By Nicole DeSantis Robins
I have always suffered from anxiety to a certain extent, but he fully introduced himself when I became pregnant. I am using pronouns to identify my anxiety because I truly believe that he is some kind of monster living inside of me and it is not just a mental illness that I am diagnosed with.
I envision Anxiety in my head as sweaty and grotesque, with a deep growling voice. My stomach tightens whenever he wakes up and a fearful yawn and groan escapes from him. He likes to get comfortable in between my rib cage, squeezing between my heart and lungs. He may hibernate there for a few months and although I feel okay at that moment, I never know when he is going to wake up and cause a riot. I have spent a good portion of my pregnancy trying to fight off Anxiety and after faking so hard to be excited about this new life, I finally raised my white flag. I came to terms that I could not fight this on my own anymore and needed help. I have decided that I needed to go towards a route that I was familiar with, just not familiar while pregnant. Taking medications during pregnancy can have risks and benefits. I believed that my health influences the health of my child and my Anxiety is more detrimental to the development of a child than any medication.
In 2015, Royal College of Midwives suggest up to 20% of women experience perinatal mental illness during pregnancy. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said that 13% of women experience anxiety during pregnancy, with around 12% experiencing depression.
My Anxiety is way too strong for me to ever defeat and I know I will never be able to make him go away permanently. If I can get through the day without constant fear of when he will return, I consider that a successful day. If I can get through the day without saying “I can’t do this anymore” or “this never would have happened if I never got pregnant” I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself. It takes a lot of work to keep my Anxiety in hibernation mode. I often worry that many mothers do not know that Perinatal Anxiety exists and do not have a solid support to help them get through this. I have been a part of an amazing community Postpartum Support International since having my son and they helped provided the support that I needed.
Postpartum Support International is a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to helping women and families suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The organization offers support, reliable information, best practice training, and volunteer coordinators in all 50 states and more than 35 other countries.
Support Helpline: 800.944.4PPD (4773)