When I was in the height of my postpartum anxiety, I felt claustrophobic. I often felt like the walls were closing in on me and my very little home was getting smaller by the hour.
I was home alone with my new baby most of the time and afraid to do almost anything.
I didn’t even want to tell my husband just how scared of everything I felt in fear he might make some drastic change like quit his job to watch over me or take me to be evaluated where I would reach my inevitable fate in a padded room somewhere.
I wish someone had just told me to go outside.
Everything indoors is lifeless. The furniture, the decor, the pots and pans, the bedding. Nothing has life, it is spiritless.
Stepping outside, no matter where you are, can instantly change your energy.
Look up at the clouds. They’re moving, they’re alive.
Look at the trees. The flowers. A leaf. Watch them as the breeze makes them move.
Close your eyes and listen. There is life all around you, even if it’s just the sound of cars going by in the distance.
When I’m consumed with my own thoughts and fears and caught up in my mind, something as simple as stepping outside reminds me that there is so much going on outside of just me.
There are people all around me, there is life all around me. What is happening in my head is not as big and overwhelming when I breathe in fresh air, unlike the recycled air of our homes.
If someone had told me to just go outside, I might not have been hiding in my bathroom while my baby napped, sobbing to myself in complete fear and confusion.
So I finally did.
I buckled the baby in his car seat and just drove away.
I was so afraid of even just driving with him, for so many reasons, but I knew I needed to get out.
At first I just drove around aimlessly and then headed in the direction of a neighborhood I love. Up and down streets finding new little neighborhoods and beautiful homes.
I saw people out walking their dogs and people with strollers, people driving by me or pulling into markets. People were going about their days. The world seemed ok and it made me feel ok.
Instead of being a paranoid, anxious, inconsolable new mom, I was just another mom with a new baby driving in her car.
I went through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and got an iced coffee and just continued going from one area to another. (If anyone is looking for a new home, I can tell you where all the nicest, hidden neighborhoods are and which to avoid.)
The baby slept in his car seat and I listened to Jack Johnson (quietly) and started to breathe normally.
All of a sudden I felt happy!
My irrational thoughts and fears began to subside and new feelings of hope began brewing.
Suddenly I was picturing my life as a new mom with this beautiful new baby boy with actual pride and excitement! Getting to drive around with my iced coffee and baby who wasn’t old enough to ask where we were going suddenly made me happy!
I eventually made my way back home and opened a bunch of windows. Even though it was chilly outside, the fresh air made me feel so much better. So I decided to open them every day, no matter how cold it was, even just to get some fresh air in the house.
Even now, with a toddler and a 9 1/2 month old baby, I get overwhelmed. I lose my patience. I have anxieties. So I always know when I need to just go outside.
The other evening, my son was having a full blown tantrum over the contents of his dinner. He’s in a phase where he’ll eat 3 things: Pizza, French Fries or Pasta. If it’s anything else, he refuses it. Most days I give up and give in, but this day I had had enough and decided it was time to start eating some healthy foods again.
After about 45 minutes of sitting at the table with him (while feeding the baby in her high chair) and trying everything in my power, including patience, bribery and punishment, and being met with tears, whimpers and screams, I decided we all needed a break.
I said “that’s it! We’re going outside!”
I put the baby in her stroller and let my toddler walk next to me (because he refuses to sit in the double stroller and I didn’t need a second meltdown) and just walked through our neighborhood and returned a book to our friend’s mailbox.
We took the long way home and just talked as we walked.
Sometimes you need a change of scenery.
Sometimes you need some fresh air.
Sometimes we all (toddlers and babies included) just need a friggin break.
Girl, don’t go crazy. Go outside.