Welcome to Share Your Silence, a new series where we feature stories about mental health from members of The Big Silence community like you. If you have a story to share, we invite you to fill out this form.
Today we’re honored to share Kristen’s story about her struggle with postpartum anxiety. Her vulnerability and openness is helping us all end the silence!
Hi, I’m Kristen, a Louisiana-based, married stay at home mom to a beautiful girl who will be 2 this month! She’s meeting all her milestones and we’re just so blessed to have her in our lives…being a mom is the greatest gift even if it came with a rocky start!
Six weeks after experiencing a traumatic birth — an emergency C-section and baby in NICU for 16 days — I started suffering from severe anxiety with terrifying intrusive thoughts. I had heard of “baby blues” and was prepared for possibly crying a lot and being super hormonal, but I never knew that my mind was capable of this. I had recurring nightmares and terrifying images about something happening to my baby. This experience was just as bad, if not worse, than the traumatic birth and NICU.
I did a lot of research on postpartum mood disorders and support groups. I immediately started therapy and was prescribed Zoloft. I also turned to prayer, meditation, and breathwork, and made exercise and time outside a priority.
My husband never hesitated to be on daddy duty if I had a therapy appointment or needed some time to myself to do yoga or meditate. Friends and family checked in a lot, especially one of my best friends who went through the same thing a couple years earlier. She was a tremendous resource for which I am so grateful.
Breaking the Silence
A lot of women go through this, but are too scared to say anything because people will think they want to hurt their baby — postpartum psychosis is real but very rare. Many new moms need medication, and it’s not a sign of weakness.
The only reason I knew to get help immediately was because I had one friend who was brave enough to be honest about her postpartum anxiety and OCD, intrusive thoughts, and her need for medication. If she hadn’t told me what she went through, I may not have sought treatment right away.
Knowing I wasn’t alone and that this was a real, diagnosable, treatable condition allowed me to open up and get help. I think a lot of new moms suffer in silence because they are too ashamed to admit what is going on in their heads, so raising awareness is really important to me.
What I want everyone to know
Suffering from postpartum mental health issues in no way means I’m not grateful for my child or that I don’t love her more than anything in the entire world. But the joy of having a new baby didn’t erase the physical feelings of anxiety or the scary visions I was having. If you are experiencing this, I want you to know that these disorders are temporary and very treatable. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel.
If you need support with postpartum mental health, loss, or grief, we encourage you to reach out to Postpartum Support International. You can call their help line at1-800-944-4773. You’ll find more mental health resourceshere.
Ready to Share Your Silence? Fill out this form and tell us your story.