Updated: Sep 12
For years, I have struggled with anxiety without being able to put a name to my feelings. All I knew was, I was stressed and worried all the time. My life was ruled by perpetual fearfulness.
When my toddler was born, I was constantly afraid that she was going to get hurt. I was overwhelmed with constant thoughts that something horrible would happen to her. My incessant fearfulness made me talk to my OBGYN about getting on medication for my post-partum anxiety.
Although I wasn't diagnosed at the time, I believe I had post-partum anxiety with my older daughter as well. When she was a baby, until she was about 9 years old, I was constantly afraid that she was going to get kidnapped. When I went on the hospital tour before she was born, they made a point of telling us that no child had ever been kidnapped from the hospital. After that, I couldn't get the image out of my head.
The upsetting, overpowering worries that I had with each of my children were different, but the constant fear was the same.
I had physical symptoms that accompanied the worries too: heart palpitations, the inability to stop worrying, trouble sleeping, and hyper-awareness. All these are signs of anxiety.
When I had my oldest daughter 18 years ago, Post-Partum Anxiety wasn't something I had ever heard of. But 4 years ago, when my toddler was born, there was information readily available online. I found information in a mom's group that I was a part of, and asked my doctor if that could be me.
Do you have anxiety?
If you are feeling anything like I do, it is very possible that you have anxiety. It is estimated that almost 20% of adults in the US experience Anxiety. If you are experiencing any of the following, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider.
Feelings of apprehension or dread
Feeling tense or jumpy
Restlessness or irritability
Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
Sweating, tremors and twitches
Headaches, fatigue and insomnia
Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea
Anxiety is Treatable!
There are treatments available for Anxiety, so if you are struggling with this like I do, have hope that there really is hope at the end of the tunnel! Some of the treatments available are:
Therapy - with a psychologist or counselor
Medication - prescribed by a family doctor, psychiatrist or OBGYN
Complimentary Health Approaches - such as relaxation techniques
After struggling with anxiety for years, and having it adversely effect my life since I also have PTSD and depression (which can be common for others with anxiety as well), I finally found a therapy center with Wraparound Services.
Wraparound Services can be super important for anyone who has mental health problems, because you get a team of therapists, medical professionals, and advocates to help you navigate the problems with your mental health issues in various aspects of your life.
I love my counseling center (https://www.communityreachcenter.org/ if you are in Denver) because they help me as a team. I got evaluated as a walk-in and had an appointment with a therapist within a week, and a psychiatric nurse within a month! If you have ever had to get a psychiatrist appointment, you know this is really quick!
My therapist works with me using talk therapy, and coping skills for my daily life. My psychiatric nurse provides me with medications to help my problems and to alleviate physical anxiety symptoms. My advocate helped me to develop job skills and find employment as a handicapped person. Now, I also see a second therapist who specializes in EMDR for my PTSD.
The best thing about having all these providers in one center?
They all talk to each other, share notes, and provide complimentary services that work together! It is great because I am getting treatment that is consistent from all of my providers.
Talk to your doctor today!
If you are struggling with anxiety like me, talk to a doctor today! You can talk to your regular doctor, go to a crisis center, or even go to the ER if it is really a bad day for you! (I have done all of these - and ALL can provide referrals for long-term treatment.)
A big part of my therapy for anxiety has included using coping strategies in my daily life, so that the anxiety doesn't become so overwhelming that I can't function.
Some of these coping strategies include:
Deep breathing. If you take a breath in, the do a quick and deep exhale, it can calm down your nervous system.
Meditation. Meditation is also great to practice on a daily basis, it helps you learn to quiet your racing thoughts through acceptance.
Exercise. The endorphins that are released during exercise can help to counteract the fight or flight response from anxiety.
Yoga. It is a great combination of meditation, exercise and breathing. By learning to make your body flow with your breath, it can create a calm state.
Journaling. When you are upset and want to yell, it can be great to write things down instead. If you have fear and anger, you can release them in a quiet way instead of taking out your feelings on people around you.
Gratitude. Having a gratitude practice is a great way to flip negative thinking to positive, by shifting your focus to what is going right already. This can help keep you from thinking about fears of bad things that could happen.
Affirmations. Similar to gratitude, this practice of saying positive things to yourself can help to create a more positive mindset as well.
If you, or anyone you know, is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800-273-8255
Please, know that you are not alone, and you do not need to suffer in silence anymore!
If you are seeking services, The Recovery Village has treatment centers for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery in Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Washington and New Jersey:
You can also check out my video on this topic.
Please let me know in the comments if you struggle with anxiety too, and what coping strategies have served you best!
For more on what I do to care for my mental health, check out these related blog posts: