I’ll never forget the day I learned there was a name for it— for the torturous, endless way my mind had replayed reels of horrible things happening to the tiny life I was suddenly responsible for, my heart racing and my palms sweating in the middle of the night when I couldn’t stop imagining myself carrying him down the stairs in socks and slipping…. the sheer, heart-stopping terror. At the time I remember thinking, why does no one tell you about this part? Why doesn’t anyone talk about it? Am I losing my mind?
Postpartum anxiety. It was years later while pursuing my masters in counseling that I learned the name, and a light went on in my past. Of course, I had heard of postpartum depression, but why had no one ever bothered to mention that postpartum anxiety is also a thing? Would it have helped me then to have known there was a name for it? Would it have helped to have known that I was not the only one? I believe the answer to both of these questions is yes, and this belief is what motivates my work now.
In our mother-shaming, baby-book-reading, disconnection-breeding society, there are probably more of us suffering in silence than even the statistical data reflects. Parents today face more pressures and more conflicting information than in past generations. In our parents’ generation, there was maybe ONE baby book available to them and now there are thousands upon thousands filled with conflicting advice and all threatening that if you don’t do it exactly as this book says, you will ruin your child forever. Perhaps it would be unusual for a new parent NOT to experience heightened anxiety in this crazy, crazy world.
As a wise woman once told me, we didn’t get to be the way we are in isolation, and we won’t create a new way of being in isolation. In other words, in parenting, as in all of human experience, our healing will be through connection. Together we can learn to support each other in our struggles, and together we will reconnect with ourselves. Together we will know, we are not alone.
Beginning in March, Davis Counseling will be offering a free Postpartum Support Group on the first Wednesday of the month from 10:00-11:30 a.m. This will be a place to connect with other new parents and to understand more about your own experience of becoming a parent. If the time and day don’t work for you, please call. We may have other times available, and no one should have to go through this alone.