The Gifts of Post Partum Anxiety


Look out world… the future is bright! 

Hello Friends. Good morning. I’m typing this for you in the wee small hours, and I wonder how many of you are up with me, waiting for a baby that seems to never sleep, trying to out run your thoughts, trying to wear yourself into exhaustion for a few hours of a quiet mind. That’s been me, several times over the past 21 months. And I wonder if there will always be a part of me that falls prey to the anxiety when things are out of my control. And there may be. I may have clouds blocking the sun occasionally, but let me tell you friends, as you sit here in the dark of night with me… I have seen the sun. It’s still there. And when it’s out, I’m still here. Me, the real me, shining through just as bright and stronger than ever. So I know, I’m here. I’m real. I may want to crawl into my hermit crab shell and pull my claws in tight, I may even do it… but I also know that soon I’ll be ready to come out again. When I’ve rested. When I’ve moved through this little blip. When the toddler sleeps again…

I’ve learned a great many things about myself over the past 21 months.  My struggles with PPA and OCD have forced me to face uncomfortable situations, and learn uncomfortable things about myself. I’ve learned how crucial it is to be honest with myself, and often with those around me. I need to be honest about whether or not I can manage another commitment. I need to be honest with Happy Daddy about my needs. I need to be honest with my friends about what things I can and can not do.

My self awareness has increased exponentially. PPA has forced me to be aware (and HONEST about) my limitations. Sometimes that means missing out on things I’d like to do because I can’t bring myself to put the kids in the car and drive. Sometimes it means taking a day off to rest because I feel myself approaching the breaking point. Knowing when I need to take myself off social media because I can’t put one more “what if” thought into my head.

Equally important is being aware of my signs. Frantic cleaning? Up late? Unable to sit still and read? Wanting to do nothing but binge watch the same shows over again? Time to assess what’s going on. Time to double down on taking care of myself, taking it easy, and making sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to.

I’ll be honest with all of you. I’m not where I want to be physically. Nowhere close. Before this would be a trigger for exercising like a crazy person, some ridiculously complicated and restrictive diet, and basically pushing myself beyond my limitations in order to try and get myself to where I feel like I should be. But I’ve learned. It’s taken so long, but at the age of almost 33 I’ve learned how desperately important it is to be kind to myself, even if that means going much more slowly than I would like. Right now the focus is on sleep, not at pulling myself out of bed 2 hours early to work out before Happy Daddy goes to work. Right now the focus is on making life uncomplicated, and reducing stress, not about changing everything around to a specific diet plan and making separate meals for the entire house.

I’ve always been a big believer in what you’ve been through making you who you are. Not necessarily in the spiritual “there is a plan” way, but in the way when you look back you can see how without your struggles and challenges there are things you wouldn’t know about yourself, facets of your personality that wouldn’t be as finely honed, or perhaps wouldn’t be there at all. There’s a popular saying that it’s pressure that turns coal to diamond, and that’s true when it comes to strength as well as beauty.  The diamond, one of the most sought after materials on earth, the symbol of ever lasting beauty, strength, and love is forged over time under unbelievable pressure. And then it is retrieved. It is honed, it is cut, and shaped, and polished until it becomes the gift of somebody’s dreams. And so too, are your struggles shaping, polishing, and honing you. Right now it may just seem like dark, and dirt. It may seem as if the pressure will never end. But one day you will dig yourself out into the sunlight, and you’ll find that you’ve learned important things, you’ve gained important skills, and most of all you… yes, YOU are a gift. You’re a gift to your community, your friends, your loved ones, and to yourself.

I can’t tell you when the sunlight will come again. I know for me it will probably be a matter of hours. I’ve done what I can to make an easy tomorrow, and I’ll get out of bed, enjoy my coffee, and greet the day to a clean house and a planned morning. If I can I’ll take the boys to art class and bask in the sunshine and the conversation of my friends. I may not talk much, but I’ll listen, I’ll absorb, I’ll enjoy.  If I can’t make it to art class, I know I’ve cultivated the kind of friendships that will understand. They’ll know that when I come back it will be the right time for me. Perhaps that’s the most important thing to have come from this particular facet of my journey. My biggest gift to myself, is my ability to be honest with the world about what I can and can’t do. What I will and won’t do. What I am, and what I am not.

So take heart my friends. I promise, one day you will retrieve yourself. It may be a while. It make take a good amount of work, and there may be some false starts, but no matter where you are right now, whether in the deep depths of the dark, or starting to see the stars, there will be light again. Your gift will shine for the world again. I know, because I’ve been there. I’ve been two steps forward, one step back, and now I’m here. You’ll get here too, and keep moving forward. Focus on yourself, be aware of your needs, of your signs. Be kind to yourself. And above all, be honest with yourself. Love yourself. Be yourself again, but stronger, a truer version, because you can’t be anything less after what you’ve been through.

One Comment

  1. Having friends that get it is key, glad to be part of that understanding tribe as well.

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