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postpartum depression

0 In Motherhood/ postpartum anxiety/ postpartum depression/ self care

My top 4 tips for tackling anxiety

4 tips for managing anxiety
This post is sponsored by Walgreens but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

(Zip up hoodie from Mother Bee Maternity)

For years I have struggled with anxiety, long before becoming a mother.  My first experience with it was my senior year of college.  I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like I was being strangled.  My body was paralyzed and I couldn’t move.  I was absolutely terrified and didn’t realize then that it was in fact anxiety.  Once I became a mom, I was a constant bundle of nerves – Is he breathing? Is he eating enough? Am I spending enough quality time with him? What I thought were normal worries and concern snowballed into a giant panic attack when I was 10 months postpartum.

The thing about anxiety is that it’s a constant battle that ebbs and flows – some days are good, others are more challenging.  For the past two years I have been able to keep my anxiety in check with some helpful changes.

Here are my top 4 tips for tackling anxiety:

 

1.) Create a routine – Coming up with a daily routine helps diminish any feelings of anxiety. It’s something that is the same each day and you can come to depend on. Eating wholesome foods, getting some exercise, daily medication and a good night’s sleep are the four major components of my routine.  I make it a point and my self care to ensure that I don’t stray from my routine because if I do, it throws me out of whack.

I first went on anxiety medication when I was in nursing school. I remember at my appointment asking my doctor to prescribe me something, I felt alot of shame.  I wasn’t the best at remembering to take it, some days I would, others I would go 3-4 days without. Shortly after finishing school, and becoming acclimated with my new job, I felt better and took myself off of my medication.  Those feelings of panic and dread slowly started to creep in again. After I had my son, I went back on anxiety medication.  This time, I made it a priority to take my medication daily so that I could be my best self for him and my family.  And now Walgreens is making it easier to stay up to date on your medication adherence. Be sure to download the app to make filling your re-fills a whole lot easier http://bit.ly/redphone-wakeup.

2.) Don’t procrastinate -Whenever we have a lot to do, it’s normal to want to put things off. The thing is, procrastination makes you feel even more overwhelmed.  I like to use lists and write down all of the things I need to do that day. I try to tackle the more challenging things early in the morning when I’m at my best, crossing things off as I go. Not only does this help keep me organized, but I also feel like I’ve accomplished something.

 

3.) Breathe – mindful breathing or meditation is one of my favorite tips I learned in cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s easy to do and you can do it anywhere. Mindful breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, shutting off our “fight or flight response” when we’re stressed and telling our mind to “rest”. To practice mindful breathing:

  • Close your eyes and inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
  • Hold that breath for 7 seconds.
  • Then slowly exhale for 8 seconds.

After a few cycles, I feel more relaxed and centered.

 

4.) Talk to someone – Whether you talk to a trusted family member or friend, or enlist the help of a counselor or therapist, talking to someone is very helpful. Not only do you feel like someone is listening, but it can also help you identify your triggers so that you know what things make you feel more anxious or stressed.

 

4 tips for managing anxiety

 

 

 

6 In mental illness/ postpartum/ postpartum anxiety/ postpartum depression/ Support

I was suffering from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety and didn’t realize it

 

 

postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety

I still feel the need to defend my postpartum anxiety.  After a three day long induction process, an emergent c-section and breastfeeding issues, the first few weeks were no walk in the park. I wasn’t sleeping (but what new mom does?), there were lots of tears and constant worrying.  I dreaded when the days would turn into night because I would spend the entire night watching my son obsessively, fearing he would stop breathing in his sleep. I had no interest in holding him and I would cry every time I had to breastfeed him because I absolutely hated it but I chalked it all up to the baby blues and being new at this motherhood thing.

It was at my two week check up that I realized I was suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression.  My sister came over to watch the baby so that I could go to my appointment and I remember feeling so relieved for the break from the constant breastfeeding and pumping. I broke down in tears in the car to my husband. This was supposed to be such a joyous, happy time. After going through infertility I was over the moon when I found out I was pregnant yet here I was thinking “What have I done? I hate being a mother. I don’t have this immediate love for my baby like everyone else does, I’m not cut out for this. What is wrong with me?”  I made the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding and once I went back to work I started feeling like my old self again.

10 months postpartum and the demons crept in again, this time worse than ever. I felt like things were spiraling, I had lost control of everything and I literally wanted to escape my body. I walked around in a fog and felt so selfish for what I was feeling. “What do I have to be so depressed about? I have a beautiful, healthy family I should feel grateful.”  I felt shameful for the way I was acting but I had no control over it. I wished I could feel happiness when my son smiled at me. I remember the day I was driving to get my hair done and I felt like I was having a heart attack. My heart was beating out of my ribcage, my arms and hands were all tingling, my lips were numb and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I pulled into the urgent care that was in the same parking lot as my hairdresser, convinced I was having a cardiac event. I am a nurse after all.  I can recognize the difference between postpartum anxiety, panic attacks and a heart attack when I see it.

Well I was wrong. The thing is postpartum depression and anxiety looks different on everyone.  Depression doesn’t always look like an unkept, person who hasn’t slept or eaten in weeks.  Anxiety doesn’t always look like fear or panic attacks.  Successful, put together people can suffer in silence as we’ve recently seen in the tragic cases of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

I’ve learned there is nothing wrong with reaching out and asking for help from family or friends, going to talk to a counselor, or taking something to help ease your anxiety or depression.  You are not illogical in what you are feeling and you are not “burdening others with your problems.”  I wish it didn’t feel so embarrassing and shameful and I hope that one day it won’t. So until then I will keep sharing my story and I hope that I can encourage you to reach out to someone you trust and ask for help.

(For more information on ways to cope with postpartum depression and anxiety check out this article I wrote for Consumer Health Digest.)

postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety