I’m referring to my anxiety as Postpartum Anxiety, but I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my life. I’m just noticing it taking a different shape since giving birth.
I’m developing a new relationship with my anxiety. I’m taking ownership of it. I’m doing my best to stay in front of it and be proactive. I’m not trying to control it, because I’m finally realizing that I can’t. That has been my losing battle. Trying to control my anxiety. I can’t grip it and tackle it and subdue it. I can’t pack it up in a box and ship it off. I can’t get rid of it. At least, not as of right now. So for now, I’m accepting it as a part of my life and I’m taking a new, more gentle approach to dealing with it.
I’m learning a lot about my anxiety the more I take time to sit with it. When it comes up, I notice it. I feel it. I don’t try to run away from it, because I know I can’t. I just let it be there, making me feel all the awful ways it makes me feel. I’m patient with it. Sometimes I’m strong enough to listen to that faint whisper in the back of my head reminding me it’ll pass. Sometimes, I’m not. But I do feel a new relationship with my anxiety forming, and I have my self-care tools to thank for that.
I use these tools interchangeably. Some days I manage to touch on every single one. Some days I’m lucky if I’m able to find time to take one nice, deep breath. But I’m learning to not use them as a crutch, as I used to in the past. I’m learning to not depend on routine. I’m learning that change and disorder are major triggers for my anxiety, so I lean on routine to feel safe. But that’s not sustainable because routine isn’t natural. Life won’t always fall into place exactly as I need it to. So, I’m learning to go with the flow.
God, that sounds so cliche. But hear me out.
For example, baby started sleeping through the night, which is awesome. She wakes up around 6am, back down around 8am and then I get my day started. I employ all my different self-care tools and take the entire hour to myself. I roll out my mat, stretch, meditate, read my cards, journal, listen to music, use my oils, make my coffee. I. Feel. Great.
Then, the past couple of nights, she woke up a bit earlier. Closer to 5 am. But then she’d fall back asleep and sleep until 8am. I’d go back to sleep in between and wake up exhausted and disoriented. But I was determined to stick to my routine. Only this time, I gave myself some space to go with the flow. I didn’t know when exactly she’d wake back up, so I just did what felt good. I woke up in time to get the kids out the door for school with their dad. I can’t start my routine until after they leave. So once they left, I gathered my things and sat on my mat and took some deep breaths. I still managed to touch on all my tools, just not the same way I had been the past few days. And I still felt great afterwards. Even though my morning looked different, even though I used my tools differently...I still felt great.
And that’s when it hit me. I don’t need routine in order to feel safe. I don’t need order. I need a calm mind. I need to be gentle with myself. And forgiving. I need to have a sense of humor. I need to go with the flow.