Dealing with depression, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed, during pregnancy was starting to affect every aspect of my life.
This past year, I have struggled with negative and anxious thoughts. I often found myself drowning in my own worries about something someone said or did. I am a huge people pleaser and I desire to be liked by others around me. This made my self esteem and confidence in who I was diminish over the past year or so, and I discovered I was in the midst of depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed with Postpartum depression/ anxiety (after giving birth in august 2020 as a surrogate) that then carried into my Pregnancy depression/anxiety.
Describing what depression and anxiety feels like has been difficult. For me, It felt like a mental mindset I knew I was in but couldn’t find a way out. I logically knew I wasn’t acting myself or who I wanted to be, but I also couldn’t find the ways to cope or understand why I was feeling the way I was. I felt alone and overwhelmed. After giving birth in 2020 I felt great! (Read more here!) I felt ready to enjoy life with Henley, start trying for our second child, and just live life in a normal sense, but anxiety started to creep in, it happened slowly and steadily.
I started getting overwhelmed with the smallest of tasks. Henley’s tantrums would put me into a feeling of “I can’t do this.” Anything Luke said to me felt like a personal attack (when he always approached conversation with ease and love) , and I would immediately crawl into a hole of defeat.
I then became pregnant just 3 short months after giving birth. This pregnancy was different. It was hard from the start. Mentally I was not prepared and physically my muscles weren’t ready. I had just started fitting into my jeans when I found out I was 7 weeks pregnant. I was excited! We had hoped and prayed for another baby, and it came as a pleasant shock and surprise with how fast it happened! This is when the mental battle began.
Pregnancy changes your body, and although change is not bad, it’s a challenge everyday to accept your body in a new form. I immediately started feeling my jeans get tighter in the coming weeks, and before I knew it, I was back in my same leggings I had just stopped wearing. I also started feeling sick, nauseous, worse than I had ever experienced. It felt like I was car sick, lump in my throat, going to throw up any minute, and nothing could soothe the feeling. This pushed me into a deeper depression because I was not only physically sick, but mentally was not in the right head space.
I honestly can’t remember how long this period lasted. It feels like a complete blurred time frame. Like months dragging on with someone else living in my body. It wasn’t me, wasn’t who I was meant to be. I masked the depression and anxiety most days I saw people, and released almost all the feelings at home. Although seeing people, hanging out with friends, or even texting friends was not on my to-do list, nor did I want it to be. It felt too overwhelming and too much work.
I spent most days sleeping any chance I could, laying on the couch, not wanting to go outside, not wanting to have communication, and helplessly trying to act okay for Henley and at work. I didn’t lift a finger when it came to household responsibilities. Groceries, laundry, dishes, it all fell on Luke, and when he got home from work the dad duties would begin as well. In the moment I didn’t see all the sacrifices Luke made for us, all the love he poured out, day in and day out, caring for me, henley, and our home. Depression and Anxiety (from my experience) are a very “me” mindset. A mindset that is set on self which when in it, is hard to see and understand.
It wasn’t until Luke said “Carly, you haven’t been yourself, I miss you, and I really think you need to get some extra help” that I understood how bad my mental health had gotten. It was a long hard season of pain and sadness and doubt, but the healing and growing I have learned from it has been so rewarding.
Saying it out loud. When I finally voiced to Luke that I needed help, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just knew I needed help. It was almost an immediate release of emotions that I needed to have in order to start healing. I then started being honest with others around me when they asked how I was… ” ya know, NOT WELL. I have been really struggling with depression, anxious thoughts, and a constant sense of being overwhelmed.” Although I didn’t know what their responses were going to be, it felt good to share truly how I was doing.
One thing I have made into a daily habit is a devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries. They have created easy to read and understand devotionals that have been setting an amazing tone to my day! I have been learning so much from a small daily devotional, that it has now turned into researching more on who God is. Who He has designed me to be. I had a lot of doubt on what my purpose was, but I have learned it’s not about me finding out what my purpose is….It’s about finding about who God made me to be and my purpose and calling will follow.
We have the ability through Christ to interrupt those depressive and anxious thoughts. It doesn’t mean we can just wish away depression, BUT there are a pattern of choices we can make to help.
I have created small habits to shift my mental mindset. When moments become too much or I find myself going in a downward spiral, I find an outlet.
Some of the outlets I have found that help me are…Getting out of the house. This is a major one (going to a coffee shop, going on a walk, or sitting on the patio). Doing a quick workout. Having the peloton makes it so much easier to get a quick 15 min ride. This releases some of the tense feelings and gaining a little pep again). Having a minute to myself. As a mom, THIS IS HARD! Letting the baby cry, putting the TV on for my toddler, and having a moment to myself in the bathroom to breathe and collect myself, allows me to feel refreshed. Finally, getting ready. Doing my hair, makeup, and throwing on some cute workout gear gives me a little confidence. These are a few ideas of what works for me and may help you as well!
This pairs with number 1. Saying it out loud and sharing it with someone you feel confident in. When you have these anxious overwhelming thoughts, sending a text or calling that person can help you use your coping mechanisms. It gives you that little reminder to keep going, that word of encouragement to replace that initial thought of doubt.
During my season of healing, I found myself going back to old habits and being mad at myself for that. I realized I needed to release those feelings. Release my past and what I went through. This doesn’t mean forget. It means learn from it and move forward knowing you have gained strength from your past. Releasing all mental battles in order to live free!
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