Postpartum Anxiety: It Does Exist

According to Postpartum Support International about “6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety.” However, I think those numbers are substantially under reported.

During and after pregnancy people would frequently talk about Postpartum Depression (PPD). I also read up on it just so I would be aware of what to look out for in myself. My doctor and the nurses at the hospital all gave me t pamphlets on PPD so I would know what to look out for and who to call. After I gave birth people called to check in on me to make sure I was doing okay. I appreciate all of that. I didn’t have postpartum depression. With the help of my hubby and other family members, I was doing pretty good.

However I did have anxiety. A lot of anxiety. Since sometimes I like to go into my self diagnosis mode, I would diagnose myself with postpartum anxiety, mild, without panic attacks. Wait, that’s not even a thing. The DSM-5, the handbook of psychiatric disorders that is used by Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Counselors, in the United States, does not recognize Postpartum anxiety as mental health diagnosis. Why is that?

Postpartum depression is recognized widely by the mental health world, and has a diagnosis code. There are even special treatment groups that focus solely on PPD. Yet, postpartum anxiety falls under the umbrella of just another anxiety disorder, it just gets thrown in the with likes of Adjustment disorder with anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or Obessive Compulsive Disorder. However, according to the published article Postpartum anxiety: More common than you think, by Dr’s Jordan and Minikel (2019), research studies suggest that perinatal anxiety is more prevalent than depression. Also, studies have suggested that more women experience symptoms and have significant levels of anxiety during the post natal period, however they do not fully meet the criteria to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Therefore, the true numbers of anxiety in women during the postnatal period go under reported. Even though more women may experience postpartum anxiety, these women are not necessarily getting any type of treatment.

After giving birth to Nico, I experienced many symptoms related to anxiety. Typically, my amount of worry increased. I know had a little human to take care of, a human that was in no way able to take care of himself. I still worry. SIDS is a real fear. I find myself waking up at night to check on him, to make sure he is still breathing. I remember one night he actually slept for a few hours at a time, more than his regular 2 or 3 hours, I of course woke up to check on him. Yup, he was sound asleep.

I worry when he gets sick. I worry when he goes to day care if he will be okay. I worry if he is eating enough. And since I am a therapist, I worry if he is adjusting well so he doesn’t have a childhood anxiety disorder. I guess I have regular mommy worries. Everyone asked me if I was okay on his first day of day care, I had some worry, but I actually felt fine overall. I kinda just knew he would be fine. That was me managing my anxiety. I am able to put my irrational thinking patterns into focused rational thoughts.

I used to stay up all night because I knew he would wake up to eat. I already had trouble sleeping way before the thought of baby. Now I was being woken up from my sleep every 2-3 hours, it made it so much harder to sleep. So I did’t sleep. One night I think I stayed up until 6 am, and then I was finally able to go to sleep. The anxiety is real. If I was ever going to sleep again, I had to learn to be fine with baby sleeping in peace. I had to stop fearing those middle of the night wake ups and allow myself to just breathe and relax in the moment.

The symptoms of my anxiety would never be enough for a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, I know that. My anxiety was triggered by being a new mom, and the constant worry of having to take care of another human when I was previously only taking care of myself. Being a mom comes with more responsibility. That responsibility causes me to have a running list of tasks in my brain that cause anxiety. The anxiety is real, but lucky for me it is also manageable.

I know I am not the only mom who has experienced symptoms of postpartum anxiety. So if you are a new mom, or a seasoned mom, and just can’t shake those anxious thoughts, take a step back and just breathe, stop and think about the rational thoughts. Close the door for irrational thinking patterns, think about realistic scenarios, and always remember to take time for self care. As a mom you are the world to your child, take care of yourself and remember that self care is not selfish.

Self Motivation: What's Your WHY?

Today was pretty good day. Thank God tomorrow is Friday and my first full week as a working mom is almost complete.

Lesson learned this week: Yes I can survive with less than 3 hours of sleep per night. When.Does.It.Stop. I am badly craving sleep. Help Me.

Random thought: Why is the Apple store always so crowded, yet I have never actually witnessed anyone buying anything directly from the Apple store. The shelves consistently look like they have never been touched.

Surprisingly this first full week of 2020 has been pretty good. 1 week down, 51 more to go. I still feel motivated, and I am proud that I am actually writing everyday.

