Relentlessly Real – Postpartum Anxiety

Can we get something straight?

I don’t have my shit together.

Let’s just start there.

Since I launched this blog in May of last year, I’ve gotten emails from other mamas praising me for “doing it all.” Some even say they are inspired by me, and hope they can someday have their shit together, too. I always try humbly to take the compliment, while promising that, although it can sometimes appear that way, I don’t have my shit together.

I enjoy dressing up and taking photos. I often get lost in daydreams of future post ideas or possible outfits, all while trying to nail down my ever evolving style and chase after a wild toddler.

I like to arrange my Instagram photos artfully, playing with negative space while keeping in mind the rule of thirds. Whitewashing life and making it look pretty. But, there’s something you don’t see in my carefully curated photos.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were at church. I was trying my best to concentrate on the sermon, pushing thoughts of Harper in the church nursery to the back of my mind, hoping (praying) that her assigned number didn’t flash on the screen, signaling to us that our child is either inconsolable or poopy and in need of our immediate attention.

The sermon was about being authentic. About being relentlessly real, in faith and in life. This struck me, and I started thinking about my blog. I wrestled with this idea of being genuine. Authentic. Real.

Had I been real? Sure, I’ve shared my struggles with getting Harper to sleep, the emotional rollercoaster of nursing her for 13 months, and the challenges of being a stay at home mom. But listening to that sermon, I knew in my heart that I had a greater message to share. I could connect to mamas on a deeper level.

So, here’s the story that I haven’t yet shared. Shit’s about to get real.

I started this blog in May of last year because I was struggling with Postpartum Anxiety. It hit me like a thousand tons when Harper was 5 months old. My world was shaken, turned upside down and left on its side.

I had everything I had ever wanted, and yet I was terrified, overwhelmed and completely lost. I was anxious and worried, about everything and nothing. It took over, and I was living in a fog of what if’s and confusion.

Thank God for my supportive husband and mom, who talked me through those first days. I soon started therapy and learned that it’s quite common for Postpartum anxiety to hit in the first year after having a baby. It’s a hormone shit show.

Slowly, I started feeling better. I found a church, and we went faithfully each and every Sunday.  I began to focus on working out and eating healthy again. I found mama friends in our new area. I started this blog. And I prayed. A lot.

I know you don’t realize it, but YOU helped me get through those trying times. I poured my heart into this blog. I wrote about being a mom. I dressed up and curled my hair and put on lipstick and felt good. This blog was my outlet. Suddenly, I wasn’t just a new mama fighting hormones and anxiety. I could be fashionable and funny(ish). I could be the old me.

It wasn’t until I heard the church sermon that I realized by trying so hard to be the old me, I was doing a disservice to the new me, and to any mamas out there who have either been through this battle, or are right in the middle of the war.

I knew I wanted to share more of my story with you. I wanted to be vulnerable and real and give you a glimpse into my heart. But how?

I had high hopes for 2016. I set out to live intentionally, and to continue on the path away from anxiety and toward my faith. I wanted to continue trusting life. I was feeling hopeful because the day after Christmas, I found out I was pregnant.

Then, just 6 days into the new year, I had an early miscarriage. I was only 5 weeks along, but I found out I was pregnant around 3.5 weeks. So, in my mind and heart, I was pregnant. And it was wonderful. I was calm, happy and hopeful.

Until I wasn’t. I had never had a miscarriage before. I didn’t know the pain I could feel losing something that was mine for such a short period of time. But oh, how my heart ached.

My heart was working overtime. Along with the heaviness of hurt, it also raced with worry and stress. Suddenly, there I was again: postpartum with anxiety. I felt utterly defeated. Hadn’t I slayed this dragon? How was it possible I could get through this again?

I went back to my good ol’ ‘Kick Postpartum Anxiety’s Ass’ toolbox, and resorted to all of the strategies I had used before. Except this time, they weren’t working. I was too exhausted. I was done fighting.

I needed help.

After doing some research, I told my husband I wanted to take something for my anxiety. He was on board. I met with a wonderful doctor who observed that my body is very sensitive to hormonal changes, hence the timing of the anxiety. There was no judgment. It was a matter of fact. Biology. She started me on a low dose of Zoloft.

