Starting a business as a mom of 5 with a newborn and severe postpartum anxiety during a pandemic.
Hear me out, it’s not as outlandish as it sounds.
In February 2021, our fifth baby was born. A beautiful, healthy baby girl. Labor and delivery went smoothly as did the first few months of life with our new babe. Then it hit, the postpartum anxiety I thought I had escaped this time. It came on hard and fast and strong. It was a panic attack that lasted days into weeks into months.
Every night I went to bed hoping I’d wake up being able to breathe a little easier, to have the suffocation I was feeling lift even just a little bit. To be able to be present with my family, to be able to do more than just survive. I was able to go through the motions, wake up, get the older kids to school, keep the baby fed and changed, keep the toddler entertained enough. I was surviving. But my head was in a constant fog. I wanted to soak in all of the moments with our last baby, but I could only look forward to her next nap.
This went on for a long time. I isolated myself further than just the pandemic isolation from friends and even family. I spent a lot of time crying and a lot of time on google searching how to end a panic attack. Just hoping something I’d never heard of before would pop up. It was all the usual, breathing exercises, journaling, essential oils, tapping, meditation… I’ve had anxiety for most of my life and I was aware of all of these techniques, they weren’t cutting it.
I was feeling defined by my anxiety. I was feeling limited by my anxiety. I would worry if I’d be able to deal with situations as simple as preschool pick up, could I engage with another adult? Would they be on to me that my mind was spinning out of control? That I was worried my anxieties would devour me and leave as a shell of a person forever? Even though I was physically places, my mind was so preoccupied with just trying to survive, just trying to keep breathing, I wasn’t actually present.
My daughter has a toy, you push the top down and it spins and the pictures on it blur together. It slows down and then you push it and it speeds up again. When she’s playing with it, it never really stops, it just goes at different speeds and different intensities. This is a pretty accurate description of a 2 month long panic attack. It slowed enough for me to catch my breath for a minute, then picked right back up. Exhausting, isolating, and relentless.
This blurry picture my 5 year old took perfectly captures the haze and the fog that can come with living in an extended anxiety attack. This sums it up quite well.
I finally called a friend. It was more than a phone call, it was a cry for help. I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed out of this frame of mind. She stayed on the phone with me while I cried and told her what was going on. She talked me through a breathing exercise and then stayed on the phone with me while I cried some more.
I needed a friend who listened, who didn't try to fix anything, who was there to just listen. She created a space for me to let it out. She created a space I didn’t know I needed. I told her my anxiety was limiting me and I was mad. I was mad I felt like everyone and everything was moving forward and I was stuck fighting a silent battle all on my own.
Constantly wondering if I’m failing my kids, my new baby, because I can’t pull my head together. Wondering if I really need help or am I exaggerating the feelings I’m having, the state of mind I’m in. If I reach out and say I need help am I a bad mom? Spiraling and spiraling, down and further down.
I started therapy, I started to focus on myself, to figure out what triggers me, how to try to stay one step ahead.
And I started a business. I know it sounds like at this point in my life the last thing I needed to do was take on more. More of anything. But it was exactly what I needed. I was missing a creative outlet. I was going through the motions of routine for everyone else. I lost myself in the shuffle. And if I’m being honest, I lost myself years ago. It all just became amplified.
This brand, this business, brought me back up to the surface, gave me a renewed purpose, gave me something for myself. Working on myself, taking time for myself, allowed me to begin to breathe again.
Creating has always been an important part of my life. I lost touch with the important parts of me while I was doing other important things. When I started to work on this brand I felt motivated again. I stopped dreading the start of a new day. I felt like I could be important outside of the walls of my home.
I started to do more than just survive. I started to thrive.
Me with my girls after I started my journey back to my new self.
If you're in the thick of life with a newborn and feel overwhelmed, you're not alone. If you think you need some extra support, I hope you reach out and let someone know. Even me. I'm here to listen.