My Journey - Part 2 - Anxiety Stomps In

I hadn’t experienced anxiety until I had my first child in 2015 at the age of 33.

I was no stranger to mental health challenges as mental illness runs through my family. Depression, mania and bipolar were all part of my life growing up as well as the battle with medication. (Anxiety was something that I was not so familiar with.) My mom was not a believer in medication for these conditions and she struggled through, managing the best she could without support of medication but choosing instead alternative care. In hindsight, she now wishes she would have accepted medication sooner because the right medication, along with all the other tools she still uses, has enriched her life.

I had decided in my late teens, that I was not going to go down the same path as my family. I was going to choose something different. I was not going to suffer from mental health challenges. For most of my life, this outlook stuck. I was able to be well and healthy using my own tools of exercise and social support. I have always been a person that worries and thinks a lot, and sometimes I get down but I never felt it was depression or abnormal mental health.

My first post of ‘My Journey’ tells of my experience with depression before getting pregnant. This is the rest of my story:

I had a beautiful pregnancy; I was one of those moms that loved being pregnant. While I was pregnant, I felt better than I had for a long time. My husband and I were very excited to meet our new little person but soon after Jaxton’s arrival, my mental health started to decline. 

It’s hard to say when things really took a turn but I think that it started with not sleeping and then getting numerous panic attacks throughout each day and night. The biggest problem was that I didn’t know what was happening. Being a new parent, we did not know what was normal. We called in some support from the Doula team, Midwives and family. I even went to emergency a couple times to try and get some support and was sent away with a prescription for medication that I did not fill.

Two weeks after Jaxton was born, my family and friends teamed together and spent the day convincing me that I needed to be admitted to the hospital. I was very resistant but they eventually got me to the hospital where I was admitted to the maternity ward so Jaxton and I could still be together.

After two horrible nights in maternity, the staff quickly realized that I needed more support and I was moved to the psychiatric ward, where I was not able to be with Jaxton. I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, which is a very rare condition that affects 1-2 in 1000 women.

Three weeks later, after much support, medication intervention and rest, I was able to return home to my family. The road to recovery had just begun as I was still on a lot of medication and had much healing to do. With the support of family and friends and my own determination, I was able to wean myself off most of the medication and come to a place of wellness. I would never have been able to do this without the amazing support of my community and most of all, the loving kindness and patience of my husband, Jason.

There is obviously a lot more to this story and I am always open to answering questions for anyone that wants to know more. I tell this story because I strongly believe that people need to talk about these dark times and let others know that they are not alone. I tell this story too because, through my healing I became motivated to help people who struggle with anxiety to find a place of balance in their life, however that may look.

My wellness has many aspects: food, lifestyle, social connections, sleep, movement and medication. What the medication allows me is a place where my head is above water and I do not have to work so hard to be well. I am not saying it is easy. I choose to be on a very low dose medication so I still need to do many other things to keep myself well. But the medication is like having a paddle in your boat as you are trying to paddle up stream rather than just trying to paddle with your hands; it’s a tool that makes navigating the stream of life a little easier. 

Thank you for taking time to read this story. If you or someone you know has had experience with anxiety and would like to share to ask questions, always feel free to contact me. Have a beautiful day and Be Well.