Tomorrow is my daughters’ first birthday (sweetness), so I want to share a personal reflection of a time when I had to deal with anxiety in this first year of motherhood. One night shortly after I had our daughter, I was stricken with heart fluttering anxiety that left me shaking. I was not able to go to sleep, because I had just read an article about heart problems related to women after delivery. Terrified that I was now developing this problem, I didn’t want to close my eyes for fear that something would happen in the night, and I would no longer be with my new daughter and husband the next morning. Dramatic much? Yes, but that is also how I truly felt.
I was holding Eleanor in my arms, and as I watched her sleep, I fought for the control I needed to overcome the irrational anxiety I was feeling. I needed to sleep and relax my body, so that I could be the mother and wife I wanted to be. I did not want this perfect little human to feel any of my stress. I was exhausted after 30 hours of labor and a complicated C-section, and I was pooped trying to exclusively breast feed my baby who was eating around the clock like they do in those first few days.
I confided in my husband and asked him to help me somehow. I needed to not think about the heart problem, I needed to relax enough to go to sleep, and I needed to be able to stop the overwhelming feeling of fear I had as I laid in bed. I asked him to hold me, to talk me through it, to distract me, etc. Instead, he got frustrated that I wouldn’t go to sleep. Chris told me to just turn my brain off and that I was so sleep deprived that I was having anxiety and stress related to that. “Just close your eyes and you’ll be fine”, he said. Chris was dismissive of my fears and worries that night, and in that moment made me feel like there was something wrong with me, because I couldn’t turn off the thoughts and go to sleep.
That said, I laid there that night allowing myself to get more and more worked up and I wrote to him what I was feeling. I did this not so he would feel bad the next morning, but so that he would maybe understand me better and what I needed.
A quick goodnight kiss and a mumbled love you, is that all I get tonight? You did not have time to hold me, to tell me it was going to be okay, or to distract me with one of your jokes? I just needed you to make me feel safe. I just needed 5 minutes of you time. You knew I was having a really hard time tonight, and I needed you. I can’t do this on my own when I am dealing with anxiety like this. I got nothing from you, and you are the person I view as my protector. I have told you countless times over the years how sorry I am that you have to live with my anxiety. I know it effects you as much as it does me.
As hurt as I am that you won’t even comfort me, more than anything I am overwhelmed with shame that this is all in my head; and that there’s something wrong with me that makes you judge me as less than the woman I am. I am broken that I annoy you when I get like this, and there is nothing I can do right now that I am not already doing to get over these feelings. I have spent the last hour crying in an attempt to let it all out, calm down, and win a battle against my worry. I have read scripture and I have been praying.
I know you think that I can control my fear and anxiety since I do most days, but sometimes I can’t do it on my own. I can’t just feel and say “it will be fine” to the worry and fear. In this moment, right now laying next to you, I feel that this fear is valid and it is real. In this moment, it consumes me.
It breaks my heart that the person I count on the most is not able or willing to come love me through this right now. I know that is a lot of pressure to put on you, but you are always my rock and tonight I needed you. I feel let down, and at the same time I feel horrible that I expect this much from you. I feel guilt that I look less than I should in your eyes because of this horrible thing I live with. I am so sad that I am angry at you for making me feel alone and unsupported tonight, when I am scared and hurting. I am mad at myself that this anxiety is making me feel less towards you than I should tonight. I hate that anxiety is affecting us.
I know in the morning I will regret sending this to you, because in some ways I know this will make you feel bad. I hope you know that you will never be viewed as any less of my hero, and that I will never doubt your love for me. I just want you to be able, for just one moment, to understand how I feel and know what I need. Next time, I need you to love me through this and not just ignore it. It will not just go away because it has been swept under a rug.
I will be working on myself and trying hard to be a better wife for you and mother to Eleanor. I know my anxiety has been much better these past few years. I’m afraid though that every now and then I may still have to deal with the intensity of my anxiety, and next time I want you to understand how it feels.
All my love forever and always.
Your imperfectly perfect wife,
Now let me say that Chris is ALWAYS my number one support and has seen me through the worst of times with a smile on his face and nothing but pure love/care for me in his heart; but that night he was exhausted himself and he was spent after helping care for a five day old baby girl. Chris could not be there for me, because he needed to sleep and rest. Looking back, I understand that he was not in a position to help me when he had nothing left to give. The next morning, Chris hung his head and apologized profusely and I held my head in shame that I had made him feel that bad. Chris has since then ALWAYS made it a point to not dismiss me, and he told me he did not not know how he made me feel when he dismissed my feelings until this note.
I am sure I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings, which is why today, I wanted to share a very personal aspect of my anxiety.
Until next week,
Hey all you awesome people reading my blog. I'm Ginger and this blog chronicles how I live my life fabulously with anxiety.