Monday, October 6, 2014

Some real life

Pinterest quote, obviously.
There are some topics in life we don't like to talk about.  It's usually for good reason - we deem these struggles or moments private, we don't want to be judged, we want to appear that we've got it all together.  In the days of profile pictures and perfectly edited photos, we easily get a false impression of people.  And more specifically, in the day of baby selfies and mama/baby matching outfits, I think we sometimes have a false sense of what motherhood can really entail.

I'm the type of person who likes to paint the whole picture.  Writing only about the blue skies and rainbows in life gives you a false impression of who I am as a person and the life that I have.

This doesn't mean I have some secretly horrible situation.  I recognize I'm blessed, but I also recognize I'm human.  Next to the joy and strength part of me lies pain and struggle.

So today, in attempts to keep my writing as true to self and real as I can, I'm going to share with you a bluer part of motherhood that I've experienced thus far.

Since having my smiley baby girl, I've been dealing with crippling postpartum anxiety.  I've dealt with some pretty serious anxiety for as long as I can remember, but the hormonal changes, the big life change, whatever it was triggered a level of anxiety I've never experienced before.  I am not a stranger to panic attacks, uncontrollable nerves, and avoiding situations because of a big "what if." But over the years, I've been able to manage the anxiety on some level on my own with a variety of techniques.  But post-baby, I found myself able to go from calm to full-fledged panic in a matter of seconds leaving me with very little time to try a breathing technique or reach for the lavender.

If you've experienced a serious level of anxiety, you know a few things.  1) It's easy to want to avoid situations that can trigger panic attacks, 2) the anxiety gets worse the longer you avoid whatever triggers a panic attack, and 3) anxiety can quickly lead to depression.

I started to avoid driving.  Since the worst panic attacks I've had have been by myself in the middle of busy intersections, I started to avoid busy intersections.  Then, I started to avoid driving all together.  Then I noticed every time I got behind the wheel, my nerves started to rise even when I was with my husband.  The longer I let the cycle continue, I started to feel less and less like a person.  My dignity obviously doesn't lie in my ability to drive or not, but I felt like my independence was being robbed from me.  I couldn't go to Target, the bank, the grocery store without my husband all because of "what if."  You can see how this can quickly lead to depression.

I've been hesitant to write on this topic only because I'm not a doctor, and struggles like anxiety are messy, complicated, and the journey in overcoming it is a long, bumpy road.  Under the anxiety umbrella, there are varying degrees and different disorders.  And there are numerous ways to treat the problem.  I'm not writing to advocate one way or another or to help you to try to understand what anxiety is.

I'm writing to let the person know who is struggling with a similar problem that he/she is not alone. I'm writing to let the mom know who may be facing this new struggle that she is not alone.  And I'm writing to let you know that behind every social media profile is a real person with pain and hurt and complexities.

I'm not writing this through a healed lens.  I'm smack dab in the middle of my journey.  I'm in and out of appointments trying to get a handle on everything, seeing if there is an underlying problem, and ultimately tying to gain my footing.  I'm taking baby steps making sure I drive everywhere we go, so I can get comfortable behind the wheel again.  And I'm trying to be open about my journey with the people who surround me.

We don't like talking about these types of problems.  And I really understand why.  But these types of problems are the type of problems that should not be faced alone.  We need encouragement and support from understanding, kind souls.  If you are facing a problem such as anxiety or depression, I urge you to get help.  And to be open with those who love you.  There is no shame in taking the first step, which is sometimes just talking about it.  Moving forward only makes you more brave, stronger, and one step closer to your best self.

One day in the near or distant future I'll write the second part of this post - the part I will be writing through a healed lens.  But until then, I'm walking with you, side by side, taking another step toward my best self one day at a time.

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