I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life, although until about 2 years ago I had no idea it affected me as much as it can some days. I’ve learned during this past year that there are ways I can cope with anxiety for pregnancy, as well as other times. Ways I wasn’t too sure about before all of this.
No surprise that after losing my twins at 20 week last year my anxiety skyrocketed to epic proportions. I was terrified of losing my daughter, my husband being in a car accident, getting a call about one of my siblings or parents dying. Once I became pregnant again with this baby, the stress of a high risk pregnancy compounded to a level I wasn’t even sure how to begin to deal with. Night terrors with panic attacks, replaying scenes of how to avoid the hospital in case of another loss, that worry that at any moment it would all crash down on me again.
I’ve been seeing a grief and loss therapist since last August. Initially recommended for my daughter who experienced almost all of the trauma we went through with the loss, her therapist also became mine.
As my anxiety passed from “What if I lose this baby” to the labor, birth, and trauma of the hospital from last time; the therapist has implemented a different technique with me to try to focus those thoughts to something else. It’s more of a relaxation technique than meditation – and it works.
To be honest, I was really skeptical of this method. Even before ever trying, I’d hear people talk about it or see it on something and roll my eyes. How could you relax by sitting in a chair and having someone talk to you with your eyes closed?
Then we tried it one day. At first I was unsure of what really to do. I tried to sit very still and not move so that I wouldn’t distract myself. My mind ran with the lists of things I had to do or was doing wrong while she spoke, sometimes I’d even jolt myself back to reality and think, “Oh goodness, did she just tell me to do something (like think of a comforting thought) and I missed it?” It was hard to focus.
We do relaxation exercises. These consist of things physically, like tightening muscles and letting go while focusing on my breathing. They also are mental, when I picture a worry of mine and then describe it to her, eyes closed and like I’m replaying a movie.
Those are hard. Often I still end up in tears from flashing back to losing my twins.
It reminds me a lot of savasana at the end of yoga. She assures me that to be able to let go completely, for longer than a few seconds, takes a lot of practice. I can make it about 5 seconds and then a few minutes later I’ve mentally worked through cleaning my house and listing my work for the week without even knowing I’ve gone there.
But it’s working. Slowly, slowly. It works a little at a time to calm myself down in moments I’m afraid. To take time to mentally unwind from something. Just to relax. I’m hoping to tie it into this birth as well, to focus on what is going on rather than send myself into a frenzy of what happened last time.
Photo Credit: my own