This was a big jump for me. I rarely take Tylenol. I’m not against medication, but it has never served a purpose in my life. I much prefer meditation over medication.

So, here I am. Relentlessly real.

I know medication isn’t a magic bullet. I know I will still have to work hard. I will continue to grow in my faith. I will do yoga and take care of myself and still spend too much time thinking about clothes. And, I will whitewash sometimes. Because truthfully, I like pretty things and I like to make things look pretty.

But, I will also be real.

I’ve faced some tough times in the last year, and I know I’m not alone. I know other mamas need help, too. And I want you to know: IT’S OK. You’ve done enough. You’ve fought enough. You are strong, and you will get through it.

And maybe one day we’ll have our shit together.

But for now, it’s ok.

We’re on our way.

xo

(If you’re struggling, please check out this website). It helped me tremendously.  

 

 

42 Comments

  • Kate

    LOVE. So proud of you for sharing this with the world!

    • suzanne

      Thank you for your love and continued support, mama! xo

  • Jen

    I applaud you for sharing your story. I think it’s so important to give moms a realistic idea of what life is really like, instead of just the whitewashed pictures (which are beautiful). I blog open and honestly about my issues with depression and anxiety, especially post-baby. I too have lost two babies and I felt the best way to honor their short existence was to give them recognition in a blog post … to put out there that they had been. I hope you find this post goes a long way in healing your heart. My best wishes to you.

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much for your support and beautiful words, mama. I am so sorry for your losses, and I’m inspired by your strength in your journey. xo

  • Jamie

    Thank you for writing this post. Most times we “bloggers” can get caught up in the hype and fun of it all and forget to pull back the curtains to show people who we truly are. I, like you, struggled hard core postpartum. It wasn’t until almost 6 weeks that I started to get anxiety and very depressed and just wasn’t sure what was wrong with me and it latest almost the entire first year of Ava’s life. It would come and go and I was always too proud to admit something was wrong. But like you as well, keeping up with my blog helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel and helped me become a new person. The excuse of outfit photos made me feel beautiful again and I felt like a real human.

    As women we all go through shit along the way and I’m just so happy to see someone else being honest about their journey, no matter how hard it is. Lots of love to you and we will all get our shit together someday 🙂

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and for your support and kind words. They mean so much. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to connect with mamas who have gone through similar struggles. Oh, and I love your blog 🙂

  • Stephanie

    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I relentlessly advocate for mothers suffering from peri and postnatal mental disorders (PPMDs). I volunteer for a non-profit whose main goal is peer to peer support. We have forums for you to find help, outlets, and more support. Would love to see you do a guest post too! http://www.postpartumprogress.org

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much for reaching out and for your support! I would love to get involved and help in any way I can. That would mean the world to me. xo

      • Stephanie

        Suzanne – email me at steph7206@gmail.com and we can chat more 🙂 Thank you again for your transparency. I hope no mother ever feels as alone as I did!!

  • Morgan

    Love this post, Suzanne! I too started my blog as an outlet to deal with pregnancy struggles during my pregnancy, and it was a a amazing distraction from post-partum struggles. Today it continues to help me feel a little more like my “old self.” Congratulations on your beautiful blog and for your strength in your journey! xx

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much, mama! One of my favorite things about blogging has been connecting with other mamas, and you are at the top of that list. xo

  • jessica

    Bravo what a wonderful post. ya know what I love when people don’t have their shit together. It makes them more relatable for those who are int eh same boat. Thanks for sharing!

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much, Jessica 🙂

  • Amanda A

    Thank you for sharing. This can really help alot of mothers who silently deal with this issue. I am not a mother but I appreciate your transparency about this. Keep Going! This is all apart of your testimony.

    • suzanne

      Thank you for your support, Amanda! xo

  • Tracy Brandt

    Thank you for being brave and letting us into your heart. You have tons of love and support. Sending all kinds of positive vibes your way…Remember to breathe. Your shit being out of whack is only a test of your ability to overcome and strive for the best…Remeber to breathe. You will always have some sort of shit in you life…good shit, crazy shit, bullshit and my all time favorite “You are the shit of all shit’s” …Remember to breathe. Your soul and heart will guide you in the right direction. Hang in there and stay positive. Peace! ✌️✨💐

    • suzanne

      Thank you, Tracy. You are always so sweet and supportive. It means a lot to me <3

  • Erin Curlett

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story. You are not alone. I experienced postpartum anxiety, as well, and it wasn’t until my son was about 4 or 5 months old (when I realized I was thinking “holy hell, girl -shouldn’t you have your shit together by now?!”) that I finally recognized I needed to go back to my therapist. Hormones are no joke!!

