As a kid, Melinda thought she could control her fate through the straps on her Mary Janes: if she buckled them in the back of her foot, she’d have a good day; if she buckled them in the front, it would be a bad day. But then she’d wonder if it would work better the other way around. Melinda now knows that obsessing over stuff like this was her way of coping with extreme anxiety. But until she had her second child, Melinda kept her anxiety completely secret. Even from her husband.
Anxiety is really common among new moms, but lots of people have anxiety, kid or not. Add sleepless nights and a tiny beating heart to the mix, and worrying can get out of control pretty quickly. When Melinda got pregnant with her first child, Langston, her anxiety got so bad she says she felt like she was “drowning inside herself.” And after Langston was born, it got even worse.
When she got pregnant with her second child, Lynnelle, Melinda decided she was going to “outsmart” her anxiety by simply pretending she was relaxed.
Now Melinda sees a therapist and has friends she can confide in. Listen to find out why she felt the need to keep her anxiety secret for decades. And how being African American made coming out about it especially hard.
Resources for Anxiety
If you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety, you can find help through Postpartum Progress and Postpartum Support International. Also read Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts by Karen Kleiman. And if you just want to feel less alone, you can read other people’s maternal worries or share your own at the The Worry Box Project.
If you’re worried about your own worrying, whether you’re a parent or not, check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Also, the most common treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, and you can find a CBT therapist (and learn how to even pick one) through the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Have YOU struggled with anxiety in parenthood or otherwise?
Have you gotten help? Keeping it secret? Do you live in a culture that supports it? Tell us what’s up. In the comments.
Top photo of Melinda and her family: Chelsea Hobson; bottom photo of Melinda and her family: Kelly Lewis