As I mentioned yesterday, this week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. For the remainder of the week I will be posting articles and resources to help bring awareness to the struggles with depression and anxiety that affect 1 in 7 new moms.
Intrusive thoughts are exactly what they sound like- they are unwanted and often distressing thoughts that pop into your head and can be hard to get rid of. For new moms these thoughts are especially anxiety provoking because they often are about harm coming to your baby. Sometimes graphic images come with the thoughts, and they can be hard to shake. These thoughts can bring shame and embarrassment. Often moms do not want to tell anyone that they are having these thoughts, because they think there must be something terribly wrong with them if they are having these awful thoughts about their baby.
These intrusive thoughts are common, especially in women that are experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression. They do not mean that something is wrong with you, or that you are a bad mom.
These thoughts are not you! They do not make you a bad mom. They do not mean that you will harm your baby. They are a product of your brain, your very busy brain. Please do not feel like you must keep these thoughts to yourself. Talk to your partner, a family member, another mom, or even a counselor or therapist if you are struggling. You are not alone!
In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Terra LaRock bravely talks about her experience with intrusive thoughts:
I noticed that every so often I would get these flashes of the worst case scenario happening to my baby. From falling down the stairs, to hitting her head accidentally on the door as I walked down the hallway, to her suffocating in her sleep, it was as if my mind was hijacked by every terrible tragedy I had read about or seen in my lifetime.
The thoughts became so bad that I became scared to hold my daughter. I was afraid that if held her, the thoughts would be prolonged. Therefore, I thought that if I didn’t see her or hold her for awhile, that they would stop and would no longer be triggered. I knew that this seemed irrational and most of all, physically impossible since I was still breastfeeding and I was of course, her mother.
If this article was helpful to you, or you know someone it might help, please take a moment now to share this post. The more we talk about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, the less stigmatized they will be. Thank you!