    And I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriage. I grieve with you for your loss. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey, too – I know you will empower many other women to speak out about their own experiences of loss and grieving.

    So glad to hear you are facing this all head on and taking care of yourself. We need to hear more honest stories of women admitting what’s going on in their worlds, showing up, and doing the hard work of self care. Thank you for being so brave and vulnerable.

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much for your support, and for sharing, Erin. It’s so wonderful to be able to connect with other mamas who have gone through something similar. And yes, hormones suck! 🙂 xo

  • Cassie

    Great post, love the honesty. I’ve gone through similar feelings, its never an easy thing to discuss, especially to the world! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much, Cassie!

  • Carolyn Rose

    Thank you so much for sharing something so painful, yet real. I’m so sorry you’ve been going through a tough time, but you are so strong. If it’s any tiny consolation, I’ve really enjoyed following you on IG and your blog, too. I hope your audience can help you as you move forward. <3

    • suzanne

      That means so much to me! Thank you for your kind words, Carolyn. xo

  • Meredith Nye

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I can not even imagine what you are feeling right now. Thank you for being real and showing readers your true life happenings. I think so often, people think us bloggers are super human, but more often than not I think the people who read understand that we are just expressing a small part of ourselves.

    • suzanne

      Thank you, Meredith. I agree – it’s easy to think about the blog, rather than the actual living and breathing person behind the blog. I appreciate your support! xo

  • Sarah @ Windy City Wanderlust

    You are so brave for sharing your personal struggles. Thank you for shedding light on something that many people do not understand, but should try to. I hope all the best for you and your family.

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much for your support, Sarah!

  • Lydia G

    This was absolutely wonderful to read. I’m not a mama (not quite on the radar) but I definitely understand the feeling of not having it all together and so wishing I did. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly, and for encouraging others to be ok with the imperfect life. It’s something that I want to do as a blogger as well – it’s not always so pretty!

    • suzanne

      Thank you, Lydia! So true, it’s not always pretty. And it is amazing how beautiful the mess can be 🙂

  • Marguerite

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree that we often use our blogs and instagrams and pretty pictures to highlight a beautiful life. We often don’t share the things that aren’t so perfect. And we’re all human beings with real emotions and unique stories and I’m so glad you shared yours. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression over the years and have found that channeling my energy into creative outlets (like this) really help me get through everything. Your writing is inspiring and I hope to keep things authentic on my end too! Xoxo.

    • suzanne

      Thank you so much, Marguerite! That means a lot. You continue to inspire me, as well 🙂 xo

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  • Cara

    What a great post! It’s super inspiring and brave for you to put it all out there and I believe thats what readers like to see most! <3

    • suzanne

      Thank you, Cara! So sweet. xo

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  • Lindsey Maestas

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!! It is so encouraging to hear that I’m not alone. I recently wrote a blog that has been well received about my experience with PP anxiety and the combination of hardship and joys after having my little boy. Please read if you get a chance! http://www.sparrowsandlily.com/familylife/postpartumanxiety/

  • Lindsey

    Oh my gosh – thank you so much for sharing! It is so encouraging to hear that I’m not alone and for you to remind other moms of the same. I didn’t get on medication when I should have; I’m completely the same way in not taking Tylenol for anything, but it does bring me peace knowing that you pursued that option! I recently wrote a blog about my experience with PP anxiety and the combination of hardship and joys after having my little boy. Please read if you get a chance! <3 Hugs to you momma! http://www.sparrowsandlily.com/familylife/postpartumanxiety/

    • suzanne

      I’m so glad you found this post! Medication has helped tremendously. And there is absolutely NO shame in taking it! I can’t wait to check out your post. Hang in there, mama. You’ve got this. xo

  • Vivianna Adams

    The hardest part sometimes is saying it out loud. Thanks for being so brave mama!

    • suzanne

      Thank you for the sweet support, mama! xo

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