It hit me the other day, like a tonne of bricks, or worse, like a thick fog engulfing me, making it hard to breathe. Anxiety.
It’s a familiar feeling. The last time I felt anxious was when I stopped breastfeeding my first born, Gus. My hormones were going crazy and we were experiencing some times of change (Gus was in his helmet). It started with irrational thoughts, like what ifs, that then escalated into panic attacks. The stairs I’d managed to successfully walk down earlier that day, turned into death traps, with me picturing myself falling down, with Gus in my arms. The right hand turn I’d done in the city, was safe, but later in bed I’d go over the scene, thinking about what could of happened. The dog that barked at us as we walked past, suddenly became a vicious, baby attacking threat. All of these normal, day to day things, were festering in my mind, and becoming my worst nightmares.
After a few weeks of feeling the panic and anxiety get to a point of being out of control, I thought I should do something about it.
So I visited a naturopath. I was sceptical, but I’d heard amazing things, and I was willing to give it a go. Straight away she quizzed me about my diet, which at the time consisted of a lot of sugar and caffeine and not much more. Two things which make anxiety symptoms a lot worse, apparently.
I ditched them both completely, got myself on a heap of herbs (god knows what I was swallowing but it tasted a lot like dirt) and started eating meals more regularly (forgetting to eat and then gorging on sugar and caffeine was not helping the situation).
And it started to work.
But now, I can feel it creeping back, that familiar rise of panic which starts in my tummy and works it’s way up, burning the back of my throat.
It all came to a head last week when we found a mouse in the house. I am scared of mice, but my reaction was bordering on hysterical. For 7 nights straight I forced my husband to accompany me while I did the night feeds for Eddie. I refused to walk through the house with the lights off, and wouldn’t enter a room until it’d been cleared as mice free. I even sobbed uncontrollably the night before my husband went back to work, because I didn’t want to be alone with the mouse! Yes I know, it’s pathetic!
But the mouse wasn’t the problem (well it was, but not the entire problem), it was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.
You see, this camel has been carrying a bit of a load lately. A new baby, who up until about 3 weeks ago, was extremely colicky and unsettled. A severe lack of sleep (a direct result of aforementioned baby). A toddler who is about to go in for surgery on his neck which will be followed by very intense physical therapy. And the new and challenging job of raising two children, both amazingly beautiful and sweet, but at times hard work.
Being aware of this, is part of the solution. Recognising my triggers and doing something about them, is the start. And since I’ve done that, I’ve felt the anxiety start to lose it’s strength.
I think I’ll always be someone who has a certain level of anxiety in my life, it’s part of my personality. But it’s not ok for it to start dominating my life.
Have you ever suffered from anxiety? Was it worse after having a baby?