My Journey with Prenatal Anxiety and Depression

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All of our belongings were packed away. We were living with my sister-in-law for the next week when we found out I was pregnant with our first child. I still remember eating chips in the kitchen while Steven snuck to the bathroom to peek at the pregnancy test. I didn’t believe I was pregnant but eating chips should have given it away. I still remember the shock when Steven came out of the bathroom with a huge smile on his face saying, “you’re pregnant.” I felt shock immediately followed by overwhelming joy. Little did I know that joy would soon be accompanied with anxiety.

Prenatal and Postpartum Anxiety was never on my mind as an expecting mom. I heard about the dangers of Postpartum Depression but never anxiety. I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter when anxiety overloaded my daily thoughts. I remember one day as I was heading to a doctor’s appointment, I some how convinced myself there was a bomb in my car. I quickly jumped out of my SUV in the driveway thinking it was about to explode. I knew I was overthinking it but I still couldn’t convince myself to get back in for about 10 minutes. I even called my husband on the phone in hopes he would talk my brain out of this crazy notion.

As the months continued I would lay awake at night watching the shadows on the ceiling. I always thought someone would come in and kill me and my baby. I was working in the news business where my mind was constantly flooded with murders, child neglect and shootings. These thoughts would come and go throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. After I had my daughter I was still filled with amazing joy but I continued to battle anxiety. As months went on it got worse. So bad that I ended up in the ER twice thinking I was having a heart attack. It was over a year after having Aurora that I finally realized what was happening to me. I assumed I was crazy and it was hard to talk to anyone about it. Steven always listened but even he was getting tired of my mood swings. I finally got the help that I needed. I chose a small dosage of anxiety medication that has really helped me sleep at night. But now with my second pregnancy — I’m battling the other beast. Depression.

I am 5 months pregnant with my son and I’m having symptoms of Prenatal Depression. A phrase that scares me more than anxiety. I have suffered on and off with depression and anxiety my entire life, but being pregnant has caused these ugly demons to be revived. This time I’m not going to wait to get help. My biggest fear is that this depression will cause me to hurt my kids or myself. Thankfully, the only signs I’ve had are change of mood, lack of motivation and decreased appetite. I talked to my doctor who referred me to a therapist who specializes in women with anxiety and depression during and after pregnancies. My doctor said that this will continue to get worse so waiting would be a bad idea.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because I know there is a mother out there expecting or has been trapped in anxiety and depression for the last few years after having their kiddos. You may even have developed these based on other circumstances. I want you to know that you are not alone. It’s a fight that can be won with the proper help.

I share my story because many women don’t know about these mental illnesses. If you or someone you know has been struggling then please get help. Do not wait and try to control it on your own. Even I have been trying to minimize my symptoms but I knew I needed more.

*These are suggestions only that have helped me personally. I am not a licensed therapist nor doctor. I urge you to reach out to a trained physician to help you find the best ways for you to overcome anxiety and depression. *

Here are some ways that have helped me control my symptoms:

  1. Exercise — this is huge for me. I notice a complete mood change if I go more than two days without exercising.
  2. Eating healthy — sugar has been linked to depression and anxiety. I cut out breads and other sugary foods. I replaced them with protein, good fats, veggies and fruit.
  3. Staying Hydrated — When I feel thirsty I get angry. Once I’m dehydrated my brain cannot think properly if I am thirsty. Often times we even see these signs as hunger, but really we need a big glass of water. I also add Apple Cider Vinegar and lemon to mine to give me some natural electrolytes.
  4. Medication — I’m not a big fan of medication but eventually I had to take something for anxiety. Talk to your doctor to find out what works best for you.
  5. Talk to someone — therapy is a great alternative to medication when dealing with anxiety and depression. If you get a referral from your doctor then your insurance should cover the sessions. You may have to pay a copay but $35 a week is better than fighting this battle alone.

I hope this post helps someone today. I remember feeling so alone in all of this, but I don’t want you to. It was very hard for me to write about my struggles because they are personal. But I am getting help before anything gets worse. I’m all about being proactive instead of waiting for the worst to happen. Get help and don’t be afraid to admit that you need it. You’re not crazy — you’re struggling.

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