I was at the park the other day with Mya and noticed two very different parents.
There was Parent A who happily sat nattering to her friends whilst their child fearlessly launched themselves off the top of a ten foot climbing frame, narrowly escaping permanent paralysis.
And Parent B who followed their child's every move like a shadow, fearing that if they let go of that child they would immediately be taken down by a rogue swing or perhaps Parent A's child falling from the sky!
This got me wondering.
Every parent I know has natural fears and anxieties about their child's health and well-being.
But what happens when these fears become irrational?
When does normal worry and concern turn into something more serious?
What if she stops breathing when I am asleep?
I became so paranoid that for a while I could not lay her on the floor for fear of me tripping and standing on her.
I couldn't sleep without her next to me with my hand resting on her tummy to monitor her breathing.
I couldn't be near an open window without the image of her falling out of it plaguing my thoughts.
When bathing her I would have images of her laying under the water, grey and lifeless having drowned.
And walking with her in the buggy I would imagine myself accidentally letting go and the buggy rolling onto a busy road.
The anxiety became like an alien invasion, very quickly taking over my once rational mind.
When having an intrusive thought, it was like having a nightmare whilst being awake. My imagination would run riot and the vivid images would often bring me to tears.
I found myself hiding away and not leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary. I would not allow anyone else to hold Mya and only ever left her with my fiance for less than an hour at a time.
I went to the doctors and voiced my concerns. The doctor quickly skimmed over my history of depression and prescribed me with anti-depressants.
But I knew I wasn't depressed.
In fact quite the opposite.
I was overjoyed and desperately in love with my new role as a mother.
So why was I feeling this way?
Was I going mad?
Then by pure chance while reading a parenting forum, I stumbled across the term Post-natal Anxiety.
Then it all made sense. I found comfort in reading stories of women who had been through exactly the same as me.
18 months on from the birth of Mya, I still suffer with Post-natal anxiety.
I still have to check she is still alive and breathing in her cot countless times every evening and I am still plagued with constant intrusive thoughts and images on a daily basis. I have my ups and downs but even on a bad day, I have learned how to cope.
Post natal Anxiety, I feel, is over-looked as a condition in its own right. It is far too often treated as Post-natal Depression and while I think medications can help with some of the symptoms of anxiety, it doesn't treat the root cause. I wish I had been offered a form of cognitive therapy instead of being left with a bunch of pills having to battle through alone.
I hope in the future there will be more help through the NHS for dealing with this condition. But in the meantime I would like to say to any one else suffering in silence with this horrible, debilitating condition,
You are not alone.