Mom's Viral Facebook Post Reveals the Struggles of Postpartum Anxiety
"Only the strongest people admit that they need some help."
For Kendra Barnes, 30, of Louisville, Kentucky, anxiety has always an uphill battle. But when the mother-of-two first gave birth to her daughter, her symptoms worsened to the point where life was almost unmanageable.
"It took my anxiety to a whole new level," Barnes told Best Life. "I had insomnia and needed to control even the most minute details. I was so paralyzed with worry over every single little choice."
While postpartum depression is well-known, postpartum anxiety receives less attention, even though some estimates say it affects over 15 percent of pregnant and postpartum women.
"I figured maybe everyone feels this way and other people just deal with it better, so I just learned to keep it to myself," she said. "Then I started opening up about it to some of my closest friends, and the resounding response was, 'Me too.' And it just made me realize that this is so much more normal than I've been led to believe, and the problem is just that nobody is talking about it."
Last May, she saw a doctor, who explained that anxiety was a real, physiological disorder, in which your brain "sends that same amount of adrenaline out when you're just driving your car or sitting at your desk" as it would when you're "trying to outrun a bear." She prescribed medication, and while there's no "cure" for anxiety, taking a pill every night has made day-to-day life more manageable.
"It has allowed me to function so much more effectively and navigate those menial situations without those feelings of panic," she said.
This year, Barnes and her best friend, René, started a blog called Daylight to Dark, where they write inspiring posts about the struggles of motherhood. On September 12, Barnes wrote a lengthy post on the blog's Facebook page about her journey with anxiety and the relative relief that taking medication has yielded, and it went viral, gaining over 12,000 shares in just over a week.
"There's a misconception surrounding anxiety in our culture," she wrote in the post. "We've minimized the reality of anxiety while simultaneously elevating busyness. Anxiety has almost become the evidence of achievement."
"If you need the medicine, you're not weak, because only the strongest people admit that they need some help," she added.
Barnes was surprised by the responses, as well as touched by the many people who thanked her for giving a voice to the feelings that they have struggled with in silence. She hopes that the post will help people who don't have anxiety understand that the mood disorder isn't just "stress," but, rather, a physiological response that someone can't control.
"True anxiety isn't just the normal stressors of daily life that everyone experiences," she said. "It's debilitating." And she hopes it encourages other people who may suffer from anxiety to speak out and know they're not alone. "The more we talk about this, the more normal it becomes and the more people will be willing to seek treatment."
And if you're looking to beat back your own anxiety, steal these 12 Genius Tricks for Turning Anxiety into Excitement.
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