New baby, high anxiety

For this new mom, it’s a lot to handle and the stress is overwhelming.

Seek help, says our elder. You have to take care of yourself to take care of your baby.

Dear EWC:

I am 2 weeks postpartum and I can’t take all these hormonal changes. I cry myself to sleep, I cry throughout the day, I’m extremely quiet, and that’s not me. I take great care of my baby but I don’t take care of myself. I have no motivation to take care of myself.

I’m stressed out because of my job. They told me I was getting paid maternity leave all the way up until 2 or 3 days before I gave birth so I’ve been left scrambling because I don’t know how rent is going to get paid and I don’t want to get evicted with a newborn. I CANNOT move back in with my mother, she is known to be abusive towards me and she gets physical with me; I even have visible cartilage damage to my wrist and my shoulder tries to dislocate due to a previous injury from her.

I don’t feel like myself. And my anxiety is through the roof, my heart beats so hard and fast that it physically hurts and I can’t take in deep breaths because it feels like my chest will explode. I have flashbacks and nightmares of my mom hitting me. It’s a lot to handle. I haven’t been suicidal but I have been depressed, very anxious, and paranoid.

Linda replies:

Postpartum depression is one the least talked about and most misunderstood conditions affecting women. Most women are too embarrassed to admit they are suffering these unsettling feelings after giving birth. The hormonal changes in our bodies can feel quite drastic and certainly cause a great deal of emotional discomfort and unhappiness.

When I had my first child, I too experienced severe postpartum depression. I knew very little about the condition except that it existed in one form or another. I couldn’t sleep, lost all appetite, contemplated running away, felt paranoid, depressed, and more alone than I’d ever felt in my life. Like you, I felt physically ill and the panic attacks felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I had one friend who sympathized with my plight. She would come over and bring me my favorite foods to tempt me into eating. She admitted to having similar feelings when her own child was born. My family, on the other hand, seemed upset with me and thought I was behaving selfishly. This only added to my guilt and misery, thinking surely I was a complete failure as a mother and a person. In retrospect, it was one of the worst times of my entire life.
My advice to you is to seek help from the doctor who delivered your baby. Explain not only your emotional and mental symptomatology but also your financial situation. Your doctor will know what to prescribe to hopefully offset some of the physical and emotional symptoms you are experiencing, and may also refer you to a planned parenthood clinic or some other such resource to give you assistance with your present situation.

Although your life must feel very out of control at the moment, things always have a way of eventually turning themselves around. It is imperative you take good care of yourself in order to provide your baby with the care he or she needs. The love we feel for our children is the purest love we will ever experience on this earth. They take a lot of our time, energy, and selflessness but at the end of the day they are our greatest joys. Motherhood is a gift but it is also very hard work!


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