My goals this year are to finally launch my podcast, grow my therapy and coaching businesses, and publish one, or two, or three books. I have even started working on a children’s book series. I have big goals, and a lot to accomplish. 12 whole months to complete all my goals.

I am motivated by my desire to inspire people. It’s why I started blogging my journey 11 years ago. Everybody has a story, we learn from hearing each other’s stories, to inspire others I figured I would tell my story.

My big question for 2020 is “What’s Your Why?” I ask myself that question daily. I ask my clients that question. I ask my husband that question. What’s Your Why?

Your “Why” is the driving force in your ability to make decisions. It’s what motivates you. It is what encourages changes in behavior.

At the start of a new year a lot of us make vision boards and resolutions. We tell ourselves that certain things are going to be different. But why? Why now?, and what is the motivation to keep that change going.

Within the first six weeks of the new year, most people will give up on their resolutions, and those vision boards will become just a piece of cardboard with magazine clippings. The “Why” was not strong enough. The motivation was not strong enough and the follow though was not existent.

Thoughts without action is just a dream. Actions turn your dreams into your reality.

So think about it, what’s your goal? Now WHY do you want to accomplish that goal?

My “Why” is that I am determined to motivate others to increase positive behaviors and live life on their terms. I know what’s it like to feel stuck, I have a passion and determination to move people toward getting unstuck. Let’s get unstuck in 2020. Life is too short to be stuck in one place without movement. You hate your job, make steps to find a job you love. You are not satisfied with your relationship, then determine what you want in a relationship and go find it. Life happens with action, start acting.

Now, find your own WHY. Your Why has to be personalized just for you. You can’t change for other people, life has to be lived for you. Once you find your Why, stay motivated, stay determined, and live life on your own terms. Hold yourself accountable and remain consistent. With accountability, consistency, and truth about your WHY, you will be far ahead of accomplishing your goals. Keep it up and 2020 will be your best year yet!

You Have Permission to Just Be You

I have a long list of goals that I will attempt to accomplish. I will let you in on another one, To be kind to myself.

Today I experienced working mom guilt because Nico is at day care while his parents work. The hubby told me that he cried for an hour after he dropped him off. I wondered, is he happy? Is he going to hate me for sending him to day care? In reality I know he will be fine, he won’t hate me and he loves social interactions. I just could not shake that feeling of guilt.

I am my own worst critic. I hesitate to be create and live my passion because I fear that the end product is never good enough. The purpose of my 366 day blog challenge is to prove to myself that I can create content to build my business, and that the content is good enough.

I am giving myself permission to be kind to myself


We are our own worst enemy, we judge ourselves harshly, we beat ourselves up over mistakes, and far too often we may feel that we are not good enough. We ask ourselves, “Am I good enough to date this person?”, “Am I good enough to switch jobs?”, or “Am I good enough to raise a family?” The hardest phrase to say is “Yes I Am Good Enough”. ” I have always been and will always be enough!”

We don’t give ourselves permission to live life in a way that life should be lived. We often feel guilt when we have a sense of confidence, and even start to fear that people will question your own sense of self. We don’t live, we look and wait. We are unfair to ourselves.

At some point the consistent pattern of negative thoughts that consume our daily emotional state needs to stop. As humans we need to allow ourselves to feel strong, powerful, and successful, and we need to feel that way without guilt. We should not find ourselves apologizing for our accomplishments, we should be giving ourselves permission to celebrate each joyous moment of life. Most importantly we need to celebrate ourselves. So let’s start by giving ourselves permission to say “I Am Good Enough”, but not only say it, but mean it.

Give yourself permission to:

Live Without Fear

I love the phrase “life begins outside of your comfort zone”. Everyday we often wake up and find ourselves going through the motions of life but not actually living life. Take a chance on life, try a new activity, eat new foods, travel to destinations that you only see in magazines but never thought you would actually go to. Fear is an overpowering force that stops many of us from taking a risk, and possibly being happy. When the thought; “I want to, but what if…” comes to your mind. Stop, redirect, and say “I will”. Tell fear NO, and take the leap to live.

To Love

Love is a funny thing, because love will come into our lives, and sometimes love will leave our lives. Love is scary and unpredictable at times. It’s strange because; Do we choose to love, or does love chose us? That lack of knowing, may make us want to run in the opposite direction when we are faced by love. But if we never allow ourselves to keep giving love a chance, then we will not allow ourselves to experience all the great pleasures of joy that come with being loved and with loving another person. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Love does not just have to come from romantic relationships it can also come from friends and family. But we have to open ourselves up, let down our guard, and just allow life to be filled with love.

