I have anxiety. I am the 1 in 4.
I am one of the more than 6,000,000 Australians who suffer from a form of anxiety.
Post natal anxiety.
It’s the moments I feel like I can’t breathe. The moments the weight on my shoulders is so heavy I feel I could fall over at any moment. The times I stand in a room crying uncontrollably for reasons I can’t even tell you, because I simply don’t know.
It took me a really long time to admit I wasn’t OK. Over a year in fact.
I would tell myself it was normal and every new parent felt the same way. I would tell myself that parents were supposed to be worried that something, anything could happen and they would lose everything they loved in the world in a single second and be powerless to stop it from happening.
It’s completely normal to cry without control because you’re so completely overwhelmed with the pressure of a single moment. That’s what everyone does right? Wrong.
Yes, as parents we should worry. These little people are the single most important things in our world and of course we never want them to be taken from us. But fearing that your thoughts are premonitions and if you imagine it, it will come true isn’t something anyone should live with. Magical thinking doesn’t exist. Could you imagine the world if it did? The human race would cease to exist.
It started with a thought.
If I don’t lock the doors and someone gets in, imagine what that would be like. What would I do? What room would I go in? Would I be able to get the baby in time as well as wake up my husband? Would the intruder hear us while we were trying to escape out the back door? I better check the doors are locked again, just in case. I know I just checked them twice but I better check again.
Imagine if I accidentally dropped the baby walking down the front steps? Would I drive straight to the hospital or would I call an ambulance and wait? Would she just cut her head a little or would she be so badly hurt that she’d never develop normally? I think I’ll stay inside today, all day.
Irrational fears that forced me to cancel plans with friends. Irrational statements that made my husband twist his head and ask what I was talking about.
One second we could all be laughing and playing together and the next I’d get caught up in my head and imagine how I’d cope if I didn’t get anymore of these moments.
I needed help. But how could I share my worries with some stranger I know nothing about? If I just practise not thinking them eventually I’ll get better at it and I’ll be OK. No.
I needed help and as excruciatingly painful as it was, I have never felt better.
My psychologist listens to me. She makes a rational understanding of why I’m worried about something and every single thought and moment I share with her she makes sense of and I breathe a sigh of relief, every time.
I asked for help and I beg you to do the same if you think you might be experiencing postnatal anxiety. I have a long road ahead of me and even though I do still have times where I worry something could happen I am now armed with the power and knowledge to confidently say “No, that didn’t happen, you just imagined that”
I am still the one in 4 and I may be for a long time. But I am doing something about it so I can be the wife and mother that I know me to be. I can be the person I know that I am and always have been. I am the 1 in 4. But one day I won’t be!