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Every mother is different. This statement is probably a bit overused and cliché, but it’s an important fact to focus on when it comes to mental health. Since everyone experiences their own unique struggles when it comes to mental illness, the same goes for mothers during and after pregnancy. Many hear about postpartum depression and “Baby Blues,” but what many don’t take into consideration is how many women experiences the symptoms and struggles differently.
Outbursts of Anger
This emotion is one that not only terrifies the mother experiencing it, but surprises others when she opens up about it. Everyone experiences anger, but when it comes to family, the mother may feel guilty for those unexpected outbursts toward her little one.
“I would snap at everyone at the slightest annoyance. I also would have emotional outbursts when I got overwhelmed. This was all late postpartum, pretty much once I went back to work after three months of maternity leave,” explains Rachel Footen, mother of one. “I think my immediate postpartum anxiety was set off by my baby crying. That would upset me so much, but not in a consoling kind of way, in an angry way.”
Anger can be an abrupt, terrifying emotion to feel, but like many unexpected emotions during motherhood, the following suggestion is crucial to cling to:
“If people offer help, take them up on it,” Rachel continues. “And remember, for the most part, all of those feelings are short lived, and there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way! Hormones are wicked things!”
“I felt like I didn't do anything right - this was right after I had my daughter. I also isolate and don’t really talk to anyone,” admits mother of one, Kimberly Marie.
Many new mothers are surprised with how easily isolation can smack them across the face during motherhood. They expect the joy everyone talks about and, instead, they feel deep emotions attached to loneliness. Then the “Mom-Guilt” hits and the depression or anxiety heightens because, well, how can a mother possibly feel isolated during such a beautiful time in their life?
Ladies and gentlemen, it is possible.
“I still have the anxiety, but I am better about asking for help and taking better care of myself,” says Kimberly. “I wasn’t taking good care of myself at all.”
Many new moms become a little overprotective during their venture into motherhood. However, sometimes that protectiveness turns into anxiety and depression without realizing it. That maternal need to be the main caregiver and to constantly be there for your little one can turn into a mental health barrier you must learn to overcome.
“I [needed] to be the one to do everything for my child and always be available. I never left her because someone else wouldn’t be able to comfort her or do things for her like I do,” admits Ashley Marie, mother of one. “She’s two now and never been away from me for more than three hours.”
It can be hard pushing through this anxiety without feeling guilty. However, self-talk and discussion with other trusted loved ones can often be the first step toward letting go.
“I had self-diagnosed PPA during the newborn stage which presented as panic when I handed my son over to anyone - including my husband,” admits mother of one, Elizabeth Jane. “I had intrusive thoughts of dropping him or allowing him to get hurt.”
Panic isn’t uncommon for new mothers to feel when faced with their new lifestyle change or when experiencing a long hospital stay with their little one – such as NICU time.
“For me, with NICU babies, I would say I was anxious over everything like how many wet diapers and ounces they consumed or their breathing,” mother of four, Nikki Curtin says. “I wish I would have worried less and enjoyed the time more because they grow so fast at the baby stage.”
Fear of Separation
Whether you’re a new mother or one who has been in the rodeo for over a decade, the gut-wrenching emotions connected with separating from your children can be tough to overcome – if at all. The mere thought of being away from your little one for a few hours, or a few days, can bring on emotional turmoil.
“My anxiety comes on during times of separation from my children—I have overwhelming dread that something awful will happen, that I haven’t prepared them to handle it or that one or both of them will die.” Melissa Boglioli, mother of two, states. “It’s gripping when it happens, but I basically keep it to myself— superstitiously believing that my thinking of it will prevent it from happening.”
Sometimes, that form of self-talk or actually speaking out to others about these fears can help them lessen.
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, mama of twins, and a passionate freelance writer and author. She writes for Moms.com on a regular basis and has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, and In Good Health Newspaper. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings, and caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.
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