This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been meaning to carve out time to address this for months.
The #1 most asked question I get isn’t how we pay for this lifestyle, or how we chose our setup, or how we decide where to go next.
No, the most frequently asked question is how do I manage fulltime travel with kids when I’m also dealing with anxiety.
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time on my Baby Rabies platforms, you know I speak often and openly about fighting postpartum anxiety after each of my babies is born. It hits me every time between 4-6 months postpartum, so that means that I got walloped with it again about this time last year. Yup, right after we committed to making this leap.
Because it was my 4th time to deal with it, I knew to expect it, and I had a plan in place. Taking control began with calling in the prescription for Lexapro that I already had on file from my midwife. And while that was relatively easy, even with a plan in place and a prescription ready to go, I still had to get through it.
So all of that is to say that last summer was hard. Really, most of last year was HARD. I haven’t spoken a whole lot about it because I’m really just now coming out of it. I’d say it feels like I’ve shaken it over the last couple months.
But last year was really about self preservation in a lot of ways. I had to focus on preparing ourselves for this trip (staging and selling our house, buying the RV, organizing plans, etc.), and I had to make writing my book a priority. I got that email from my publisher, asking me to write the book I’d been dying to put out into the world for over a decade, at the beginning of last August. Postpartum anxiety has taken a lot from me over the years, but it was NOT going to take a book deal.
So I knew I needed to scale back on things like blogging. I didn’t get this platform up and off the ground earlier last year like I had hoped, and I let my Baby Rabies blog simmer for a while, though I had lots of help from my now managing editor who kept that ship afloat for me. Thank goodness for her, because, well, that platform is primarily how we make a living.
But we made those changes and kept things in focus because this trip REALLY meant a lot to us, and we knew that I’d probably begin this journey while battling postpartum anxiety and OCD, but hopefully I would make my way through it before we ended the trip. We never once thought about postponing on account of my mental health, but I’ll be honest and say there were some times last year when I really worried if I had just made things worse for myself.
That’s kinda the nature of my anxiety, though. Worry is constant. Worst case scenarios are ever present in my mind. I was always talking myself out of trying to talk myself out of this.
I put up a video today all about this, and I got very real and candid about my symptoms, how I have beaten it each time, and one of my favorite coping techniques. I also talk briefly about this book, which I think has helped me understand the science behind a lot of my anxiety. (I haven’t even begun the 8 weeks of exercises yet, and I still have found SO MUCH value in the rest of the book.)
If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s basically what I said in reply to the question everyone always asks.
No, my postpartum anxiety wasn’t THE reason we decided to do this. No, I don’t think this trip has helped me or made my postpartum anxiety worse. It’s just been something I’ve had to navigate and deal with. I shudder at the thought of anyone thinking I did this so I could be closer to nature because nature supposedly cures mental illness. That line of thinking is a slap in the face to people who deal with mental illness.
If anything, as I mentioned before, being out in nature, especially with the kids, can make my anxiety flare up even more. So how do we manage that? Before we launched, it was really important to me that we put a lot of thought into safety- from the kind of truck and RV we got, to the car seats, to a system to keep the kids from getting in the way while we hitch and unhitch.
And now that we’re on the road, we are always communicating with each other and with the kids about safety hazards. We try to be very aware of our constantly changing surroundings. We remind the kids every day that they can have fun and explore but they must listen to us and stay alert when we are out.
But mostly… the comfort comes from seeing them conquer new places and realizing they are more competent than I give them credit for… most of the time.These days, managing my anxiety on the road means being very intentional and slowing down my own thoughts as quickly as I can before they begin to spiral. It’s reminding myself of all the hard things we’ve already done, and knowing we’re only going to get better at doing them. I’m not on medication anymore, though I was for most of 2017. I was able to wean myself off of them, but I do have a prescription at the ready, which I can fill at any Walgreens around the country if I need it. I also have a few apps that can connect me to a therapist online if I feel like I need to talk to someone.
Generalized anxiety is just always going to be a part of my life, and usually it’s much easier to manage than the more acute postpartum anxiety episodes I deal with. I refuse to put my life on hold because of fear, but we are also always trying to be intentional and responsible about our stress levels, and that’s always a work in progress.
As I mentioned in my video, I’m always open to answering more specific questions, though sometimes it may take me a while to respond. I hope that this post and my video helped clarify at least a little bit about this part of my personal journey.