So I am not going to lie…when I found out I was pregnant I felt equal parts panic and joy. That initial moment when you realize that there is a life growing inside you is something so powerful, no words can describe. The joy outweighed the uneasy feelings but those fears of “what if” scenarios loomed. The panic I felt stemmed from two things: 1) how this pregnancy would affect my panic disorder; 2) how this pregnancy and baby would affect the business I worked so hard to build.
I have been very hesitant to even share this post. As a businesswoman and a small business owner sharing your weaknesses seems like a faux pas. I, however, try to be very open about the struggles I have faced with panic and anxiety. I want other women who suffer to know that you are not alone. I have suffered from panic attacks since early childhood. They are not the result of any family struggles or a tragic event. Once the first one happened, there was always the fear of when the next one would occur. Sometimes I would go months without any and then other months it was a struggle to leave the house.
When it came to treatment, I was always putting a Band-Aid on things. I gravitated towards what I thought would be an immediate fix: medication. Over the years I grew increasingly more dependent on my pills. I would spiral into panic if I went out and realized that they weren’t with me. I was complacent with this existence until my husband and I began to discuss making a family.
In a desperate realization that my current dependence on medication would no longer be an option if I were to become pregnant, I finally took action. In the year prior to becoming pregnant, I discovered a treatment called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Psych Central defines CBT as “a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.” With the guidance of my amazing therapist at the Houston OCD Program, we induced panic symptoms and then identified ways to cope with those symptoms. The process was arduous and daunting but the outcome has been unbelievable. Below are links to some helpful tools my therapist introduced me to:
Mindfulness Exercises: These have been so great for me on a daily basis. Even if you don’t have panic, these are great tools!
Leaves on a Stream: The most soothing way to calm down, in my opinon.
An End to Panic: If you want to further understand your own struggles with panic, or want to understand someone else’s
I also absolutely love this F*ck That Guided Mediation that was recommended to me by our client and a dear friend, Laina Caltagirone. Laina also runs a great get-away, Soulcation, for those of you who need to reboot! I will be trying this out post baby.
Four to five months into my treatment, I found out I was pregnant. I cannot say it was easy to transition to a new safer medication and a much lower dosage. But I feel more and more empowered with each and every day that I go growing this baby, managing my panic and running my business. I have realized that all the imaginary scenarios of panic I was envisioning were just that, imaginary.
The baby girl growing in my belly is a constant reminder that I am unbelievably strong. She motivates me to work harder than ever, be more creative and fight my fears. If I can run a business, have a social life and even grow a human, so can you!
Now that I am 30 weeks into this pregnancy, those fears are still present. However, my unborn daughter and my sweet husband push me to be stronger and more successful than I ever realized was possible.
I am by no means a therapist or a psychiatrist so please consult your physician for treatment. This post is only meant to serve as inspiration that we are all capable of managing our fears. I would love to hear about other helpful resources! So please feel free to leave your comments below.