Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I took the internet test for post-partum depression and anxiety that was offered by my handy pregnancy app.

It told me I didn’t need help, but to “watch for the signs.”

As someone who has dealt with anxiety in combination with PTSD, I knew that it was bullshit. I didn’t meet the medical criteria for someone who was struggling, but damn, the struggle was real.

How do you know when it’s baby blues or something more? Who decides where the line is drawn between the two?

Not your OB. Not your primary care physician. Not a counselor or therapist.

It’s you.

Only you can decide if it’s something more, and you know what? You deserve to be taken care of, too. Beyond the casseroles and offers to hold the baby while you take a much-needed shower (because it’s been how many days?) Mental health is overlooked all the time, despite everyone telling us to “watch for the signs.” But we’re all different people. Our signs aren’t going to look the same every time, and it’s only a generalization.

When I was taking this test for post-partum anxiety, something that hadn’t crossed my mind after the birth of my first, I never thought I would get a clear diagnosis with flashing red lights. “Go see a professional! You’re spiraling!” I know enough about my own anxiety after two years of therapy that I wasn’t in too deep. I did expect a small “talk to your doctor” or “practice self-care.” Instead, I got a vague “you’re fine.”

I didn’t feel fine. I felt very far from fine.

My PTSD has made me more aware of my emotions, and my therapist has provided me with a shit-ton of helpful coping tools that get me through the roughest moments. But not every mom has experience with therapy, or with any kind of anxiety. We’re told that unless we want to chuck our baby out the window that it’s all just normal hormones.

No. Feeling like a shit mother is not normal hormones.

Feeling worthless for hours on end because you can’t possibly give everything to your babies that they need is not normal.

Thoughts of failure that go beyond motherhood, but start attacking you as a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a person are not normal.

Desperately wondering why you thought you could do it all is normal, but not if you’re so consumed by tears that you can’t find any joy in your newborn.

The newborn stage is so rough. Adding a second child to the mix is a crazy train that I was not ready for, even if I thought I was. Mothers who are feeling this way need support, whether it’s from their partner or a therapist or someone else. My husband has been a part of my journey through PTSD for several years, and he knows before I do when my anxiety has kicked into high gear. I’m managing, with his help. I’m leaning heavily on him, without shame.

Perhaps it’s all circumstantial. We have a lot more stress surrounding the birth of our second child compared to the first. There’s just a lot going on, and it’s normal for anxiety to have different triggers. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to downloading everything at my next therapy session. I took a slight break for the end of pregnancy and my recovery, but I know I’m in need of advice.

Don’t wait until you’re drowning. Don’t wait for the internet test to agree with you that you need help. You know what your own personal normal is, and it’s ok to push back and insist that something is different. We all experience stress and sadness and some form of baby blues. Hormones are insane and unpredictable. Never hesitate to ask questions. You deserve to be taken care of, too. The stitches aren’t the only thing that’s healing.