Navigating the Fog - Life as Mrs. Wilson

27 July, 2017

Navigating the Fog

A few nights ago, I read an article that resonated so deeply that it hurt. It talked all about Post Partum Anxiety and how it manifests in new moms. I always assumed that what I was feeling was just what all new moms experience. Of course all moms are afraid of losing their child, of course all moms wake up in the night to check on their babies. But here I am, nearly 10 months later, and I'm still checking on my son every 10 minutes when he sleeps. I still have nightmares that are so vivid of him dying. I hinder myself. I can't even hold him near the edge of the stairs or a deck because I fear I'm going to somehow lose my grip and he will be lost. I panic when I can't hear him breathe. I panic when I get in the car with him. I am restless throughout the night. What if the monitor doesn't go off? What if I'm too late? What if it's my fault? Even when I do get alone time to rest, I am restless. I worry something will go wrong. His tachycardia will flare up. He'll fall. He'll suddenly stop breathing. I can't relax. I can't breathe. I can't live.

I genuinely believed that the extent of those thoughts and feelings were normal. I thought that this is why being a mom is so exhausting. But it's not the norm. And it doesn't need to be something I have to tolerate without help. Because shoving down feelings (or attempting to) and acting like this is a normal way of existing, is wrong. I've felt like I've been in such a fog since my son was born. The depression has become nearly impossible to live with, and the anxiety even worse.

I've always felt this need to tough it out or to suck it up and deal with it. I felt that I was strong enough to deal with everything by myself and that I didn't need help. But I do. And learning that the extent of my anxiety is NOT something I have to deal with alone, it's groundbreaking.

I thought that maybe parenthood meant surviving and existing and just trying to make it through until the kids moved out. That is, frankly, how I felt since my son was born. How did people explore with their kids and enjoy it - and seem to have so much energy? How do these parents seem so happy, and so sane? How do they go out with their kids and not have a nervous breakdown - or even more, how do they go out WITHOUT their kids and not have a nervous breakdown?

"Maybe I'm just not cut out for this. Maybe I'm just too weak to be a parent."

Those thoughts and feelings flooded my soul. And I tried so hard to just stay afloat. I clung to the good days, and even the good weeks. But as soon as I could gasp for air, I'd be dragged under again.

I thought this was normal. I thought I just wasn't as strong as all the other moms. That something in me needed refinement, that something in me was wrong, that I just wasn't meant to be a mom even though it was everything I've ever wanted in my life.

Knowing that I can get help, and that I do need help, has already been a relief for me. But it's hard not to feel shame for needing help. It's hard not to feel unworthy of help. But I know I need it, and I am ready to receive it.

I don't tend to keep my struggles a secret, and honestly, navigating this new chapter of my life has been immensely challenging. I suppose I feel compelled to be open about it because I know so many are afraid to do the same. Because there is no way that I, one person out of billions, am the only person who has ever or will ever feel this way. Because sometimes, we just need to know that we aren't crazy and alone and like something is wrong with us - like I felt until I read that article.

Because there's nothing wrong with me, there's just something wrong with how the chemicals and hormones are trying to balance in my body.

And I look forward to finding solutions and taking charge of my life again. Being a mom doesn't have to mean always surviving and yearning for happiness in some distant future. How did I not realize this sooner? I guess a lot of it is because no one really talks about the ugly stuff. No one, even me, wants to admit that being a parent is freaking hard a lot of the time and no one - even me - wants to admit that they need help. But because no one ever admitted feeling this way to me I felt so alone for SO LONG. And I just don't want anyone else to feel alone like I did.

Navigating this whole parenthood thing is crazy, and hard, and also amazing. I love my son with all I have, and because of that love, I know I need to get help for the anxiety and the depression. When I take care of myself, I know I can better take care of my family. My love for my son has never wavered, but now I know that there is a way to go through life without such intense emotion and fear.

So here's to facing challenges head on, shame free, and knowing that it doesn't have to be done alone.

"We're all just walking each other home."

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