I am currently on vacation, and unfortunately my anxiety hasn’t taken a break. My husband and I attended an outdoor concert for the jam band Phish on both Saturday and Sunday nights at an outdoor venue. We had awesome seats on Sunday night. We were in the orchestra pit, so we were literally fifteen feet from the musicians. In the middle of this wonderful music, I ended up taking an Ativan. We had been sitting. As soon as the band arrived on stage, everyone surged forward and crowded my space. One of my key triggers for anxiety is not being to get out of a situation or place when I am really uncomfortable. I tweeted my grumpiness about having to take my anti-anxiety medication. I only take this on an as needed basis. In order for me to truly enjoy the concert and dance, I needed to use this tool in my toolbox as one of my lovely #ppdchat friends @Hopin2bHappy reminded me.
The following day I suffered an actual panic attack for the first time in months. I was triggered by my niece’s crying. She was just being fussy and having lots of separation anxiety. Every time my sister would leave the room, she would start to cry. I was instantly transported back to my struggles with postpartum anxiety. My body went into overdrive. All I could hear from the baby’s cries was “danger, danger”. Someone needs to settle her down. Why was she crying? Was she hurt? Was she hungry? Was she tired? Why did she keep crying? I felt like I was screaming inside my head for some release from the unrelenting noise. I was feeling tingling in my hands and feet. My heart began racing. I started feeling dizzy and nauseous. I finally realized what was happening, and I took an Ativan. Unfortunately it took a bit to kick in because the attack had left me physically and emotionally drained. I did reach out for help and talked to both my husband, my mom and my #ppdchat team. The lovely Alexandra at http://gooddayregularpeople.com expressed it perfectly: PPD is just like fireworks to a PTSD afflicted veteran.
As I reflected on how I was smacked in the face by this anxiety, I had several realizations. I was not sleeping well at all at my parents’ house. I was outside in the heat a lot which physically drains me. I had no time to just be by myself. My parents live in a three bedroom two-story house, and there were ten of us in the house – four little girls under the age of five. I was working frantically to meet all my deadlines at work prior to leaving on vacation for a week. I had stayed up late Friday night to complete more work. I was reminded of a painful loss that happened around this time of year. All of these were contributing factors that led to my panic attacks.
So I am taking the rest of my vacation to regroup and take time for myself. I have very few plans. I plan on mostly relaxing and enjoying the time with my husband and my girls. I am sleeping as much as I can, and I am drinking lots of water. Have any of you who have struggled with postpartum mood disorders struggled with this – being transported back to that feeling of utter helplessness?