Anxiety's Perfect Storm

I have talked a lot lately about finding motherhood really, really hard.

I think I was dealing with anxiety for the first time in my life.

Not tough times. I have been through really, really hard things in my life. And I have struggled. And I have been in mentally dark places.

But I haven't felt anxiety like I did from around the time my daughter was 8-12 months old.

I haven't felt my heart beat so fast it felt out of control, randomly, for no reason. I haven't been moved to tears by hearing people's voices in my head (not like schizophrenic voices- like people's comments running on a loop over and over). I haven't felt words literally cutting into my soul and chopping me to pieces.

There are a lot of contributing factors to this, I think.

For one, the fact that this time came on the heels of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. It is not an exaggeration to say this worries me on a daily basis. I no longer trust my fellow Americans; I cannot decide if that is rational or as divisive as those I claim to fear. I do not feel that we are a country that values unity or respect or equality. It feels like a wolf is coming in to a chicken coop and the chickens are saying "Yay, eat me! Yeah, eat my neighbor too! Fucking destroy us all!" Not a great head-space to be in when you are trying to raise the future generation. It feels hopeless, a lot of the time.

To go along with this, there's been a lot of "Oh the good old days, every thing was so much better/easier when we were your age" in the media and from politicians and from the parents of my generation (so my parents/their peers) and this just drives me flippin' bananas, because it's nothing more than nostalgia. This also ties into something a little further down regarding advice from other/older parents.  Memories are just not that trustworthy. Even if it was...I live in 2017. This is when my life is happening. I don't want your pity for being born when I am and reacting to that. There is literally nothing helpful about that.

Also, my daughter went through a fairly rough sleep regression at 8 months. I heard of 4 & 6 month regressions, but NOTHING on 8 months. And of course my daughter did not have those 4 & 6 month regressions- like, maybe 3 days of waking up and then back to sleeping like a CHAMP. Maybe it was teething, maybe it was schedules being crazy because of the holidays, I don't know, but it was ROUGH for a good 2 months of her waking up literally every night and everything was hard.

While I love my daughter, around this time she also went through a phase where she basically wanted me to hold her all the time. It is very, very hard to do anything while holding a baby. It feels dangerous to cook, but we have to eat. It is impossible to clean, but living in a messy house made my bad feelings even worse. She whined, and I wouldn't know why because she is a baby and has no vocabulary. It was just Russian roulette with guesses- need a diaper change? Need some water or a snack? Need some Orajel or Tylenol for your teeth? Want a pacifier? Oh tried all those things & still not happy? My husband can tune this out...and also it apparently wasn't as bad for him. She was super chill with literally EVERYONE but me. And in a way that's supposed to be cute and loving, but it makes me feel like shit when I walk into a room and my daughter immediately starts crying. It felt like I had already fucked up just by existing.  I do not feel this was as traumatic for her as it was for me, because everyone (daddy, grandparents, daycare workers, church nursery workers, friends who baby-sat) said that it stopped as soon as I left and she got distracted. But it was a huge burden on me.

During this time, my husband was moved to a new position at work that completely disrupted our schedule and made us scramble to find a full-time daycare. It is a miracle directly descended from heaven that we got into one of the most highly rated daycares in our town within a week; we have friends who waited for over 6 months. This was a huge blessing. But to our small-town parents who were able to have us at home/with family members (as well as other people in our lives), daycare is the fucking devil and a cesspool of germs and the fact that I work so much and send her to daycare is why she wants me to hold her because moms are fucking unicorns and who cares that daddy literally didn't see her for 48 hours you are her MOTHER BRITTANY and it's just so upsetting that you can't stay home and work (insert guilt that I NEVER wanted to be a stay-at-home mother here) or that you live so far away from your family (insert guilt that I moved 3 hours away from a town with a high crime rate and low employment opportunities that I always felt out of place in, but where lots of family lives).

This did increase our financial burden a bit, obviously. Let's also mention that my super reliable car broke down for the first time ever, and then we traded in another car for market value, which my parents did not agree with and commented that we shouldn't make financial decisions under duress (because apparently we have not proven in the past decade to be trustworthy or intelligent people). I think the financial burden stressed my husband out, not to mention the fact that his schedule was just super weird and then got switched back to what it was before we needed full time was a big mess. Big, big mess.

