Through the Storm, Rainbows are Found: My Journey through Postpartum Depression

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I have had 4 children in 5 years, including a set of twins. I also have had three different births, a c-section, a VBAC with an epidural and a VBAC without any pain medication. Each of my pregnancies and deliveries taught me so much.  I had always envisioned pregnancy and the postpartum period to be filled with bliss and peace. A time where I would be connecting with myself and my unborn on a deeper soul level, and while this connection did occur, I also suffered from severe morning sickness and a whole host of other health issues, which included postpartum depression after each pregnancy.

Because my pregnancies were fairly close to each other, it felt like I would get breaks from the depression, only to be hit with it again. My postpartum depression would come in waves and has been one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. It robbed me of my ability to connect with myself, with my family, to think clearly and make decisions. I lost my ability to reason, to remember and to be patient. Postpartum depression filled me with guilt, shame, and self loathing; as well as decimating my self esteem to a point where I was unable to feel like I was doing anything right or even able to look at myself in the mirror. I also suffered from Postpartum anxiety, intrusive thoughts and the desire to self harm.

My youngest child is almost two years old, and I am just now walking out of the dark forest that is postpartum depression, and into the full light of wholeness and healing. It has been a very long road, but one that I was able to walk and gain strength from. Taking medication for postpartum depression wasn’t an option for me, so I followed my inner guidance and intuition to take the steps needed so that I could heal.

Prayer, positive affirmations, mediation, rest, connecting with God and allowing His love to surround, fulfill and uplift me, yoga, tea, writing, and being patient and gentle with myself when my methods didn’t seem to be working fast enough, or at all, helped me to recover and have a deeper love for myself through this process. Depression is an illness. It is debilitating and can be quite destructive, but it is possible to make it through and become whole. It is possible to feel like yourself again, and to just feel again.

I am living proof, that the greater the storm the more beautiful the rainbow. I can now face any storm with the confidence that trouble doesn’t last always, and that through every storm, rainbows are found.

Using Anxiety as a Tool for Self Awareness

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Anxiety robs you of your joy, disrupts your mental state and can wreak havoc in your life and relationships with family and friends. When you suffer from anxiety, simple tasks become extremely overwhelming. Anxiety, in any of its forms, is not fun to deal with, and can be very painful physically, emotionally and mentally. 

All of this being said, I have discovered that I can use anxiety and anxious feelings to my advantage, as a tool for self awareness. Viewing anxiety as a tool for self awareness and a benefit, instead of a hindrance, has helped me to move past moments of anxiety with gratitude and ease, and has enabled me to regain emotional stasis much quicker. I am providing my steps for using anxiety as a tool of emotional awareness, below, and hopefully they will prove to be beneficial in your journey of health and happiness. 

  • I acknowledge the anxious feelings or thoughts, and ask myself why I’m having them. This helps me to trace the root cause, for example, I may feel anxious about an appointment, I’m not worried about going to the appointment but after asking myself some probing questions, I discover that I am feeling overwhelmed with my current schedule and this appointment is just the icing on my overbooked day.
  • After discovering the root cause, I realize that my body is sending messages of anxiety telling me that I need to slow down and take a break. I then look to see if there is a way to reschedule the appointment for a less busy day, cancel or reschedule any other engagements or any other options for making breathing room in my schedule.
  • In the event that I cannot change my schedule in any way, as far as commitments go, I remove something else on my to do list, a chore or errand that can be done another day.
  • I commit to taking 10 minutes to myself to breathe and recenter.  I like to use affirmations to bring my thoughts back to the present and promote mental positivity. I go internal and talk with my body, mind and emotions, letting it know that I appreciate it speaking up to get my attention so I can give myself what I need. I also visualize physically releasing the anxious feelings and thoughts and replacing these feelings and thoughts with feelings of peace, safety and calm 

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Different situations call for different measures, but being patient with myself while I have anxious feelings and accepting them as a way to be more aware of how I feel, and as a path way to positive solutions, has helped me out tremendously. Anxiety has proven to be a wonderful teacher of self awareness.