To Fail

Failure is how you know that you are dong something. Success is rarely accomplished without failure. Failure means that you are trying. We need to fail. We need to learn. We need to challenge ourselves. We need to overcome the fear of failure and not be defined by our failures. We are able to shape our lives with both our wins and losses. Failure is not always a negative; it is a stepping stone for success. Give yourself permission to try and fail, you will be one step closer to knowing how sweet if feels when you win.

To Be Confident

Confidence. One word that is easier said than done. To look in the mirror and say “hey I look really good today” is one of the most challenging tasks that I often give to my clients. We are afraid to be confident. Often times if we feel good about ourselves, or feel that we have just done a kick ass job, we are the last ones to give ourselves credit. We shut ourselves down before others have a chance to. It’s easier to hear a negative comment when we have already told it to ourselves first. Here’s a secret, self deprecation is not cute. So be confident. Be impressed with just being you. Say to yourself “I Am Amazing” and believe it. With confidence you will be taken seriously by friends, family, and co workers, and you will feel proud of yourself because you know that you are truly a badass and you mean it.

To Be Honest With Yourself

Honesty with yourself. The most important trait of knowing who you are. We hate to admit it, but yes there are times when we lie to ourselves. The trouble with lying to ourselves is that we can’t get away from it. There may be times when you say yes to something and you really want to say no, we trick ourselves into thinking that a relationship or friendship is good for us, but yet it is causing an immense amount of pain inside. We may feel that we need to work longer hours, and put in more time at work because we want to be recognized as a good employee, yet we hate our job. We tell ourselves a narrative that fits a certain time, place, or situation, yet deep down inside, we don’t really believe that narrative at all. With honesty in yourself, will come a sense of relief. The stress is gone, and it will give you room to do what you really want to do, and actually be in that place that fulfills your purpose in life. Be honest. Be You.

With my various new roles in life I am giving myself permission to take care of myself first, and to make sure I am consistently do my own mental check-ins. Self care is an absolute need. As they say during the safety briefing on the airplane, put your own mask on first, then put on the mask of your child. As a wife and mom I will have to make sure I am okay, so my family can be okay. I will give myself permission not to have working mom guilt, but to enjoy every moment with my family, and give lots of love and hugs everyday.

My 2015 wish: Please be better than 2014, please

Why hello January 1st 2015! In efforts to stay consistent I tell myself that if I am going to post at least once this year, it will be on the first day of the new year. New year, new day.

I don’t make resolutions, so my personal goal for 2015 is to remember what is important to me in life, and to live life one day at time.

You ever feel like you lost of sense of self? Well I think that happened to me sometime in 2014, well actually in the beginning of 2014. Who knew such small changes in life would be so hard to recover from. I must say I was more than happy to say good-bye to 2014.  Not one of my best years, but defiantly a year that I can learn from. Now my challenge is to take lessons learned, and make 2015 one of my best years.

“Your best days are yet to come”; I need to remember that.

I started out 2014 with a broken leg. With a broken leg came the inability to run, I lost my motivation to make my body, and my mind better. With a broken leg came physical therapy, and recovery. If only I knew how much that process would change my life. Every activity that I found peace in was gone. I made attempts to find new ways to keep my body and mind challenged, yet nothing was the same. Recovery was hard, running hurt, cycling hurt, my motivation to be stronger, run longer, and work harder was diminished.

The year seemed cloudy, somewhat like a dark fog, I was living life, but never really felt like I was in it. Everything that kept me sane, happy, and living life with purpose while I was in Honolulu was gone. And I struggled for 365 days to get it back.

2014 ended, well nearly as bad as it started, oh wait, actually this is worse. The job that I moved to Washington D.C. for is closing. Yup, my program that was started to change the lives of Washington D.C. youth is coming to an end in two weeks, leaving me unemployed. So December of 2014, was not a good month. Yes I feel sorry for myself that my therapeutic program is ending, but I have a strong feeling that God has this. His plan keeps me alive, and keeps me living to make it through the day. However, the feeling of sadness and devastation that I feel for my clients, and other adolescents in Washington D.C. is  what really makes this a hard transition. For the last year, we were doing something good. We were changing lives, and one day someone made a decision that what we were doing did not matter that much so the budget for the program could be cut.

