I’ve written this article from the perspective of someone who's suffered during the postnatal period with anxiety, in the hope that it provides comfort to those reading it.
The truth is, at the height of my anxiety struggle I discovered several misconceptions and found a lot of information out there overwhelming.
Not helpful in the slightest.
The worst of it was, along with my overly imaginative mind, these misconceptions added to my anxiety levels.
So I hope this blog alleviates some of the anxiety you may be feeling.
- Misconception 1: “Suffering from anxiety means I’m not enjoying motherhood”
My goodness, if I could scream this from the rooftops I would! Having anxiety doesn’t mean we’re not enjoying being a mum. Period.
Having anxiety simply means we worry more, we’re on edge, we’re nervous, we’re twitchy and we feel fear a lot, and we have a shed load of physical sensations to deal with as well.
But there’s nothing that stops us feeling utter joy when our baby smiles at us, or we see them roll over for the first time.
My experience of anxiety was being crazy in love with my baby which is why I suffered, to the extent that I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent bad things happening.
I felt like a lot of my anxiety was unable to be explained, because who would get it?
Perhaps only another mum would understand these emotions? This bond? This responsibility?
So if you’re struggling with anxiety please don’t go down the rabbit hole of thinking you’ll be accused of not enjoying motherhood.
It’s not related in the slightest.
- Misconception 2: “Anxiety leads to depression”
Another anxiety fact is we tend to see everything black and white.
If you’re like me, simply reading the statement “Chronic anxiety can lead to depression” translates to “I’m going to get depression.”
Again, it’s not the case and it certainly didn’t happen for me and many of the mums I’ve helped.
Anxiety and depression are separate from each other.
Yes, the two can occur at the same time in some cases but certainly not all. Really try not to dwell on this.
Focus on healing the anxiety, not causing more anxiety by googling and reading more horror stories.
In fact, if you wish to know the first thing I did to heal from postnatal anxiety it was this.
I forced myself to STOP googling.
I let my phone battery die, and didn’t charge it. If anyone wanted me, they rang the house phone. It was the best thing I did!
- Misconception 3: “Having anxiety means there’s something wrong with me”
Certainly not! Anxiety itself is a normal human response to keeping you safe in a threatening situation.
What classifies anxiety as an anxiety disorder is when this response starts to affect our daily life in its frequency and how it shows itself.
When we have an anxiety disorder (whether diagnosed by a doctor or not) we find that anxiety stops us from doing normal everyday activities.
But this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
In regards to being a motherhood anxiety sufferer, my belief is we care so much about our little ones, that we worry about them so much too.
Does this mean there’s something wrong with us? NO!
You are suffering from anxiety. You mustn't define yourself by your anxiety. Does that make sense?
It’s a subtle difference but it’s all about how we identify with the anxiety we experience.
Anxiety isn’t who we are. It’s something we’re suffering with.
- Misconception 4: “Anxiety can only be treated with medication”
Here’s the thing with anxiety medications.
They only tackle the symptoms. Not the root cause of anxiety.
This is why it’s so important to work on healing the cause, whether it’s hormones, past traumas, current stress levels etc.
Whatever it is, it needs to heal.
Medication does work in many cases to help with the healing by alleviating some of the symptoms of anxiety, but it’s important to see medication as a helper if needed, not the ultimate solution to the problem.
- Misconception 5: “I’m destined to suffer forever”
Stop thinking this NOW! It’s not true. You certainly won’t suffer forever.
But it’s important to realise that you are in control of your anxiety, whether you like it or not.
There are so many things you can do, practical tools, exercises, lifestyle changes, that you can implement to help yourself.
No one can help you well as you can.
The healthcare professionals (me included!) don’t know your mind as you do.
It takes commitment and determination not to let anxiety rule your life but it’s open to us all if only we do the work.
If you haven’t checked out my natural anxiety relief programme for mums please do.
Wishing you well.