Leah McNally of Life as Leah, (lifeasleah.net) is a millennial mom turned blogger and social influencer. She created her instagram account @life.as.leah_ and the page @honestmommin to connect deeper with other mom’s. Leah and her family moved to New Jersey from Florida, when her daughter was 6 months old. This move was the catalyst into connecting more with moms on social media, because she didn’t know anyone in the area. This is her journey with Postpartum depression and anxiety.
I want to start this off by saying if you’ve been struggling with
postpartum issues, you’re not alone.
Having a baby is such a complicated, emotional, transitional roller coaster, and it’s freakin’ hard. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mommin’ Ain’t Easy! If you want to read my birth story before you get into my Postpartum journey, click here.
It took me a long time to decide to write about my Postpartum struggles. Actually, I’m still questioning it as I type this, but I keep telling myself maybe this can help someone. If you’re that “someone”, I hope this article finds its way to you! You’re not alone, I suffer from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety too.
Can I just say that any form of Postpartum ANYTHING is a real bitch? Excuse my language, but it really angers me that moms in general already have to go through SO much after pregnancy & delivery, adding PPA/PPD to the mix is truly unfair. My heart aches for the moms out there that suffer daily because I understand what you’re going through.
The main reason I’m sharing this besides potentially helping someone else is to bring awareness to Postpartum depression. I know personally, I thought it was only something that happened immediately or only for a short amount of time. I also didn’t know it can manifest as anxiety instead of “depression.” Women are scared to talk about what’s going on, and I feel it’s important we share hope and strength with one another. I believe we’re stronger together!!
So what IS Postpartum depression? Below are just SOME of the symptoms you could be experiencing. You may feel symptoms immediately, or like myself, after months have passed since becoming a mom. You can feel all of them, a few of them, or even just one of these symptoms.
~ Depressed mood or severe mood swings
~ Excessive crying
~ Severe anxiety or feeling constantly worried
~ Panic attacks
~ Difficulty bonding with your baby
~ Withdrawing from family and friends
~ Loss of appetite, or eating much more than usual
~ Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
~ Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
~ Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoyable
~Extreme irritability and anger
~Fear that you’re not a good mom
~ Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
~ Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate. or make decisions
~Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
~Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
~ You feel like you have to be doing something ALL the time
~ You don’t have the energy to do anything at all
~ You are worried about literally everything
~ You feel a sense of dread like something terrible is going to happen
~ You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a mood or anxiety disorder,
but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right.
~ You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
~ You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever
~ You’re scared that if you reach out to people they will judge you, or that you will have your baby taken away
Are you thinking “wow? I have a lot of those things going on, maybe I DO have postpartum depression??” because that’s what I did when I realized my anxiety wasn’t just “normal” mom fears. Or maybe I was in denial that I struggled with Postpartum depression longer than I realized. I’m not sure really, but I do know that a lot of those symptoms I’ve experienced. Honestly, learning more almost gave me a sense of relief because it’s pretty normal amongst women. Isn’t that weird? More than 3 MILLION women a year experience some form of PPD but it’s rarely spoken about? Why is that?
We need to change that for the sake of our daughter’s and the future mother’s out there. Other women need to know that they’re not alone. We need to stand together, rise together.
I was aware of the possibility of getting PPD and even went as far as encapsulating my placenta in hopes to prevent it. (Yes, I swallowed my placenta in capsule forms. No, it doesn’t taste like anything. Lol ) I had this fear of PPD during pregnancy because I’ve experienced bouts of depression before. I always thought of it as mom’s snapping and hurting their babies. That’s what lifetime movies made it out to be at least. Anyways, I felt great the first 5 months of Sterling’s life. My milk supply was awesome, she was growing, I was getting the hang of this mom thing, and started “figuring” it out. Of course, it was hard, I was exhausted, and my anxiety was still there, BUT I wasn’t freaking out every day. I thought, and still kind of do think that my anxiety was “normal” back then for being a first-time mom. I need people to understand that Postpartum depression can happen to you at ANY time, in multiple forms, if you’ve had a baby within the last 12 months. Some women experience it much longer than that.
Looking back I think the turning point for me, that was really the “catalyst” of my PPD/PPA struggle was when we decided to move to New Jersey. Everything happened so last-minute and moving thousands of miles away with a newborn wasn’t ideal, but it’s what we had to do. My stress and anxiety really skyrocketed at this point because we had to get our house packed up in less than 6 weeks and figure out the logistics of it all….with a 5-month-old. Not only that, my best-friends all simultaneously had a life crisis happening, and were not available to be there for me as a new mom in the way I really needed back then. I don’t blame anyone, at all! But, going through your own crisis while they are, the last thing you want to do is ask for HELP. Shit was hard. I was stressed out maxed. On top of being stressed from moving, I was anxious about leaving Florida and my friends and family. I was anxious about having to start over but knew it was the best choice for Sterling. If all of these things happened separately I might have been fine, but all together at once, I started to spiral into a whirlwind of anxiety and fear.
For the last 5 months, I’ve struggled almost every day with some form of depression or anxiety, or both. Some days I’m able to leave the house, others I can only manage a walk or two. Most days im worried and anxious about something, but do my best to push through. It’s so hard trying to manage all of this and being a mom, AND maintaining work. Then you have family, friendships, and meeting new people. I want to be able to be there for everyone and fulfill every area in my life, but sometimes I can’t. Actually, a lot of times I can’t. A lot of days I can only focus on myself and Sterling and making sure WE are okay. We cuddle a lot, sometimes cry a lot, and always play a lot. Spending time with her makes me happy, and that’s what life’s about, right? With that though, the guilt of not being able to keep up with your friend’s lives makes you feel like an awful person. You just feel shitty that most days you can barely manage with everything going on in life that your friends start to fall to the background. I’m working on that one and I’m finally starting to feel like “myself” again now, almost a year postpartum. ONE YEAR later.
Life as Leah, this blog, also helps me in a creative way that I’m so thankful for. This postpartum journey is all about balance, communication with your spouse, and honesty. (Especially with yourself) I’m learning, growing, and getting better every day!!
Thanks for letting me get vulnerable here, an allowing me to share with you on a more personal level. Writing this was really hard for me, but again, I hope this can help someone else out there struggling. Us women, especially us mom’s, really need to stand together! We need to have each others backs! Let’s help one another, and grow stronger together.
Have you gone through any postpartum issues? If so, I would love to chat with you!! Leave a comment or message me on the contact page. If you have a question about my struggle, I will be transparent with you.