This one’s more personal than usual. I’m sharing a bit more about my own journey with anxiety and depression. But, it isn’t the post I wanted to write. I planned on writing a celebratory post about a new program I’ve been working on, but I’m feeling less than excited because there’s other stuff that’s all up in my way. And that makes it harder for me to tap into my well of happiness.
Does this ever happen to you?
When you know everything’s alright at a base level, but you still feel wrapped up in a swirl of nervousness, indecision, sadness, and/or anxiety?
For me, I first felt it years ago, but recently it resurfaced when I was pregnant with my son. (New mama sidebar: “postpartum” depression and anxiety can actually happen before you give birth and/or anytime in the first year or so after. For this reason, the field technically refers to PPD and PPA as “perinatal” depression and anxiety, which means before and/or after.)
For some moms, it’s not just pregnancy and birthing. Especially for those women who (like me) love every day of being pregnant. Instead, other behind-the-scenes things can get in your way. Your body and mind may have fully adjusted to your babies, but you can still have days peppered with that old familiar feeling of gloom-and-doom.
It feel it, literally, like one of those Eeyore clouds hanging overhead, or like a tornado whirling around inside of your body.
So, when anxiety strikes, what do we do? What can we do??
The answer is different for everyone. But no matter who you are, the universal truth is this: you can ask for help. It might be from a friend, a good book, a great therapist, anyone or anything that offers a change in perspective and a little light.
You can take a breath, pay attention to the conversation you’re having with yourself, and make it 1% softer, kinder, more encouraging. You can focus on how you want to feel (clear? relaxed? grateful? supported?) and take 1 step in that direction (quick walk? personal dance party? yoga-in-bed? cat-or-pup cuddles?).
Of course, when your carrying anxiety around in your body, these strategies may not be as easy as they sound. This stuff isn’t something you hear once and then you’re all good for all time.
Training your brain like this requires practice. But you can do this.
Your day may not start off as uplifting as you expect, and there’s no magic solution that will disappear anxious feelings altogether, all of the time. But when you use your tools to get back to center, you can start to rise above the fray. Feel less anxious, bit by bit. And when you’re taking care of tiny people, baby steps towards your goal can lead to enormous change.
P.S. If you can relate to the feelings in this post, I’ve got something for you. Learn more about postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, and other perinatal moods — plus, get the free PPD Care Kit — in our 100% free, 30-minute mini-course, PPD 101. It’s ideal for mamas, papas, grandparents, doulas, and anyone who supports them. Click here to get the course for free.