For those that know me or see me I social situations may not ever know I have dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember. My first memory of my anxiety goes back to 3rd grade. I would frequent the nurse’s office with a sore stomach. I didn’t know it then, but it was psychosomatic. I was anxious and it manifested itself in an upset stomach.
My anxiety stayed manageable and in the background until college. That’s when I started medication to handle some of my anxious feelings. Unfortunately I still was anxious, failed to go to class, failed a few of them actually. I managed to graduate and get a job.
Over the course of the next 7 years I felt confident enough to get off my medication. It was tough, as anyone who comes off an SSRI will tell you. I had mood swings. I felt dizzy. But I came off it and was able to stay off for quite a while.
Until I had one event that triggered the worst anxiety I’ve ever had.
I was at a client meeting for work I was hit with a horrible panic attack. I was anxious every day for an entire month before I went back to the doctor to get medication. You would think I would have learned my lesson then, to not wait until I was so miserable I couldn’t even drive a car. But I didn’t.
SSRIs and Pregnancy
I learned my lesson again when I had my first child. Since I was on an SSRI that is dangerous for pregnancy, I was instructed to come off my medication soon after becoming pregnant. In theory I shouldn’t have been on it when I got pregnant, but that’s another story.
Everything was fine during my pregnancy. I was full of those amazing hormones and felt better than I ever did on any medication I had ever been on. But as my due date grew near, the anxiety increased. I worried about driving. I worried about my husband going to work every day. I worried about getting to the hospital. I worried about being induced. I worried. I worried. I worried.
And when everything went well during delivery. I still worried. I worried about breastfeeding. I worried I wasn’t doing a good job. I was clouded every day with anxiety.
Postpartum depression, PTSD, and Anxiety
We hear so much about postpartum depression. There’s even awareness for PTSD after childbirth. But many don’t realize that postpartum anxiety is just as rampant. And being someone who is already prone to it I know first hand.
It wasn’t until I was faced with going back to work did I finally go back on medication. Returning to work and the stress of dealing with the day to day of it made my anxiety even worse. When I finally went back on medication I was immediately so much better. And I realized how ridiculous it was not to go back on sooner.
After my second child I handled myself much better. I switched to a safer medication during pregnancy and made sure to speak with my doctor about proper doses during and afterwards.