Living With Anxiety, Mum Style

Life with anxiety

R and I made a trip to Universal Studios, Singapore last year. We rode an amazing roller-coaster that gave me the heebie-jeebies. ‘But I would totally do that again,’ I told R afterwards. ‘It was addictive.’ Now, several months later, my wish has been fulfilled. My life has basically transformed into a roller-coaster—one that scares me to death, but one I cannot imagine changing. Life with a baby when you suffer from anxiety can be downright crazy. Some days, I don’t even know how I function. Let me demonstrate.

The baby hasn’t been pooping for a while. Oh well, he seems happy. Don’t breastfed babies poop less frequently anyway? But…what if he is constipated? Maybe that weird noise he was making has something to do with it? Should I call the doctor? But…didn’t she check him just two days ago and assure you all was well?

Ah, stupid you. Go and take a shower while he is napping. Get that heady smell of spit-up and milk off with that nice shower gel you bought on impulse.

Ah, the water feels terrific against my skin. It is as if all my exhaustion is getting washed away. I feel like a new person. One who is happy and peaceful and mindful and believes in embracing the moment.

So…what should I think about?

Perhaps the chicken curry I am going to cook for dinner. Or, that nice dress R bought for me as a treat.

But hey, did the baby poop yet?! What if something is wrong with him? What if he has been sobbing away as I have lathered my skin with that dratted strawberry soap? It doesn’t even smell all that good! Damn you, shower!

I then proceed to walk to the nursery all drenched, little droplets of water gathering around my feet. The angel child is sleeping peacefully, his right arm covering his eyes.

‘You are fine,’ I get told. ‘Every parent worries about their baby. It is normal.’

‘Of course it is,’ I agree emphatically and shrug my shoulders.

When no one is looking, I scroll through pictures on my phone. Does that look like a skin rash? Doesn’t his head seem weird? Why do his eyes seem so droopy? A voice in my head begins to rationalize everything.

You are ridiculous. He is perfectly well. He is a happy, healthy baby. All babies fall ill from time to time. They cry from time to time too, for that is how they communicate. As they grow older, they become more independent, more mobile, more resilient. You won’t have to fret quite as much. Diaper rashes and erratic feeding will give way to homework troubles and squabbles with classmates and puppy love and career confusions. He will be able to talk to you. It won’t all be a mystery.

There you go. You are an intelligent, sensible woman. Do not worry so.

Okay, I won’t.

Not until fifteen minutes have gone by anyway. Then, we will begin again.

If reading that was exhausting, imagine how living it must be like. But fortunately for me, I have learnt that I am not a party of one.

Having a baby is a traumatic experience for both the body and the mind. It exposes you to so many raw truths about the world, about yourself. There is a massive hormonal dip that makes your spirit all woozy, receiving generous aid from sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and cabin fever. In such a scenario, said my doctor, it is common to experience postpartum anxiety. Sometimes, it is also accompanied by postpartum depression. What is important to remember is that it is all normal and manageable. Overreacting is part of our survival instinct which makes us want to do everything in our power to protect and nourish our children. Anxiety does get better with time, if managed properly. This too, like everything else, the good and the bad, shall pass.

Excuse me now, as I go and check on my cutie-patootie for about the hundredth time today. He has recently started to roll over to his belly and seems hell-bent on teaching himself to roll the other way. Life is so full of potential that it is absurd for Mommy to expect him to be patient until he masters it. Sigh.

Picture: http://abravelife.com/

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If Mom Had Been Here Today

If Mom had been with me today, she would have made me a hot cup of coffee in the morning. She would then have forced me to go and sit in the sunshine and listen to the birds as she soothed my baby into his nap. I would have felt the sun warm my skin and my soul. I would have stretched my arms, sore from rocking and holding the baby for hours on end, and smiled up at the blue sky. Continue reading

I Believe We Once Had a Sun

Well, I cannot be sure anymore. It has been over a month since I last saw it. This morning, I stood in the balcony with a cup of coffee and tried hard to ferret it out. I looked at this corner of the sky and that, squinted, even burnt one finger, but nope, no sun. The sky was lined with bad-weather clouds; thunder growled ominously in the distance. It is official: the golden glob over our heads is a thing of the past.

