Monday, 11 May 2015

Post Natal Anxiety & Me

The Baby Blues.

A phrase we're all familiar with, no doubt...but how many of us ever really discuss it?

Considering that around 90% of women are estimated to experience them to some extent following the birth of a child, it seems to be something we should be hearing about more.

I was aware of the term when I was pregnant the first time, much as I was aware of post natal depression - but it was something I never actually experienced.

I remember other people telling me, for months afterwards, that I "probably had a bit of the baby blues" whenever I would show any level of emotion - I remember finding this both irritating and embarrassing.

The irritation is understandable of course - I'm always a very emotional person anyway so to have people act like they know exactly why you're behaving a certain way when it's actually nothing that wasn't happening before you gave birth is very annoying!

But I don't understand why I felt so much embarrassment...whenever anyone suggested to me that I might be feeling a bit down after having Tyne, I felt as though it was some sort of attack on me - as though they thought I couldn't cope, as though they thought I didn't love or appreciate my baby enough.

Of course this is utter rubbish and not at all what anybody meant - but it's certainly how I felt at the time.

This time around, the baby blues did hit me...and they hit me pretty hard!

They say to expect to start experiencing it on the third day but for me it was the second day after the birth - I was feeling pretty rubbish after the c section anyway...tired, sore, etc...but I felt something else too.

I just wanted to cry all of the time but I didn't really know why - I felt as though I was full of too much emotion and I couldn't contain it.

And, despite being happy at my little sons arrival, every time I looked at him I felt terribly sad...I kept thinking about how quickly he would grow up, how soon he'd be a toddler, and how he may be my last baby - the thoughts filled me with sadness and I cried endlessly.

On top of that, I started to experience anxiety attacks more frequently than I had done during the pregnancy.

The first week passed in a blur of nappy changes, night feeds, tiredness and tears...mine just as much as Noah's.

I answered the midwife honestly when she asked how I'd been feeling but I was surprised by her lack of concern - she merely scribbled something down and said she'd "refer me" to the perinatal mental health team - 5 weeks on and I'm yet to hear from anybody.

The feelings of sadness became less intense as the week went on, and now 6 weeks in I'm feeling much better - but the anxiety is still around. Infact I had another big panic attack just earlier this evening.

I find my mind wandering often - I'll be happily sitting watching TV or reading a magazine and all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, I'll be hit with some horrible random thought. 

It can be anything at all - Death has always been my main anxiety trigger and is always involved somehow...sometimes I'll have the overwhelming fear of something awful happening to Tyne or Noah - it all plays out in my mind as though I'm watching some horrible movie - everything is so real. 

I find myself thinking about all kinds of horrible unimaginable things like what songs I would play at funerals and how I'd break the news to family members - I say that these things are unimaginable but they're not actually because I DO imagine them - within the space of a few moments a whole scenario of horror has played out in my mind and I'm powerless to stop it.

I sit sobbing at these thoughts, knowing that they're not real but consumed with fear that one day they might be...the anxiety washes over me completely and sucker punches me every time.

Jon finds me weeping and asks me whats wrong - I feel like a lunatic explaining to him the kind of thoughts that go through my mind, thinking that surely no normal person thinks these kinds of things.

I am so lucky to have not experienced any awful tragedies but yet everytime these thoughts engulf my mind, I feel as though I am living out a tragedy - it may not be real but the emotions are - in my mind I am experiencing the terror and the devastation as though it had really happened.

These anxiety episodes are not uncommon for me, but since having Noah the frequency at which I experience them has drastically increased and it's something that worries me.

I don't want Tyne to see me so upset and want to know could I ever explain it?

I don't want to waste these times which should be so happy but instead are tinged with so much fear and panic.

I wish I could find an off-switch on my mind and stop it from torturing me by playing out all of my worst fears.

I don't know if I'm the only who has these episodes, I don't know how common or uncommon they are but I know that right now they are ruining my life and I need to at least try to stop them.

I'm referring myself to the anxiety & depression service this week in the hopes that they can help because things can't continue this way. 

Living in fear of death isn't really living at all.

Have you experienced anything similar to this? How did you deal with it? As always, I'd love to hear from you.

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