The highlight of 2014: I was able to watch two of my clients walk across the stage at their high school graduation, and receive a high school diploma. With the assistance of a few good friends, I watched another client attend a high school prom.  Wow, I don’t think I could explain the deepness of emotion that goes into those two events. But, to know that these boys may have never had that opportunity without our program is an unbelievable experience. When no one else believed in these kids, I did. Everyday I worked with them was a day that was one step closer to helping them see that life goes far beyond a life of poverty and jail. And that made my job nothing less than amazing.

I work to change lives, I work to inspire. I hope my next job continues to give me that opportunity.

I must  say that I am very happy to finally see 2015. I am looking forward to good news, exciting new opportunities, and happiness! My faith guides me, and I know everything will work out, because God has a plan that works, and my God have never failed me. Live a life that is worth living. That is what I want to remember to tell myself each day.

2015 I’m ready, show me what you got!

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.

I can do it all by myself, except sometimes I need help

When I was young, about the age of 3 or 4 my mom gave me the book All by Myself by Mercer Mayer. At the age of 31 my mom still reminds me that ever since I read that book over 25 years ago, I have always wanted to do things all by myself. When I was a child it was simple things like tying my shoe, or doing my homework. I would sit and try it over and over again until I got it right. I wanted to do it all by myself. As I got older life became more complex, and the complexity of things that I could actually do all by myself began to change. In high school it was filling out college applications, I didn’t need help, I could do that all by myself. However, once I got into college I had to pay for tuition, books, fees, oh and lets not forget that I actually needed to move everything out of my bedroom in Queens to my dorm room in Connecticut, yeah I needed help. Mainly from my parents, and because they are great parents they helped, and because they had hindsight to know I actually couldn’t do it all by myself I really didn’t even have to ask for much help. They just knew what to do.

As we get older we have greater needs in life, and may need more help. I have always been one to hate asking for help because I could do it all by myself. My favorite question to ask my clients in therapy sessions is “how is that working out for you?” When I think about times that I didn’t ask for help but really knowing that I needed help, I reflect on how poorly that is working out for me. When I bought my first car, I went into full-blown panic mode. Buying a car is stressful and I needed help. Luckily I had that help, my ex boyfriend helped me find a car, and my dad helped me to get my care registered, inspected and ready to drive. Needless to say without that help I would have been left stuck and riding the bus for a mighty long time.

Before moving to Hawaii, my mom asked me was I scared to go alone. My answer of course was no, if the fear was there I was never going to admit that to anyone anyway. She told me she doesn’t worry about me because she knows I will be fine, she reminded me that I have always had that determination that I could do it all by myself. That determination helped me to take leaps in life and never look back. That determination helps me prove to myself that no matter where I am in life and what I am going through, I will always at least try to do it all by myself, even though sometimes I may fail.

I am no longer a 3-year-old kid who just wants to tie her own shoe, or a 4-year-old who just wants to walk into a new classroom all by myself just to prove that I am a big girl. I am a 31-year-old who has grown to realize that as much as I want to do it all by myself, sometimes I need help, badly.

I realized the importance of help when I was living in Honolulu, I was all by myself, and couldn’t possibly do everything alone. Upon arriving on the island, I received help from my first landlord. She was overwhelmingly kind to me. She was local from Kauai and now living on the Windward side of Oahu. She went out of her way to welcome me to the island, I had no car, she drove me around, she showed me how to get to my job, how to get to the store, and what I would need to do to be safe in Honolulu. Her warming attitude made me feel like I would have a great home in Hawaii. I continued to find help along the way in friends, those friends helped me to overcome a sense of loneliness, and seemed to always make sure that I was doing ok. I received help to stay in shape from my motivating workout crew, and due to the fact that I had amazing co-workers, they never failed to help me learn my way around the island, and adjust my mainland style of building therapeutic relationships, to the local style of how to be a successful therapist. I was starting to learn that needing help was not a sign of weakness, but much-needed to keep building future success.

Now I am back on the mainland and have found myself in a place where I once again need help, and I continue working to overcome the struggle to ask, although it has gotten a lot easier. A few weeks ago I went snow tubing and broke a bone in my leg when it hit a block of ice.  Ok maybe I should have not been so quick to jump into winter sports since I have been living on an island that was 80 degrees every day for the past 4 years. Nevertheless, it was fun, well expect for the part where I broke my leg.

