to shine a light on another ‘silent struggle’ that I have been dealing with long before I became a momma. A high functioning anxiety disorder. To give a brief description on what that actually is it means that I get very nervous and my brain goes into overdrive, immediately jumping to the worst possible scenario of how this social interaction or errand is going to play out. If I’m meeting a friend somewhere and they are doing anything other then smiling the entire time, I will convince myself that I did something to make them upset or angry with me. I will pick apart every interaction I’ve ever had with them and look obsessively for the ‘stupid thing’ I said that must have made them angry with me. I will get myself so twisted up about a non existent problem that I end up completely exhausted. Now here’s where the high functioning part comes in. Even though the situation, whatever it is, makes my palms sweat and my stomach turn and my heart race; I STILL go through with it. I still get in the car, I still make the phone call, I still go to the social gathering. The high functioning part has made it difficult for me to accept that I had a problem. I knew that maybe I was little bit over analyzing when it came to social situations but I just assumed that’s how everyone was and since I was still able to accomplish nerve racking things then I didn’t need to worry. This is how I know God has a plan, because I am with my husband. He was able to recognize these warning signs and he had the patience to help me come to this realization on my own. As he can attest I don’t like admitting I need help and I was under the misconception that when I became a mom things would stop being about me. I now know that isn’t the case. I think having my baby girl has forced me to take the hardest look at myself and my health. I want to be at my best for her and that means admitting that I needed help.
Now this is not going to end with ‘I am completely cured of my anxiety and everything’s perfect again.’ Anyone who has this struggle knows its not something that just go’s away. You need to learn to cope. That’s where I am now. I have found one key thing to my mental health has been regular exercise. I began attending a Stroller Fit class in July and it was a low impact workout group that met twice a week and exercise together. I have never been someone who enjoys physical activity (seriously I am the laziest skinny person you will ever meet) however there was something about this group or ‘tribe’ as my trainer calls us that was so open and supportive. There was no mommy shaming no cattiness just honest to goodness moms who wanted to make a healthy choice. There is one day that I remember vividly when I was having a really bad week. All I wanted to do was stay home in my robe with my little one and wallow. Watch TV, drink coffee and just shut out the world. Cue the anxiety: ‘it’s probably going to be too cold outside anyway’ ‘you’re going to get there and the baby is going to be impossible.’ However I had what I call a small victory that morning as I made the decision to be strong and get us out the door. With tears in my eyes, I loaded my baby into the car and off we went. I will be honest and say that i cried my eyes out the whole way there, the hold my anxiety had on me that day was the strongest it had ever been, but I still went. I arrived at the park, got my baby into the stroller and joined the class. I remember coming out of that workout feeling powerful and in control and knowing that I was stronger than my issues.
That’s the point i want to leave you all with today. I know that I have a lot of work to do, I know its going to take time to be able to live a stronger life. BUT. I, and anyone who this post is touching, am bigger than anxiety. I want to say a thank you to my baby girl, even though she doesn’t know it, she is the reason I am in such a healthy place both mentally and physically. I do it all for her. Thanks for listening. The next post will be much lighter I promise.