We were 30,000 feet in the air and I was dreading this trip. It was our second trip to St. Louis and the first one after deciding that the South would no longer be home. I turned to my husband and all I had to tell him was, “I feel it right here” while pointing to my chest and grabbing his hand. He knew exactly what I was referring to in that moment.
In April, my doctor and I decided that I needed to go up another 50mg with my depression and anxiety meds.
In May, my husband told me that he wanted to apply for a new job in the St. Louis area and I said, “Sure, why not?”
In June, my daughter turns one and I enter into nearly a year of managing my postpartum depression and anxiety.
Cue the Anxiety (and Depression)
It was on the third night of finding out that my husband was offered his ideal career move that I exploded.
“You don’t understand what this will do to me! I have a support system here! I have family and friends here!”
The reality of uprooting our entire lives to move to a city in which we know no one was suffocating.
The reality of my daughter growing up away from her grandparents was devastating.
The reality of being stripped of my routine was paralyzing.
The reality of my anxiety and depression being triggered (again) was horrifying.
“You don’t get it!
Managing the Anxiety
But, he did get it. His current position kept him away from us on the good days and called him out of bed at 11 pm on the bad ones. This new position was going to allow us more freedom to spend time together. It meant that I wouldn’t need to be on call with our daughter for 12+ hours most days. It meant that I could get back to self-care and overcoming this temporary weakness.
As we near our complete transition to St. Louis, I can breath a bit easier. My chest still tightens when I think of leaving the ones I love, but it’s not based on anxiety. At least not all the time. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to become very aware of my feelings and my actions as we pack boxes and prepare our current home for showings. So, what do I do to manage my PPD/PPA?
Consistently Take My Medicine. I notice a physical and mental difference when I skip a dosage here and there. I have had to go back to setting my alarm and stopping whatever I’m doing to grab a glass of water and swallow my pills.
Take a Timeout. When everything becomes too overwhelming and I begin to feel my breaths shorten, I realize that I need to give it to Jesus, y’all. I mean it – I am not strong enough to overcome this alone, so I turn to prayer in those moments. If you feel comfortable praying, do that. If you don’t, then you can try some meditation. I still meditate a few times a week. I focus on my breathing and breath into my body from my toes to the top of my head. The point of this is to realize that you are human and timeouts were created for a reason.
Practice Self-Care. I cannot stress this enough: take care of yourself. You are worthy of sleep. You are worthy of a healthy meal. You are worthy of a walk outside. You are worthy of a relaxing shower. You are worthy of a night of binge-watching your favorite show. YOU ARE WORTHY. (Yes, I meant to put that all in caps!)
When thinking about managing my depression and anxiety, it can be a bit daunting. My body is literally out of balance and it isn’t something that will fix itself. It is a challenge every day, but with those three steps above, I’m not only managing my PPD/PPA better, but I’m actually looking forward to our big move!
Here’s to big moves and little worries. Do you have any other coping mechanisms when dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety?