Three years ago I gave birth to a tiny little human. By all accounts, she was probably considered a relatively easy baby. But, you’d never know that based on how I was handling life at that point.
Hormonal fluctuations certainly played a role but I just knew it was something more. The debilitating fear I felt about dropping my daughter. The all-encompassing anxiety about leaving the house and exposing her to germs. The gut-wrenching terror of her smothering herself while she slept.
I’d heard people speak of these fears before, but the way these thoughts consumed my mind and changed how I conducted my day-to-day life didn’t feel right. It also didn’t let up as time carried on.
Every time my daughter cried it sounded like four fire trucks, sirens blaring, had parked themselves in the living room next to me. My heart would race, prickles of cold sweat trickling down my back and I couldn’t fully formulate coherent thoughts. I could only hear her cries.
To some degree, this continues to this day. I’ve developed tactics and am working through it, but when she cries it truly sets my whole body over the edge. My husband doesn’t understand my response to my daughter’s tears. He says, “She’s a child! Children cry. Why are you getting so worked up?”
I tried to explain the fire truck analogy. He tried to understand and be compassionate toward my experience. But, I don’t think you can really understand unless you yourself have experienced that level of anxiety.
I started seeing a therapist for my anxiety about two months ago. It has been a game-changer for me. It’s funny. I know the value of therapy and recommend it to the moms I work with all the time. I never remotely question the benefit these women will receive if they seek out the expertise of a licensed counselor to help them work through postpartum anxiety and depression. Heck, I’m a former high school psychology teacher. I used to spend my days sharing study after study that demonstrated therapy’s effectiveness. I know this stuff works!
Yet, it took me several years to seek out help for myself. I knew I needed it. I knew something wasn’t right. I knew help was out there. And, yet I resisted. I stalled, procrastinated, avoided, and ignored the obvious.
I can only imagine the experience of a woman that isn’t able to label what she’s experiencing, doesn’t know how to get help, or has fear about the social stigma of being diagnosed with postpartum anxiety or depression.
This is a key mission of HER Health Collective and a personal passion of mine. The conversation we are currently having in this country about postpartum care is simply not enough. We are not providing the support women need. Mothers need and deserve more. Especially now in light of all that is going on in the world. HER Health Collective aims to fill that void.
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