At 6 months pregnant with our daughter, I was diagnosed with Prenatal Depression. It’s a topic that’s hardly discussed and with great embarrassment, I feared my family wouldn’t believe me. My partner was in and out of the country and up until the 36th week of pregnancy when he came back, I had never felt lonelier in life. I was surrounded by friends and family with several of my girlfriends travelling halfway down the country to support me but still, I would cry in every spare second alone. I felt ashamed of the dosage of Sertraline I took daily and as I became increasingly bigger and drastically more tired, I’m sad to say that I doubted myself as a Mother and girlfriend, daughter, sister and friend.
It took me over a month to accept help from my GP. I was in denial for so long that looking back, I put myself and my unborn baby at risk. I assumed that the lows I was experiencing were natural and that my lack of appetite and feelings of body consciousness came with the job description of carrying a child. But as the recurring nightmares of losing my child became more harrowing and the lack of sleep amounted to forgetfulness during my working day, I came to the absurd conclusion that my partner didn’t love me anymore and that the sweet child inside me was punishment for the grief of miscarriage we had suffered the previous year. I would forget my house keys, my phone, my purse and any sense of direction and one snowy January evening on my way home from work, I snapped. Locked out of my house with 2% phone battery, I had a breakdown on the front door step. I’ve experienced a panic attack once in my life before and luckily because of this, I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack. Once I had stabled my breathing sheltering under the porch in the falling snow and failing to contact the closest member of my family, I used the remaining 1% of phone battery to call an Uber to my sister’s house, 40 minutes away. One of the biggest regrets of my life was not asking for the driver’s name – I hands down believe that he saved my life that night and I want to thank him, wherever he is today. He charged my phone for me and kept me talking, asking me questions about the baby names, my family, my favourite kind of cake and where I want to go most in the world one day; all the whilst handing me tissues from the front seat to dab at my tear stained face, he kept smiling, and made me smile too.
The next day, I called in sick at work and saw my GP. Without knowing where to start, I walked in smiling and asked him how his day was going. When he returned the smile and asked me how he could help, I choked on my words. Silently letting the tears stream down my face, i pursed my lips tightly shut. I knew that if I even attempted to speak, the loudest howl would escape mirroring the sound I had made upon hearing I’d lost a child. What followed from here on were weekly check-ins, until 3 weeks later when I accepted medicinal help. Counselling had felt like the biggest waste of my days and whilst I am in no way knocking CBT, it’s just not for everybody. I’d given it a go and I’d felt silly, mocked almost. I didn’t want to make a flower of my feelings or discuss the relationship I had with my parents. I was feeling deserted and unprepared and I could not sleep and no, I was not prepared to wake up my partner in the night and ask him to help me “ground myself” by handing me a teddy bear. Accepting antidepressants felt like an easy route out of the problem but I was desperate. By this point I wasn’t sleeping out of fear, none of my clothes fit me and I had become a social recluse. I was also in Obstetrics twice weekly and experiencing the worst IBD flares I’d ever had. At 38 weeks it was decided that being pregnant for any longer that i needed to be wouldn’t be the best idea and so on our due date, I was induced.
Despite the fears I had concocted for myself about motherhood, I’m proud to say that I’m actually doing an okay-ish job. I even have a T-shirt which says this, thanks to one great friend and another frequently reminds me that I’ve managed to keep myself, my new baby and even herself going, through the upside down times. It’s only recently dawned on me that women are remarkably strong creatures and no matter how guilty I felt about having depression at a time when I should have been at my strongest, I can look back and forgive myself. Shortly after our daughter was born I realised that I didn’t need antidepressants anymore to keep me going each day. I weaned myself off them probably a little too quickly for my GP’s liking, but when you’re on 17 other daily tablets for another condition, the thought of one extra was just a little too much. I also no longer needed something to help me sleep, because parenthood is medicine enough to make someone tired.
For more information on Pre and Postnatal Depression, head on over to PANDAS, a charity dedicated to helping parents with perinatal mental illness <3 xoxo