What inspired me for this month’s topic? Well, May is Mental Health Month and May 1st was World Mental Health awareness day. How can awareness be spread if we don’t share our stories? So, this is what I’m doing today, sharing my story with you. And let me tell you, sharing this petrifies me.
Certain areas of the world have as many as 1 in 5 new mothers experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
One in five! Think about that next time you’re in line at the grocery store, or in a room with friends. One in five! I am 1 in 5 except I didn’t realize it until 5 years after the fact. I had some mood swings when I was pregnant with my first child. But nothing compared to what I experienced when I was pregnant with my second.
I hesitate to write this blog. I hesitate to put myself out there, online for all to see forever.
I think I’d rather talk about my pelvic health and pee-zing issues. But that will be for another post. So now I wrestle with this fear, this embarrassment. But that’s also why I will hit the publish button. For everyone to see. For that parent who is looking for help, for connection, for someone to say “Yes I’ve been there, it’s terrifying but there is help”. I didn’t know I needed help. I just thought I was going crazy. But you are not going crazy! Your partner is not going crazy! Your adult child is not going crazy! They need to hear that this is common. They need to have a safe environment to unload their thoughts. They need to talk about it, to write it down, without fear of being judged.
Physically, my pregnancies were fine. I was a bit nauseous, but I never had morning sickness. It was the emotional and mental struggles that got to me. I’m not sure when the depression started. It’s all a blur now. All I remember is laying for hours and hours in my bed, hoping that it would stop. Not wanting to move. Not wanting to eat. Not wanting to live. Praying that it would stop. This little creature inside of me was driving me mad! I even considered ending the pregnancy at one point. I contemplated suicide. Jumping off an overpass. Just ending the torment in my head. That was, without a doubt, the darkest moment I have ever experienced. The only thing that held me back was my husband. I just couldn’t leave him. Days and weeks passed like this. It finally got a bit better. The last trimester was easier. The birth went great and I pushed those dark memories aside.
I didn’t realize until YEARS later that I had suffered from prenatal depression.
Just like postpartum depression, except during pregnancy. I learned about it while studying for my postpartum doula certification with Doula Canada. Why don’t we hear about this? Why aren’t there posters plastered in the office of every OB, doctor and midwife?
I didn’t mention it to anyone. Not one soul. Not even to my midwives. I was mortified about my feelings. Ashamed. I didn’t tell anyone about my experience. It was only years later that I told my husband. Even then, I didn’t give him all of these details. He’ll read about them when he edits my blog. And you know what? After all these years I am still ASHAMED about my feelings, my depression. Even though on an intellectual level, I know that it wasn’t my fault. Now that I’ve acknowledged my prenatal depression, it’s time for me to heal from it.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from a perinatal mood disorder, don’t despair! There is help! Some may need professional therapy and medication. Some may just need support. The key is to have a safe environment where women are encouraged to talk about it. To seek help. A great resource is the Pacific Post Partum Support Society.
If you’d like, I ask that you share your story below. One in five women suffer from these disorders. Let’s support them. Let’s support ourselves. Let’s open up the dialogue.