Amanda’s Story: Postpartum Anxiety Warrior Turned Joy Spotter

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Submitted by Joyfully Yours Amanda.

Original post found HERE.

I am a strong woman, a strong mom! But I didn’t always feel that way.   My postpartum depression and high functioning anxiety told me otherwise.  I suffered in silence for far too long.  I thought I was alone in feeling the way I did.  Little did I know that I’m not.

Every Saturday in May I’ll be sharing a new blog post detailing my journey and how I got from there to here.  I want to share my journey to help other women know that they’re not alone and that seeking help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.

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The “stronger” campaign is to help bring awareness to maternal mental health & the organizations that are committed to creating a world where every mother has access to care.  The “ stronger” campaign is collaborating with the following foundations: Bloom, Alexa Joy and Cherished Mom. 

Additionally, Leo and Lynn jewelry, designed the stronger collection to help raise awareness and all the proceeds from the sales of the collection will be donated to the: Bloom, Alexis Joy and the Cherised Mom foundations.

Click here to shop the “Stronger” Collection

I want to tell you a story, a story of a girl you might know. A girl who was lost and confused. A girl who was scared. A girl who cried ALL the time. A girl and a new mom who didn’t understand what was happening to her. A girl who wanted life as she knew it to end. The girl is me and this is my story.

Anxiety and Depression were never supposed to happen to me but they did. Growing up you never heard things like this talked about. And even when they we’re like in a doctors office, there was a certain dark connation tied to it, where you just felt like you didn’t want that to happen to you. I never gave these things much thought. But I did think alot about why did I get so “nervous” to go somewhere. Why did I play out every scenario of what could happen, what could go wrong in my mind. Why 90% of the time I’d cancel last minute cause I was to scared to go. And even if I did muster up the courage to go, why did I get paralized with “fear” when walking into a room. Why did I think everyone was looking at me, talking about me, judging me. Today I know those “nerves” and “fear” are truly anxiety that I’ve had my entire life.

I never gave much thought as to why after my son was bornthat I was so “sad”. I expected this to be happiest days of my life but instead I cried alot, I felt lost, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I “thought” it was the new born blues. I “thought” it was my struggle with breastfeeding. I “thought” that the pressure of it all was getting to me. When I went to my doctor for my first after baby check up, I cried in the car beforehand, but then as I filled out the postpartum forms…I didn’t know what to do cause those symptoms sounded like what I was experiencing. But I didn’t want to be crazy, didn’t want to be a bad mom, I didn’t want them to take my baby away from me. So I said I was fine on forms. I told the doctor I was fine. I told the world I was fine. But I was anything but fine.

Slowly, I started to find my way as a new mom and then I was hit with Mastitis. A new doctor made a bad call so it didn’t get treated fast enough, the infection grew which led to pain unlike anything I had ever expereced. And my anxiety was through the roof. I also couldn’t stop crying. I just wanted it all to end. I wanted to return my baby cause I just couldn’t do this. I didn’t know it was possible to feel so much love, sadness, and guilt all at the same time. Eventually I was rushed into the OR so they could perform an emergency surgery to remove the Mastitis. The surgon told me I was hours away from a blood infection where I could have died. While in recovery part of me wished I did but I said I was fine.

Never did I expect my postpartum experience to be like this. All you see on social is happy, glowing new moms who love every moment of having their baby. I didn’t feel that way. I was so lost trying to navigate this new world that I never expected to be like this. The one thing I knew for sure was that I could no longer due breastfeeding so I gave it up then and there. It wasn’t working for me and Mason was doing well with formula. The surgon thought this was the best choice for me. My doctor however was anything but understanding. She was upset when I told her, as I cried in front of her, she told me that this was just a rough patch. “You’re fine” she said. I was anything but fine.

Soon enough it was time for me to return to work, after my eight weeks away of leave. The two weeks before my return were the best of my leave, Mason was doing great with formula, we were all sleeping, Mason and I had formed a strong bond, and I was finding myself. But my eight weeks were up so back to work I went. I will never forget the day I left him at daycare for the first time. My anxiety was so bad and I couldn’t stop crying again but this was what I had to do. I had to leave him and get back to work. So back to work I went.

Time passed, I started finding my way as a new working mom. Later that year I was tasked with a big project at work, the most important of my career. It was all consuming, if I wasn’t working on it then I was mom’ing but things never quite stopped. I didn’t have five minutes for myself. I did all the things, took care of everyone, but I didn’t take care of me. I was sick often, tired all the time, but rarely slept well since I was so stressed and anxious but I got it done. The project was a big success and everyone felt so proud about it but I didn’t. I wondered why I wasn’t. I brushed it off and I said I was fine but I was anything.

