WRITTEN BY LAURA WINSHIP (GUEST WRITER)
Laura is going to be sharing her experience with postnatal anxiety, it is so important that we continue to raise awareness!
With being a new mother, it always comes with the challenges of changing lifestyles, work and of course raising a new member of the family. As a female you have already been through enough changes with your body but what some people forget about is the mental state you’re in will never be the same.
I was already a mother to my beautiful twin daughters Emily and Lucy when I fell pregnant with my third daughter Kathleen (Katie). I was previously in a relationship with the twins dad however this relationship was not how I imagined my family to be, I can’t begin to sit and write about the toxic traits of this relationship other then it was just not meant to be. My self confidence and love had been shattered and I was rebuilding a home and a new life for me and the girls when I found comfort in a friend and began to become close, after just a short few months and a misplaced coil I received news on my new addition and though apart of me thought I wouldn’t be able to do this and overlooking some deep depression from the previous year my heart knew I was making the risky right decision to expand my family. This pregnancy was not the perfect journey and I had multiple bleeds and pains and this is when my fear of losing my new little girl began and my depression built up and went unnoticed by many, with many personal problems and life difficulties I myself didn’t recognize my mental state.
At 34 weeks at a check-up at my doctor made the decision to induce me and speed along the arrival of darling Katie. After 36 hours Katie made her entrance into this world. Her cry was an instant tear trigger and my body was overwhelmed with relief. But, when that cry never returned the thud of my heart on the floor was the deafening sound I’ll never forget as her lungs stuck closed and buzzers and doctors filled the room. The monster of fear I had been bearing secretly throughout my pregnancy came back fully grown. It’s vague to remember what order things happened but what always crossed my mind is that I couldn’t do anything. The feeling of helplessness is something still to this day is something I can’t overcome. I couldn’t help her. After when tubes inserted and oxygen masks applied she was sent in the NICU where she was safe. I was admitted onto the ward next to her and after I was left by my partner to go to social event. The anger and somewhat resentment began for him as I could never understand the need to leave or how he’d want to leave our fragile little girl, then began with the second time her lungs collapsed. I cried, I watched as doctors repeated the procedure to inflate her lungs again and again. This was the officially beginning of me knowing that my precious girl was going to be my constant worry. I can’t explain how I feel and how it has stuck in my mind repeatedly that my children could and will get sick and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I was constantly approached with the theory that I was depressed months after this experience. But I believe, hand on my heart believe I was happy, I was learning to create a content world and I was working hard to provide this. Yes the everyday stress was difficult and like others, learned to overcome it. What I was suffering with was the fear that never left I was struggling to let it live amongst us. With been a single mother I had to let my children leave on the weekend to visit their dad’s. during this time I would work very long hours at work to distract myself from not having my children. My youngest daughter Katie’s father was in the middle of his struggles and unfortunately at times this put Katie in danger. I couldn’t stop natural disasters but I could prevent harm if I saw it coming. This made me lose trust and even though now I know deep down she’s safe and is well looked after, the unstoppable fear comes back every time i’m not with her. After suffering with my own uncontrollable thoughts on the weekend I relapsed into old habits from when I was teenager and distracted my mind with other obsessions like weight. After passing out one day in a shop with my children it’s when I reached out for help.
I never considered myself an anxious person and I’ve seen close friends suffer with their anxiety and never compared myself or my mental state. However everyone is unique and everyone deals with the same problems completely incomparably. I can now admit that I have been suffering with postnatal anxiety. There are times when I judge myself for not having the same intense feelings of protection when the twins were new born however, this is not a feeling I enjoy.
Many events that happened in our life made these feelings more intense and it wasn’t until my actions and mental state was affecting me when I decided to seek treatment. Katie’s father is a fantastic man who I’m proud of everyday he’s overcome his own battles and worked hard becoming the father she needs. But me secretly dealing with my own struggles probably clouded a lot of my decisions concerning katie during this time. There were times I didn’t feel like Katie was safe and the constant anxiety that she wasn’t safe sent me into a manic state of protection. The thoughts and feelings run your body into overdrive and my thoughts and feelings run your body into overdrive and my thoughts drifted into plans to run away to save my daughters from any danger my home town brought. I even got to as far as virtual tours around houses in towns along the east coast.
I’m proud to say that now to this day I made the decision to speak to other mums suffering with postnatal anxiety and have accepted my feelings and now know triggers for me. I still haven’t spoken to the girls’ fathers about this matter but I’m working hard everyday and also making small personal changes in my life that create a happy and more positive home for us all. My advice for anyone suffering or even if you have doubts about your mental health after having a child is to speak to someone, anyone, it is nothing to be ashamed of and opening up can be the start of a completely different positive mindset.
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