Something changed the second time around. As I think back on the first year of my 2nd sons life, it isn’t a singular moment that stands out, but a progression that continued to build within me until I almost broke.
Worry, fear, nerves, hormones, anxiety– whatever you want to call it. It got to the point where any decision could mean impending doom to my family. My heart would race as my mind wandered and fixated on things that could (but probably wouldn’t) happen to the baby. I’d obsess over the million “mom fails” that happen throughout the day (i.e. I didn’t interact enough with my 2-year-old, I allowed too much screen time, I haven’t read enough books to the kids, I’m not taking enough time to bond with the baby, etc). My emotions would flash and change in an instant and my mood would follow suit. I was happy and spontaneous, then, bam, paralyzed with anxiety over something as little as going to the park, knowing there was a chance I’d have to interact with other adults (introversion turned to extreme social anxiety). I’d be present some of the time, then finding myself drifting off in thought or unable to do much during the day because the weight of the world (my world) was crushing me. At the time, it was my truth. It was exhausting. While not completely divulging the true reasoning and feelings behind my emotions to my family and friends, their advice was, naturally, that of comfort. “It’s okay. This is normal. Give yourself some grace. You are doing a great job. Having two children is hard. You’ll figure it out. Just keep moving forward.” I would allow this advice as my permission to continue and keep going, status quo. It has to get better, right?
Did I mention, during this time I was also seeing a therapist?
I was. Faithfully, for an entire year. I tend to take a holistic approach to healthcare. I told myself maybe I just need to sort through my baggage, learn mindfulness, and find my zen. I did, and it helped. It still helps. But in truth, it wasn’t enough.
After about a year of therapy, my sons now ages 3 and 1, every day still felt like survival on the edge of break down. Almost every single day I would call my husband while he’s busy at work and tell him I was losing my mind for one reason or another.
It was time I sought additional help.
I remember the day I called my OBGYN and the nurse answered. She routinely asked how I was doing and I started crying. The tears were a mixture of relief that I was closer to help and of course, the anxiety. Sitting down with my doctor and explaining what had been going on with me the past year was hard and felt vulnerable, but almost immediately the weight lifted from my shoulders. She told me she can help. She told me it was okay. We discussed different medications and we narrowed it down. I made a decision and filled the prescription. I remember hesitating before I took my first pill. It all felt so big. The taboo of taking prescription medication was causing me pause. But in my heart of hearts, I knew I needed to give it try. It took a couple weeks for my body to adjust to the medication, but once I did, I found myself asking why I waited so long. The constant fear & worry lifted. I noticed I was having a more “normal” reaction to life’s ups and downs. I recognized this person. It was the same old me, but without the gripping fear and worry I carried around for too long. I am now able to help myself cope. I am now able to feel and be more present. For that, and for so many other reasons, I am a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, and family member.