It’s only been in the last few years that I have started sharing my struggle with anxiety. Those closest to me know I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was five years old. It manifested in fears that my mother would die and leave us alone. The threat of natural disasters and storms scared me. My siblings always laughed at me because I hated thunderstorms for fear of tornadoes; we lived in Texas the first eight years of my life where tornado warnings were prevalent. Even as a small child, I feared a terminal diagnosis. I just knew my fate included dying from some horrible disease. My mother called me a hypochondriac. She didn’t understand why her little girl was so stressed. Over the years, I’ve learned how to manage the anxiety through cognitive behavioral therapy and maintaining my overall health. I’ve been pretty successful at keeping the anxiety at bay that people on the fringes of my life don’t know I suffer from it. Most often, it manifests itself as uptightness, overthinking, sometimes controlling and a Type A personality. I guess you could say I’m high functioning.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this made me a prime candidate for postpartum anxiety. At the time of my first pregnancy, I was at a place in life where the anxiety was under control. I am no stranger to panic attacks, but the only time I had them was on planes. It never occurred to me to speak to my OBGYN about postpartum anxiety.
I was fine in the first few weeks after my son’s delivery, but anxiety quickly took over. I didn’t want my husband to leave me alone. I obsessed over if the baby was OK. My thoughts raced daily of a million things that could go wrong. I worried about my recovery after an emergency C-section. I had several emotional breakdowns. I cried at least once a week because I was so stressed. Little things irritated me. I was a mess. In hindsight, I don’t think my husband understood what was wrong. He just thought I was an overwhelmed new mom and wanted him there to help me. I didn’t even know what was wrong. It was a stressful time.
Today, my son is about to turn seven so I don’t remember exactly how long my postpartum anxiety lasted. I guess I just started feeling better and more confident in parenting. The fears eventually subsided. If I could go back, I definitely would have talked to a therapist if I had recognized the signs, and that’s my advice to you. If you feel like you’re suffering from postpartum anxiety or depression. Get help as soon as possible!
Spiritual Hope and Testimony
I believe in and advocate for therapy and doing what you need to do to take care of your mental health. However, throughout my life the Lord has shown me that He has power over anxiety. Anxiety has been the thorn in my flesh the Lord has not removed because He is showing me His grace is sufficient.
During my second pregnancy, my husband died suddenly while I was seven months pregnant. My OBGYN, cardiologist and other specialists I saw because I had a high-risk pregnancy didn’t know about my history with anxiety, however they were all very afraid I would suffer from postpartum depression or may even become suicidal. I remember vividly my cardiologist telling me about a woman who jumped off the roof of a building after her delivery committing suicide because of postpartum depression. At the time of my husband’s death and in the weeks after, the Lord ministered to me so closely and kept telling me He would bring me through everything OK, so I declined all of the medication they offered to prevent postpartum depression. My testimony is even though I had a history of anxiety, a two-year old at home, a newborn and my husband just died, I didn’t suffer from postpartum anxiety or depression. Actually, I can’t believe how easy it was taking care of my daughter in the days and weeks after delivery. The Lord was true to His word.
Another testimony is for years I suffered from panic attacks whenever I would fly. The loss of control, fear of heights and plummeting and claustrophobia were the perfect combination to trigger panic attacks. However, in the last few years the Lord delivered me from them. Recently, the Lord told me to launch out into the deep. I obeyed and started branching outside of my comfort zone. On one flight in a thunderstorm after years of avoiding flying, the Lord told me He has power over my flesh, and He will stop the panic attacks. In the same way He spoke peace to the storm, He spoke peace to my flesh. I didn’t suffer a panic attack on that flight, and I haven’t suffered any on subsequent flights since that night. God is truly a deliverer.
If you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety, speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are some promises from God to help you through this time. You will get through this.