I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Why am I not happy to be pregnant like everyone says I should be? Prenatal depression crept in on me slowly over months without me even realizing it. The thought of being a Mom was completely overwhelming. My pregnancy was unexpected…not planned. My boyfriend was excited for a new baby but I couldn’t stop thinking of it as a life sentence in prison. Looking back, I had glaring signs of depression very early on in my pregnancy. I was so tired but anytime I laid down my thoughts would spiral into every worse case scenario. I couldn’t sit on the couch to watch a movie without losing concentration or fidgeting constantly. I stopped doing anything that used to feel joyful, spending time with friends, exercising, and family events. I completely isolated myself. I told very few people about my pregnancy because I just did not want to talk about it ever. I think I cried every day for the whole 9 months…and not just tears, sobbing uncontrollably. The guilt I felt about being pregnant suffocated me. I kept thinking “Some people would give anything to be pregnant right now, so don’t complain. Be grateful. Don’t let anyone else know that you’re not ready for this”.
I was about 7 months pregnant and feeling at my absolute lowest. I took the day off work because I could not cope with helping others deal with their problems while I was consumed with mine. On that day, the recurring thoughts of death started. I truly believed that I would be the worst Mom in the world and that everyone would be better off without me. It was an escape fantasy. I didn’t necessarily want to die but I knew that I didn’t want to be a Mom and death seemed like the only way out. I was home alone and was fantasizing about suicide. I was so broken. I don’t know what happened in that moment but I suddenly remembered my midwife telling me about a clinic nearby that dealt with women experiencing mood disorders. I called immediately and got someone’s voicemail. I hung up without leaving a message and just kept thinking “If I don’t get help right this insistent I will kill myself today.” I called back three times before actually speaking to a person. They asked me all the standard questions and told me that there was quite a long waitlist for the services. It was very disheartening to hear. I don’t know if the woman on the other line could hear the desperation in my voice or if it really was just luck, but soon after I got an email that they had a last minute appointment for the next day. I felt hopeful for the first time.
I was put on medication to stabilize my mood but after 2 months I still wasn’t feeling better. I had no time left; it was time to give birth. I expected to not feel any attachment towards my baby. I was warned by many professionals that it might happen to me. I was shocked to find that wasn’t true. I was in love with my baby the minute they put him on my chest. I felt elation. And that warmth in my chest lasted! I was on cloud nine with my cute little family for about a month. I believed that my depression was cured just like that. I was very wrong. As soon as my partner went back to work I took a nosedive. Dealing with a mental health crisis while learning to care for a newborn baby is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Then add in a global pandemic on top of it. I begged my psychiatrist to switch my meds. I could not sleep, I couldn’t relax. I was also struggling with undiagnosed postpartum anxiety. What I didn’t know is that it would take over a year to get the right combination of medications, therapy and support to start feeling a little bit normal.
My son just turned 1 and I am still in recovery from PPD/PPA. I am inspired and determined to help other women who have felt the same way. I’ve heard that the transition to Motherhood takes about 2 years but for women who go through untreated depression or anxiety they can suffer as long as 5 years or longer. The hardest part about going through my struggle was having to be an advocate for myself. I had to be strong enough to demand help from professionals. I had to be brave enough to be vulnerable and honest. I have no idea where I pulled that strength from when I was at my lowest but I know that if I hadn’t saved myself I wouldn’t be here right now. Now I run a support page that highlights the various issues that Mothers are going through in hopes that it will resonate with someone. I am doing loads of research on postpartum/prenatal mood disorders and the factors that contribute to them. My goal is to spread awareness and to create community. The feelings we go through as mothers are so common, and starting a conversation about them will let others know that even though we’re apart, we’re not alone.