As someone who has had mental health allowances for the past 12 years, I knew that my approach to pregnancy needed to be planned, specific and aware.
Before the first trimester was done and dusted I made sure I was referred to a Psychiatrist with Perinatal experience. I’ve never been one for talk therapy, but I do have a great appreciation for pharmacology and am acutely aware of the chemical sh*t-storm that causes the lows I experience.
I have previously written about my awful experience with the Mirena IUD and how toxic progesterone was for me. So I was worried that my inner demons were going to be on Spring Break once I had those pregnancy hormones pumping around!
That first trimester was a constant ping-pong game of joy and excitement v. apprehension and doubt. What was I doing? Who did I think I was bringing a baby into the world? Was I ready to be a Mum. So on and so forth. Then I would be with my Husband, planning for the future and everything was okay.
Being matched with my Psychiatrist instantly felt like having an experienced, professional and knowledgeable cheerleader on my side. I left my first appointment feeling empowered and confident. I had my doubts, as I had sought treatment from the same hospital (different Psychiatrist) who was a little too quick to (incorrectly) diagnose me. Which led to being placed on absolutely inappropriate (read: life damaging) medication. So to say I was gun-shy and hesitant is putting it lightly.
However my journey so far with my Psychiatrist has been wonderful. Even with the added uncertainty of COVID-19, she has effectively given me the tools and the confidence to manage my anxiety and depression while pregnant. There is a high chance I will end up with Post-Natal Depression, and I will cross that rickety bridge if/when it happens. What it means is that I am constantly having to assess the future, to try and prepare for something which may not happen. Knowledge (and even more so, acknowledgement) is power as far as I am concerned. So while some think I have a pessimistic view to the future, I believe that in preparing for the ‘worst’, then I’m taking some of the power away from the beast that is my anxiety and depression. I may be sharing my journey, mind & soul with my mental health – but at 34 and with several notable fights in the past with it – I refuse to take a back-seat.
Mental health is no joke, and it certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. Saying this out loud is one thing, but taking ownership of it and acknowledging it as part of your story is another. There are so many resources out there and other people willing to help you up. Don’t ever feel ashamed to speak, and always ask for help when you need it.