I will preface this by saying that the timing of this post is unfortunate. However, after the news of Robin Williams suicide and apparent battle with depression, it pushed me further towards writing this all down.
I’ve been open about my struggle with postpartum depression for the first 9-months after Moosh was born. And then things got better. The PPD, that is. Life will always be a struggle. But the weight of the PPD lifted and I could finally see clearly again.
(If you’re unfamiliar with PPD, it goes a bit beyond the “baby blues.” You can’t grasp how you can make it through the next several hours, days, weeks, months. The ‘it gets easier’ comments mean nothing. And you can hardly get yourself up to take care of this new baby that you love so much, yet makes it difficult to like him — or yourself. Well, at least that was my experience.)
But sometimes there are subtle things in life — things you can’t quite put your finger on — that change and modify your state of mind yet again. Right now I would not classify myself as depressed. I’m not always jumping-for-joy happy; but I know that I am happy and have a life to be grateful for.
That being said, that didn’t stop the train of anxiety and panic from stopping at my station.
Over the last several weeks (who am I kidding — it really has been going on for the last couple of months), I’ve been suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve done my best to hide it from everyone, but recently it came to a head.
Yes, I am anxious about getting in the car. I’m afraid that someone will be reckless and get into an accident with me while Moosh is in the car.
Yes, I have been getting panic attacks with little to no notice. Sometimes I can feel them coming on, but by the time I’m truly aware of what’s happening it’s too far gone. I hyperventilate. I cry. I feel like I’m going to vomit. And I, well, panic.
And in recent weeks it’s caused me to completely shut down during these attacks. I can’t think. I can’t function. I just cry and struggle to breathe.
Sure, to any onlooker it looks like I’m simply losing my mind or throwing a fit. There appears to be nothing wrong with me physically. And there isn’t — physically.
But even non-physical ailments can have serious physical manifestations. It might manifest itself in severe exhaustion, nausea, or breakdowns; but for whatever reason people fail to see these as “real” ailments.
Right now I’m in the thick of it. I’ve just begun taking something to get me out of this funk. My doctor and I know that this anxiety and panic disorder is situational for me — it’s not something I always deal with — but this happens to be one of those ‘lows’ for me. And on a more personal and self-conscious level I’m currently struggling with the fact that others may think I’m faking it. Or “making it a bigger deal” than it is. In fact, it isn’t a big deal; not to anyone else but me and my family. Because we’re the only ones who feel it and ‘see’ it.
So be mindful as you go throughout your day. Depression, sadness, anxiety and panic can be crippling. Withhold your judgment and silence your inner critic of that person. We’ve all got our demons. Maybe now’s not your time; maybe it will never be your time; but just because you can’t see mental and emotional disorders doesn’t make it any less of an illness or disorder.