In this sun-less world, I barely get by. The laundry needs to be artificially dried, which means our dryer is perpetually on. Just one of the many perks of having a newborn in the house who looks his most content when he is pooping. After a long night of glorious sleep—give me a moment to do a deep-belly laugh here please—all I want to do is feel the sun on my skin. But all I get are raindrops. And dampness. And mosquitoes. And a general brooding sense of malaise. Continue reading

The Incredible Reason I’ve Been MIA

Ironically, the last post on this blog was about reaching a personal zenith (completing the April Blogging Challenge) and veering dangerously toward zero immediately after. Today, more than 2.5 months since that post, I am here, accepting that life indeed throws zeniths and zeroes in quick succession (even simultaneously?). But behind this absence lies a reason that I am still struggling to fathom. To comprehend. To believe. Continue reading

Zenith, Zero

Switzerland peaks

When I was in Class V, a little boy my age taught me a life lesson. The results for the term exams had just been announced, and I had come first. I was proud and happy, excited about the gifts my family members would get for me. The latest Malory Towers book was certain to be on the list. One of my classmates appeared almost as excited, jumping about, digging into his tiffin box between classes.

“You look happy. How did you do on the exams?” I couldn’t stop myself from asking.

“I came first.”

What a liar! “That can’t be. I came first!”

“Maybe you did, from the top,” he responded nonchalantly. “I am first from the bottom.” Continue reading

You So Happy

Happiness Soap Bubbles

You giggle like a merry child when soap bubbles brush against your cheeks. You look up at the sky—so grey and ominous—and smile as if it were the most awe-inspiring sight you’d ever seen. Your conversations are full of rapture, your eyes full of dreams.

It isn’t that you are particularly young—at least not the young and oblivious they talk about in classic books. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say you were old enough to have experienced loss—of friends and friendship, ambitions, perhaps a parent. Your fluffy yellow sweater with the polar bear imprint doesn’t fit you anymore. I can’t believe that you escape ubiquitous villains in daily life—a tyrant boss, an obsessive ex-lover, or at least a street that gets jam-packed with traffic exactly when you’re in a rush. Continue reading

Xerox Copies

They had already drunk two cups of tea each and finished a trayful of snacks. The conversation had thinned, and there were several silences punctuated by comments on “how polluted Delhi was getting”. But no one made an attempt to get up, grab their bags, and leave. It was 8.30 p.m., and since that was past both my dinner time and reading time, I was getting more fidgety by the minute.

Someone else in the living room fidgeted almost as much as I did. But the limitations of adulthood stopped him from doing anything about it. It was my Dad. Continue reading

Why Working From Home Is NOT a Holiday

Working from home

“So, how is your holiday going? Must be lovely to chill at home.”

“Actually, I am working from home.”

“Yeah, same thing, no?” Titter, titter, chuckle, chuckle.

Amidst large sections of the society lingers the belief that working from home is basically a fancy term for holidaying. You stay in your pyajamas all day, binge-watch your favourite TV shows, eat crisps and wafers and instant noodles, and, when tired of relaxing, turn on your laptop and send a few random e-mails. Working from home isn’t serious work, after all. You don’t have a boss to grill you; you don’t need to commute to the office; you are spared all the grime that comes with being a “working professional”.

Except: Most of that is UNTRUE. Continue reading

Hot Vampires

“He is really hot. Hot enough to get me fantasising about, you know,” a distant cousin winked at me meaningfully. We were at a coffee shop, sipping cappuccinos and nibbling at a cake. The cousin had refused to order a slice of cake for herself because she didn’t want to “get balloon-y”. But that didn’t stop her from taking generous bites of the treat we were supposed to share between us.

“Really? That hot?” I enquired. “But isn’t he kind of creepy? I mean, he is a vampire who goes about slashing throats and sucking blood.”

“I wish he would suck mine.”

Her level of dedication amazed me. She was willing to donate her blood to satiate a random bloodsucker’s hunger only because he was, apparently, hot. This man appeared in a TV series about vampires—a “million times better than that crappy Twilight”—and was the latest obsession in the young girl’s life. Previously, she had fallen for werewolves, zombies, and tomb raiders. These mythical creatures were responsible for most of her sexual awakening.

Vampire

When I was a child, vampires appeared in spooky Dracula films and classic novels. They kept me from going to the bathroom alone at night. I am pretty sure I had crushes on actors from televisions soaps, but they were usually people I could imagine running into in marketplaces, libraries or restaurants. They didn’t slink up on me from dark corners, pretending to like me only because they were thirsty for an iron-rich liquid. Continue reading

Unsettled

I woke up early this morning and sat upright in bed. I had woken with a start and felt extremely tired. Surely, it couldn’t be morning already! No light crept in from my ajar bedroom window; my phone lay silent. But it had to be morning for outside, about a dozen birdies chirped for all they were worth. In fact, they presented quite a rousing orchestra, punctuated by some shrill screeches and a few out-of-tune notes. I love birdsong, but just then, I wanted them to shut up and let me catch a few more minutes of sleep.

I inspected the alarm clock on my bedside table. Continue reading