I need some help from anyone who has gone through this before and found some solutions. This is the second time this has happened to me, although it is not quite as severe this time around. I am OK during the day, and feel like myself, but as night approaches, I start to feel anxious. As the night wears on, I start to feel frightened of going to bed, of my husband going to sleep so I am alone, and of my husband leaving to go back to work. I am too scared to sleep in my bedroom in our basement, so we have been sleeping upstairs so he can be near me when he goes to sleep. I can't go to sleep at the same time as him, because of the fear. It causes me to have crying jags, hyperventilation, fast heartbeat and just feel awful, like everything is horrible, and I feel like I just can't cope. The feeling is not related to other stressors, simply to the idea of going to bed. During the daytime, I feel rather like my normal self, and have no problem coping. Sometime in the early morning (like 3-6AM or so) the feeling lifts all by itself and I have no problem going to bed. It is really weird. For some reason when I sit in the bathroom for a while, sometimes the feeling goes away until I leave the bathroom. I can actually feel the cloud lift away, and the light in the room visibly brightens. SOOO weird. I thought maybe it was the fluorescent lighting in there so I put a bulb in a lamp in the bedroom, but it didn't help. It seems to me that it is a chemical or hormonal issue in my brain or something because of the strange symptoms. the last time this happened after my last child, it took about 2 weeks to fade away.
The reason I am posting this is that I am hoping it will go away on its own this time too, but I need help coping until then. If anyone out there has dealt with this and knows of any tricks to help deal with it, I would very much appreciate it. It is really ruining what has otherwise been a wonderful pregnancy and birth and I am afraid I might do something rash while caught up in the emotions. Help!
Right after DS was born I experienced something like this. I wasn't afraid of the same things you are, but I would be fine all day, then night would come and I would start panicking about the responsibility of being a mother, I would worry that my new baby was going to die of SIDS in the night so I would be afraid to put him down. I would start crying about my fears, etc. It went away probably within a month of his birth. I think it's just hormones/chemicals that take a few to settle.
Hang in there.
I think this is one of the big secrets no one tells you about. Everyone's so hyper-aware of PPD, but I think, just from my own not-at-all scientific polling, that post partum panic is also very common. I experienced it. Different fears than you, but I understand where you're coming from. I thought it was just me when it happened to me -- I have a panic disorder anyway, so it makes sense -- but the more I talked about it, the more I realized that many moms had this happen, even ones without prior history of anxiety. There are a lot of "solutions" out there for the type of irrational panic you're talking about, and I have tried pretty much every one of them with varying degrees of success. CBT, EFT, hypnosis, meditation, exercise, drugs -- they all have some effect and they take quite a bit of time. More time than *I* had in the immediate newborn phase, but depending on your circumstances, you may be able to investigate them. EFT is very quick, it might be worth learning. Maybe it was a placebo effect, but the routine worked for me, and I didn't care whether it was placebo or not.
In the immediate now though, I would recommend doing three things:
1. Identify EXACTLY what you're frightened of. It's unlikely (but possible) that it's just being alone. More likely it is what might happen if you were alone. Once you figure that out, you can move onto step
2. With the fear in mind, ask yourself if it's happening NOW. If it's a burglar you're frightened of, ask yourself "is there someone breaking in NOW?" If not, you tell your mind to calm itself and wait to panic until there is something to actually panic about. This isn't always easy, especially when in the grip of irrational fear. Therefore, onto self-talk technique number
3. Reminding yourself it's just the panic talking. This sounds simplistic and like it wouldn't work, but surprisingly, it does. It helps if you understand (or at least it helped me understand) the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety, because then you can go through them all like a list and confirm that, yup, it's just that big old Panic that has taken over again, and you don't have to listen.
It can also be very helpful to talk through it with someone you trust, or even, if their absence, writing it down. I have many journal entries detailing panic attacks, some of which are actually "two-way" conversations with myself as to why I should and why I shouldn't panic. Kind of silly, yes, but useful.
Anyway, I could go on for a really long time about dealing with panic. If you're interested, I can explain more about what happens physiologically and why it's hard to deal with. For me, it helped a lot to understand the whole process as a physiological phenomenon. Took the "crazy" out of it! But before posting a whole book, I'll wait for your feedback, lol!
ETA: you can also pm me if you like.
Are you co-sleeping? I couldn't possibly go to sleep with a new baby if the baby wasn't right with me. Maybe that's the issue. You instinctively need to hear and feel your baby while going to sleep so you'd know if there were any changes and wake up.
Yep, I've been there. More than once.
What you're describing is general panic attack. They're awful. And yes, they're very common in PPD. There are several subtypes of PPD, and anxiety/panic is one of them. It's awful because you can't sleep, and yet being sleep deprived is a huge trigger for this happening more.
Please, please see your health care provider. You don't have to 'endure' this, and you can get help. The best methods tend to be talk therapy (actually Cognitive Behavioral Therapy worked really well for me) + meds. I was also taught by my therapist to meditate and do relaxation before bedtime and it still helps me.
I was on Paxil with both of my kids, and it was a lifesaver. I know that a lot of MDC mothers avoid prescription meds, but for me, the risk of not taking meds was higher than the risks of taking meds. I breastfed both of my kids for extended periods of time (ds for 16 months, dd for 4 years). They're now 7 and 10 and healthy, happy, intelligent, normal kids. (So, yes, they still drive me batty some days. I'm still cranky and short tempered some days.) But yet we have a good attachment because I got help. I'm still here because I got help.
I've been there. It's not fun! I know it's hard to realize when your in the thick of it but one day you will get through this mama. It helped me to do some reading on postpartum anxiety disorders. I also ended up taking meds, which helped tremendously.
I just wanted to let you know you aren't alone. I am going through the same thing. I am on Zoloft and I just started taking 100 mgs. I am seeing some improvement, but I am not there yet. It's been about a month since I began meds. Things will get better, even if it doesn't seem that way right now.
Update- I'm doing OK now. The crazy hormones have stabilized and the panic attacks are gone. I think my post was misunderstood in that I was just looking for ways to help the hormones stabilize sooner, or ways to cope while waiting for it to happen on its own. I ended up sleeping upstairs for a couple weeks instead of in my bed in the basement, and kept the lights on all the time, even while going to sleep. I tried getting out in the sun as phototherapy and drank soy milk to help replace my waning hormones. I got through it. Thanks!
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