Fear of the unknown

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I’m very open about my battles with anxiety and depression. I think that this is wildly important, especially in today’s society where mental health often goes unspoken about or pushed to the side. It is a true issue in our country, and one that I hope gets addressed soon. But that’s a whole other matter, maybe I’ll do a future blog post on that…anywaysssss…

I’ve experienced anxiety and depression since about 15 years of age. I suffered from some substantial trauma, but with the help of medication and extensive therapy, pulled myself out of what was a very deep hole that was dug…a hole that I had no part in creating. Was this an easy process? No. Was there any easy fix? No. Did I switch medications and therapists several times? Most certainly. But I was dead set on trying to help myself in whatever way I could…I wasn’t going to settle for the dark gloomy clouds that lurked over my head daily. I set out to find the sunshine again, and no one was going to stop me.

Now this drive and motivation didn’t come overnight. I spent several years battling my inner demons. With the support of my loved ones behind me, I one day realized that I couldn’t live the rest of my life feeling this way. That was the day I decided I was going to make the most of the cards that I was dealt, pick myself up by the boot straps and try to find a new “normal”…a normal that I could be happy and content with. To this day, I give a lot of credit to those loved ones for helping me along the way.

I’m happy to say that today, I am no longer taking medication for my anxiety or depression, and have found ways to maintain my state of happiness and inner peace. I went off my medications prior to getting pregnant, in an effort to clear my body and clean my system out of anything that may interfere with a healthy pregnancy. I was very scared to do this, but thankfully it all went fine and I felt okay without the medication.

When I was pregnant and thinking about the birth of my child, one thing kept crossing my mind…what if I suffer from postpartum depression? I was PETRIFIED of this. Of course, working in the field and previously working as a psychiatric social worker didn’t help. I had seen new mothers on the unit who were suffering from postpartum depression or even worse, postpartum psychosis. I had witnessed first hand the sadness in their eyes; their blank stares, their abnormal behaviors. So many of those mothers had a previous history of anxiety or depression before giving birth. I truly feared that this could be in store for me after I gave birth to my child.

What I think is important to note about this looming fear, is that I openly discussed it with my fiancé and my doctor, and together we decided the best course of preventive action. I went as far as looking into having my placenta encapsulated, in hopes that this would lower my chances of experiencing postpartum depression (as well as the other benefits it brings) but I decided not to. Someone would have had to transport my placenta 45 minutes away shortly after I gave birth, and truly I just wanted the attention to be on my new baby. I was already getting stressed about being stressed about having someone deliver my placenta to the place I had chosen to do the encapsulating. See? This is what an anxious brain does…therefore, I nixed that idea.

My OB/GYN suggested going back on medications immediately following my delivery. But I ultimately nixed this idea too. The final decision was to just wait it out. If I started showing or feeling any signs or symptoms of postpartum depression, than I would go back on medications.

“What’s coming will come, and we’ll meet it when it does” became the quote I lived by. I wasn’t going to let the fear of the unknown keep me from enjoying my pregnancy.

After I gave birth to my daughter everything in my life had changed, but somehow, I felt more like myself than I ever had before. She was like the missing puzzle piece I had been longing for. She gave my life meaning, a new sense of purpose, and filled it with joy. So, my advice to expecting mothers who are preoccupied with the same fear I was, is to take it day by day. Most definitely have a conversation with your doctor and decide what the best plan of action is for you. There is no sense of worrying about what may happen…be prepared if it does, but decide that what’s coming will come, and that you’ll meet it when it does. It’ll all be okay.

…and my advice to those that are experiencing anxiety and depression? Don’t give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will be able to find happiness again. You are not alone. Seek help, talk to others, talk to a professional(s), try different therapeutic methods and again, just don’t give up! Keep on keepin’ on! I am always willing to talk others through difficult times so if you need someone to confide in and talk to, I’m here! <3

 

Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical professional, and this course of action was what worked for my specific case. If you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety, depression, or postpartum depression talk to your doctor. Also, always make sure to talk to your doctor before going on or going off any medications.

 

 

Six ways to practice grounding when you experience anxiety and intense emotions

As a school social worker, I often encourage my students to engage in these practices. I was also encouraged by a reiki specialist to engage in some of these practices for my own benefit. She also recommended “earthing”, which happens to be my favorite way to ground myself.

Earthing is the process of absorbing earths free flowing electrons from its surface through the soles of ones feet – in other, simpler terms? It’s literally standing or walking around in the grass barefoot hahaha. Call me a hippie, but I love it!

Grounding practices:

  • Body: lay on the ground, press your toes into the floor or squeeze something (stress ball, playdough)
  • 5 senses: wear your favorite sweatshirt, use essential oils, make a cup of tea
  • Self-soothe: take a shower or bath, find a grounding object, light candles
  • Observe: describe an object in detail (color, texture, shadow, light, shapes)
  • Breathe: practice 4-7-8 breathing (inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8)
  • Distract: find all the square or green objects in the room, count by 7’s, say the date