Automatic Negative Thoughts were taking over my mind
“You always mess up.”
“Seriously, what is wrong with you?”
“See how much better everyone else handles things, you’re just ruining the mood in the house.”
“You are a failure.”
My journey with postpartum anxiety (PPA)
For 3 months, I’ve struggled with postpartum anxiety and it manifested in a way that most don’t think. When most people think of anxiety, they imaging someone shaking on the floor, maybe rocking back and forth, or appearing really manic. Trust me, I had my moments like that these past few months. But what I had more of were these negative, racing thoughts. For months, my entire family would walk on eggshells around me, afraid to tip me off, say the wrong thing, or just rub me the wrong way. I spend more moments than I even can count crying… in the bathroom, on the kitchen floor, and mostly in bed in the middle of the night.
When I had my first daughter 2 years ago, I went through a similar experience, but not quite as severe. I went to my doctor to let her know I felt ‘off’ and she quickly dismissed it as baby blues and sent me on my way. “But you seem happy right now! Most women I see are really sad all the time, I’m sure it’s a phase.” I left the office feeling silly and that I was overreacting, and vowed to keep my ‘crazy’ feelings and emotions to myself. I mean, other moms seem to be handling motherhood just fine, so I need to just figure it out and get it done, right?
After having my son, these same feelings reappeared and I knew this time it was much more than baby blues, and I refused to have someone tell me that I was just ‘fine’.
Asking for help does not make you a bad mom
Your feelings are real, your mental health matters, and asking for help does not make you a bad mom. Mental health is such a touchy topic in our country and, as women, we are told by society that we should be able to handle everything life throws at us, all while looking impeccable and making Pinterest worthy meals each night for our families.
As a mom, when we feel that we are doing something inadequately, we want to hide it. We want to pretend we are fine, that everything is perfect and that we are ‘supermom.’ We do this for a few reasons.
We need to take the time to get better
First, we don’t want to ‘take the time’ to get better. Postpartum anxiety (or any anxiety for that matter) doesn’t just get ‘fixed’ overnight. I’ve been going to therapy for the past few months and continue to plan to as long as it helps me. And it takes time. Time to get a babysitter. Time to leave the kids for the appointment. Time to implement the strategies. Time to work on my issues. Time. Time we so often give to our families because we are told that moms need to ‘put everything else first’.
We don’t need to hide our emotions
Second, we often have the fear of being judged. This fear is one of the biggest fears that most moms have. We are so afraid of messing up and someone finding out that we’d rather hide our thoughts and emotions, than have someone think we aren’t a good mom.
So instead of dealing with our issues in a way that is best for ourselves and our families, we hide them. We pretend we’re okay and that we can do it all.
Well mama… can I give you permission to not be perfect? Can I give you permission to take the time for YOU?
Mama, reach out for help if you need it
If you’re going through a situation where something feels ‘off’ and you’re not yourself, don’t just sweep it under the rug and hope it’s just a moody day. If it’s a persistent feeling that you can’t shake, if you are having anxiety attacks, if your self worth is taking too big of a hit… go get help.
Talk to your doctor, find a good therapist, and learn some techniques to help you feel better. There is nothing selfish about self care. Nothing wrong with saying that words “I need help” and nothing wrong with deciding you are worth the time to feel good.You are not alone, and there is a tribe of other moms out there that have your back!
Share this post to help other mothers know that they are not alone, and that they can feel better soon.
Author Bio: Cara Harvey is a wife, mom to a 11 year old stepson, 2 year old daughter, 5 month old boy, and a woman of God. Growing up, she struggled to believe in herself and her own self worth and lived most of her life trying to please others with no real focus. She dove into her career as a teacher, where she worked with students with disabilities for 8 years before realizing that God was calling her for a purpose that allowed her to help others while taking care of herself. She currently works as a virtual lifestyle, mindset, and success coach and her mission is to provide woman with the tools, resources, and community to reach their goals, empower themselves, find their happiness and live a life by design.