So I want talk about #anxiety. Previous to having my Son, Edward, I never really experienced anxiety. I did have moments where I felt overwhelmed or stressed, but not to the level I do post-baby. I had always felt pretty in control when it came to mental health. Whatever in control means. But after having my first child, I almost instantly started to feel different. I remember an incident one morning, about 1 week after giving birth. I was home from hospital and my husband, Patrick, was back at work. Edward was crying in his bouncer in the loungroom, I was desperately trying to get his bottles sterilized whilst holding onto a full bladder. I hadn’t showered in days, I was functioning off a few hours sleep, and I felt like I was doing this all by myself. It seems like a simple, manageable situation. But for some reason it felt incredibly overwhelming. My stomach was wrenching. My heart was pounding. I felt sick and dizzy and breathless. It wasn’t until months later that I recognized and sort help for anxiety. My brain had been crushed with a new reality, new struggles and a newborn.
As time went on, and I came to terms with our new-normal, I still felt that lingering presence. That quite, intangible consciousness. It appeared mostly when I tried to leave the house or go to a social event. I sometimes find myself shaking whilst trying desperately to pack a nappy bag, with a clingy toddler on my hip, and exactly 8 minutes left to get my hair and makeup done. When this happens, I know it’s time to stop. Put down whatever it is I’m doing. Walk into the loungroom or bedroom. Sit down with my son, and just cuddle and breath. I’ve had to learn that being late to an appointment is mum-life and not the end of the world. It’s a process I’m still trying to master. To see the signs of my anxiety, to stop and to put my mental health first.
So how do I deal with this newfound mum-life induced anxiety? Well firstly I asked my GP if I’m crazy. Her response was “no”, followed by “you are completely normal”. Thank God I have an epic GP. Secondly, I stay away from coffee and alcohol when I start to feel even slightly anxious. Thirdly, I schedule self-care into my calendar. A hair appointment, a baby-free shopping trip, a movie night with hubby, take away instead of cooking, a gym session. Something that makes me feel good or happy or relaxed. And finally, I take a deep breath, hit the reset button and give this gorgeous boy a big fat cuddle.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you are feeling overwhelmed or like something is not quite right with your mental health, seek help. Talk to your loved ones. Speak to your GP or engage services like Beyond Blue. You are not abnormal and you are not alone.
We need to reach a point where speaking up about mental health isn’t brave, it’s just the norm. #anxietyawareness