Being on crutches with a broken leg, yeah I have needed help. I want to do it all by myself, but life’s turns has hit me and now I can’t. This has truly been an experience in asking for help. I literally have needed help from everyone who is around me. Even my 7-year-old god-daughter has had to help me carry my purse. Lucky for me I have an awesome support group. My friends have been nothing less than amazing and have been there fully to help me. I end up feeling guilty though, I hate to inconvenience others or need help for something that I could just do on my own a few weeks ago. I remind myself that this is a temporary situation. It’s still hard most days.  It’s not forever, just for now, and now I have to continue to ask for help. This has truly been an eye-opening experience, I was the girl who thought I could do everything by myself. I could do it all, no help necessary. Now I can’t even drive my car, so to go anywhere outside of the house, yeah I need help.

Though this current situation of my broken leg is temporary and with time my bones will heal, it is a sudden much-needed reminder that life is not meant to be lived alone. If you always have the right circle of support you will never be alone, and when life throws you a curve ball, don’t struggle, put pride aside and just ask for help.

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Starting over: life’s trials and tribulations

Ever have one of those days where you just feel lost and uncertain? Not sure where to go, what to do, or what happens next?  So many possibilities and not sure what direction to turn to.  I am falling in on life’s uncertainty and I am not sure what makes absolute complete sense anymore. Let me back up a bit.

After about two years of living in Honolulu, I thought that I needed to move off the island, more specifically I felt I was ready to move back to the mainland. East coast, west coast, where was not important, but I felt the essence of the mainland calling me back. That was in 2011. It wasn’t for another two years that I would actually take advantage of the opportunity to move back. That was scary. I had a plan, executed that plan, now what?

Whenever I tell anyone I meet in the D.C. area that I spent the last 4 years of my life living in Honolulu, I always get asked why I moved back. Well, my move to Honolulu was never meant to be a permanent home, I never really thought that it would be a home, but for a brief period in my life Honolulu was my home. In some weird way I felt apart of local culture. Everyday I woke up the sun was shining, it was 80 degrees, and from my apartment I had a breathtaking view of the mountains that one could only dream about. I lived that life. For the most part life had minimal stress, I was in optimal health, and I was learning more about myself each day. I was living my best life.

Although it was my best life, it was my best life only for that time. In life things begin, but they also end. The end finally came. Why did I come back? Well although I had created a new life, I very much missed the old one at times. Your past will always be a part of you, and no matter how far you travel, you will never leave the past behind. I never left to run from my past, I left really to understand my present self. I needed to go to a space where I could learn about me. Away from distractions, away from expectations, away from what I once was. I found a me that I loved. I found life. I learned to slow down. To appreciate the simple pleasures of life. I never knew how peaceful life could be at the top of mountain, until I actually climbed to the top of that mountain and just sat. I never knew how much I could enjoy my own company, until my only choice was to enjoy my own company, and I never knew that I could survive so far away from everything and everyone I knew, until I had no other option than to survive. Looking back I did a pretty good job. But I knew it had to end. I miss it. But why do I miss it so much, when I knew it would be over?

I grew up along the way. I built attachments. For the first time in my life I was attached to my job. It was the first time I had ever had the feeling of wanting to cry as I submitted my letter of resignation, and every day after second guessed if I was really ready to go. I met friends who cared for me, friends who were sad to see me go, friends who showed me  Aloha from the day they first met me. I miss it.

Now I am on the mainland. Working in D.C. This is what I wanted. I am surrounded by friends who love me, my family is now only 4 hours away in New York, yet at times I still find myself dreaming and reminiscing of my time on the island.  A time of my life that is never to be forgotten.

Now it is time to start a new chapter. Which leads to that feeling of uncertainty. Where do I start? How do I start this chapter? Life is happening. Am I doing it right? I am on the mainland. The mainland is filled with opportunity. How do I take advantage of that opportunity? How do I continue to live my best life? That is a question I frequently ask. Adjustments take time, and transitions are not easy. I am adjusting. Winter doesn’t help. Its 9 degrees over here and 79 degrees in Honolulu. Those are the times when I want to return to Honolulu. But life goes on, I continue to grow, to learn, and to live. My uncertainty will eventually go away, and I will be back in tune with my purpose. But for now, I will continue to learn, focus, and stay motivated to conquer what is next. To Honolulu: I came, I saw, I conquered, To DC: Ok I’m here, let’s get it!

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.