Wow. I’ve actually been completely MIA haven’t I! I wrote my last blog in February, literally blinked, and now its September. Scary stuff. So whats been going on in my life since then.. well, I’m now 7 months pregnant with a little girl due in just 9 weeks. Yes, a little girl. She has literally existed in my mind, has been named, and has almost a whole life plan set out for her since I was about ten years old. We are completely ecstatic. Every time I go to an ultrasound my first question is ‘Is it still a girl?’.. I’m just still totally pinching myself and feeling on top of the world. Okay, woah. That was a complete over exaggeration because on top of the world actually doesn’t come close to how I’ve actually been feeling.. the pre-baby blues have got me gooood.
It started about 4 months ago as I was heading into my second trimester. I knew all about Postnatal Depression and Anxiety because I remembered it all too well from when I had Charlie, but during the actual pregnancy with Charlie I never really had any issues with this. It has completely struck me by surprise and turned everything upside down in my life. It came on quite gradually and it didn’t feel so much like a depressed feeling, it was more so anxiety and superrrrr heightened emotions. Where do I even start?
The silent struggle.
I remember feeling so alone. Sitting on the lounge at 3am in a heap of tears with my partner asking me what was wrong, what had happened, why was I so deeply upset? How can I explain to someone else why I’m feeling SO down when I don’t even know why myself? There was stresses in my life like work and your every day stuff but nothing that was justifying this massive breakdown. I just remember feeling so overwhelmed by everything and I was so upset, I was crying like someone had just died. I thought maybe it was just a once off thing and put it down to being overworked and hormonal. But then it kept happening.
I soon found myself having these breakdowns more and more frequently and they would feel more and more intense. After about 2 months it was happening daily. My emotions were all over the place and I was beginning to feel a little emotionally out of control. Simple things that would usually upset me a little bit would now send me into a major breakdown which left my crying for hours. Something that would usually make me a little annoyed would make me feel so enraged inside but the worst feeling was the anxiety.
I’m just not good enough..
Anxiety is something I’ve always had a hard time with but this time it wasn’t ‘coming and going’ like usual.. it was always there. With work (I run an Instagram Giveaway Biz) I was struggling so much. I was struggling to meet deadlines, I was having a hard time accepting any mistakes that would happen because I was so anxious about everyone else thinking I’ve dropped the ball. If a single 6 hour posting reminder was missed it would trigger a full blown anxiety attack. If I didn’t get a graphic to someone in time I was just an absolute mess, like crying my eyes out. I struggled to switch off but the worst time for me was night time. I wasn’t getting any more than 3-4 hours of sleep and would often be awake until 5am with a million thoughts running through my head at a million miles an hour. The number of 2am baths and showers I had to try and switch off my mind? I wouldn’t even be able to tell you! Essential oils? No. Watching TV? No. Podcasts? No. I couldn’t stop these racing thoughts and it was so intense I could feel my heart beating out of my chest for hours on end! ‘What do I have to do tomorrow? I have like 5 loads of washing! And we have a giveaway beginning tomorrow. Shit, I haven’t even started the group DM for it yet. What would everyone be thinking? They will think I’m SO unprofessional. Maybe I’m just not good enough for this anymore. I should just give up’. It is SO hard to explain why or how I was feeling like this but it was so intense. It was torture.
Self doubt. Wow. If you have anxiety and you don’t have a fabulous self esteem as it is then all of your emotions are suddenly heightened – it is chaos. I started doubting absolutely everything about myself and every choice I would make. I literally had a melt down in IKEA because I couldn’t decide between two dressing tables for the Nursery! I was standing there for 90 minutes. I just couldn’t decide. I had to FaceTime 4 different people to help me decide. They all chose the same one but I still didn’t feel confident with the choice. I almost bought them both. Thankfully one ended up being out of stock so I had no choice but to go with the first one. I cried the entire 40 minute drive home because I just wasn’t sure if I’d made the right choice. I’ve never struggled with anything like this before – I was so confused and felt so extremely alone. Although they knew something was going on, I really didn’t feel that I could talk to my friends and family about the extent of what was happening because I just couldn’t explain why. My circumstances just wasn’t justifying my emotions – I felt silly.
I tried to start removing anything that I found was a trigger for these emotions. I decided to go on Mat Leave for work a little earlier (2 more weeks to go now – yay!) so I could focus on wrapping everything up for the year, and I figured it would give me something to look forward to. I even had to unfollow about 20 perfect mummy bloggers that I follow because how insecure they were making me feel – one day a single photo someone had posted left me in tears of insecurities. I wish I could be one of those mums that makes cute little face shaped sandwiches with carrot hair. My kid just ate a bloody Nutella Sandwich for lunch. I wish I had the energy to do a morning stroll every morning. I wish I had time to do my hair and make up everyday. Hell, I wish I just had time to brush my hair a few times a week.
I knew I had to do something.
I felt sick. I felt like I had a disease. I once explained to my partner that I felt like someone else was living inside my body. I sounded crazy but I honestly just did not feel like ‘me’ at all. I felt scared and after about 3 months from when it started I knew I had to do something. The exact moment was actually at 2am on a Tuesday night. I felt more alone then ever, I felt scared imagining how much worse this could get in another 3 months time and I just KNEW I couldn’t go through another night feeling like this. I went to the hospital emergency department and finally reached out for help.
It’s now only been about 3 and a bit weeks since this happened. I went straight onto anti-depressants along with an anti-anxiety medication to get me through the first few weeks until the others kick in. For me this was a huge decision. I’ve never wanted to be on tablets, especially as there are risks involved during pregnancy but after some convincing, although I think I knew it all along, the potential risks of me continuing the way I was greatly outweigh any risks that medication could have. I haven’t had a break down or anxiety attack since, and although I still am struggling with emotions it doesn’t come close to how difficult it was during those 3 months. I’m learning to be a little kinder to myself, to avoid things that may trigger these emotions and focusing on getting my mind in the best place in can be for when our little girl arrives!
Are you having trouble with your emotions during or after your pregnancy? The best thing I would advise is to not be afraid to reach out. Not getting help is almost like breaking your bone and not going to your doctor about it. It is so important to take care of your mind just as much, if not more, than your body.
PANDA provides a free helpline and support service for anyone experiencing Perinatal Anxiety or Depression. For more information click here.