As I sit here, writing this post, my heart is racing and I am feeling anxious. Anxiety is part of my life everyday. Some days are better than others, when I am able to control the anxiety. But, I am re-reading Brenee Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and the end goal is to BE LESS anxious instead of living my life and always have to control the anxiety. So, since I have been acknowledging my anxiety, postpartum, I am going to try to live a life of gratitude, mindfulness, and wholeheartedness. Hopefully, living this way will minimize my anxiety.
My anxiety really flared up when I was told I had a high-risk pregnancy because of carrying twins. You can read the whole story here and here. Basically my prenatal anxiety stemmed from worry that something would happen to the babies. I was terrified of birth defects, losing one, or losing both. I went to the doctor's almost every week just to hear their heartbeats. I counted kicks like crazy. I remember thinking that once they were outside of my belly, Earth Side, then I could quit worrying. I could see them with my own eyes and control their and my health. Boy was I wrong.
I have been dealing with postpartum anxiety basically since we were discharged from the hospital. At first my anxiety was over my own health when I had really terrible late postpartum bleeding. Read the full story here. Then I got bad anxiety when it was night and dark. The nighttime feedings made me very anxious and being so exhausted, I didn't feel I had the strength to do them. I would stay awake until it was about midnight and then start my day when the sun rose. When anxiety really started to take over my life, was when I decided to sleep train the boys. I became obsessed with the boys following a particular routine and schedule and was very rigid and anal if anything was off by the smallest amount. I hated listening to the crying and I hated short naps. I used to hide in the laundry room with the washing machine on and dryer on while I folded clothes and hoped the crying would stop. I spent every minute of every day thinking about the schedule and readjusting it if something didn't go the way I had planned. As the boys got better at sleeping, I started to notice that my anxiety was quietening down. It was pretty quiet for a couple months. And now, it's become loud again.
I would still consider my current anxiety as postpartum anxiety. My doctor has told me it is completely normal. I worry EVERY night that something bad is going to happen to the boys, specifically that someone is going to come into the house and creep into the nursery and harm them or take them. This anxiety has been debilitating. I have not been able to sleep. I often sleep with the light on. I sleep with our door wide open so I have a clear view of the boys' closed door. I cannot be home alone at night. I always think I hear strange noises in the house. I have nightmares and wake up in a hurry to check the monitor to make sure that they are there and okay. I have spoken to my doctor about this. I had asked if I could take a sleeping pill or melatonin, but she really encourages me to do yoga and meditate. You cannot tell someone with anxiety to "just calm down" or "just let it go" or "just go with the flow".
What I have tried thus far to minimize my anxiety:
- Deep breathing
- Essential Oils
- Reading before bed
- Gratitude lists and saying my gratitudes out loud
- Checking the locks myself before bed
Even through all of this, I still have bad nights and okay nights. I have not slept well since February. This anxiety was triggered when we had a strange canvasser by the house and then there was an incident with a near-grabbing of a seven year old child from a nearby school (I don't even know if this happened). Once I get something in my head, it is hard to get it out. I know my house is safe, but anxiety is very irrational. I thought that maybe by writing about my anxiety, it would help. I am willing to try anything. I just want to feel safe and be able to sleep again!
Have you experienced anxiety? I think most people do, just some more extreme than others. How to you control the anxiety, or minimize it so that you can live a wholehearted life? Do you have suggestions for me?
Thanks for reading,
MRS. + MAMA