Dealing with Anxiety In Pregnancy
I've always suffered from anxiety.
It was never debilitating, never has it resulted in panic attacks (but that's panic disorder, I've learned, and a whole different thing all together) and to be quite honest, it only intensifies when I'm in a medical facility, a disorder known as white coat hypertension.
It's only natural that anxiety intensifies when you're pregnant. And while worry is natural when you're pregnant, excessive worry isn't. Especially when coupled with disrupted sleep patterns, irrational worry at every twitch my body makes, and in my case, a spike in blood pressure whenever I'm at the doctor's.
You know what nurses, or people tell me? "Relax."
Trust me, I fucking would, if I could. I would if it were that easy.
My anxiety stems from wanting the best possible environment for my baby's health, and while it's completely natural to worry when you're pregnant, blood pressure elevations that I experience isn't the healthiest, which is why I've decided to start going to a therapist for the first time in my life to manage this. As I'm told, there's a huge difference between worrying, and an all-consuming anxiety, which could also be diagnosed as antenatal anxiety.
Why Seek Help?
Like I mentioned, while my anxiety isn't crippling, and I am not planning to consume any anxiety-related medication to relieve me, research has actually shown that women who have untreated anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have severe episodes of postpartum depression after baby is born. So although anxiety and depression don’t necessarily occur together, they are closely related. And besides, I needed coping tools so I don't drive myself crazy.
And while it's still an uphill climb for me and I'm determined to manage my anxiety, here are some things you can try too if you suffer from white coat hypertension, anxiety, or anything related to that.
How to Deal?
Meditate I've long believed in the power of prayer, having grown up as a Muslim but meditation isn't something I've dabbled with before. I never thought I was capable — there are too many thoughts running through my mind that most times, I was never present in any real moment. And so I decided to change that. Through a series of guided meditation sessions on Spotify, I would prop myself up in bed, in the darkness at the end of my day and be present, focusing on breathing techniques taught to me by my therapist.
Stop Fucking Googling In a world fuelled by hypochondriacs googling their symptoms and stressing out about their impending death, I reign supreme. It may be one of the reasons I've watched Grey's Anatomy since day one, and only stopped since I found out I'm pregnant. Every twitch, every dull ache was a cause for concern until I made it a point to physically stop Googling. I bought a book instead (which is better anyway, because Google is NOT research). Of course, going through the weeks, seeing doctors and getting reassurances that my baby is healthy definitely helps.
Refuting the 'What Ifs'. In all honesty this has been the hardest part, probably because all my life, my first reaction to anything is worry — and then it goes to 'what if'. I have a “Catastrophic” thought distortion, in which I come to the worst possible conclusion, and despite from experience it's never going to be all bad, because reality is usually complex and multifaceted; most situations are a combination of positive and negative elements. I've learned thatfocusing only on the negative ones tends to make us miserable for no good reason. A dull ache means my uterus is stretching to make way for the baby, a back ache means my boobs are massive (they are) and I probably need to chill the fuck out from whatever I'm doing.
It's an uphill climb, but I'd love to hear your experiences overcoming anxiety, whether in pregnancy or otherwise.