Anxiety almost ruined my life. What began as postpartum depression, turned into postpartum anxiety, and it lasted for six years. For six years I suffered terribly. At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong. I knew that I didn’t feel right. I knew that I felt like I was out of control. I knew that I felt guilty and ashamed and that I couldn’t do anything right. I believed that I wasn’t a good mother. I believed that people didn’t like me and didn’t want to be my friend. Anxiety prevented me from attending social events. It made it next to impossible for me to do everyday tasks like groceries and housework. It almost ruined my marriage; it stopped me from enjoying my children; it held me back from achieving goals; it kept me from making new friends; and it just about ruined every existing relationship that I had. It affected every single aspect of my life. It is only now, looking back, that I can see just how crippled I was by my anxiety. At times, anxiety would take over my body, and literally stop me dead in my tracks. I would lose my temper, start to cry, and become physically ill; the only way to stop it was to remove or avoid the source of anxiety. So that meant bailing on social commitments at the last minute, giving up on goals, and avoiding responsibilities in order to ease the angst…which only lead to more guilt and anxiety. I didn’t seek help. I suffered in silence. I thought I was alone. I was controlled by anxiety for six years. What a shame. I have so many regrets. I missed out on so many wonderful experiences. I was cheating myself, and my family, out of life. I wish that I had been strong enough to tell someone that I was suffering and that I needed help.
I honestly don’t even know exactly how I started to feel better, I can’t really pin point an exact moment. Perhaps it was moving home and being surrounded by family, friends and familiar places. Perhaps it was a natural progression and maturation within myself of feeling more comfortable in my own body and being happy with myself. Perhaps it was hitting rock bottom and being faced with the real possibility that if things didn’t change that my marriage would be over. Perhaps it was reading a blog, just like this one, and realizing that I was not alone. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these things. I’m really not sure. That’s the thing about anxiety, it comes and goes. I still have moments and I still have triggers….I still have bad days. But I am better able to recognize when I feel like I am being taken over by anxiety, and I am better able to understand it, and am therefore better able to cope with it. I am certainly not free from anxiety, but it no longer controls my life.
I now know that I’m not alone. Just about every mother I speak to has suffered from anxiety to a certain extent. For anyone out there who is suffering from anxiety, please know that you are not alone. Please know that you are not weak. Please know that you won’t be judged. Suffering from anxiety does not mean that you are failing; it means that you need help, and that is ok. We all need help, for one reason or another, at some point in our lives. Know that you are loved and you are important. Know that you deserve to feel better and you deserve to have a full life. Your friends and family love you. They won’t understand what is wrong unless you are honest with them. You have to be honest with yourself. You have to make the first move. You have to take the first step. Do it today. Don’t suffer for six years alone. I can never get those years back. I will never have another chance to make those memories. You will get through this, and you can get the help that you need.