Depression, Anxiety & Panic attacks

October:
I keep telling myself over months that I am okay. That I am not depressed. But with Noah crying 1 hour at night for several months my anxiety got bigger and bigger. Whenever he starts screaming in the middle of the night my chest is heavy and I am having a hard time breathing. I’m stressed out and I am having a hard time falling asleep. The nights when he sleeps well I still wake up at night imagining him crying (phantoms cries!) and can’t go back to sleep. Every time I hear noises such as cars speeding down the road I shrug. I am SO anxious he wakes up and wakes Raphael (which never happened before, but my anxiety is still there!) 

Trying to meditate when both are napping helps me calm down a little bit. Yes – there are good and bad days. But lately the bad days are domineering. I just have a hard time focusing, being present and being motivated to tackle these really long days, which sometimes starts as early as 5 am.

We kind of got in a “quarantine-routine” but spending those cold days at home doesn’t help with my stress and anxiety. I barely get the chance to talk to adults besides Mark obviously. We still get out of the house every other day but now that it’s getting REALLY cold I am getting lazy. It’s such an effort getting both ready for just a walk around the block. But every time we get out it does feel good. Breathing in the some fresh air even though I am freezing my butt off. Just saying “I” because the boys doesn’t seem to mind the cold at all. 

December:
Since my anxiety didn’t get better I started seeing a therapist and it feels good to be able to talk about my emotions and to share it with someone else besides Mark. Apparently she couldn’t take away my feelings neither could she change the COVID situation. After seeing her 2-3 times she suggested me to consider trying some medication just to take the edge off. Because of my inability to focus and to relax when I have some free time and because of all the things I am trying that wouldn’t help to get out of that misery. 

It was my head that couldn’t stop working. But I really didn’t want medication. I wanted to do it without. But I also knew that I needed to change SOMETHING NOW or I would get a burn out very soon. 

January: Last week I’ve experienced the most scary thing. I had a panic attack. If you’ve never experienced one (lucky you!) you can’t imagine what it’s like. Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear and anxiety. Most likely in combination with physical symptoms such as breathing difficulty, shaking, feeling numb, feeling nauseous (and there are even more symptoms)

I started development some severe depression symptoms just a week ago. I remember waking up one morning feeling sad and lost and unmotivated. My hands were numb and I didn’t want to get up. I was miserable the whole day and couldn’t enjoy anything at all. Every little thing was so exhausting and I just wanted to run away. When I put Noah and Raphael down I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry. And I cried lot but I knew I had to keep my s* together. Because obviously, my kids need me to be there for them. I had to be strong for them. 

I was always good at pushing through hard seasons. This time I was breaking. And I could feel myself trying so hard to keep it together, but I just couldn’t. I was shaking, I had a hard time breathing and my chest felt heavy. I experienced that a few times during that week. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. Something awful is happening to me and I needed help. I talked to Mark, I reached out to my family, my friends, my therapist. 

—- the last year was catching up on me. It was harder on me than I would like to admit. Haven’t seen my family for over a year, not having close friends and family around. Being a mom 24/7 and not being able to go on play dates is hard, so freaking hard. 
This week showed me “enough is enough” I couldn’t take it any longer. Everything came together. 
We had a really relaxing Christmas time when Mark was home 2 weeks in a row which barely ever happens and going back to “normalcy” was hard on me. So being home with the boys all day and not seeing family and friends was even harder after these 2 weeks. During that week I also had my period (Sorry, if this is TMI but I think that was also part of why I was a MESS!) AND it was the last week of nursing Noah. So my hormones were all over the place. That was the very first time in my life I experienced depression symptoms and it was the most terrifying feeling! I felt sad and unmotivated all the time. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with anything and I couldn’t find joy during the entire day. I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I even showed physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, heavy chest, having the chills at night and not feeling my hands and feet a few times a day. I’ve cried my eyes out during that week and I was so scared because I have never felt like this before. I just didn’t understand what was going on with me and why I felt like this all of I sudden. I’ve always been able to cope with difficult situations and I really just wanted to make it stop. It scared the heck out it me. 

We haven’t seen a lot of people. The first 6 months of corona we were strictly quarantined, just in September we started seeing one family which live two houses down the road once every other week. Being isolated as a stay at home mom made me feel so lonely. 

So yeah – that week was the last drop that causes the glas to overflow. I just couldn’t take it any longer.

After this horror week of difficulty breathing, unmotivated wakings in the morning, daily sadness I asked my therapist to start me on a low dose of anti depressant. I knew I needed help. And I wasn’t scared (not anymore) of getting the help I need to get better. I talked to my OB and I got a prescription for 50 mg Zoloft which was ready the next day to pick up. 

2 days later I picked up my medication. They recommended to take them before bed just in case I get sleepy from it. Also I should start on a 25 mg dose for a week before doing 50 mg. 

I was feeling a little better since I’ve also stopped nursing Noah altogether. 

That night I was unsure about wether to start or not since I felt like it’s starting to get better. Noah started sleeping through the night (11h) so I decided to hold off on it for a few days just to see how I feel. 

1 week later: 
it’s been over a week now and I still haven’t taken them. I just felt like I don’t need them. I feel a little more like myself again. I know that I’m not scared to get the help I need if I show any signs of depression or having panic attacks again. Just tonight I had a really bad night again but I just feel exhausted not sad/unmotivated/empty. So I just kept going. I am so thankful for all my friends who support me.

4 weeks later:
Somehow those feelings of hopelessness and lack of energy faded. I finally felt like myself again and I was so happy. Not that I don’t have bad days but my whole mood and motivation is back to the state before my severe anxiety and depression hit me. 

I am not sure what happened the last weeks. There was like a switch in my mind. I finally acknowledged and decided to take some anti-depressants. I needed to get better and I needed to change something. I talked to my parents and in-laws and they all had my back. They were so caring and supporting and even encourage me to take the medicine and get whatever I help I need to help me feel better. I think I didn’t want to admit that I needed the help. I somehow felt like I was failing in my role as a mother. I felt sad and lonely – and I felt ashamed. 

And It felt so good to accept and allow myself to slow down and accept that even if I take those medicine I am not weak and I am still me. I am brave to move in the right direction. I felt so much better. Still exhausted but not unmotivated. My physical symptoms were still noticeable but were slowly clearing up. 

My anxiety is still present. A little less than before ever since that crazy week – ever since Noah is sleeping through the night after I weaned him.

I feel like my coping skills are more accessible and that I am able to fill my cup instead of feeling lost when I have some time for myself. I try to get as much me-time in as I can. I make it a priority: 

“If you don’t make time for your wellness you will be forced to make time for your illness” 

I think that’s what happened to me. Even though I took more time for myself the last 2 months, it was too late. I was already so exhausted and burned out. 

A few things that really help me dealing with my anxiety. 

Whenever I start feeling anxious I tell myself:

  • It’s okay to feel that way. Feel what you need to feel and let it go. Ride it like a wave.  
  • It’s okay to feel anxious. This WILL pass. 
  • Get out of your head and tune into your body. Focus on your breath to help your body relaxe. Relaxe your jaw 

One step at a time. I am already so much better and the more practice I get the better I was getting at calming myself.

Present day:
Thankfully I am so much better and there was no need for me to start medication anymore. I just wanted to encourage moms who feel the same to get the help they need, sooner than later! Hopefully that post makes you feel less alone. Because you are never alone!

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