I don’t want to over-post on this topic, because frankly it feels a little raw still. And I’m also not still very much feeling my way through the whole thing, so there’s no tidy end. But I want to share what’s been going on around here recently to make even one woman feel a little less alone.
Lately, I’m fairly certain I’m dealing with some serious postpartum anxiety.
I know what you’re thinking. Your youngest is two! What do you mean, postpartum?!
But the thing is, I just stopped nursing three months ago. And that means my hormones are still adjusting. It’s been hard, friends.
While the first few weeks after weaning were relatively uneventful, emotionally speaking, the past few have not been. They have been pretty much the opposite of “relatively uneventful.”
On our trip back to Pittsburgh, I had a wonderful time overall. I reconnected with family and friends. I ate my body weight in homemade Italian food. We walked barefoot in the grass and the kids spent hours gliding on a tree swing that I’m pretty certain was anchored right from heaven.
And yet, despite all that, I had a full-on, heaving, sobbing, ugly-cry breakdown on my parents’ couch one night. And when Andrew had to leave for a few days to work, I was scared. So scared. Scared to “be alone,” even though, in no sense of the word was I going to be alone. There were bursts of unexplained anger; unfounded fear; times I felt so irrationally nervous about… really nothing… that I even frustrated myself.
There was all that and there was more. Everything felt bigger than it was, and harder too. And little things sent me into a tailspin, the likes of which my loved ones haven’t seen in me since, well, my last round with postpartum anxiety.
I’m using the past tense, but it’s very much a present problem too.
The funny thing is, there needs to be no “why” when one has anxiety. Objectively speaking, things are fine. But the daily things are really, really getting me these days.
There are certainly a fair share of regular daily stressors; nothing, thank God, that’s all that serious. There’s our six-and-a-half-year old who is testing his independence and my sanity. There’s our four-and-a-half year old who is on the verge of starting “big girl” school. And there’s our two-year-old who is inventing new ways to spike my cortisol levels.
Nothing major, no. But these things, combined with my apparently-still-adjusting hormone levels, are adding up to this reality I’m dealing with now.
It’s hard to explain, but here’s my best shot. It’s like there’s a top that’s spinning inside of me at full speed–a constant, low hum… deep down, keeping me from ever feeling fully present or calm.
Friends invite me to do things, and I want to do them… I really do! But I find myself saying no. It’s not because I don’t want to see people–because believe me, I’m keenly aware that being around other moms and talking through these feelings really helps–but it’s just because I actually can’t. I can’t get out the door. The thought of getting everyone dressed and together and moderating whatever fights or complications or issues the day is sure to bring actually tires me out before I can even take the first step.
The reason I’m writing all of this is isn’t for pity or compassion. I’ve got all the support I could ever need. Mostly, I have a plan that involves all the right things and people (been here, done this before).
So I’m not sharing for sympathy that I’ve already got in droves. I’m sharing it simply because it’s okay to talk about. And your anxiety or stress doesn’t have to feel monumental, 24/7, to be real. To be difficult. To make your days tough to get through.
And mostly it’s because if you’re out there and dealing with this too, I want to extend a virtual hand to you to say, I see you. You’re not alone.
You are not your anxiety. Nor are you your failures, your lows, or any other not-perfect thing that you are living through.
You’re you. And you’re going to be just fine. I’m certain I will, too.
Oh, and if you are one of the amazing women who reached out to me after I talked about all of this on my Instagram Stories, I’m reaching out right now and hugging you. Like, actually squeezing you and maybe even giving you a kiss on the cheek. You’re amazing, and your words of love and support mean more than you know.