Next, my daughter did not walk until she was 12 months old. The average time frame that babies walk is 12-14 months. She is 100% average in this capacity. But because I walked at 10 months and my brother walked at 11 months, because other babies I know born after mine were walking already, my parents were freaking the hell out and asking me about a thousand times a day why my baby wasn't walking (maybe other people too, but they are the ones that stressed me out the most). And fussing about shoes, because if only I would put thick soled shoes on her she would be walking! And why don't I try this, or that, or blah fucking blah. BECAUSE IT DOESN'T WORK, THAT'S WHY. I know my kid...maybe let's pretend I'm not just a shit mother. Trust me, I wanted her to walk. Now that she walks, she doesn't sit and cry every time I leave the room...she just follows me. They baby-sat her like a week before she started walking and when they brought her back my mom went "Oh she just doesn't want to walk! She just sits down!" Um yeah, I told you that. "But you know I just worry, I don't get to see her, you have to see things to really believe them for yourself." Sure you do, Mom, if you think your daughter is a dumbass and a liar ya sure do (my mom would never actually say these things about me and I guarantee she would never see herself as acting that way...but really, it cut me because I still do not see another way to interpret that).

Anyway. When it came to my baby being a baby, I cared about certain things and a few people in my family/support network felt the need to tell me how dumb all that was while worrying about other things that I thought were no big deal. 

They didn't actually say that, of course. In their minds, they were providing support and advice. But for a multitude of reasons...I could only interpret it as criticism. Deep, deep, cutting criticism

Most of my life I have been good at just doing whatever I thought was right anyway, but as a new mom I broke under the weight of the scrutiny.

Even now, I come close to crying as I think back to how utterly, utterly alone I felt and how all I could hear was everyone implying how I was a terrible, terrible mother. And it didn't matter that once I broke in front of them, people would finally go "Oh no you're a good mom, just ___________." NO. If you are 100% comfortable telling me what I should be doing but I have to ask you to tell me I'm doing a good job, then you do NOT believe I am doing a good job. That's bullshit and now you are treating me like a child by pretending to give praise that I still do not feel like you actually believe in.

Okay fuck. This was supposed to be about how I am feeling better, you guys.

And I really am! 

But I wanted to lay out exactly all the things that were contributing to my particular situation. Some of it has been mentioned here but I really want to understand why it got so bad. It's important for me to walk through this for myself. Some of it may be relate-able to other people, and some may not. But I want to point out that this is not the fault of motherhood itself or my wonderful amazing child who I love deeply. This was a storm of things that just added up to me feeling like shit for months at a time.

I still don't know if it was postpartum depression, or if I can blame particular people or my tendency as an introvert to hate having the spotlight on me in any way or blame society as a whole or blame being a working mother or blame being a millennial. More than likely, I think it was just a perfect storm and I kind of broke for a bit.

Anyway. I am feeling better. The factors that are contributing to that are coming up later this week, because this got way too heavy and long.


  1. There is so much that changes when you have a baby. And then there is all the stress of daycare or stay home, breast or formula, purees or BLW, is my kid hitting the milestones on time, sleep arrangements, all of that!!! When you have any life changes on top of it really can throw in a wrench right??? I am glad you are feeling better! Anxiety is no joke.

  2. We absolutely all break for periods of time. I just always hope they don't last too long. I used to get terrible anxiety in my late 20s related to a specific set of circumstances. It is terrible. I'm glad you're doing better. Any one of those things is a lot. All of them together are the perfect shitstorm.

  3. Ryan had had small bouts of anxiety but when I was pregnant was when he had his first ever panic attack. He literally thought he was dying and took an ambulance to the hospital. Meanwhile I was in California frantically calling my mom and me/Ryan's roommate to figure out what was going on. Anxiety is no joke.

    I'm glad you're feeling better. Still mad at your family for being so unsupportive. Hopefully now that you're coming out of it you're able to explain to them how their comments are hurting you. And if they're still unsupportive then eff 'em! Ain't nobody got time for that.

  4. YAY for coming through the storm. It still enrages me to read about your family and the way they've acted. You're a lot more gracious than me because I would have told them to fuck off after the first few times.

    That said, breaking isn't a bad thing. It encourages growth. I know that's not how it feels in the moment, but I feel like you're stronger now than before because of this shit storm.