Moms behind Mental Health series: Skylar's ongoing battle with postpartum anxiety

My story started when I was 11. Up until that point, my life had been a series of tragic events and it actually just continued that way. But 11 is when all my depression and anxiety started to show up.

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Through the years I lived with it and just continued fighting through it. Until I had my first that is. Childbirth was the scariest thing I had ever done. I had never even had so much as a stitch before. It wasn’t until immediately after I gave birth that this crazy storm started.

I began obsessing and panicking over everything. I was so worried about my health I constantly thought I was dying. I was at my doctor's office weekly and even made her run extensive blood tests. In the end, I was always fine but I couldn’t stop worrying. I had this thought that I was going to die. Then I worried about my little newborn dying. I obsessed about his every move. I never slept. I would wake up panicking to make sure he was still breathing. I couldn’t control myself.

The postpartum depression and anxiety were so real and so scary. My son did nothing but cry for the first 6ish months of his life. It was hard. My husband was gone a lot, being in the Navy, and I began spiraling out of control; eventually landing in the hospital with a massive anxiety attack. I was discharged shortly after with depression and anxiety meds. I never wanted to get to that point. Why couldn’t I just be normal? The meds did begin to work, though. Things started to get better. I still worried about my health. It’s actually my biggest cause for my anxiety these days.

Fast forward a bit, when we decided to try for baby #2. I worried throughout my entire pregnancy. Childbirth definitely seemed much scarier the 2nd time around, I’m not sure why. I had to come off of my meds in order to get pregnant and definitely couldn’t take them during so I had to be strong. I knew my postpartum experience would be hard with my husband's schedule, and now with a newborn and a toddler; I decided to get back on my meds just a few weeks after giving birth. Things this time around have not been any easier. Even with the meds. I’m a little less obsessive I’ve noticed and don’t hover over my youngest but I’m still panicky. I still feel scared and uneasy most of the time.

I battle every day with this. Every day is hard. Half the time I don’t know what to do. I just sit there in my own anxiousness and wonder how the heck I’ll ever get this to stop. I see a therapist almost weekly. I use essential oils. I stretch and do light yoga. I eat a pretty good diet. All kinds of things. People will tell you things that help; believe me I’ve tried it all. I just want to be a normal mom. I don’t want to live in fear. I do my best every day to make it through though and I truly believe if I can survive all of my storms, anyone can. Getting on medication was the last thing I ever wanted. I broke down crying the day I had my prescription written. I couldn’t believe I had gotten to that point, but I believe they saved my life.

You should never feel ashamed of having to use medication. It definitely is not an easy way out or a quick fix. Here I am. With a 3-month-old, an almost 3-year-old, 2 dogs, a cat, and a husband who is almost never home. We’re all getting ready to make a big move with the Navy away from our hometown where we’ve been stationed for the last 4 years. I feel like I’m drowning every day - just stuck in a lake treading water, getting tired of holding myself up.

At the end of the day, I’m hanging in there. I saw with my first that things do get easier so I’m hanging on to that hope. Maybe one day I’ll get this whole having 2 kids thing down. All I can do is hope and pray. But I’m still here. I’m so thankful to still be here with my family because there have been times that I definitely just wanted to give up. It’s a battle I know I’ll never win but I’ll continue to fight until I’m at least close. 

-Skylar Steele can be found on Instagram.