I’d like to share a glimpse of my life to further educate and for anyone who feels alone.
From stranger to friend.
I don’t think many people understand anxiety, i think many people have a generalized idea about it and what it is. A lot of people use the term as a word for feeling worried or stressed and it’s beyond that. Before I became pregnant, anxiety was a foreign word to me, either i didn’t have any or didn’t acknowledge it. Either way it was never an issue for me. During pregnancy is when it first showed itself, it wasn’t very often but when it did show up, it was usually triggered. It was just something i quickly got over and didn’t really effect my days.
After having kai, that’s when it became my new friend. This is when i started getting a visit maybe every two weeks.But again i handled it, and it effected me but not to a point where i considered it a actual problem (this was the stubborn me kicking in). About 2 months ago, is when anxiety really started taking over my daily life. This is when it actually started effecting, my emotional and physical state. This is when it was becoming harder to ignore and easier to focus all my energy on my anxiety.
“What does anxiety feel like?”
I get this question often. It’s true not many people understand. Anxiety is often thought of something that you can control or snap out of. Some people think anxiety has to do with being unhappy or not liking your life. Anxiety is something an individual has no control over. Anxiety is your mind racing at 80 mph and you having no control over the brake. Anxiety is your chest feeling so heavy, you can feel your heartbeat in your ears. Anxiety is desperately doing breathing exercises in the car because you’re border anxiety attack in a parking lot. Anxiety is feeling like you cant breath and there’s a pile of bricks just sitting on your chest. Anxiety is obsessing over worry and things that can happen every second of your day. Your mind never stops even for sleep sometimes.
Anxiety has no schedule and it invites itself in and out of your life whenever and wherever. Anxiety isn’t something you can just snap out of the second someone says “Just relax”. Anxiety is deeper than that. I recently learned about estrogen and progesterone in school, and how it goes from levels of 10-100 to 0 within 24 hours after delivery. Pregnancy is the queen of hormonal changes. Anxiety isn’t just someone being completely dramatic or overreacting over emotion. Anxiety can be caused by hormonal imbalances. A simple hormone being released too much can effect you in ways you’d never guess.
Shame and Denial.
I think especially as a mother, you’re suppose to handle anything thrown at you and any form of weakness is looked down upon. You’re a role model for your child so you don’t have time to have anything wrong with you. I was in denial for a very long time and I constantly was ashamed to admit that i had an issue that needed attention for the simple fact that I didn’t want to be seen as “broken” or “crazy”. I didn’t want to seem weak or like I couldn’t handle anything. I’ve gone through a lot in my life and I didn’t want to seem like I couldn’t handle something little like anxiety and that’s where I was wrong. Anxiety isn’t something little you brush under the wrong. The more you ignore it the deeper you sink yourself in it. Your mental health can’t be ignored, it’s more vital than a lot of people think. One huge thing i learned was that it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to bring attention to something you have a issue with. I wasn’t educated on anxiety so I often questioned myself. I have a good life, I have a great support system, so why do I have anxiety. That’s where i was ignorant because anxiety has nothing to do with what you have. Your current life doesn’t control your anxiety.
I recently hit a low point in my life where I said that’s it I have to make a change. I was lacking so much sleep because anxiety took over my nights. Being a mother and student I couldn’t afford losing sleep, my day and responsibilities go on. I have to keep it moving and get things done no matter what i’m dealing with. I can’t just call out as a mother on my 1 year old. I started having anxiety attacks daily, to the point where at the end of the day I was so burnt out because my anxiety completely sucked the energy out of me. It started effecting my grades, bond with Shawn and my friendships. I couldn’t focus, i couldn’t concentrate. It was completely effecting me as a person, and I was tired of it. I started to come to terms with the fact that this was bigger than me and that I need assistance with it.
Help and a ton of bricks lifted off my back.
I began going to the gym consistently because it helped a lot with my anxiety but I couldn’t always just drop what i’m doing and go to workout. I began organizing my month,week and to- do’s in a planner, to keep me on track and avoid getting off routine. Keeping a firm routine, helped me tremendously because it makes my day run smoother resulting in less anxiety attacks. Organization soothes my mind a lot and avoids triggers that come from mind clutter.
I began meditating, I an still a beginner but it already has helped me a ton. It helps me train my mind and be more aware. I recommend this to anyone dealing with anxiety. I began taking something for my anxiety. For a long time i avoided any type of medication because it scares me (thank you intervention tv show). I barely take medicine for a cold, how could i take something more than that. It’s not that i don’t believe in it but I always preferred not to. With all of the self-steps if taken to try to control my anxiety it was still bigger than me so i did decide to sit with my doctor and we came up with a plan. She was completely impressed of the steps I took myself and ensured me it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I also have a session with a professional that will help me with breathing exercises etc.
The second I walked out of the doctors office i felt like a whole house was lifted off my shoulders. You cannot find a solution without accepting you need help first. After I accepted that, the road to taking control of my life again began. I have been isolated for the simple fact that me getting better has all my focus, I can’t really afford distractions. I owe it to kai to be 100% myself. Although it never effected my parenting, I feel like I owe kai the best of me, even the part of me that isn’t a mom.
To anyone dealing with someone with anxiety:
Listen, listen to them… listen to what they have to say and what they feel. You don’t even have to have something to say back sometimes, just listen. Understand, try to educate yourselves on what it is and try to understand what its like to walk in their shoes, understanding helps coping. Do not belittle their anxiety, don’t take it as a joke or not a big deal. Even if to you it isn’t a big deal it is for them. Don’t be insensitive to something you’ve never dealt with.
Be there, just be there. Someone going through an anxiety attack sometimes needs to be spoken through it, sometimes they need their space. Someone who is going through it know what they need from you in that case and just respect it. Some people isolate themselves, some people need the company. Just be there for them even if you don’t quite get it.
To my fellow mommies:
Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves, sometimes we forget that our mental state and health is vital to everything else in our lives. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in responsibilities we are last on the list. My advice to any mother dealing with this is to not be ashamed and to not be in denial of help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, even if its having someone to speak to. Sleep deprivation, changes to your relationship, friendships and new routines and responsibilities, including round-the-clock care of a child. Add to that society’s expectation that this should be one of the happiest times in your life and that you should know what to do instinctively, it’s not easy. So much is asked of us but don’t forget that the second you start to take care of your mind everything else will fall in place.
Chin up! xoxo – Yelissa Pena