I have anxiety. I don’t know if it’s postpartum anxiety, my-children-have-special-needs anxiety, or regular old anxiety.
But I do know it became a problem.
Since Monkey was born my anxiety has been heightened. Like any new Mom I was super careful holding my baby so his head didn’t flop, gently loving on him and being vigilant that Bear didn’t accidentally trample him. However, something changed. It’s been slowly getting worse. I’ve been having heightened fear of death and thinking of it more. I also thought, maybe it’s just because now I’ve got two kids to worry about once I’m gone.
After Monkey’s diagnosis Hubs took a leave of absence from work (for 4 days) and we headed to visit family. We just needed some emotional support and a short escape. I was driving on the return trip and we passed through a “Falling Rock Zone”. All of a sudden all I could think of was those stories you hear about people killed by falling rocks. I imagined what that must be like, to be driving along and the next thing, you’re dead. You can’t even see the rocks coming. I drove with a death grip on the steering wheel through that falling rock zone. For the rest of the drive I was couldn’t get my mind to stray from vehicular accidents. I had images of tires blowing out, people coming across the median, rain, ice, etc. I was short-tempered for the entire drive because it was taking everything in my body to remain calm and not freak out about the dangers outside of us.
When we got home my anxiety seemed a little better and I did fine for about 5 days. Then Hubs was at work and Bear was having a fussy day. It was nothing extreme and I was doing okay. Then Monkey woke up. He screamed for 5 hours. I couldn’t do anything to make him stop, I tried shushing, swaddling, feeding, changing, bathing, and more. You name it, I tried it. Finally, after about 5 hours I hit my limit. I was done and so stressed out I actually had a panic attack. I had sat on the couch to try to give him a bottle and I realized I was kind of out breath. This quickly escalated to feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest and that I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, I recognized it as a panic attack and breathed through it. In for 2, out for 2, in for 4 out for 4, in for 6 out for 6, in for 8 out for 8 and so on. It took me about 5-10 minutes to get the panic attack under control but that didn’t change how I felt.
I started thinking back and realized that in the past couple of weeks I had barely slept. No matter how tired I was my mind would be racing. It would take me at least an hour to fall asleep and I would wake up frequently with nightmares or just unable to stay asleep. I even contemplated taking Benadryl but it leaves me zombie-like the next day. I constantly felt like I had drank 5 cups of coffee, I was jittery and short. My memory was awful and I felt terrible.
I called the OB and they fit me in the next day. Thankfully, she listened to me and agreed that I didn’t sound depressed. I have no thoughts of hurting myself or my children. In fact, I was so anxiety ridden over someone getting hurt that I can’t handle going anywhere because of all the hidden dangers. She originally wanted to prescribe something as-needed for my anxiety but after expressing that my anxiety was pretty constant and that I was exhausted she said to try Zoloft. It is an anti-depressant but also has great anti-anxiety properties.
I noticed an improvement in about 48 hours. It does make me a little sleepy while my body adjusts to it. I still have LOTS of awful thoughts. However, they used to be marathons. Once a thought would penetrate my brain, it wouldn’t leave. It would just continue to play and grow and morph into more awful thoughts. Now, they’re like commercials. They come, they play and they leave. I can move on. I’m hoping that once I’m at the full dose and it’s had a few weeks to fully kick in that the thoughts start spreading out further and further. I haven’t had a panic attack since and I have a lot more patience. Yesterday Monkey screamed A LOT. And for the first time it didn’t make my brain spin and didn’t evoke that sense of panic in my body. It literally used to make my brain feel like it was going through a salad spinner. My thoughts would jumble, I couldn’t hear right and I just struggled. In turn, I would get panicky, my heart rate would increase, my palms would go sweaty and I was ready to fight or flight. I was panicked that I wouldn’t be able to get him to stop crying, that I was a horrible mother, that something was wrong that I would miss. You name it, I was anxious about it.
But now, I can breathe. The mind jumbling fog is starting to thin and I feel focused. You don’t realize how out of control your life is, until it’s too far gone. I didn’t think my anxiety was that out of control until I was sitting on my couch, holding a 2-month old with my 2 year old on the floor and having a panic attack.