"Let It Go"
The story I want to share with you all is not yet a success story. In fact, it's more of an ongoing battle. My story has no timeline, no specific dates, no "aha" moments of understanding, and probably the most difficult part for me to share is that my story has no diagnosis.
(Que the heavy breathing)
For those of you that don't know me, I am a 27-year-old, stay-at-home mama of two wonderful, exhausting, little boys. My husband, Josh, recently landed a great new job that allows us to buy our first home together!! It's been a lot of work making it our own but how lucky are we to even have the opportunity to do so. Anyone who knows Josh, knows what a hard-working, family man he is. Everything he does, he does it with his family in mind. We are beyond lucky to have him in our lives.
When Josh leaves for those 50+ hours a week for work and things get stressful here at home, I call in reinforcements. I have a small troop of brave soldiers on standby ready to take my tiny terrorists when I need a break. My Mom lives down the street and my Mother-in-law in the next town over. That's every new mama's dream, am I right?! I am forever grateful for these women in my tribe.
So far, so GREAT, right? I know, stick with me.
If you were a fly on the wall in my house, here is what a typical day would look like...
The morning starts with the tiny humans waking me up. It's an urgent potty break for the big one and a diaper change for the little. Then it's a fight over the stool for hand washing and teeth brushing followed by a race down the stairs to let our puppy out of her cage. Mama makes coffee, then breakfast. We eat then I clean up. Next comes play/paint/color/climb/destroy the house; part 1. After at least 4 different snacks, it's lunch time. A nap follows lunch for the little and the big one gets to watch "his shows." Meanwhile, I pick up, do laundry, dishes, or occasionally I Netflix binge-watch Greys Anatomy. Oops. Baby wakes up and they're onto their second round of destroy the house. I cook dinner (most nights, sometimes it's just cereal) and Josh comes home, finally. We eat, bathe the kids and play the final round of destroy the house. I can see the finish line (bedtime) so I keep running until I cross it and fall over, into my bed.
In the eyes of the fly, it was a seemingly successful day.
Now I'm going to do something I've only done a few (two, to be exact) times, I'm going to let you in my head.
For the purpose of really understanding, I'm going to ask you to come with me here. Go to this place, allow yourself to feel these feelings with me.
Imagine you are about to take the stage to give a speech to hundreds of people and you have extreme stage fright. You are going over your lines again and again...making sure they're perfect and that you're not going to mess it all up. You're shaking, your heart is pounding so loud that you can hear it, you’re sweaty all over, and you can taste the vomit in your throat. Can you feel the panic?
Next, you're hosting a dinner party and you're in charge of everything. The hungry guests are arriving early and you're trying to have all the food done at the same time. You check the potatoes in the oven and they're still cold. Shit. You see the grill smoking; the chicken is burnt to a crisp. The drinks aren't even out yet. Someone walked on your new white carpet with muddy shoes and the toilet is clogged and overflowing. ALL IN THE SAME MINUTE. Is your hair gray yet?
Lastly, you are leaving a friend's house after dark. As you're walking to your car you notice someone is following close behind you. Are you still breathing?
All of these feelings rush over me like a waterfall and here I am at the base of it gasping for air. My chest is so tight it makes it hard to breathe. My thoughts scatter around my mind like rats in the daylight. I feel like a caged animal... restless, confused and panicked.
But when I can finally come up for air, I look around and there is no one following me in the night...there are no hungry dinner guests waiting on burnt chicken. The real reason I feel this way is because someone spilled a full cup of milk, or because the water in the sink has been running for too long, or because I can't think of what to make for dinner. Oh, or my favorite scenario... absolutely no reason at all!
This, my friends, is Postpartum Anxiety. And it's exhausting.
I am constantly plagued with these irrational fears...like, my kids heard Josh and me bickering and now when they grow up and get married all they will do is bicker and then get a divorce and die alone...or I misplaced the T.V. remote and I instantly think my baby took it, got the cover off, swallowed the battery and now it's burning a hole in his stomach and we should go to the E.R. now. Ridiculous, right? PPA leaves me in an almost constant state of panic. It's very difficult to enjoy the little things in life when you are always anxious.
Josh and I leave little post-it notes around the house to remind me to let things go and just be happy. I often have to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, little hardships don't even matter!
“There is no use crying over spilled milk” & “Let it go” (thanks Elsa) are two things I tell myself when I start to get anxious. Having company always helps. Talking through the emotions with someone can really put the fears into perspective. Our time on this earth is too precious and short to worry all the time, we must make the most of what we are given. And yes, I'll remind myself of that about 10 times tomorrow, and the next day, and every day until this PPA goes away!
Thank you for taking the time to hear my story! Today, I am proudly showing my brave face and fighting to end the stigma on mental health issues.