Inspired by Chrissy Teigen’s blunt honesty in her recent Glamour article about her struggle with Postpartum Depression (she is my hero and I wish we were best friends), I wanted to share a little bit about my own battle with similar mental health issues. I actually wrote this before I read her article, but I was feeling unsure about sharing. Well, here goes…
So, Freddy hasn’t been sleeping great at night lately for some reason – waking up about 5 times or more when his usual sleep pattern is just to go straight on through. I know, I count myself lucky that he’s been a good sleeper, except it seems like we’re regressing a little.
After consecutive nights of being up constantly and then often not being able to fall back asleep because my mind has a tendency to think of ALL THE THINGS, real and hypothetical, I went a little cray cray. Like, high-pitched-crying-crazy-eyes-incoherent-babbling-call-your-husband-seven-times-on-his-mobile kinda crazy.
Luckily, I was able to quickly calm down and switch my brain off in order to get some rest over the weekend. How did I do it?
Good ole’ Better Living Through Chemistry. Yep. I’ve got what I affectionately refer to as ‘happy pills’ that I take when my brain goes into overdrive and won’t allow me to settle. Or when I get overly anxious on planes. The mainstream name for this stuff is ‘xanax’ and I’ve been prescribed something similar.
I’m sure a few of you are thinking, oh girl, WTMI (Way Too Much Information). But I’m determined to fight back against the ridiculous shame and stigma that comes along with mental health issues. I’m pretty convinced that we’ve all got a certain degree of crazy in us but some of us require a little more help than others to feel better and live normally.
I’ve had anxiety my entire damn life. It’s such a drag, but through therapy and growing up, I’ve learned how to cope with my own brand of it. I resisted medication for a really long time – seeing it as a failure to deal with it holistically – until I was a working professional and long hours and little rest and recuperation caused me to deteriorate. I thought I had a brain tumour because I was having a hard time forming coherent sentences. I thought I had heart disease because I frequently experienced palpitations and chest tightening. I would get hives. My doctor immediately realised that I was in overdrive all the time, and my inability to switch off and leave things at the office, or wherever they needed to be left, wasn’t healthy. Add that to a very active imagination (the plane is going to crash, I am going to be fired, etc) and I finally accepted that maybe some medication wasn’t such a bad idea.
Thankfully, I don’t need to take it all that often. I do still try to deal with my anxiety without it, as I know better how my brain works and when I’m going into that ditch of panic and worry and sleeplessness. But when you have a baby, it’s harder to find time to step back and focus on yourself. And I need to be my best self for Fred.
I’d say that since having a baby, my mental health is roughly the same as it was pre-baby – I had some nasty post-natal anxiety that subsided in time – however sleep deprivation is always a trigger for my anxiety. And you are often sleep deprived with a baby, so I have to be really conscious that I don’t allow myself to go too long without some good rest.
I feel a little shy about sharing this to the world wide web, but I really hope it rings true with some of you and if you struggle with the same, that you’ll feel better knowing you aren’t alone.