The months that followed were the darkest of my life. I was sad, anxious and lost. I was often triggered to tears and I wouldn’t be able to stop crying for hours. It didn’t matter where I was: at home, at the office, at target. I was sick even more often, at the doctors atleast once a month. My body and soul were crying out for help but I kept ignoring them saying I was fine. I was anything but fine. My anxiety and depression were affecting every area of my life. Everything and anything was the cause of it. But mainly I was convinced that my job was just too much pressure, I couldn’t do it anymore, I needed something with less pressure so I started looking for a new job.

I remember being triggered at one job interview where they asked me why I wanted to leave my current position and I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say. Cause truefully I loved where I worked, I loved my team, and I felt such guilt for not being who they needed me to be. I actually started crying during the interview. Needless to say I didnt get that job.

I was angry, sad and confused all the time. Matt was the only person I’d talk to, he kept encouraging me to get help but help for what. I wasn’t sick. I was just stressed cause of my job. Once I got a new job it would all be okay. But I did have a cold again so off to the doctor I went. This time a doctor I never met was tasked with handling the appointment. When she walked in the room she really looked at me, like really looked at me. It was like she saw the sad broken girl I was hiding from the world. I was holding back tears while telling her why I was there. She looked at my chart and said you’ve been sick alot, you’re here alot is anything else going on? I told I was fine and that I just had bad luck at getting sick lately. She didn’t look convienced. The rest of the apoinment was pretty run of the mill but before she left she walked over to me, grabbed my hand, and really looked at me…she said “you know it’s okay, to not be okay, it’s okay to ask for help” she squeezed my hand and walked out. I could barely make it to the car before brusting into tears since I so badly wanted to tell her I was anything but fine…but I didn’t want to be crazy. I didn’t want to let everyone down around me, I didn’t want to be weak, I didn’t want people to judge me cause I needed help, I didn’t want to be a bad mom and I didn’t want them to take Mason away cause I was crazy.

Each day was getting worse, I was making bad judgement calls at work and I slowly felt my sanity slipping away. I had racing thoughts all the time, where my mind was telling me horrible things, I never had a moments peace. One day after losing it in a meeting, where I proceed to cry off and on for hours while at work, I remember thinking I just wanted it all to end. While walking to the train I got stuck on a median in the middle of a four lane road, I saw a bus coming and my mind said, just walk out in front of it then this will all be over and you’ll have peace…I remember my foot moving towards the edge of the median…while looking at the bus then I just had this moment of clarity come over me that I didn’t want my life to end, I just wanted my life to end as I knew it. The bus passed, I crossed the streed and called the doctors office for a follow up appointment with the doctor who wanted to help me.

I decided in that moment that I was gonna choose me for me, and that I had to put myself first. I was going to do whatever it took to get better cause I had so much to live for: a loving husband, a wonderful baby, an amazing family. It was just that my life as I knew it had to end, things had to change.

Choosing “me” started when I sought help. I was so afraid as to what would transpire during that appointment with the doctor but I went cause I was choosing “me”, I was choosing to get help. I told the doctor what had been going on with me, I was in that exam room for what felt like hours. Everything I had been holding back just poured out. My doctor just listened and told me that we were going to make everything better.

First steps were medication and finding a therapist but as I looked at the script for Prozac I thought…isn’t that just for crazy people?! I had a hard time filling the script, I was afraid to be a person who took Prozac. In the end, I wanted to get better more than anything so I filled the script and started the medication. I did this for me, cause I was choosing “me”. I also got to work on finding a therapist. I knew it would take time to see changes but I felt like I was on the right path, and that choosing “me” was how I would remake my life.

Choosing “me” is how I remade my life. If you aren’t choosing “you” in the season you are in right now know you can choose “you” at anytime. Choosing “you” isn’t selfish, it’s selfless cause “you” need to take care of “you” before “you” can take care of anyone else.

In next week’s post, I will be talking about “remaking my life” in which I’ll share more on what followed in my journey. The journey hasn’t been easy but choosing “me” was the best thing I ever did. And if “you” choose “you” I promise it will be the best thing you ever do. Follow me and I’ll show you the way. Joyfully Yours, Amanda

Click here to read this related post – It’s okay to not be okay

If you need help, here are some resources:

Mental Health America Hotline: 1-800-985-5990, Text Talkwithus to 66846, or http://www.mhanational.org.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Check to see if you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

In case of an emergency, please call 911.

***Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a therapist, this should not be construed as medical advice, please always seek help from a professional.***

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