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Am I going to feel like *this* forever?

“I actually wish my worries were about my child, since that sounded a lot more “normal” and in line with what most mothers with Postpartum Anxiety seemed to experience. Instead, I felt like the odd one out, worrying about anything and everything to the finest detail, which was driving me crazy. While just a few weeks postpartum, I was scheduling specialty pediatric appointments and completing complicated maternity leave paperwork. Tasks that were once relatively simple now felt excessively overwhelming. The overthinking was perverse. It almost felt like I had to re-teach myself basic life skills…chopping an onion again for the first time in weeks, deciding what to eat, cleaning and putting back together all the pump parts…there was an element of mild, yet present, OCD in the nature of my thoughts and behavior. All in all, it was debilitating, humiliating and scary. I would often wonder, how long will I feel like this? Am I ever going to feel like myself again, or am I going to feel like *this* forever? What if I never recover and have to live this anxiously from now on? Was motherhood by default a period of developing chronic anxiety?

My midwife told me to just “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Oh, how I wish I ever could…while everyone in the house was fast asleep, I was lying in bed wide awake, ruminating. No matter what rituals I did to relax myself before bed, I could barely manage to soothe myself to sleep. The agony of yearning for sleep, something I always took for granted, was almost unbearable. I suffered through this postpartum insomnia for months. My husband and mother had to take on the night shifts with baby…I barely felt like a responsible, capable mother. This was my condition during the first four months postpartum as a new mom. While I had already been highly anxious about what new motherhood was going to be like, actually living through it was so much worse than I had ever imagined. I never felt this vulnerable and mentally weak in my entire 32 years of life.

Thankfully, my midwife urged me to seek professional support right away. I got evaluated by a psychiatrist, but by the time I had my follow up, I had finally reached a point where I felt “normal” and almost like myself again. The hormones seemed to have faded from my system. At 16 months postpartum today, I still experience remnants of the anxiety and insomnia, but have managed and functioned so much better. Given how alone I felt throughout this ordeal, I wanted to do more. As a therapist, I developed an interest to work with pregnant and postpartum mothers and will be getting trained in treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.”

– Maha A.

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