This post was originally created February 21, 2020. Since it has been re-edited for larger media publications.
“It’s hard to teach others how to heal if you haven’t healed yourself first.”
Did you know that 1 in 5 new moms will experience some kind of mood or anxiety disorder?
I didn’t think for a second that I would be one of them.
The year I got pregnant, Tony and I were living in our first home together. We lived in a beautiful condo downtown Toronto, and I literally felt like we had everything we ever wanted.
“Emotionally I was not in a good place”
It wasn’t even a few weeks into my pregnancy when I started to feel like I wasn’t okay. Emotionally I was not in a good place and it started to show. I wasn’t acting myself, I started fights with Tony all the time and I felt very self-destructive. I would cry a lot and have crippling anxiety every time I left home. At the time, my sister was having problems and the emotional strain of it had sent me over the edge. I felt as if I was constantly carrying a heavy bag on my chest and every thought I had felt like the end of the world.
Thankfully I did notice how awful I was feeling, and I knew I needed to find help. My team of doctors, midwives, and councilors were so amazing and I was lucky to have them. They were so caring, gentle, and exactly what I needed. I started doing CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Treatment’s) and group therapy but nothing changed with the way I felt. Finally, my doctor and midwives came up with a plan that included medication for prenatal depression. My doctors were convinced my prenatal depression would increase the chance of being diagnosed with post-partum depression.
“I would stay awake googling”
I felt sick to my stomach and I instantly felt like I was failing at being a mother before I even met my child. I would have the same re-occurring nightmares of how taking medication would harm my baby, and that alone brought on a whole new set of worries. Most night’s I would stay awake googling “the effects of sertraline on unborn babies” until I would eventually fall asleep exhausted.
I would punish myself by convincing myself that I didn’t deserve to be happy because I wasn’t excited like the other moms were.
I remember feeling so scared and feeling overwhelmed that I was doing something horrible for no reason. It honestly caused me so much heartbreak even thou I knew these weren’t my real feelings.
My life was absolutely amazing and I had every reason to be excited. Life was good, but I was still depressed.
The next week, I researched SSRIs (Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and the effects on pregnant women. It didn’t take me long to decide that I was so tired of feeling horrible and taking medications was the best option for me.
After two weeks of being on the medication, I finally felt like myself again. It’s truly amazing how much can change in your mental health if you are proactive and seek out help. I was always so skeptical of taking medication for depression or anxiety because I didn’t take the time to educate myself about them.
“the rest of my pregnancy was relatively easy and after months of battling myself I was finally happy”
The rest of my pregnancy was relatively “easy” and after months of battling myself, I was finally happy. I started doing the things I loved, like working out. At eight months pregnant, I did yoga and even participated in Crossfit challenges. Thankfully I was able to enjoy the last few months of being pregnant, and I started feeling excited for our daughter’s arrival. I went out and bought paint for her room, washed all of the baby clothes, and did all the things I always dreamt of doing as a first time mom.
On February 18, 2018, I gave birth to a healthy and happy baby girl. We named her Penelope Frances. The truth is after having our daughter I was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Being in a state of newborn bliss is the best feeling in the entire world and to be honest, I don’t think I could have felt that happy without being on medication. Taking medication has helped me handle sadness and other negative situations in my life so much better.
I wanted to share a side of motherhood and pregnancy most of us never talk about. I struggled with this for a long time and I hid it from family and friends because I felt ashamed. It took me almost two years to see that things for what they were. I feel that I was given a story to tell because I have a voice to share my struggles with other mothers who might going through something similar. I want you to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of if you feel unhappy. It’s okay to seek help and I promise that it’s possible to feel normal again. It also doesn’t mean you need to be on medication this is just what has worked for me.
This is a helpful list of resources if you or someone you know has depression.
+ want to read more about my pregnancy struggle, find it here.
+ 10 things I’ve learned in 10 years that might be able to help you too.