EPISODE #53

When Are You Gonna Be Normal Again?

EPISODE #53

When Are You Gonna Be Normal Again?

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.

Melinda-Langston-newborn-scaled

When she got pregnant with her second child, Lynnelle, Melinda decided she was going to “outsmart” her anxiety by simply pretending she was relaxed.

Melinda and Langston

Melinda and Langston

Melinda and Lynnelle

Melinda and Lynnelle

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.

Melinda-hero-2

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 concerned about your child’s anxiety, read Freeing Your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky, The Opposite of Worry by Lawrence Cohen, and The Child Anxiety Network.

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

77 thoughts on “EPISODE #53: When Are You Gonna Be Normal Again?

  1. Thanks for sharing your story Melinda. I had a lot of funny coping mechanisms as a kid too, telling myself things like “Do this thing 8 times exactly or you’ll die”. I found it calming, but I swore I would never ever tell anyone about my number obsessions. Later on I ate sweets, used exercise, or obsessed to cope.

    I didn’t address my anxiety until I was in my mid-twenties living abroad and started waking up with panic attacks. The only examples I knew of mental health problems in my family were very serious, so I was terrified I could be schizophrenic. When I finally opened up to my family, they told me many of them had also struggled with depression and anxiety. They hadn’t told me, the youngest child.

    Mental health problems can be addressed at any age and building healthy coping mechanisms takes years of practice. I want to give my own kids that head start by being open with them about feelings and worries, but I do wonder how I will do that without adding to their own worries. I believe Melinda is right that teaching your kids to talk openly about their feeling is really important. For many of us it’s a departure from how we grew up, so it is hard.

  2. By chance, I listened to this episode on my way to my therapist’s office :) I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I never had a name for how I felt until I was an adult. My family has a history of anxiety and depression, and two family members, including my mom, have attempted suicide; but, we have never talked about it. Once I had kids, I feared turning into my mother, and I denied the anxiety and depression. My husband is supportive, but is a “fixer” & always wants to help me solve my problems. I finally decided to get help when my middle child needed treatment for his anxiety. I’ve been in therapy for about 2 years (I only go every couple of months now) and am now taking antidepressants. I wish I could go back in time and seek treatment earlier. I’m fairly open with my children about mental health, and am hoping that earlier treatment will make a difference in my son’s life. Thank you, Melinda, for sharing your story! I am also a speech-language pathologist, and am currently stressing about my 11 year old’s occasional lisp :)

  3. Thanks for sharing Melinda’s story with us. I am a stay at home mom of two gorgeous kids living in Germany. I dealt with anxiety throughout the pregnancies and postpartum. I continue to search for healthy coping mechanisms, which is how I stumbled across this podcast! What amazes me most about motherhood is how ISOLATING it can be. Yet, the stories I hear here are universal and cast a web of belonging all mothers can relate to. I suppose it’s sign of our times: families spread across continents, irregular work schedules, pressure on women to be ‘everything’. I find a lack of community, passing on of wisdom, support and acceptance that I thought was a birthright as a woman. We are together in our aloneness, I suppose. It’s comforting to hear of another woman able to find peace in her situation. I’m still looking for mine.

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