Saturday, March 10, 2012

Panic and Anxiety Before Post Partum Depression

In my early 20's I began noticing that certain situations would evoke an unnecessarily strong reaction. I first started having panic attacks when I lived in Boston and would get stuck in traffic. Knowing that I couldn't move until all the other cars did caused an immediate fight or flight reaction. I learned to try and keep myself calm, but I was never able to prevent them from happening. After that came 9/11, and the fear of something happening to me became so intense that I hated to be alone. I didn't drive alone if I didn't have to and I was constantly worried about the world ending. I was nervous all the time. I couldn't sleep. I was always waiting for the next bad thing to happen. After a month or so I was pretty much back to normal.

I had the biggest panic attack I've ever had on the plane to go to Ireland for our honeymoon. I couldn't breathe, I was sweating and my heart was beating so fast my husband almost took me off the plane. I really thought I might die. We went anyway. Not a good plan. I spent our entire honeymoon near panic, worried about having to fly home. Now I medicate to fly, and can actually enjoy the destination. 

I was anxious about getting pregnant because there were so many things I wouldn't be able to control. What if the baby kept kicking and I got panicky because it wouldn't stop? What if I had a panic attack during labor and couldn't stop it?? I knew I could never have an epidural because it would limit my ability to move my legs or walk. I cannot lose control that way. Panic looms right around the corner waiting to pounce on situations like that. As it turned out, none of those things were a problem. I loved being pregnant. I felt great. I enjoyed feeling the baby move and looked forward to meeting him or her when it was time. It's not that I didn't fear labor.. no one looks forward to the pain, but I knew I could handle it. I would handle it. And I did. I had Braeden without any medical intervention. No drugs for this momma. (I ended up having all three babies this way). To say I was elated and proud of myself is an understatement. I thought maybe I'd finally beaten all of this terror living inside my brain.

I waited for the Post Partum Depression to come anyway. All the doctors and midwives said it was likely, due to my history with panic and anxiety. But it didn't. I couldn't believe it. I loved my baby immensely and wanted to be with him every second of the day. Motherhood was for me, without a doubt. I felt like a new person, with a new sense of confidence and an overall feeling of belonging in the life I was living. It was great, until things changed.

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