16 Feb My Secret Life
What do you think you see when you look at my Instagram account or Facebook account? What would you say about my life? My family? My passion for writing and blogging? My journey both past and present? I can imagine you would say some pretty positive words. I can imagine you would tell me how adorable my kids are (they really are) and how I seem to be doing pretty well. For the most part you would be correct….for the most part. It’s what you don’t see that tells a much bigger story.
What you haven’t seen is that I have been battling postpartum anxiety for 22 months. What you haven’t seen is that my anxiety ranges from just laying on the beach to being in the midst of a massive tsunami. What you haven’t seen is how I become consumed by my own body and become a prisoner of war, internal war. What you haven’t seen is that I have been crippled by this monster and actually right now, as I type this, I’m feeling incredible discomfort. See the thing for me, and for many other moms, is that I’m still functioning with it. It’s almost as if I’m two entities in one body at times and each one continuously talks over the other. It’s what I can imagine having a secret life is like.
Postpartum anxiety takes you places you have never been and truthfully you’ve gotten there against your will. It’s the rapid beating of your heart to the point that you become convinced it may explode out of your body. It’s the tightness in your chest that cuts off your air. It’s the wanting to run out of a store because a stranger said hello to your children and you have convinced yourself that they are looking to kidnap them. It’s the inability to leave your home because the thought of your children’s possible poor behavior, coupled with your self-doubt in handling any situation, in public brings you to your knees. It’s the jolting awake at night to check your children’s closet and under their crib for the slight chance your home security alarm malfunctioned at the exact same moment someone broke into your house and they are waiting to cause your kids harm. It’s the repetition of checking the stove, the coffee pot and the oven several times before you leave the house because your mind keeps telling you a fire may start. It’s the panic in the middle of the night because you are crippled with fear that something is going to happen to you and you are going to leave your kids. It’s the terror that consumes your mind when you get sick telling you of all of the things that could actually be wrong with you. It is the sudden inability to breathe and the obsessive “what ifs.” It’s the feeling of wanting to jump outside of your own body to get escape the “ick” blanketing you. It’s the feeling of wanting to run away from yourself. It’s the feeling of not being able to literally stand yourself. It is the time lost with your loved ones because you have to take moments to catch your breath and stop shaking. It is the weight that this puts on your family and the guilt that comes along with being such “maintenance” at times. It’s the confusion, the low self-confidence, the avoidance of social situations, and the delirium. It is your secret life.
I often wonder what life would be like for me if I wasn’t forced to co-exist with this monster. What would I spend my time on? How would I feel? Would I feel free? I can imagine that I would. I can imagine that I would feel weightless. I can imagine that I would be able to compartmentalize the small stuff versus the big stuff. I wonder if I would be a better mother? That’s a tough question to put out there but it’s true. Would I be? Don’t get be wrong. My life is filled with more blessings than many see in a lifetime and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say, “thank you” and feel immensely grateful. I am blessed with health, a home, a wonderful husband, two awe-inspiring babes, a host of family and friends and have found a passion that makes me excited for each day. My reason for sharing all of this with you is that I just want you to know that I feel trapped more times than you may think. I want you to know more about this illness so you could take notice in someone you love and be their support. I want you to know that despite all of the blessings there lies a girl that just wants to protect herself, at times, from herself and from being sucked thru the door to this secret life. I want you to know how hard the journey of maternal mental health really is but also know that despite being on this ride you can find happiness.
Let’s create awareness. Let’s talk about it. We must talk about it. Our stories shape us and strengthen us, one beautiful disaster at a time.