“No, you are not going crazy. Everything is going to be okay. You just need a little help,” is what I wish someone, anyone, would have told me at some point over the past 19 months. So I am telling you now incase you need to hear it, “No, you are not going crazy. Everything is going to be okay. You just need a little help.”
Did you know that you can get Postpartum Anxiety & OCD? I didn’t. Why don’t more people talk about it? Why wasn’t I prepared or warned? All I ever heard about was Postpartum Depression and I wasn’t depressed. I had none of the symptoms of postpartum depression so I just accepted the fact that I was a new mom who was a complete nervous wreck and it was something I had to live with – until it kept getting worse and one day I hit rock bottom.
I’m a very strong woman and I’ve always taken a lot of pride in that. I have been through a lot in my life and this past year was no exception. In fact it was one of the hardest years of my life. Not only did I have a baby, we bought and remodeled our house so my husband was rarely around for the first 8 months of our daughter’s life, I didn’t go back to work so I was adjusting to a completely different world and lifestyle as a SAHM, and our dog, Lucky, died.
Just as I was beginning the grieving process of losing Lucky, two and a half weeks later my Dad died of a heart attack while waiting at the airport shuttle stop. He was flying to Los Angeles to visit us and meet my daughter for the first time. He never made it.
All of this was a lot to take on but while I was still nursing, I didn’t want to go on any medication and thought I could handle it. And I did for a while until I had my first intrusive thought and that’s when I finally said, “Okay, something is seriously wrong here. This is not me, this is not normal and this is torture. ”
A few weeks later I started seeing a psychologist. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on because I was so scared that they were going to think I was crazy and take away my daughter. At therapy, I didn’t really mention my anxiety and in the first few sessions I only explained what was going on in my life. I was concerned that if I was completely honest she would definitely know I was nutso and she would have to report me. To who? I don’t know but I convinced myself I would get over it and everything would get better just because I was going to therapy.
Then I made a huge mistake. I started taking birth control for the first time in over 20 years and the change in hormones were so drastic that during my second week on it my anxiety sky-rocketed. The intrusive thoughts became more frequent and unbearable. Finally, on a day out with my daughter I couldn’t take it anymore.
When I got home and put her down for a nap I broke down. I began to have suicidal thoughts and that’s when I caught myself and said, “NO, this isn’t happening any more. You need to get help. You can’t do it alone. You need to figure out what the hell is going on and you need to fix it ASAP.” I was able to pull myself together for the rest of the day but that night after I put my daughter to bed and my husband was at work I had another break down and called him hysterically crying. I told him about everything that was happening and he said stop taking the birth control immediately and try and calm down. We will figure it out.
I finally Googled everything I had been feeling and it led me to article after article about Postpartum Anxiety with OCD and Intrusive Thoughts. Part of me was so relieved because I finally identified what was wrong with me but the other part of me was terrified as I read more articles on what I would still have to endure before I got better. I spent most of that night on the computer reading story after story of women who had gone through exactly what I was going through and it helped so much.
I made an appointment to meet with my psychologist the next day and this time I told her everything. She and I both agreed that I should make an appointment to see my old psychiatrist immediately and should probably be on some form of medication. Following her advice, I luckily was able to see my old psychiatrist right away and was prescribed Prozac that day. Over the past few weeks of monitoring, my dosage was adjusted and I am now feeling much, much better. The intrusive thoughts are almost nonexistent and everything has calmed down a lot.
My daughter will be 20 months in a few days and I had no idea that you could still suffer from postpartum anything for this long after birth. I wish I had known to get help earlier since I feel somewhat robbed of her first year because of the anxiety but I refuse to let the anxiety win now. I am getting my life back. There is no other option except to get better for her and for me.
I really hope that this helps at least one person. I wish I had known how common it was and that so many moms suffer through it. I wish I caught it earlier. I’m hoping you do.
Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Symptoms
You may have postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:
- Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.
- You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby. Checking on the baby.
- You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.
- You may be having disturbing thoughts. Thoughts that you’ve never had before. Scary thoughts that make you wonder whether you aren’t the person you thought you were. They fly into your head unwanted and you know they aren’t right, that this isn’t the real you, but they terrify you and they won’t go away. These thoughts may start with the words “What if …”
- You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of scary thoughts or worries. You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.
- You may feel the need to check things constantly. Did I lock the door? Did I lock the car? Did I turn off the oven? Is the baby breathing?
- You may be having physical symptoms like stomach cramps or headaches, shakiness or nausea. You might even have panic attacks.
- You feel like a captive animal, pacing back and forth in a cage. Restless. On edge.
- You can’t eat. You have no appetite.
- You’re having trouble sleeping. You are so, so tired, but you can’t sleep.
- You feel a sense of dread, like something terrible is going to happen.
- You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
- You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
- You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.