7 May 2015

Depression + Anxiety in Pregnancy 1: Early Days

*This is the first in a series of 4 posts on my experience of depression and anxiety in pregnancy. I hope it is useful and helpful for people to read about, much as this brave post helped me. Warning - trigger post, self harming, risks in pregnancy, mental health*

 Mental health during pregnancy is not talked about - either in books or online anywhere near as much as it should be. I have a history of mental health issues - mostly depression, anxiety, panic attacks and self-harming. All sounding like a great basis from which to become a mum (!) but I've always wanted kids and wanted to be well for them.

Looking back at my pregnancy as a whole, I can see I was subconsciously in denial about being pregnant. I spent most of my pregnancy terrified and anxious - for various rational and irrational reasons. I often felt extreme fear that I just wasn't going to be good enough for this. I wasn't going to be "perfect". 

I felt I was failing because I wasn't dealing with the pregnancy symptoms "well enough". I compared myself to other mums who seemed to carry on as normal when just wanted to lie down in a dark room for the entire time. I beat myself up for for finishing work at 34 weeks not 36 or 37 "like everyone else" because I couldn't cope anymore. I felt inadequate and unprepared for the demands on me - mentally and physically. 

I bought and read a couple of "what to expect when you're expecting" type books. They had sections on colouring your hair in pregnancy, or continuing with botox. The mental health sections were minimal, useless to me. Pregnancy changes you hugely - and with the force of a sledgehammer. There was no going back, I couldn't stop what was happening.

Despite all this, i loved my unborn son with a fierce passion. I talked to him all the time, I played him a lot of music, maybe not the recommended genres (why hello there Rage Against the Machine), I was so excited to feel him wriggle and kick and battle away inside me. And on my psychiatric notes, it was commented that I'd bonded well in pregnancy. So one thing I was doing well. 


Me with small bump 
I knew I was pregnant very early - and this only fueled my anxiety, instead of waiting an extra week or so to test. When I spotted for the first few weeks of  I was crazed with worry that I'd done something wrong. We had a scan at 5weeks - before the heart develops. They could tell very little and could I come back in a couple of weeks? Our next scan was on Valentines day. Everything was fine, I needn't have worried. But nothing stopped the ravenous terror inside me.

I didn't have the best start to having good mental health during my pregnancy. I had to come off my anti-depressants as a major side effect was nausea - this, combined with morning sickness was not fun! Also despite my GP knowing my mental state, I wasn't referred to the specialist pregnancy mental health team at St Thomas' in London, until my lovely midwife (hi there Streatham Valley team) pushed for my referral and spent an hour listening to my worries and history. 

It was humiliating having to list my past mental health trials and tribulations but I put myself through it because I so wanted to be well for my baby and to be the best mum I could be. I put a lot of pressure on myself throughout my pregnancy in this way. (Here's a post on depression from me). I wasn't convinced that anyone could or even would deem me worthy of help but I was very scared of going through my pregnancy at my current level of paranoia and anxiety. Which in itself was a vicious cycle.

Want to know what happened next? Here's part twopart three and part four!


Post Comment Love
Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

22 comments:

  1. I can't imagine how scary coping with pregnancy and being anxious and worried all the time must be. I'm glad you were supported in the end and these posts will help other people in your situation hopefully have the confidence to have a family too xx

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    1. I hope so too lovely and reassure others that they're not alone x

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  2. Wow, you seem to have been through so much. Thank you for opening up about it, I'm sure it's going to help a lot of people. I was very anxious throughout my pregnancy, I have anxiety and so when I had terrible sickness everyday for 20 weeks that didn't help! I've had 2 miscarriages since having M so now I'm petrified of getting pregnant even though I'd LOVE another. You really are a very strong lady and thank you for sharing. Can't wait to read your next installments! Xx

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your losses *gentle hugs* I can't imagine how that must make you feel about trying for another/being pregnant again. I'm really glad you've enjoyed the series and it's been interesting to read x

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  4. I can't even begin to think about how those sorts of things affect people. I am, for lack of a better word, lucky(?) to not have suffered with any of these, apart from some anxiety after giving birth. It's amazing that despite it all you still knew you wanted a family, and you knew you wanted to be well! This is a really good read x
    www.raisingtherings.com xx

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment - I'm glad you found it interesting to read :) x

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  5. A really brave and honest post. Thanks for sharing; I'm sure your candid writing will help many others. Clare xx (Average & Proud)

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  6. This is such an honest post. Thanks for trusting us with your story and looking forward to what had happened next. #pocolo

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    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed it, hope you enjoy the other posts :)

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  7. Such a lovely, honest post. I had depression during and post pregnancy but it was only picked up once little one was 5 months x

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    1. Oh no :( That must have been tough for you :( I hope you are feeling better now. x

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  8. What a brave and honest post. It can't have been easy for you - either going through this or writing it. I do think that it is so important to be able to share stories like this to help others. Well done with how you have coped. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

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    1. Thank you very much, I think it's important to show that a range of experiences in pregnancy is normal, not just the media--tinted version :) x

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  9. Very brave post. I suffered with anxiety after I had my little boy. Thinkit's fab that you're putting this out there xxx

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    1. Thank you, I just hope it helps people It's been very cathartic writing it :)

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  10. You're so right about the lack of information on the impact of pregnancy on mental health. Well done for starting to re-dress the balance (PoCoLo)

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    1. I think it's so hard because even PND is so taboo still and rarely talked about - AND is like the even uglier sister - but hopefully more and more women will seek support.x

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  11. I'm so glad you're sharing how you really felt - all of these posts help people who are equally vulnerable and I hope it helps you too. Thanks for linking up to #MBPW

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    1. It has been really cathartic writing them - and helped me get over some old demons and give me closure on the past. I hope it helps others too :)

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  12. Sounds like such a tough start to pregnancy for you, in so sorry the support wasn't there. Thank you for sharing with #MaternityMatters, your story is important x. Xx

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