I’ve seen you.

I’ve seen you desperately cling to your baby while leaving him with a sitter for the first time.

I’ve seen the glare on your face from your cell phone while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, desperate for sleep to come.

I’ve seen you fire off a concerned email to the day care director at the first whiff of staff change.

I’ve seen you question almost every decision you make.

I’ve seen you chew your nails down to nubs imagining everything that could possibly go wrong.

I’ve seen you fearful to leave your home.

I’ve seen you pretend you were fine and believe things would just get better on their own.

I’ve seen you. I know you. I was you.

Postpartum anxiety sank its teeth into me when I became a first-time mom, but I didn’t get help until after the birth of my second son. I spent the first 18 months of my firstborn’s life as a bundle of nerves. What I would learn over time is that these worries were not that of typical first-time moms. They were all-consuming and relentless.

Instead of getting help, I decided to just suffer through it, believing it would get better on its own. I’ve always been an anxious person, so I figured I could just deal with it.

By the time I was pregnant with my second child, my anxiety had slightly waned. My oldest child was two years old and a lot of the fears I had when he was a baby had simply faded as he grew older. 

But in my mind, I knew the anxiety wasn’t gone. It was simply hiding dormant, waiting for the next opportunity to rear its head. I knew I didn’t want to relive that level of extreme anxiety and stress like I did with my firstborn. I told myself I would get help as soon as I started having anxious thoughts.

It took almost two months after the birth of my second son for my postpartum anxiety to show up—or get to a point where I could no longer ignore it. And this time around, it was stronger. Anxious thoughts became obsessive, and would last for days. Sleep was no longer my reset button.

I was in a constant state of extreme exhaustion and fearful of how I was feeling. I knew I needed help. My husband knew it too.

I called my OB and made an appointment to talk to her. I also called a therapist.

Those two calls are the best decisions I made.

I got the help I needed and my life now as opposed to just a few months ago is a complete 180. I feel more like myself than I have in years. I feel happy and free.

So mama, if you find yourself drowning in worries and anxious thoughts, know you’re not alone. Even though your affliction may be invisible, you are not.

Whatever your path may be—talk therapy, medication, prayer, support group—make that call and take that first step toward freedom. There’s light out there for you.

Kendra Perley

Kendra is a mom to two beautiful boys, and partner to an incredibly patient husband. When not wrangling boys or typing words, she has a fond appreciation of art, yoga, and humor. You can read more about her take on motherhood on her blog, The Maternal Canvas. Find her on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.